A list of major and supporting characters on Breaking Bad. There will be spoilers.
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"No, you clearly don't know who you're talking to, so let me clue you in. I am not in danger, Skyler. I AM the danger!"
Played By: Bryan Cranston
"My wife is seven months pregnant with a baby we didn't intend. My fifteen-year old son has cerebral palsy. I am an extremely overqualified high school chemistry teacher. When I can work, I make $43,700 per year. I have watched all of my colleagues and friends surpass me in every way imaginable. And within eighteen months, I will be dead."
The main character of the series, Walt is a high school chemistry teacher who gets diagnosed with lung cancer. Realizing he doesn't have much time left, he teams up with a former student to use his chemistry know-how to make primo crystal meth to make tons of money to leave behind for his family.
Batman Gambit: His victory against Gus hinged on Gus being so bent on revenge that he would want to kill Hector himself. It works.
Beard of Evil: Or at least Beard of Anti-Heroics, which Walt grows once his actions become less and less excusable.
Because I'm Good At It. One of the major (if unspoken) reasons Walt continues to cook. When Jesse cooks his own batch of meth, Walter takes offense and examines the product, pointing out every flaw.
He also acts very smug in the Season 4 premiere, when Victor, one of Gus' henchmen, tries to cook his own batch of meth.
Becoming the Mask: Walt invents "Heisenberg", his criminal alter ego, as both a convenient pseudonym and a coping mechanism. As time goes on and his behavior becomes more flagrantly amoral, it begins to seem as though there may not really be a difference between the two.
'I am not in danger, Skyler. I AM the danger. A guy opens this door and gets shot, you think that'll be me? No. I am the one who knocks.'
This is emphasized in Season 5, when he starts wearing Heisenberg's iconic pork pie hat in everyday life. And when Declan identifies him as Heisenberg, to which he responds, "You're goddamn right."
Better Living Through Evil: He made barely anything legally, holding a job at a high school, but then again if it weren't for his exceeding pride, he wouldn't have left Grey Matter.
Blessed with Suck: How he views his cancer going into remission, since it robs him of a convenient excuse for his awful deeds.
Can't Spit It Out: He seems completely incapable of expressing the kinship he feels for Jesse, even though he goes batshit every time he's in danger. This bites him in the ass in "Bug", since his constant belittling of Jesse (who is still disturbed by Gale's death and finds some satisfaction in working with Mike) finally pushes Jesse over the edge. And boy, was the biting long overdue.
He gets somewhat better in season 5 — but only because he figures out that faking approval is the best way to manipulate Jesse.
Car Fu: Uses this on two child-murdering drug dealers at the end of season 3.
Cassandra Truth: He deduces EVERYTHING Gus tries to do with Jesse in season 4, but he fails to convince Pinkman himself. Ironically, when Jesse finally believes him about one of Gus's schemes, Walt is actually the culprit.
Could Have Avoided This Plot: In season 5, Mike refuses to tell Walt the names of his nine guys in prison (because Walt would try to kill them to prevent them from talking). Infuriated, Walt shoots Mike, fatally wounding him. When he sees the dying Mike, Walt realizes he could have just gone to Lydia for the list of names.
Hell, one of Walt's old friends and former colleagues offered to completely cover his cancer treatment. But he turned it down out of spite.
Emperor Scientist: "You asked me if I was in the meth business, or the money business. I'm in the empire business."
Evil Is Petty: His revenge on Bogdan, his former employer at the carwash involves taking the sentimentally framed first dollar Bogdan earned in America, breaking the frame, and using the dollar to buy a drink from a vending machine. This, after tricking Bogdan into selling the business at a loss. Bogdan was rude, a poor boss, and had ugly eyebrows, making Walt's pettiness a case of Disproportionate Retribution at the same time.
Honor Before Reason: An interesting example of this trope. He refuses to accept money from former friends, despite the fact that it would solve pretty much all his problems, because he is still bitter about their success with a company he optionally left. This is given as the first evidence of Walt's petty selfish nature and shows just how prideful he is.
Hypocrite: Showcased by his "I am the one who knocks" boast to Skyler and the "motivational" speech to a fellow cancer patient. Season 4 is pretty much Walt in denial until the finale.
I Coulda Been A Contender: Walt left Grey Matter, the multi-billion dollar company he helped found, on less than amicable terms, selling his stock for 5000 dollars. Making up for the money he lost this way is his second main motivator for the entire series. By Season 5, this goal becomes his primary motivation to keep cooking despite having more than enough money laundered to provide for his family.
Idiot Ball: Picked up rather suddenly in the second episode of season 4. He tries to goad Mike into helping him kill Gus, his employer, and doesn't really offer Mike anything in return. In the same episode, he just drives up to Gus' house with the intention of killing him and is shocked, shocked, to receive a phone call from Mike.
Insufferable Genius: He treats Jesse's effort to cook with utter contempt and believes only he can make his product. Though he later admits Jesse is just as good, it is part of his scheme to get him back and avoid suing Hank.
It Gets Easier: He becomes much more bold after killing Krazy-8, which only escalates with every crime: throughout the series, his schemes get more and more risky and he gets more carefree about killing. It culminates with the killing of Mike - the first truly pointless crime Walt commits.
It's All About Me: Shows shades of this throughout the series, but it kicks in full time in Season 4, to the point where Walt speaks this exact line out loud. This leads to a conflict with Jesse. By season 5, it's truly gotten out of control, but it's already present in season one when he turns down a high paying job with an offer of having his medical bills covered because of his refusal to work for a company he optionally left before it was big, essentially putting himself before his family.
Jaded Washout/I Coulda Been A Contender: Walt's promising career was thwarted when he missed the chance to participate in a Nobel Prize-winning project. His life and embitterment went downhill from there.
Jerkass: To everyone (mostly Jesse) except his family, and then in later seasons pretty much only his children are spared from his swollen ego and bitterness.
Justified Criminal: Possibly a Deconstructed Trope: it's slowly being shown that Walter's actions have far-reaching consequences that he couldn't imagine, and his justifications get weaker and more self-serving as time goes on, to the point where Skyler balks at his "bullshit rationales."
Almost every scene between him and his wife, Skyler, in season 5 can be read this way.
A major one in Say My Name. When Jesse tells him that he wants out of the meth business, Walt tries to get him to stay. When Jesse insists on leaving, Walt starts belittling him by essentially telling him that he has nothing else of value in his life outside of cooking meth, and proclaiming that nobody outside of the business cares for his well being. Walt then proceeds to twist the knife even further by attempting to use Jesse's murder of Gale in order to convince him that he's just as morally bankrupt as he is.
Kick the Son of a Bitch: His early victims, such as the boys picking on his son or the obnoxious man in the bank, keep him from seeming too bad.
Laser-Guided Karma: Finally catches up with Walt in the season 5 finale. He's done with the business, there are no loose ends, he has more money than he can spend in 10 lifetimes, he smooths up things with Jesse and his family. He's out. And then, Hank realizes that he's Heisenberg.
Let's Get Dangerous: Walter's brain seems to work best when he is in mortal danger. Practically every brilliant gambit he comes up with is created when (sometimes literally) looking into the barrel of a gun.
Meaningful Name: His name was chosen to be deliberately bland and uninteresting to emphasise his everyman nature. As the series goes on, it reflects his increasingly unforgiveable actions.
Mr. Fan Disservice: Bryan Cranston gets naked fairly often, neither for comedy nor to look pretty.
Moral Myopia: Any threats against him or his family are unforgivable. His murder of people who are either innocent (Gale) or whom he deliberately screwed over (The nine prisoners whom Walt denied security payments owed by Gus and Mike) are glossed over.
Motivational Lie: Uses one to try to get Jesse on his side in the season 4 finale.
Motive Decay: An interesting case of this. Walt constantly tells himself that he's doing what he does to provide for his family, and on a certain level, he may be right. However, as the series goes on, it becomes increasingly clear that his decision to cook is as much motivated by the desire to feed his ego as it is for helping his family. In season 5's "Buyout", he tells Jesse that the meth business is all he has left and he's only concerned with having as big a piece of that pie as possible.
'You asked me earlier if we were in the meth business or the money business. I'm in neither. I'm in the empire business.'
Murder Makes You Crazy: As of season 5, creator Vince Gilligan has stated, "The new Walt lives in a power vacuum created by the death of Gus Fring."
My God, What Have I Done?: Averted for most of the series - he is really good at rationalizing his crimes and ignoring the consequences of his actions. He finally begins realizing his mistakes near the end of season 5 part one after killing Mike and acquiring so much money that it can no longer be laundered or even spent.
Never My Fault: Walt's main failing other than his ego is his tendency to rationalize his actions and find excuses for himself:
During the season 3 premiere, he refuses to take any responsibility for his role in the mid-air collision.
He blames Gretchen and Elliot for edging him out of a company, even though he left optionally and didn't think far enough ahead before doing so.
For most of Season 4, he insists that he's the Only Sane Man and Gus is out to get him for no good reason. Never mind that he killed Gus' dealers, then had Jesse kill Gale.
Nice Hat: The pork pie hat is an integral part of Heisenberg.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Almost everything he does ends up fucking up the situation worse, including the sole fact he went into the meth business. One of the best examples is taking out Gus' laptop in such a way it reveals a clue that is more valuable to the DEA and actually manages to affect people's lives.
Name's the Same: Walter White was the name of the ATC controller involved in the crash of Mexico Flight 498 which subsequently crashed into a suburban neighborhood in Los Angeles. Probably coincidental, but eerie considering that Walter is also involved in exactly the same thing happening on the show.
The Pete Best: He co-founded a multi-billion dollar chemical firm called Greymatter, but early on had a falling out with his partners and sold his shares for a piddling sum of money. The full extent to which this eats away at him only becomes completely clear in Season 5.
Pride: Walt's biggest failing. The whole source of this mess even beyond his cancer. If not for his pride, he would have been a rich and successful, award-winning chemist, and none of the events of the show would ever have happened.
Properly Paranoid: In season 4. He deduces a lot of things around Jesse's work with Mike, but he's too unhinged to use the clues to his advantage.
Poisonous Friend: Becomes one to Jesse in season 5. His seeming approval and kindness is just a way to manipulate the kid.
Pyrrhic Villainy: In general, every 'victory' Walt has causes more problems than it solves and/or kills off even more of his humanity.
The Quiet One: Walt starts out as a man of few words and even fewer actions, but subverts this later on when he becomes comfortable with his new lifestyle, and his Pride starts making him talk way too much.
Sarcastic Confession: To Hank, twice - first in the season 3 premiere, the second time when Hank stumbles on Gale Boetticher's notes, with a dedication to a "W.W.". It bites him in the ass in Gliding Over All.
Small Name, Big Ego: Granted, the reputation he has as "Heisenberg" doesn't make him just a "small name"; however, Walt has a frequent tendency to assume that he's in control of everything when he clearly isn't. His speech to Skyler in "Cornered" is probably the best example of this.
The Sociopath: If he hasn't gotten there, he's certainly not far behind.
Start of Darkness: The whole series could be considered one, but many think Walter's civilian life died and the Heisenberg alter ego took over when he flips out at the end of Crawl Space and decides to take matters regarding Gus into his own hands.
Took a Level in Badass: What the title of the series refers to, though he doesn't really make it all the way there until the end of season 4 when he outsmarts Gus.
Took a Level in Jerkass: Oh boy. The longer the series goes, he gains new and new levels of jerkassery, but after killing Gus, there is barely any humanity left in Walter White.
Too Clever by Half: Walt's ingenuity often screws him up, since he is terrible at predicting consequences, mostly due to his exceeding pride and superiority complex. The magnet ploy is the best example — it sets in motion much of the drama and complications of season 5.
Villain Protagonist: Has been slowly sliding into this ever since his cancer went into remission and his actions have become less and less justified.
After "Face Off", he's become one. At this point, it is obvious his actions aren't just for his family.
"Buyout" drives this point home even further, to the point that Walt flat out states that he's not cooking to make money anymore, but to build an empire. And he implies that he's no longer cooking for his family.
"What's the point of being an outlaw when you got responsibilities?"
Played By: Aaron Paul
"This my own private domicile, and I will not be harassed... bitch!"
A comfortable upper-middle-class kid — and (flunked) student of Walter's in the not-too-distant past — he becomes a lowlife drug dealer. Walt enlists (by which we mean blackmails) him as his business partner because of his street smarts and knowledge of the drug trade. Initially, he seems like a total jerk, but eventually we see he has Hidden Depths and isn't as heartless as he seems. In fact, he's starting to prove more morally conflicted about what he's done than Walt has.
A Real Man Is a Killer: A Subverted Trope. There are plenty of people that Jesse wants to kill throughout the first three seasons, and his reasons are at least noble in a macho, street honor sense. Nevertheless, he doesn't actually get to end a life until the very end of Season 3, when he kills Gale. Jesse does not issue a Pre-Mortem One-Liner. Not to mention that the event appears to completely shatter him, and for the entire episode afterward, Jesse barely speaks because he's still in shock.
Berserk Button: Seeing children threatened or harmed drives Jesse into a near-homicidal rage.
Big Brother Instinct: Seems to bring this out in people. Both Walt and Mike are very protective of their younger partner, even though Walt isn't above using and manipulating him for his own ends.
Big Brother Mentor: He tries (and fails) to be this to his younger brother Jake. Though he does take the rap for Jake's joint (and steps on the joint afterward).
Book Dumb: Talks like an idiot, dresses like an idiot, but highly intelligent and deeply flawed and troubled. Freudian Excuse suggests that much of his behavior started as a way to piss off his parents for pushing him too hard.
Buffy Speak: Despite having been a high school washout, much of what he says would sound fairly intelligent if it weren't for his particular style of vernacular, yo.
The Caretaker: He was this to his aunt before she died of cancer.
The Chick: Is becoming this in Season 5's Walt/Mike/Jesse partnership. He's there to keep both of them together and in check, making sure they don't do anything unnecessarily drastic, and is the most morally conscious of the three at this point. Driven home in the episode Say My Name. The one time Mike has a disagreement with Walt when Jesse isn't present ends with Walt shooting Mike fatally.
Children Are Innocent: A firmly held belief of his. This leads to him plotting the deaths of two drug dealers who are the bosses of Tomas, an 11-year old who murdered Jesse's friend Combo. This situation ultimately leads to the collapse of Walt and Gus's business relationship. Later, when his and Walt's actions lead to a child being murdered, he decides to quit the meth business.
"Uh huh. Tell me, you wouldn't happen to have been... sampling... our product, would you?"
Desperately Craves Affection: As a result of his reversely strained relationship with his parents, Jesse has a tendency to remain incredibly attached to anyone who shows him the slightest amount of care or respect. As a result of this, Walt and later Gus are able to manipulate him into saving their lives on two different counts and earlier than that, Jane is able to convince him to blackmail Walt for his share of the money.
He refuses to sell meth to Andrea after finding out that she has a young son.
After Todd kills a kid in season 5, he decides he can't live with all the bodies he and Walt have left in their wake and desperately wants out of the business, eventually deciding that he doesn't even care if Walt gives him his fair share of the money.
Foil: To Walt. Their emotional arcs over the course of the series have run pretty much parallel, with Jesse starting out as a seemingly callous Jerk Ass criminal to Walt's kindhearted milquetoast everyman. As Walt has sunk lower and lower into moral decay, Jesse has become more and more troubled by his criminal dealings and how they can affect those around him. Examine how Jesse breaks things off with Andrea instead of letting her know more about what he does for a living to protect her, right around the time Skyler becomes basically Walt's prisoner and the subject of many a Kick the Dog moment because he refuses to believe he is a danger to her or the kids.
Functional Addict: Complete with a downward spiral into heroin addiction, rehab, and then later getting back on the meth.
Heel Realization: In the season 3 premiere. Subverted by the end of the season, it comes back in full force in season 5's "Say My Name".
Jesse: "I'm the bad guy."
Heroic BSOD: In the season 4 premiere, he has one after killing Gale; he's so shocked at what he's done that he can't even seem to drive away from the apartment complex. Afterwards, he sits in stunned silence for most of the episode.
Hidden Depths: Is surprisingly kindhearted and smarter than most people give him credit for. He sounds like an idiot when he talks, but that's just vocabulary.
It's All My Fault: After Jane dies, the grief-stricken Jesse becomes convinced that he killed her. And after he learns of Don Margolis's involvement in the midair collision that occurs, he even blames himself for that. And in season 5, Jesse breaks down into tears over the fact that he nearly killed Walt when Jesse suspected him of poisoning Brock. On all 3 occasions, Walt is to blame.
Kick the Dog: Not as frequently as Walt does, but he does more than his fair share of morally reprehensible things, the most notable being his attempt to peddle meth to a support group of recovering addicts. Granted, he doesn't get far in his attempt before he gives up on it, but the fact that he even attempted it qualifies as nothing less but this.
This is my own private domicile and I will not be harassed... bitch!
Took a Level in Badass: Started as a common, immature street thug. Now he's a top notch meth cook, who's killed two people.
Tragic Villain: He's been forced to do things that have convinced him he'll never be able to leave the drug trade. Made worse by the fact that Walt blackmailed him into the heavier stuff.
Trauma Conga Line: Hoo Boy. Practically every character goes through their fair share of trauma, but since Jesse partnered up with Walt, his life seems to have been one misfortune after the other. Let's recap, shall we?
After attempting to negotiate a deal with Tuco, at the behest of Walt, he is beaten severely.
After Tuco is killed, the D.E.A seizes Jesse's money, car, and house. And he is left homeless.
His family essentially disowns him and cuts off all communication with him.
He's later left at the mercy of two drug addicts after he attempted to reclaim the money that was stolen from his friend and distributor. During this time, he witnesses one of the addicts' heads get crushed by an A.T.M machine.
Enters a hard drug bender after his friend is killed. This leads him to eventually become a heroin addict, and he ends up getting his girlfriend to relapse as well.
Fallen into a state of pure despair after Jane dies, and is convinced that it's his fault that she's dead.
Is screwed over by Walt when the latter steals his position as Gus's presumptive cook, simply because Walt's ego didn't like the fact that Jesse was able to reproduce his formula.
Is brutally beaten again, this time by Hank.
Learns that his new girlfriend's brother had killed his aforementioned friend on orders, and concocts a scheme to kill the masterminds behind the shooting, only to have said kid get killed.
Goes through a period of completely shutting down after killing Gale, that he only gets out of once Gus starts trying to groom him into Walt's replacement.
His girlfriend's son is poisoned, leading for him to correctly suspect Walt of the crime, and nearly kills him. After the fact, he feels completely torn up by guilt over doing so.
Is forced to break up with his girlfriend, because he feels that he's a danger to her.
The Unfavorite: His drug habit and his failing grades in high school have greatly strained the relationship between himself and his parents. As a result, Jesse believes that they love his younger brother more than they love him.
Unwitting Pawn: As season 4 goes on, it's clear that Jesse's loyalty is the most important thing to earn for both Walt and Gus. Both attempt to manipulate him, but in the end, Walt is the one who is able to exert the strongest hold over him.
“Well Done Son” Guy: Throughout the series, it's clear the Jesse desperately wants Walt's approval:
Even after Walt's actions lead to Jesse getting hospitalized by Hank and even after Jesse emphatically tells Walt that his life has been ruined since partnering up with him, Walt is able to get Jesse to work with him again by simply complimenting his meth.
It's so bad that Walt is able to play him like a fiddle with simple words of approval in season 5.
He gets over it in "Say My Name" after realizing how crazed Walt really is.
"Whatever it is, I'm afraid to know."
Played By: Anna Gunn
"Someone has to protect this family from the man who protects this family."
Walter White's wife, who is pregnant with their daughter when the show starts. Walt's criminal activities give rise to a lot of mysterious late nights and other odd behavior that he does not explain, which puts a serious strain on their marriage. While Skyler tries to be supportive, she can be a little bossy and overbearing, which clashes with Walt's need to show he can do everything himself.
Awesome by Analysis: She's apparently one hell of an accountant, but this was first shown when she tracked down Jesse on her own. Later on, she uses an off-hand remark to figure out that Walt has two cell phones, a relationship with Jesse but not with Grechen, no clear revenue, and lied about all of this, and she outright tells Walt that she knows he's a drug dealer.
Big "Shut Up!": Given to Marie in force during season 5, when she is under a lot of stress and fear.
Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: She could be seen as this (more so in season 4) as she plays innocent to get what she want occasionally.
Control Freak: She sees herself as a necessary one, given Walt's impulsiveness.
Consummate Liar: Perhaps even a better one than her husband, which is saying something.
Corrupt the Cutie: Thanks to a combination of witnessing Marie's kleptomania, and Ted's embezzling, by the time season four rolls around she becomes desensitized enough about crime that she gets a bit excited of the idea of assisting Walt's business. Though by the start of season five, whatever romanticized notion she had about the idea was lost, and she firmly steps back from it.
The Power of Acting: Turns out to be one of Skyler's best weapons. Whether she's faking contractions to bail her sister out of her shoplifting problems, making up a story about Walt's gambling addiction on the fly, or convincing a locksmith that Walt's condo is her home, Skyler can sell it.
Sexy Secretary: Pretends to be an incompetent secretary who was only hired for her looks to trick the IRS agent.
The Smart Chick: Not as smart as her husband, but once she starts to get involved with his business, it becomes clear that she has a lot of business smarts, and her elaborate lie to the family about where the money is coming from is pretty ingenious. Skyler immediately pointing out to Walter how incredibly stupid are some of his schemes shows that she's as smart as him or at least more prudent.
51 gives us "[I'm waiting] for the cancer to come back."
Villain Protagonist: Played with in that she takes a Lady Macbeth-like active role in her husband's business. Subverted by season five, she's mostly stopped dead on this trope after realizing what kind of man her husband has become.
Villainy-Free Villain: For the first two seasons, she mainly existed to be a thorn in Walt's schemes as she tries to find out all of the secrets he's been keeping from her.
Women Are Wiser: Averted. While she may be more practical than Walt, she is completely incapable of having the good sense to get herself and her children away from this blatantly toxic environment. She has been repeatedly called out on this by her lawyer, Walt, and even herself.
"We got new players in town. We don't know who they are, where they come from, but they possess an extremely high skill-set. Me personally? I'm thinking Albuquerque just might have a new kingpin."
Walter and Skyler's brother-in-law, Hank is a DEA agent. He is aware of Walter's alter ego "Heisenberg", knows that Heisenberg is the one who makes the blue meth, and has some connection with Jesse, but does not know that Walter is Heisenberg. Despite Hank's obnoxious behavior, he is a decent guy and good at his job, but is not able to outmaneuver Walter. Instead, Hank usually picks up the remains of Walter and Jesse's messes.
Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Becomes increasingly abusive towards Marie after being bed-ridden by multiple gunshots because he can't stand looking weak to her.
Et Tu, Walter?: He really must have felt rather shocked after discovering that his brother-in-law is Heisenberg.
Fan Nickname: As of season 5, a bizarre running joke has sprung up on the show's IMDb board that revolves around calling Hank, "Honk" instead.
Foil: To Walt. Terrible experiences change both men, but while Walt becomes even more consumed by pride and turns into a ruthless criminal, Hank manages to subdue his Good Is Not Nice tendencies, becoming more humble and arguably an even better cop.
Good Is Not Nice: Definitely in season three and early four, but it's being downplayed more in season five. Partly due to the fact that Walt's actions have gotten truly extreme and Hank has become far less obnoxious and jerkish than he was at the beginning.
Genius Bruiser: While loud, overbearing, and seemingly dumb, Hank is a very skilled investigator, as seen in his work on the Fring case, beginning with his connection of Gale's murder to Gus Fring. This was hinted at early on, when he is able to find the hidden stash of meth hidden in Krazy-8's car, which Gomez couldn't locate earlier.
Hidden Depths: For the first season, Hank seems mostly to be a textbook Boisterous Bruiser, but in season 2, after he kills Tuco, we begin to see that Hank secretly feels a lot of anxiety and fear about his job.
Heroic Willpower: When the Salamanca brothers ambush Hank in Season 3, he manages to reload his pistol and kill his assailant despite the fact that he'd just been shot multiple times.
Noble Bigot with a Badge: Though he's not very politically correct and frequently makes racially insensitive jokes to his Mexican-American partner, he doesn't appear to be aggressively bigoted or racist. He also assumes that Gomez knows he is not serious about it.
Rank Up: He gets assigned to a better unit and later promoted, but he's a full-blooded agent who resents being a Desk Jockey.
Retirony: Subverted. After getting in a whole mess of trouble for beating up Jesse, he tells Marie he thinks that "The universe is telling [him he] shouldn't be a cop anymore," and he believes that he is going to be fired. Around this time, Gus gives the Cousins the okay to kill Hank. However, Hank ends up getting to keep his job, and when the Cousins try to kill him, he (narrowly) escapes.
Stepford Smiler: Despite being deeply traumatized by his shootout with Tuco and the bombing in Juarez, he continues to maintain his blustery, backslapping persona in front of colleagues and friends.
"What does a man do, Walter? A man provides. And he does it even when he’s not appreciated, or respected, or even loved. He simply bears up and he does it. Because he’s a man."
Gus is the largest distributer of crystal meth in the American Southwest. His front is a chain of fast food chicken restaurants, "Los Pollos Hermanos", which he uses to give money to law enforcement and otherwise come off as an important member of the community. He employs Walt and Jesse in season two, but almost immediately looks for a way to get his hands on Walter's recipe and replace the two.
Ambiguously Evil: Prior to the shit hitting the fan and him becoming a full-blown villain, it's made clear that he's much more dangerous than his pleasant demeanor lets on, but exactly how much Walt should be worried for himself is pretty unclear; his unrelenting poker-face doesn't help.
Best Served Cold: Drags out his revenge against Hector Salamanca across 20 years, slowly picking off all of his relatives as he wastes away in a retirement home. This ultimately leads to his undoing, though.
Blofeld Ploy: Pulls this in the season 4 premiere by slitting Victor's throat in front of Walt and Jesse. Justified in that Walt has him at a standstill so that Gus can no longer kill him and Victor had just tried to cook up a batch of meth to prove Walt was not needed, without Gus' approval, a move that could potentially cause thousands of dollars in lost revenue had the batch turned out wrong.
Cant Get Away With Nuthin: Gus makes it a rule to always be calm, composed, and think about what to say and do ahead of time. He breaks this rule in his interactions with Hector, a mistake which directly leads to his demise.
Crazy-Prepared: He had a secret hospital set up with medical staff on his payroll to revive him when he self-poisoned. Not only that, the hospital is supplied with matching blood types for himself, Jesse, and Mike (and they even know Jesse's entire medical history).
Dangerously Genre Savvy: All the time, but the ultimate display is his realizing that his car is rigged with a bomb via nothing but raw intuition.
Even Evil Has Standards: Invoked in "Full Measures" when he insists he would never order the death of a child. Subverted. He later threatens to kill Walt's entire family, including his son and his infant daughter.
Evil Gloating: A spoiler because it's an unusual behavior for him, which makes it all the more chilling in the latter episodes of season 4.
Face Death with Dignity: After a bomb literally blows half his face off, Gus walks calmly out the door, straightens his tie, then falls over dead.
Facial Horror: Walks away after an explosion and straightens his tie with half his face blown off right before he dies.
Fake Nationality: The character at least claims to be from Chile; Giancarlo Esposito is half African-American, half Italian, and though his Spanish is very good, he doesn't sound like a native speaker.
Gut Feeling: Has a very good sense for when he's in danger, occasionally bordering on Spider-Sense territory. Unfortunately for him, it fails him at the worst possible time, resulting in his death.
Kick the Dog: Possibly his ordering the death of Tomas, though it's never explicitly said that he did. Definitely his threat to Walt that he would murder his entire family, including his infant daughter, should Walt interfere with Hank's murder.
Machiavelli Was Wrong: Gus refuses to use the threat of the Cousins coming after Walt in order to scare him into working for him, stating that "I don't believe fear to be an effective motivator." Subverted in season 4, where he's not above doing things like brutally murdering his own henchman or threatening to kill Walt's family in order to keep Walt in line.
Manipulative Bastard: He convinces the cousins to go after Hank instead of Walt. This starts his scheme to take over meth production and distribution in the region. He also nearly succeeds at turning Jesse against Walt.
Playing Both Sides: Plays the US and Mexican governments against the Mexican cartel to seize control of the West Coast meth trade. Also pulls this by telling the Cousins that they can kill Hank in place of Walter since he actually shot Tuco, but then proceeds to anonymously tip Hank so that he can get the jump on them and take them out of the equation.
Perfect Poison: Uses the same bottle of tequila to dispatch Don Eladio and all his captains at once.
The Quiet One: Is very soft spoken, calm, and collected even in the most stressful situations.
Villain with Good Publicity: Is the well respected owner of a chain of chicken restaurants who publicly supports the DEA at fundraisers.
Who's Laughing Now?: The Mexican cartel killed Gus' partner and mocks him about it. He ends up killing all of them.
You Have Failed Me: Initially, he appears to be a nicer, stabler person than other druglords Walt and Jesse have encountered, but when Victor screws up and is seen leaving Gale's apartment after possibly leaving evidence there, he shows himself to be just as willing as Tuco to violently dispose of an employee who has become a liability.
Walter ‘Flynn’ White Jr.
Played By: RJ Mitte
"This here? All this that I've been through... and you're scared of a little chemotherapy?"
Walt and Skyler's son. He does not take the news that his father is dying of cancer well and lashes out in a stereotypically rebellious teenager-ish way (including changing his name to Flynn), but eventually gets over it and acts a lot more mature as series progresses. Jr. has cerebral palsy and walks with crutches and speaks with a slight slur.
Disabled Character, Disabled Actor: RJ Mitte has mild cerebral palsy in real life, but Walt Jr. was conceived from the start as having it, and Mitte had to learn to walk with crutches and speak less clearly to portray the level of affectation that the show's creator had in mind.
Out of Focus: Has appeared less in Season 4 than in any other season. It is likely due to not even a year passing in-story while the actor has aged visibly.
Written-In Infirmity: Averted. Mitte does actually have cerebral palsy in real life, but Walter Jr. was conceived as having it ever since the writing of the pilot. Additionally, Mitte's cerebral palsy isn't as severe as Walter Jr.'s (it doesn't affect his speech as strongly as it affects Walter, and he doesn't need crutches to walk).
"Better call Saul!"
Played By: Bob Odenkirk
"If you're committed enough, you can make any story work. I once told a woman I was Kevin Costner, and it worked because I believed it."
A sleazy lawyer Walt and Jesse hire as their legal counsel. Saul has vast connections, and is the one who introduces Walt and Jesse to Gus. Saul also helps them with other criminal activities, like helping Walter buy a carwash to launder his money with. While he initially likes the money Walt and Jesse bring in, later appearances mostly consist of Saul exasperated at the bigger messes Walt and Jesse get into. Has his own website.
Absentee Actor: Noticeable in the season 2 finale, when bizarrely we see Mike talking to the phone with Saul but never hear Saul's voice or see him on the other end, despite both occurring during an earlier episode where's Saul's only appearance was in a phone call scene.
Actor Allusion: Saul tries, with the help of his friend Walter, to explain to a skeptical wife why investing in a business aimed mainly towards children is a good idea. It also has all the latest video games. Sound familiar?
The Consigliere: Saul is more than just a lawyer. He acts as Walt and Jesse's advisor and handles all of their business arrangements.
Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Saul comes off like a sleazy, cheap, two-bit lawyer, but he's actually a sleazy, cheap, surprisingly competent one. His legitimate (not respectable) lawyer business has him deal with frivolous lawsuits and class-action suits, sure, but behind closed doors he's connected and savvy like no one's business. He's the one that basically makes Walt and Jesse take the first step into creating an actual drug empire instead of merely selling their product however they're able.
Deadpan Snarker: If there's a sarcastic line said, there's a ninety-seven percent chance Saul is the one saying it.
Even Evil Has Standards: Was unwilling to give up Walt and Jesse to Gus, only doing so when Mike threatened to break his legs. Even then, he feeds Mike fake information, protecting his clients.
In the season 5 premiere, he is upset when he finds out that his participation in Walt's schemes led to a child being hospitalized. He's dealt with a lot of criminal clients and has done a lot of amoral things for them, but it seems he draws the line at children.
Genre Savvy: In his first appearance, when Walt and Jesse kidnap him, he initially begs for his life. But once he realizes that they're not the drug dealers he thinks they are, he starts calmly talking shop. He even asks them why they don't just kill the dealer they want him to defend.
Lovable Coward: In the season 3 finale, he insists he won't give Jesse's whereabouts to Mike and stands his ground... for about five seconds. Of course, there was never any question that Mike couldn't beat the information out of him eventually.
Mean Boss: For a lawyer, Saul is surprisingly fearless of sexual harrassment charges, probably because his secretary is too wrapped up in his criminal schemes.
Plucky Comic Relief: Despite being a surprisingly skilled lawyer, pretty much every other word out of Saul's mouth is hilarious.
You Have To Have Jews: Subverted; he's actually an Irish-American named McGill who uses the name "Saul Goodman" professionally because he believes criminals will be more likely to hire a Jewish defense attorney.
"No more half measures, Walter."
Played By: Jonathan Banks
"I promise you this: Either we're all going home or none of us are. Now settle down."
Gus' number one hitman, investigator, and all around problem fixer. Extremely loyal to Gus. Gets along with Walt at first, but stops liking Walt as Walt does more stuff that threatens to ruin their operation. Then he starts to develop a mild respect (or even affection) for Jesse. Despite his horrific profession, Mike at least acts like a decent person and loves his granddaughter.
The Ace: Pulls off all assignments given to him by Gus flawlessly.
Enigmatic Minion: To a point. Despite his dedication to Gus, he is still a man that is hard to predict.
Face Death with Dignity: After he gets fatally shot by Walt, he gets out of his car, crawls away, and sits down near to a river. When Walt catches up with him, and tries to apologize, Mike tells him to shut up and let him die in peace.
Foil: To Walt. Season 5 reveals that Mike has a considerable amount of money stashed away in his granddaughter's name, making him and Walt two men committing crimes for their families. However, Mike's professionalism and caution allows his work life and home life to remain separate, while Walt's family has become horribly entangled in the meth business. And Mike's emotional stability has allowed him to retain an excellent relationship with his granddaughter and presumably her mother as well, while Walt is emotionally isolated from his family.
Mike: "Don't make me beat you 'till your legs don't work."
Noodle Incident: Used to be a police officer in Philadelphia, until his career ended under "dramatic" circumstances.
Out-of-Character Moment: Jonathan Banks considers the moment where Mike abandons his granddaughter at the playground to escape the police to be something Mike never would have done, but didn't protest out of respect for the writers and producers.
Put on a Bus: After he's shot in Mexico in season 4, it's stated he'll have to stay at the medical tent Gus had set up to recover for at least a week. This cleverly allowed the writers to take out his boss while leaving him alive to return in season 5.
Sacrificial Lion: Walt kills him simply because Mike refuses to give him information that Walt could have easily gotten from Lydia, and thus just because Walt is too pissed off to act rationally. Mike's death signals how just far Walt has fallen. If Walt had even a slight chance at redemption after all his previous evil, he just blew it.
Seen It All: The only events in the series that shock him are Walt putting a hit on Gale and Gus' death.
Start of Darkness: Described to Walt in the episode "Half Measure". Mike used to be a cop. He once gave a repeatedly abusive husband an intimidating warning rather than killing him. Later on, the man beat his wife to death, and that's when Mike decided to never take a half measure again.
The Stoic: Mike's too world-weary to get worked up over anything. He reacts to most problems with mild irritation.
Not So Stoic: There are a few times where Mike has been pushed far enough to react with real rage. Like when Walt killed Gus and he prematurely checked himself out of the makeshift Mexican hospital to race back to New Mexico to kill Walt, or when Walt followed him to a bar and asked him to kill Gus.
His boss gets killed and he loses his comfortable job.
His boss's slush fund is seized, meaning both the two million dollar inheritance he left for his granddaughter and the hazard pay to buy off his nine incarcerated men are gone.
He is forced to go against his better judgement and work with Walt, who he regards as a ticking time bomb.
Pressure from the DEA forces him to retire with a five million dollar buyout.
The DEA busts his lawyer and seizes his money again, and now he has no way of paying off his men or supporting his granddaughter.
His lawyer tricks him into revealing his present location, a playground he took his granddaughter to, to the police. Mike has to exit his granddaughter's life without saying goodbye.
When he finally tells Walt exactly what he thinks of him and explains how he is responsible for basically ruining his life, he gets shot and killed.
Even in death, Mike can't catch a break. His body is chemically disincorporated by Walt and Todd.
"Facing death changes a person. It has to, don't you think?"
Played By: Betsy Brandt
"You better back off! My husband is a DEA agent."
Skyler's sister and Hank's wife. Marie causes a lot of problems, like shoplifting, and accusing Walter of smoking marijuana, but is also supportive of Skyler and her family and Hank and the problems his job causes.
Cannot Keep A Secret: "I can't tell you. I promised I would never, ever tell." "... All I'll say is that it has to do with adultery."
The Cassandra: "None of this would have happened if you hadn't bought pot from that Pinkman kid!"
Color-Coded for Your Convenience: She's obsessed with the color purple. Most of her clothes and furniture are purple. On her blog, she discusses the time she found a purple toaster oven as an example about thinking big and achieving your dreams.
Dumbass Has a Point: Marie is stupid enough to think you can overdose on marijuana and die from it, but during the "Talking Pillow" debate in Season 1, she's the only one who thinks Walt should decide on his own whether his cancer should be treated and calls out Skyler on not giving Walt a chance to speak and forcing everyone to have one opinion.
Jerkass: When under stress, her first response is almost universally to focus on arbitrary annoyances and childish whining, and also goes around to open houses lying to real estate agents about herself as a hobby.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Marie is an annoying know-it-all, but she also clearly loves her family — it's especially visible when she does her best to stop Hank from falling into depression after he's confined to a bed.
Out of Focus: Has had the least amount of screen time of any of the original cast members.
Sticky Fingers: Is prone to shoplifting and other forms of minor larceny, particularly when she's under stress.
The Artifact: The show was originally conceived as more comedic, similar to Weeds. The first season's subplot with Marie's shoplifting/kleptomania is written in a rather light tone. The subplot came back up later and wasn't well-received.
Walt and Jesse’s Drug Empire
Brandon ‘Badger’ Mayhew
"That is awesome, Jesse! I feel like somebody took my brain out and boiled it in, like, boiling hot, like...like, Anthrax."
Play By: Matt L. Jones
The first of Jesse's three friends introduced, and one of his dealers. Not the smartest person around, but is very upbeat.
Artistic License - Law: Badger is tricked into believing the urban myth that undercover cops have to identitfy themselves as such when asked.
Those Two Guys: Has become this with Skinny Pete. Less so during the early seasons, though.
Too Dumb to Live: Busted for dealing drugs after falling for one of the oldest tricks in the book, Jesse and Walt worry Badger will snitch on them to avoid prison. Saul suggests they shank him before he can blab. Jesse and Walt opt for a more expensive solution instead.
"Hey, man, I'm slingin' mad volume and fat stackin' benjis, you know what I'm sayin'? I can't be all about, like, spelling and shit."
Played By: Charles Baker
Jesse's third friend and dealer.
Book Dumb: He manages to misspell the word street ("streat").
Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Not the character, but the very event of his death qualifies, as it sets off a chain of events leading to the finale of season 3. Later on, Jesse's desire to avenge his death sets the state for the finale of the third season, starting another chain of events that leads to the subsequent conflict in season 4.
An unassuming worker at Vamanos Pest that later assists Walter, Jesse, and Mike with a train heist in season 5 that ends with him murdering a child witness. After Jesse decides he's out of the business, he becomes Walt's new lab partner.
Ascended Extra: In his first episode, he appears briefly and has a couple lines. In his second episode, he helps the team out in a big way and commits an action that will no doubt have big ramifications in the next episode. Two episodes after that, he's Walt's new lab partner.
Bait the Dog: We know he's a criminal from the start, but he comes off as a rather friendly guy, up until he shot a kid.
Foil: To Jesse. Both have a lot of respect for Walt and call him Mr. White, but Todd, unlike Jesse, has no problems being Walt's subordinate. Todd shooting the child witness is also a stark contrast to Jesse's love of kids.
Also, contrast Jesse's initial appearance as a mere thug who later turns out to be much kinder than expected with Todd being introduced as a seemingly unassuming nice guy who later wouldn't hesitate to murder a young child.
Meaningful Name: He says so; his name means "tortoise" in Spanish, which he claims is reflective of his way of getting things done — slow, but successful. When the Twins murder him, they deliver his head to the DEA on the back of a tortoise.
Don Eladio Vuente
Played By: Steven Bauer
The head of the Mexican Drug Cartel and Gus's main competitor for control of the Southwest drug trade.
Properly Paranoid: He makes Gus take the first shot of the rare tequila, in case if it was poisoned. It was. Gus drank it anyway - he's just that much of a Badass. Above tropes exemplify how that turned out for him.
Be as Unhelpful as Possible: When brought in to the station as a witness against Jesse following Tuco's death, he refuses to respond to any questions except those regarding the current location and date, and that was just to make sure he wasn't senile. As Gomez points out, an "OG Latino gangbanger" would never help the feds.
Bigger Bad: His actions led to molding the Cousins, possibly Tuco, and Gus Fring into villains.
Chekhov's Boomerang: Tio seems to be a relatively unimportant character until he's brought back in season 3, then plays an even bigger role in season 4.
Even Evil Has Loved Ones: There is a framed picture of him, a child, and two baby twins seen in the nursing home he is kept in during the last episode of season 4. The kids are Tuco and the Salamanca twins. A flashback reveals that Salamanca believes that "family is all," which is why they're all so Ax Crazy about avenging each other.
Even Evil Has Standards: See Even Evil Has Loved Ones. Also, he's made it quite clear that he'd never help the feds. Not if he was in jail for over a decade. Or if it was to help avenge the death of his beloved nephew. Even for the guy who killed everybody he ever knew, he would rather blow himself up then turn him in to the DEA.
Fate Worse Than Death: Subjected to one of these by Gus, whose friend/brother/lover he killed. Gus shows up to see the crippled and decrepit Hector every day and taunts him about whether or not today will be the day that he finally kills him. Made even worse once Gus has killed every last one of his living family members.
Last of His Kind: After Gus' murder of Don Eladio and company, he is the last surviving member of the Salamanca family.
Bond Villain Stupidity: When Marco has Hank cornered, he decides not to execute him with his pistol and leaves to go get his axe. This gives Hank time to reload his pistol and kill Marco with a headshot.
Chekhovs Hollow Point Bullets: One of the hollow point bullets given to Marco for free by an arms dealer earlier in the episode ends up getting dropped and then fired directly into the head of Marco by Hank.
The Determinators: One of them was just crushed by a car and had both legs amputated. When he sees Walt, he unhooks himself from his IVs, rolls out of his hospital bed, and drags himself toward Walt by his bloody stumps, death-staring him the whole time. While Walt was surrounded by half a dozen cops.
"You’re just speaking for me? Like I don’t have the goddamn sense to speak for myself?"
Played By: Raymond Cruz
Walt and Jesse's first boss. Tuco is an unstable, paranoid man who snorts meth all day. At first Walter (and reluctantly Jesse) want to be Tuco's main supplier, but they quickly change their mind after they are hired when Tuco beats one of his subordinates to death over a minor misunderstanding.
Large Ham: In direct contrast to the other, more understated villains in the show.
Rasputinian Death: Gets hit by a rock, shot at point blank range, kicked and beat, shoved into a ditch, then finally shot in the head.
Psychopathic Manchild: He shows various signs of this. In addition to being prone to violent tantrums, Tuco also seems to be unable to comprehend fairly obvious things. The first major example is the shock he displays at his henchmen dying after he beats him to death. The second major example is his response to Walt's protesting his plan to take him to Mexico, on the grounds that he has a wife and family. His response? "So what? You'll get another one".
Real Life Writes the Plot: Tuco was apparently supposed to be on the show a bit longer, but actor Raymond Cruz didn't enjoy playing such a disturbed character for so long and asked to be written out.
Another meth cooker that Gus forces Walt to replace Jesse with. Walt and Gale get along well, but in reality Gus is using Gale to learn how Walt cooks his meth so he can dispose of Walt and Jesse and replace them with Gale, who is a lot more manageable.
Bolivian Army Cliffhanger: The last scene of season 3 is this for him. The creator has stated categorically that this was unintentional; there was no intended irony in the scene, they just wanted to concentrate on Jesse's reaction.
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: The season 4 premier reveals in a Flashback that his dedication to making the best meth possible in Gus' lab is what inspired Gus to hire Walt. Which didn't work out to well for him in the end.
Replacement Scrappy: In-Universe: Gale is more competent than Jesse by any definition of the word, but Walt comes to resent Gale because he answers to Gus.
Sacrificial Lamb: Exists primarily to provide a relatively innocent victim to show how much Walt has had to compromise his morals.
Small Role Big Impact: While he's relatively important even with the small amount of screen time, it turns out that he's been an Unwitting Instigator of Doomeven in death. He affects the plot in a major way at least three times by being the factor that made Gus hire Walt in the first place, driving the plot of season 3; his death and his notes inspire Hank to investigate Gus Fring in season 4; and his gift is what finally does Walt in at the end of season 5, part 1.
Failed a Spot Check: Sent into Casa Tranquila ahead to make sure it's safe, he fails to notice the bomb strapped to Tio Hector's wheelchair, resulting in the deaths of both him and Gus.
Jerkass: Sure, a lot of the mean things he does can be chalked up to "just doing his job", but not even extending his hand to pass Jesse a phone and instead making him pull it from his hand? This places him firmly under this trope.
The Quiet One: Even more taciturn than Mike or Gus, which is saying something.
Shown only in flashbacks, Max was the meth cooker to Gus' meth distributor, mirroring the relationship between Walt and Jesse. He was the one who proposed cooking meth for the Mexican Cartel, and was killed when they were unimpressed with crystal meth and felt he had wasted their time.
Ambiguously Gay: Stated to be a valid interpretation of Max and Gus' relationship.
Chekhov's Gunman: His name gets dropped earlier in the same episode in which he appears.
Obfuscating Stupidity: She comes off as a paranoid, crooked executive with a very naive view of the game, but she plays both Mike and Walt through some emotional blackmail, connections, and ego-stroking.
Wrong Genre Savvy: When she meets with Mike and later Walter, she dons big black shades and tries to sit away from them like she's in a spy movie. Then she draws attention to herself by throwing a hissy fit about her order and generally acting like she's in a police interview while covered in blood.
Played by: Norbert Weisser
The head of Madrigal Electromotive's fast food division, and criminal associate of Gus Fring.
Bigger Bad: Was Gus's business partner who apparently facilitated distribution for his drug empire. This is not really explored in detail.
A single mother Jesse meets at a drug addict support group, eventually the two start up a relationship. Andrea has a son, Brock, that Jesse gets along with. Is the older sister of the kid who shot Combo.
Functional Addict: Seems to be one, at least compared to most of the other addicts on this show.
Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk: His final conversation with Walt, when it seems he may be more human, shows that he is at heart just a cruel, mean-spirited person.
Laser-Guided Karma: Is manipulated into selling his carwash at a much lower price by the man he treated so badly. And, just to rub it in, he forces him to hand over his first dollar which he had framed. Which Walt then uses to buy a coke.
Mean Boss: Forces cashiers to do menial labour. He tries to justify his actions by explaining that "a boss has to be tough."
They ring hollow, however, since he treats running a carwash as something that requires a degree and an iron fist (and he's talking to someone who by that time directly killed at least three people) and Walt shuts him up completely by taking his first earned dollar from him. Then he buys a Coke with it.
A drug dealer Jesse brings along with him in the pilot. He and his partner try to kidnap Walt and Jesse to force them to make meth, but instead is caught by Walt and Jesse and tied up in Jesse's basement. He is the first person Walt murders.
Affably Evil: While in Jesse's basement. "Walter, you getting to know me is not gonna make it any easier for you to kill me. Not that I mind, you understand."
Self-Disposing Villain: After days of keeping him chained in the basement, Walt is just about to let him go (at which point he would be free to exact revenge at a time and place convenient to him) when he chooses to hide an improvised weapon, presumably with the intention of killing Walt as soon as he's been freed. It doesn't end well for him.
A prostitute who works out of a motel that Jesse sometimes does drugs with.
Chekhov's Gunman: Ultimately subverted; she reappears in season 3 as part of Jesse's plot to kill the dealers who murdered Combo, but doesn't end up going through with it.
Fridge Horror: She's never seen again, starting with the episode that Tomas is killed. Given context, it's possible that the drug runners killed her, too, since it's clear that at least Gus, Mike, and Victor all knew she was in on it.
Once a Season: She has shown up to play a small but somewhat crucial role in the first three seasons.
Real Song Theme Tune: Subverted. The Association's "Everybody Knows It's Windy" is played music video-style as a Cold Open to A Day In The Life of Wendy. It's a harsh and abbreviated look at the life of a methhead prostitute; she later claims to do everything for her son, but he's not seen once during this.