Throughout the entirety of Better Call Saul, Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk), aka Saul Goodman, has been conning almost everyone he comes across. These scams are not only entertaining, but necessary for understanding how Jimmy McGill turned into the smarmy lawyer from Breaking Bad. These scams range from, “How and why would anyone think of this?” to, “Why would anyone waste their time on this?” The executions range from catastrophic to monumental.
As Better Call Saul returns July 11 on AMC and gets closer and closer to its inevitably dramatic and devastating finale, there’s no better time to revisit and rank the scams that created the Saul Goodman we know and love, based on how creative, successful, and impressively detailed they are.
9. Jimmy Gets Fired (Season 2, Episode 7)
When Jimmy is hired by Davis & Main, it’s obvious he doesn’t fit in, and after getting in trouble with the bosses, his time there is spent being babysat by first-year associates. Jimmy decides to quit, but after finding out that he loses his bonus if he quits within a year of employment, and can only keep it if he’s fired without cause, he hatches a new plan.
Jimmy realizes he needs to get fired quickly, so he decides to be as obnoxious as possible. In one of the show’s more iconic montages we see Jimmy trading out his boring suits for colorful, ill fitting ones, making loud and messy smoothies every day, “forgetting” to flush the toilets repeatedly, and playing the bagpipes (badly). Cliff Main (Ed Begley Jr.) finally gives in and fires Jimmy, allowing him to keep his bonus.
8. The Fake Rolex (Season 1, Episode 4)
Back in Chicago, when he was still known as “Slippin’ Jimmy”, we see just how creative and skilled Jimmy has always been at scamming people. In this flashback, we see Jimmy and a man, Stevie (Kevin Weisman), drunkenly stumble into an alleyway and come across a passed out guy. It seems simple at first. Jimmy takes the man’s Rolex, Stevie steals the man’s money, and they both walk away richer.
What Stevie doesn’t know and we soon find out is that the passed out man is Marco (Mel Rodriguez), Jimmy’s accomplice. Jimmy convinces Stevie to trade the money for the Rolex, and they part ways. When Marco “wakes up” they count their earnings and celebrate Stevie falling for the fake Rolex. This scam isn’t the most complex, but it’s important in showing us that Jimmy has always had this in him.
7. The Construction Delay (Season 5, Episodes 5 & 6)
When Jimmy agrees to help Everett Acker (Barry Corbin) prevent Mesa Verde from bulldozing his house, it’s clear Jimmy’s best chance is to delay construction as long as he can. He convinces a sheriff that the address on Mesa Verde’s eviction notice is incorrect, plants fake pottery, and claims Acker’s home is on a Native American archeological site. He also creates a fake soil contamination, and fakes an image of Jesus on Acker’s fence, all causing delays to construction.
After hearing that they are still moving forward with the demolition, Jimmy decides to kick things up a notch. After seemingly agreeing on a settlement, Jimmy presents a fake video with people interested in a class-action lawsuit against Mesa Verde. He also shares insight on the fact that Mesa Verde’s logo is stolen. After hearing this, a settlement in Acker’s favor is made.
6. The Xerox Switch (Season 2, Episode 8)
One of the more meticulous scams that Jimmy pulled off, this one was to help Kim (Rhea Seehorn) and screw over Chuck (Michael McKean) and Howard (Patrick Fabian) in the process. After leaving the Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill law firm, it’s important that Kim keeps Mesa Verde as a client. When Chuck and Howard steal them away from her, Jimmy decides to take action.
While spending the night at Chuck’s, helping him recover from his day of work, Jimmy steals all of the Mesa Verde files and brings them to a copy center. He spends the entire night carefully cutting out and swapping the last two digits of the Mesa Verde law firm address, and returns the files in the morning without Chuck noticing. When Chuck embarasses himself in court insisting that the address is correct, the trial is postponed and Kim gets her clients back.
5. The Fake Blueprints (Season 4, Episode 9)
As Kim walks into the Lubbock City Hall on crutches, we soon realize she’s about to pull off a scam with Jimmy on behalf of Mesa Verde. Kim tells the clerk that she worries she submitted out-of-date plans for Mesa Verde’s new branch, and asks if they can compare the blueprints, only for them to discover they’re identical.
Jimmy walks in, posing as Kim’s brother watching her baby in the car. Kim “panics,” yelling at Jimmy for leaving her kid in the car and they run out. In the action, Jimmy leaves a bag of milk on the real blueprint, instantly destroying it. When Kim returns, the clerk explains what happened and suggests they swap the official blueprint with Kim’s copy. The clerk stamps both copies, and Kim smiles, as she’s successfully gotten her new plans approved.
4. The Tequila (Season 2, Episode 1)
Kim and Jimmy are ordering drinks at a hotel bar, and while deciding what to get, come across Zafiro Añejo, a tequila priced at $50 a shot. Unable to afford this, they move on, and Jimmy soon clocks a stockbroker as an easy target. Kim is hesitant, but agrees to go over to talk to him. Pretending to be siblings, Viktor and Giselle, they ask him to settle a bet.
Of course this bet is completely phony, but they engage him in conversation and convince him they have tons of money to invest and that they need his advice. After signing his contract with their fake names, Kim suggests they celebrate with some tequila. Zafiro Añejo perhaps? After sticking him with the bill, they run out of the bar laughing at their successful scam.
3. The Phone Battery (Season 3, Episode 5)
Jimmy and Chuck’s relationship, to put it simply, was complicated. Chuck believed he suffered from electromagnetic hypersensitivity, and while everyone in his life knew this was a psychosomatic condition, it was debilitating to Chuck in his personal and legal life. In court for Jimmy’s bar hearing, it’s up to Chuck to prove that he is not mentally ill, and is of sound mind in his testimony against Jimmy.
After making everyone present leave anything carrying electrical currents outside of the courtroom and shutting off the power, Jimmy hires Huell Babineaux (Lavell Crawford) to slip a fully charged phone battery into Chuck’s suit pocket. Throughout the entire trial, Chuck appears healthy, as he believes there is no electricity nearby. When Jimmy reveals the battery in his pocket, Chuck flies off the handle, losing all of his credibility. It’s a simple plan, but the ramifications make this scam all the more impressive.
2. The Howard Scam (Season 6, Episode 7)
There’s no one Kim and Jimmy hated more than Howard Hamlin. At the end of the previous season they decide to fully commit and take down Howard at whatever cost. Step 1 of the scam begins with Jimmy planting drugs on Howard for Cliff to find. Jimmy know’s Howard’s reputation is almost as important as his legal skill, and convincing people Howard is a drug addict is damaging.
The Kettlemans (Julie Ann Emery & Jeremy Shamos), returning from Season 1, are used as bait in this scam. They are tricked into going to Howard’s co-counsel and saying they think Howard was high for most of their representation. Jimmy takes things further, dressing up as Howard and stealing his car, and making sure Cliff sees “Howard” kick a prostitute out of his car. All of this is for one thing, to sabotage the Sandpiper settlement and case.
With Howard’s reputation ruined, Jimmy can strike. Jimmy hires an actor who looks like the Sandpiper judge, and takes photos of him getting suspicious envelopes from him. On the day of the hearing, Howard is shown these photos (which have been covered in drugs meant to make Howard look high), and freaks out. When he goes to show proof of the judge’s interactions with Jimmy, he finds the photos gone. The scam goes great, and Jimmy and Kim celebrate their success.
But when Howard comes over to ream them out, he ends up interrupting Lalo (Tony Dalton), who also stopped by Kim and Jimmy’s, and gets fatally shot. A scam that detailed deserves a spot high up, but the consequences prevent it from reaching Number 1.
1. The Huell Scam (Season 4, Episode 8)
In what is by far the most creative and successful scam from all of Better Call Saul, Jimmy takes great care in helping out Huell Babineaux. After Huell accidentally assaults a man who turns out to be a cop, Jimmy and Kim work to make Huell seem like an upstanding citizen to keep him from going to jail. Jimmy travels to Huell’s hometown Coushatta, Louisiana, and writes a bunch of fake letters all claiming Huell is a great man, which he mails to the judge in Albuquerque.
The cards have all been planted with phone numbers that match up to burner phones. Jimmy and the film students spend hours answering the phones with a plethora of improvised fake accents and characters, pretending to be Coushatta citizens all vouching for Huell. Between this and the fake website Jimmy makes for the Coushatta church asking for donations for Huell’s defense, Kim gets the charge down to a misdemeanor.