Why "Breaking" in these titles?

Somebody just resurrected a zombie thread in the Pit about the show “Breaking Bonaduce,” which finally bubbled a question I’ve had for a while to the surface.

Can somebody explain to me what the word “Breaking” means in the context of these TV series:

  • Breaking Bad
  • Breaking Amish
  • Breaking Bonaduce

I can’t get my mind around it–it doesn’t seem to mean breaking in the sense of “destroying,” nor in the sense of a wave breaking. Talk to me in small words–what does this term imply?

(Note that I have not seen any of these shows, so if they explain it there, I missed it).

Well, breaking bad is a colloquialism to say that someone has begun a life of crime or immorality.

To “break bad” is a southwestern term which means to embark upon a path of moral dubiousness. The other two are nonsensical and simply capitalizing on the immense popularity Breaking Bad.

The title of Breaking Bad came from a Southern colloquialism. You can actually learn about it more here, via an interview with creator Vince Gilligan.

“Breaking Amish,” I would conjecture, has to do with the fact that the show is predominantly about younger Amish kids who may or may not continue in the faith into which they were born – hence, the whole “breaking” imagery.

“Breaking Bonaduce” probably got no further in the writer’s room than, “Hey, that’s kinda catchy…” but maybe I’m wrong and it’s a brilliant deconstruction of Danny Bonaduce’s life. Though I’d put long odds on that.

Can’t do the research now, but I wonder if there’s any relation to the idea of a “break” being a sudden change in direction.

Used a lot, for instance, in discussing airplane maneuvers. You hear fighter pilot types talk about “4g break” or “break right* on my mark!”

*the latter example may just be the movies talking. Aren’t they supposed to say “starboard?” :smiley:

That’s a really good question, actually. Tom Cruise definitely says “break right” in Top Gun, but the court martial’s findings refer to the starboard engine.

Cool, thanks! I tried to google various forms of “breaking,” but for whatever reason it didn’t occur to me to google the whole phrase (probably because I was trying to reconcile the use of “breaking” in all three of those titles).

Anyway, ignorance fought! :slight_smile:

“Breaking” is often used to mean separating oneself from the pack. Hence the movie Breaking Away.

I think that’s a pretty safe assumption to make. I think of it as a golf putt, where the ball will break one direction or the other, or of playing pool on an unlevel table. For both of these, the standard word is “break.”

Actually, according to Wikipedia, Breaking Bonaduce premiered in September 2005, while Breaking Bad premiered in Jan 2008. If you were to assume somebody copied someone else, you’d have to say that Breaking Bad copied Breaking Bonaduce

So where did the title “Breaking Bonaduce” come from?

That’s my take on it. See for example breaking pitch.

I imagine we will see other examples of this to capitalize on the popularity of Breaking Bad, even when it makes no sense.

I always assumed it had to do with a beginning of some phenomenon, or a new direction, as in “breaking news.”

I would guess because the subject is the breakdown of his life. Also the sense of “breaking” someone by subjecting them to torture or abuse.

In the case of Bonaduce, I thought it was in the sense of “breaking” a horse, meaning to tame it for riding or work. This often means breaking the horse’s will and spirit*.

*My Grandfather did this with a 2x4 across the bridge of the nose, while effective, I considered it cruel. I hope that less violent forms are available today.


Don’t know about military, but civilian ATC commonly instructs pilots to turn “left” or “right”.

I’m on board with the “change in trajectory” model, and I suspect it comes via baseball.

FWIW, the point at which the vertical crease in the legs of a well-ironed pair of trousers is interrupted is also called the “break,” possibly using the same concept of a change in flow or direction, possibly simply because the line of the crease is broken.

Breaking Bad = as noted means to break into a life of crime.

Breaking Amish = Breaking away from Amish life into one of modern western society.

Never heard of Breaking Bonaduce.

I never thought about it before, but that was my thought when I heard the title, perhaps with a thought of “breaking [down] Bonaduce.” It never occurred to me to question the meaning. It seemed clear to me, but maybe not.

I think the short answer is that “Breaking…” has become the 21st century successor to “-gate.”