William Shatner broke bad long before Breaking Bad was ever a concept.
William Shatner has a history of doing things first. He was the first man to ever take the captain’s chair on Star Trek, he was the oldest man to ever go into space, and apparently, he was the very first teacher to ever break bad.
That’s right, the plot of the critically acclaimed series Breaking Bad was not an original idea, as shocking as that may be. In the AMC series, a high school chemistry teacher starts cooking meth to be able to pay off his mounting medical bills. It cemented the talents of Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, and others, and helped build two different successful franchises that AMC has ridden for almost 15 years.
The other is the spinoff, Better Call Saul.
Yet, before Cranston became the one who knocks, it was actually Shatner who started the trend of being a crooked science teacher.
William Shanter broke bad in a 1974 episode of Polie Woman
Police Woman was a 1970s police procedural which featured a young female cop going undercover to bust crooks. In this specific episode, called “Smack”, Shatner is a science teacher at a local high school, and the school is finding itself in the mids of a drug crisis.
Shatner plays Mark Ciprio the chemistry teacher at the heart of the storyline. Through the course of the investigation, it revealed that Ciprio has in fact started making the drugs that are responsible for killing a student. He took a job cooking the smack for a local drug dealer, in order to make enough money to keep his wife alive.
She’s dealing with kidney issues and needed to be on a machine that apparently was very costly. So Ciprio took the job to help pay off the mounting debt.
The only big difference between the two is that Shatner’s character isn’t the one who is ill, and this story is told over the course of 25 minutes, not six seasons.