Top 50 Power Showrunners 2011
Stephen King has called Breaking Bad "the best of the 21st century … and dark. Very dark." But the series creator, who grew up "a pretty good kid" in Farmville, Va., offered the biz a first writing effort that was decidedly light -- the 1998 Drew Barrymore starrer Home Fries, which won Gilligan the Virginia Screenwriting Competition. In 1995, The X-Files lured him from Virginia to L.A., a job Gilligan calls "a close second to Breaking Bad as far as my favorite jobs go." Despite a yearlong hiatus that Gilligan says "drove me crazy," the show's season-four premiere was its best-rated, beating even Mad Men's AMC record in several demos. He can expect more Emmys (stars Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul have won three and one, respectively) and a sizzling series finale slated presumably for 2012. The modest Gilligan, 44, says he's proud of the series' impact on the genre. "The mandate here has always been, take our hero and turn him into a bad guy," he says.