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Characters: Breaking Bad Walter White
Character subpage for Breaking Bad's protagonist, Walter White. For the main page, see here.

Walter Hartwell White Sr. (AKA "Heisenberg")

"A guy opens his door and gets shot, you think that of me? No. I AM THE ONE WHO KNOCKS!"
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."

An underachieving Albuquerque, New Mexico high school chemistry teacher who, after being diagnosed with lung cancer, starts manufacturing crystal methamphetamine to provide for his family upon his death. Knowing nothing about the drug trade, he enlists the aid of his former student, Jesse Pinkman, to manufacture and sell his meth. Walt's scientific knowledge and dedication to quality lead him to produce a drug that is purer and more potent than any competitors'. Walt eventually devises an alternative chemical process utilizing methylamine, giving his product a distinctive blue color. His crystal meth, which is given the street name "Blue Sky", soon dominates the market, leading to confrontations with established drug kingpins.

  • Acquired Situational Narcissism: Walter gets seriously overconfident whenever he succeeds. Done away with at the end of season 4, when he kills Gus and his pride is reinforced permanently. Mike finds out fatally what happens when one insults his pride.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Type 1 in the Season 3 finale.
    • Walt later begs for Hank's life in "Ozymandias", to little effect. What's notable is that Hank refuses to grovel.
  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: Many times throughout the series, probably the worst and stupidest was convincing Hank that Gale wasn't Heisenberg.
  • The Alleged Car: Walt has a decidedly non-Kingpin's taste in transportation, beginning with a bland Pontiac Aztec SUV with a perpetually cracked windshield. Of all the cars he chooses to carjack in "Felina", he picks an old Volvo with the exact same paint scheme.
  • Alliterative Name: Like Walt Whitman.
  • And Then What?: He gets this from Skyler after he makes more money cooking meth than they could ever spend in 10 lifetimes.
  • Animal Motifs: Walter is repeatedly associated with roaches, even sneaking into homes under cover of fumigation in order to continue cooking meth in season 5. Just keep an eye on how often he's sitting in front of posters codifying various species of roach and other vermin.
  • Anti-Hero: He starts out as something of this status, and then goes through several scales of grey as the seasons come and go. Has crossed the border into Villain Protagonist territory as of season 5.
    • Unscrupulous Hero: In "Felina". Having accepted that everything is his fault, Walt salvages anything that hasn't yet been destroyed. He ensures a hefty inheritance for his family and that Hank and Gomez's bodies are found. He avenges Hank by killing the Neo-Nazis, rescues Jesse before giving him the chance to kill him. Finally, he clears his family off any charges for good, or at the very least, puts them on a good legal standing.
  • Anti-Villain: Type III, before Character Development.
    • Type I, in Season 5 Part 2 he is this against Jesse and Hank. He initially tries to reason with Jesse, and when it proves futile he makes the painful decision to have him killed albeit quick and painlessly. As for Hank, Walt would rather surrender himself than even consider killing his brother-in-law.
  • Apologetic Attacker:
    • Walt breaks down crying and apologizing over and over after being forced to kill Krazy-8.
    • Later in season 5, after fatally shooting Mike, when he realizes he could've just gotten the information he wanted elsewhere.
    • The shame of his participation in Hank's shooting leaves him emotionally crushed.
  • Arch-Enemy: Hank views Heisenberg as his.
  • The Atoner: An extremely dark version in "Felina".
  • Badass: A theme of the show is that the more of a badass Walt becomes, the more he sheds his humanity.
    • Badass Beard: See "Beard of Evil" below.
    • Badass Boast:
      • "Stay out of my territory."
      • "I am the one who knocks!"
      • "I won."
      • "I'm in the empire business."
      • "I'm the cook. I am the one who killed Gus Fring. Say my name."
      • "If you don't know who I am, then maybe your best course would be to tread lightly."
      • "Elliott, if we're gonna go that way, you'll need a bigger knife."
    • Badass Bookworm: He's an extremely well-read and educated man, which serves to make him even more dangerous and capable.
    • Badass Mustache: When he isn't sporting a full beard. His mustache at the beginning of the show is an inversion; Cranston described it as looking "impotent" and like a "dead caterpillar".
    • Badass Teacher: Despite leaving the job in season three.
      • Though unlike other examples of this trope, Walter is never shown interest or care to defend his students
    • Brought Down to Badass: Walt is surprisingly at his most lethal when stripped of his assets, manpower, weapons, and even physical strength. During his absence from New Mexico, his infamy has grown to such an extent that a few crank calls from teenagers (or possibly Badger and Skinny Pete) ties up the entire Albuquerque PD. Throw in a couple of laser pointers for good measure and voilà: Instant hit squad! ("Felina")
    • 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. However, it's also a Deconstruction as, the more badass he gets, the more humanity he loses.
  • Bad Liar: He turns into a sheet of cellophane whenever Skyler's around. And to Walt Jr. after "Ozymandias".
  • Bald of Awesome: Starting in "Crazy Handful of Nothin'". Though as the show progresses, it's getting closer to Bald of Evil. Notably, when he grows it back for "Granite State" and "Felina", he's become The Atoner.
  • Batman Gambit: His victory against Gus hinged on Gus being so bent on revenge that he would want to kill Hector himself. It works. He later uses it to wipe out the Nazis and Lydia, seeing Lydia as a Creature of Habit and exploiting Jack's hatred of rats and Pride against them.
  • Beard of Evil: Or at least Beard of Anti-Heroics, which Walt grows once his actions become less and less excusable. Eventually it's just a Beard of Evil.
  • Beard of Sorrow: He grows one during his self-imposed exile.
  • Because I'm Good at It. One of the major 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.
    • He even tries to tempt Jesse from leaving the meth business by telling him they're the absolute best at cooking meth.
    • In Felina, he finally admits to Skyler that this is why he cooked.
    • In the final scene of the show, Walt takes a rather nostalgic-feeling stroll through the Aryans' meth lab before dying of blood loss from his bullet wound. The song playing as he dies implies that he is dying next to his true love, which isn't his family or even his money, but his blue meth, his creation that he is so proud of.
  • 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."
  • Berserk Button: Originally, it was harming his family. Now, attacking his Pride is probably the most dangerous thing you can do, as Mike found out.
    • In "Granite State", the Schwartzes bring Walt back from the very edge of the Despair Event Horizon from thousands of miles away simply by unintentionally smashing down hard on his Berserk Button regarding his role in Gray Matter.
  • Best Served Cold: He finally receives a recompense of sorts from Grey Matter by blackmailing them into establishing a trust fund for his son.
    • In "Felina", he finally kills the Nazis, months after they killed Hank, stole Walt's money and enslaved Jesse in "Ozymandias".
  • Better Living Through Evil: He earned barely over $40K a year in his legal job as a high school chem teacher. As a meth lord - millions.
  • Big Bad: In Season 5. For the first half and most of the second half. In "Ozymandias", he loses the position.
  • Blackmail: Walter blackmails Jesse to begin working with him in the first episode, having witnessed Jesse leaving a crime scene. Later, Walter emotionally blackmails Jesse into murdering Gale in cold blood, to save his own skin, having previously saved Jesse from being killed.
    • Pulls a nasty example in "Confessions", where he makes a "confession tape" confessing to all of his crimes, while saying that his brother-in-law, Hank, was behind everything, using his DEA knowledge to become the meth kingpin and threatening him and his family to get him to do what he wants. He does it as a warning to Hank to get off his back.
  • Blatant Lies: Unavoidable, really, considering the path he goes down.
  • Blessed with Suck: How he views his cancer going into remission, since it robs him of a convenient excuse for his awful deeds.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Applies in the early seasons before the "nice" goes out the window. He was a meek, unimpressive man before the cancer. Now, people prefer not to cross him.
  • Bloody Handprint: The ending to the series, after Walt leans on a tank to steady himself.
  • The Bore: His life before his life of crime. You can really see this when he has conversations with old friends at Gretchen's party or any time he talks to Hank in the first season.
  • Born Lucky/Street Smart: Invoked by Jesse, when he mentions just how successful Walter has been in the meth business to Hank and Gomez.
    Jesse: Look– look, you two guys are just… guys, okay? Mr. White... he's the devil. You know, he is– he is smarter than you, he is luckier than you. Whatever– Whatever you think is supposed to happen– I’m telling you, the exact reverse opposite of that is gonna happen, okay?
  • Break Their Hearts To Save Them: His phone call at the end of "Ozymandias". Knowing that the police is listening, he calls Skyler and portrays himself as a psychotic abuser who terrorized her into complicity in his crimes from the get-go so she won't be prosecuted for willingly aiding him and so Marie and Walt Jr. won't shun her. He's playing it up hard and you can see the moment Skyler realizes this.
  • Break Them by Talking: Attempts one on Jesse in Say My Name. It doesn't stop Jesse from leaving his business.
  • Broken Pedestal: Progressively for Jesse over the course of his descent into villainy, culminating in the revelation of his true evil in "Confessions".
    • Becomes one for Walter Jr. when he finds out who and what his father is.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: To Gus in Season 3, and Jesse and Tuco before that: His behavior is erratic and he sometimes threatens to stop working if he doesn't get what he wants, but the meth he cooks is so pure that his bosses are willing to accommodate him.
  • But He Sounds Handsome: After listening to Hank wax lyrical about what a genius Gale was and how he could've helped humanity if he'd only wanted to, Walt offers his "humble" opinion that Gale's notes looked more like rote copying than his own work.
  • Butt Monkey: Deconstructed. He views himself as being one and his actions as a response. While he did endure a lot of bad luck, casting him as one ignores the fact that much of his bad luck was due to his own arrogance and pride.
  • Byronic Hero: He either develops into one as the show progresses or he always was one and is gradually exposing it.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: Forces this on Gus after he murders Gale.
  • 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.
  • Can't Take Criticism: It goes hand in hand with his massive ego. In "Say My Name", he went berserk when Mike calls him out on that ego for causing problems in the meth business.
  • 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.
  • The Chessmaster: Attempts it several times, with varying results. He completely became one in "Felina".
  • Chronic Villainy: No matter how many times he's in danger, he would go back to his meth business just because he can. He gives up his drug business after "Gliding Over All," only to have Hank discover that he is Heisenberg, forcing him to go back into his drug-dealing ways.
  • Confess to a Lesser Crime: When Skyler confronts him on his odd behavior, he tells her he's buying pot from Jesse.
    • In "Seven Thirty-Seven", he confesses to changing the TV channel when Tio accuses him of an unspecified crime.
    • In early season 4, to explain his newfound wealth and erratic behavior, he tells Hank and Marie he got into underground gambling.
    • Also in "Salud" to Walt Jr. — to explain his injuries, he lies that he's back into gambling.
  • Consummate Liar: Walter lies to everyone including himself most of all.
  • Control Freak: Another trait of Walt's that is both a huge strength and a huge flaw. His perfectionism makes his product the best on the market, but his love of control leads him increasingly to act like a Manipulative Bastard, not just to protect himself, but to change the behavior of those close to him whenever it doesn't suit him.
  • Cooldown Hug: Gives one to Jesse when the latter vents over how Walt is unable to be truthful about his motives for getting him to leave town.
  • The Corrupter: Both in a Downplayed intentional fashion and in an unintentional fashion. While Jesse was already in the meth business, Walt coerces and manipulates him into doing things that he would never have considered doing beforehand. Unintentionally, Walt's influence has a similar effect on everyone around him. One of the writers noted, "Walt has corrupted everyone."
  • 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 and give him a well-paying, probably much more interesting job with it. But he turned it down out of spite. It almost worked ... Walt was obviously strongly tempted until Elliott mentioned insurance too significantly, tipping off Walt that Skyler had told them about Walt's cancer.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: His arrest in "Ozymandias".
    • The final shot of "Crawlspace." The same shot recurs in the final episode, "Felina", when he dies from blood loss as the police arrive.
  • Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster : "I am....awake."
  • Dare to Be Badass: To Jesse. "Jesse, look at me. You are a blowfish."
  • Dark Secret:
    • While he didn't directly kill Jane, he can never tell his partner Jesse that he intentionally let her die. Until he tells Jesse as he's carted off to Aryan doom...
    • As of the Season 4 finale, he can also never tell Jesse (or anybody for that matter) that he was the one who poisoned Brock. Until Jesse figured it out...
    • And as of Season 5, he can also never tell Jesse that he murdered Mike. However, this was actually more of an Open Secret since both Jesse and Lydia figured out that Walt murdered Mike, despite Walt's denial.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Sometimes to excess.
  • Death Equals Redemption: Dies from a stray 7.62mm round from his rigged M60 to his right lung while saving Jesse from Jack and his gang's clutches.
  • Death Glare: Surprisingly, a master of this. Just see his expression near the end of "Over", to Saul in "Bullet Points" or in to Bogdan "Cornered".
  • Death Seeker: After he kills Jack and the Aryans in "Felina", he tells Jesse that he wants Jesse to kill him. By this time, he's not only dying from cancer, but also has a fatal bullet wound.
  • Death Wail: His reaction to Hank getting killed is so agonized, that it's inaudible.
  • Determined Expression: While waiting for the police to arrive and arrest him, he sees a TV interview of Eliott discrediting his contribution to Gray Matter, this sparks his final move for the finale.
  • Diabolical Mastermind: Deconstructed.
  • Died Happily Ever After: With his family taken care of and his enemies killed off, he strolls through a meth lab before falling dead.
  • Dies Wide Open: From blood loss, in "Felina."
  • Dissonant Serenity: His demeanor though the last episode, "Felina". Of note is the scene of Walt setting up his machine gun rig, humming the lyrics to a Marty Robbins ear worm as he does it.
  • Disguised Hostage Gambit: Walt pulls a really nasty inverted one on Hank. When Hank shows no signs of letting up on his pursuit of Walt, Walt shoots a "confession" video in which he fingers Hank as Heisenberg, claims to have been forced to work as Hank's unwitting chemist, and claims that Hank is trying to engineer his death. In one fell swoop, Walt effectively neutralizes Hank's potential credibility if he were to arrest him.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Walt's default position should anybody back him into a corner, strip him of agency, threaten him from what they think is a relatively safe position of authority or manage to exert control for a time: he attacks when he gets an opportunity to and has been wound up enough. The series basically shows his bite getting better, more ferocious and more on a hair-trigger as he goes along. He goes from a Chihuahua to a toy poodle to German Shepard to mastiff... so beware the bite.
  • Do Not Go Gentle / Face Death with Dignity: His early motivation, when he learns he's got cancer, is to die on his own terms. He attempts it by initially refusing treatment and going into the meth business to provide for his family. This is partially because he saw his father die as a weak shell, struck down by his illness. In "Felina", he dies from blood loss after being shot in the side by the M60 he rigs in the trunk of his car which he uses to kill Jack and his Aryan Brotherhood gang.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Refuses the offer to pay his medical expenses from two of his old colleagues.
  • Doom Magnet: By series end, Walter's actions have led to worsening the lives of virtually every character in the series, if not killing them outright. As of "Granite State", Lydia, Todd and the Nazis are the only characters who have gained anything from Walt's meth business.
    • And "Felina" has it catch up to THEM as well, leaving no one untouched.
  • Doting Parent: For all his flaws, Walt truly does love his children.
  • The Dreaded: By Season 5, he is feared by anyone who knows him as Heisenberg.
    Walt: Now, say my name.
    Declan: (Beat) *Quietly* Heisenberg.
    Walt: You're goddamn right.
  • Drunk with Power: After offing Gus.
  • Dying Alone: Ultimately dies without any of his friends or family, of blood loss.
    • Dying Moment of Awesome: Walt is mortally wounded by a stray bullet fired from his M60 gun turret, killing everyone in the Nazi compound except for Jack, Jesse, Todd and himself. Walt, seemingly unfazed by his injury, advances on Jack and executes him.
  • Dude, Where's My Reward?: He's still seething over selling his stock in Grey Matter for a paltry five grand. The final straw is a Coincidental Broadcast in a roadside bar in New Hampshire: Gretchen and Elliott appearing on national news to deny any affiliation with Walter White.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Yes, Walt dies, but he is completely at peace with everything. His family is taken care of, Jesse is free and he dies alongside the remnants of his beloved meth empire.
  • Emperor Scientist: Walt feels that his “meth empire” is the only thing that can replace his regret of losing the billions that he could have had if he hadn’t sold his share in Gray Matter Technologies for 5,000 dollars. He specifically tells Jesse that this is his last driving motivation after losing his family emotionally.
    • "You asked me if I was in the meth business, or the money business. Neither. I'm in the empire business."
  • Et Tu, Brute?: The only thing he can say, while being arrested by Hank, is one word to Jesse.
    Walt: Coward.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: About the only thing that keeps Walter from turning into an irredeemable monster is that even at his worst, he still cares for his family, and he comes to see Jesse as a surrogate son in a twisted sort of way. He refuses to kill Hank and Jesse when its suggested to him, even though killing them would be the simplest solution for him. While he is eventually pushed to ordering Jesse's murder, he orders it fast and painless, and only does so after Jesse makes a threat that Walt believes is against his family. Finally and most powerfully, in "Ozymandias" he begs Jack to spare Hank, offering Jack all of his 80 million dollars just to let Hank go.
    • Probably the shining example of this is in "Felina." In his last act of charity before tying off every loose end and shutting down the Albuquerque meth empire for good, he forces his old colleagues from Grey Matter to give the 10 million dollars he has left to his son in an irrevocable trust fund on his 18th birthday with the hope that he'll use it to support his family after his own fate is resolved.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: He is completely baffled by Jesse's desire to leave the meth business after the death of Drew Sharp.
  • Evil Feels Good: He admits it to Skyler in the last episode.
  • Evil Genius: As increasingly amoral and ruthless as Walt becomes, one aspect of his personality that cannot be refuted is his brilliant mind. He isn't just a skilled chemist, he's also a cunning plotter, a shrewd manipulator, and has skill in tinkering with hardware to create some cobbled-together gadgets if needed. The only thing that continuously gets in his way is his cripplingly massive ego.
  • Evil Is Petty: Blaming Jesse for Hank's death, Walt tells Jesse that he watched Jane die. At this point, Walt had already handed Pinkman over to Jack's gang to be executed as payback for his former partner siding against him, so telling him the truth about Jane served no other purpose but for Walt to twist the knife further. Vince Gilligan actually said that he considers this the worst thing that Walter did on the show, as it was the one thing that he did that was actually sadistic in nature.
  • Face-Heel Turn: The audience already knows this from the start.
  • Fainting: Walter passes out when Hank is murdered by Jack.
  • Fatal Flaw: His pride, inability to accept the consequences of his actions his tendency to not empathize with anyone else outside of his family.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Becomes this in Season 5, especially when talking to Skyler.
  • Foot Dragging Divorcee: In Seasons 2-4.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Interestingly, this is most true in the series finale, after Walt is reduced to emaciated wraith of his old self.
  • Freudian Excuse: He's reluctant about chemotherapy and insistent on dying on his own terms because of his father's death from Huntington's Disease. In addition, his mother seems to have been a very unpleasant person who he has little to no contact with. It's lightly touched on by the show, but growing up without very much love may be a big reason why Walter turns out the way he does. More recently, his falling-out with Gretchen and Elliott is also a huge contributing factor for many of his evil deeds; because he's had to live with the shame of knowing that he missed his chance at wealth and respect, he'll do almost anything to feel important.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Pretty much the whole point of the show is to display his transition from naive, pushover high school science teacher to ruthless, murderous meth manufacturer.
  • Gaining The Will To Kill: Walter White agonizes over whether or not to kill Krazy-8 in the first season, drawing up a literal "pros and cons" list. As the series goes on, Walter becomes much more comfortable with murder.
  • The Gambling Addict: The cover up story that Skyler makes for Walt's earnings in the drug business.
  • Gilded Cage: The Extractor takes him, along with Saul, out of the city when the DEA starts to close in. Saul is deposited in Nebraska (to his obvious displeasure), while Walt is unceremoniously stuffed inside an empty gas tanker and driven to a desolate ranch in New Hampshire. The Extractor pitches it as a retirement retreat, advising Walt to use his solitude to contemplate things. Walt seems to have taken his advice, as he is more open to Skyler when he turns up again in "Felina."
  • Go Out with a Smile: In Felina after setting up his kids future, killing the Neo-Nazis group, and freeing Jesse. Walt dies in a meth lab with a content smile on his face.
  • Graceful Loser: Attempted in "To'hajiilee". After discovering he'd been Out-Gambitted by Hank and Jesse, Walt is faced with the choice of calling in The Cavalry to bail him out or surrender. Not being able to bring himself to order the deaths of his brother-in-law and surrogate son (who wasn't out to kill him after all) he chooses the latter. Unfortunately for him the backup he calls off arrives anyway.
  • Greed: His other big failing after pride. As far back as the beginning, Walt has had a tendency to bite off more than he can chew. When he can't make as much meth as he had initially agreed on with Tuco, he still tries to get him to pay the original price as a retainer, despite knowing full well how risky it is to piss off Tuco. Even when the meth business is going smoothly, he always insists to Jesse that they could be making more. This is used by Jesse and Hank to corner him in "To'hajiilee".
    • Subverted in "Felina", when Jack's promises to return Walt's money and claims do nothing to keep Walt from killing him, even as he claims Walt could never find it on his own.
  • Gut Feeling: Just like Gus, he becomes able to pick up cues that a situation could be off from subtle odd behaviors in others. He ends up checking his car for a tracking device when Skyler mentions that Hank has been sick with a "stomach bug".
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Early on, Walt's angry outbursts were restricted to restrained shows of force and only occassional shouting matches with Jesse. But as the series progresses, his quickness to anger is only matched by his ego's sensitivity. Notably, he returns to having a much colder temper in "Felina", where he has become the Atoner.
  • Happily Married: With Skyler before the series, despite Skyler's pushiness and Walt's dissatisfaction with his situation.
  • Heel Realization: In "Salud" after his fight with Jesse. A tearjerking one, to boot. Until it gets thrown out of the window in "Crawl Space".
    • Seems to finally get the message in "Ozymandias" when baby Holly's first words are "mama". It dawns on him that no matter how hard he bullshits himself into believing that he's doing it for family, it's no longer possible to convince them. He then admits the truth to Skyler in "Felina."
    • And finally, after lying relentlessly to himself as well as his family, pretending that everything that he did he did for his family, he finally, calmly acknowledges the truth in Felina:
      Walt: I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. And I was really...I was alive.
  • He's Back: He is on the verge of a Despair Event Horizon following a particularly cringe-worthy phone call to his son. ("Granite State") Moments after he phones the DEA to give himself up, Walt spies Elliott and Gretchen on the Charlie Rose show, a reminder of unfinished business. The following episode opens with Walt immediately stealing a sedan and speeding back to Albuquerque.
  • The Hero Dies / Hoist by His Own Petard: His fate in the final episode. Although the machine gun in his car mows down the neo-Nazis, he is hit as well and dies soon afterward.
  • Heroic BSOD:
    • In the last scene of "Crawl Space".
    • Villainous BSOD: In "Ozymandias", after Hank is murdered before his eyes, he collapses on the ground and remains motionless for hours. As critics have observed, this bookends nicely with "Crawl Space", with Walt's expressions mirroring Greek comic and tragic masks.
  • The Hero's Birthday: The first episode begins on Walt's 50th, and it's also the same day he is diagnosed with cancer. His 51st and 52nd birthdays are significant too: on 51, Skyler turns on him for good, even to the point of wishing death on him, and on his 52nd birthday he returns to Albuquerque to die that night.
  • Hidden Villain: To Hank. Until "Gliding Over All"
  • Honor Before Reason: An rare example of this trope used in a negative manner. 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.
  • Humiliation Conga: He goes through several, almost entirely self-induced.
  • 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.
    • His overall treatment of Jesse can also be considered this when you consider that Walt's entire motivation for being Heisenberg is that he feels entitled to respect that he, in his mind, did not receive.
  • 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.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Always this trope. He even wanted to have a calm discussion with Jesse, once he found out, about how necessary it was to poison Brock.
  • Idiot Ball: Walt's paranoia over Gus murdering him causes him to pick it up in "Open House". First, he tries to goad Mike into helping him kill Gus, his employer, and doesn't really offer Mike anything in return. Later on, he just drives up to Gus' house with the intention of killing him and is shocked to receive a phone call from Mike.
    • He picks up another one when he gets drunk and lets his pride do the talking when he convinces Hank that Gale couldn't have been Heisenberg.
  • Ignored Epiphany:
    • Judging by his behavior at the very end of "Face Off". Completely outsmarting the most powerful drug dealer in the whole state can have that effect on you.
    • Has another one, more long-lasting in the middle of season 5, after he realizes he can't easily justify killing Mike and earning so much money that it begins to be a liability.
  • Ill Man: Walter is diagnosed with lung cancer in the first episode. It goes into remission a little under half-way through the series only to come back more aggressive than before in the last season.
  • I'll Never Tell You What I'm Telling You: Walt does this with Lydia when he was actually going to poison her with ricin until they made a new deal.
    Lydia: You are tying up loose ends, and I don't want to be one of them. Once I give you that list, I've served my purpose, and then maybe I'm just one more person who knows too much.
    Walt: So you put that list in my hands, and in your mind, I immediately just murder you? Just right here, in this restaurant...
    Lydia: No. Not right here, of course.
    Walt: ...Right here in this public place, immediately?
    Lydia: It's not what I—
  • Important Haircut: "Badass, dad!"
  • Insignia Ripoff Ritual: While avoiding the authorities in New Hampshire. Walt, the destitute king, chafes at having to pay $50,000 for supplies he could pick up himself in town. ("Granite State") Defying the instructions of the extractor, he dons Heisenberg's trademark hat and saunters toward the compound gate... only to suffer a coughing fit and turn back, defeated. The last time we see Heisenberg's hat, it's adorning a mounted deer.
  • 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, til in one scene he is able to causally sip coffee while several men are being brutally murdered in prison under his orders. 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 - it's indicated as early as in season 1, 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. It kicks in full time in season 4, to the point where Walt speaks this exact line out loud, which eventually leads to a conflict with Jesse. By season 5, it's truly gotten out of control.
    • In "Felina", he admits to Skyler that this was his main motivation for cooking meth, as he was good at it and enjoyed it. This marks one of the only times the admission of this trope has ever been portrayed sympathetically, as he is finally being honest with both his wife and, just as importantly, himself.
  • 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.
    • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: In a very dark sense, he is this to Jesse. For all of his constant belittlement, manipulation, and abusive, jerkass behavior to Jesse, Walt does genuinely care about him. Several times throughout the series, Walt saves Jesse's life despite being a dick to him not too long before. Even after Jesse almost burns his house, Walt tries his best to resolve the situation without harming Jesse. When he realizes he has no choice but to kill Jesse, Walt is heartbroken.
    • Jerkass Has a Point: Late in season 2, Walter refuses to give Jesse his share of the cut after completing a massive deal. While this may initially come off as greedy, but Jesse also had a massive drug addiction. That same addiction almost screwed Walt from completing the very deal. Walt even makes a point in saying that if he gets clean, he can get his share.
      • His "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Skyler in season 5. Some people interpret the speech as a Take That, Audience! to Skyler-haters (echoing as it does many of their criticisms of Skyler). Which doesn't change the fact that he's not wrong.
  • Justified Criminal: 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". It's indicated as early as season 1's "Gray Matter", when Walt balks at the idea of his former colleagues solving all of his financial and intellectual problems on the grounds of "charity".
  • Kansas City Shuffle: He has a tendency to lie in an obvious way, and when called on it, Confess to a Lesser Crime, as seen with his "gambling addiction" or when Walt Jr. wants to know why his clothes smell like gasoline.
  • Kick the Morality Pet:
    • After finding out his cancer is in remission, Walt goads Walter Jr. into drinking tequila shots until he vomits. Hardly the worst thing he does in the series, but the first time he does something cruel for absolutely no reason.
    • 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.
    • In Ozymandias, Just before Jack's crew takes Jesse to interrogate him on what he told Hank and Gomez, he tells Jesse that he let Jane die, just to spite him.
  • 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.
  • Lack of Empathy: By the final season, if you're not part of his family or Jesse, he really doesn't give a damn what happens to you. Exemplified in a scene where, after telling Jesse how broken up he is about the shooting of Drew Sharp, he immediately starts whistling a joyful tune, coincidentally "The Lily of the Valley".
  • Laughing Mad: An epic instance at the end of "Crawl Space".
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • Finally catches up with Walt in the season 5 mid-season break. 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. Bonus points for him finding out from a book given to Walt from Gale, the "innocent" man he forced Jesse to kill.
    • Jesse finally comes to realization that he poisoned Brock and is having no more of his manipulation, vowing to take him down.
    • The entirety of "Ozymandias". Walter directly endangers a family member, getting Hank killed. He loses most of the money he earned to feed his ego and protect his family. He destroys the last ounces of trust his family had for him and gets into a physical altercation with Skyler and Walt Jr. He realizes that he's been deceiving himself about his motivations all along. And to cap it all off, he embraces the Heisenberg persona fully, so he can protect Skyler from being complicit in his crimes.
  • Leitmotif: "The Long Walk Alone (Heisenberg's Theme)", which often plays when he is in full Heisenberg mode.
  • Let Them Die: In the 2nd season he lets Jane die while vomiting in her sleep after a heroin injection.
  • 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.
    • In "Granite State", Walt puts on his Heisenberg hat and tries to waltz out of his cabin in an attempt to do this. He makes it to the gate, realizes how much road he would have to cover and the idea dies until the very end of the episode, months later.
  • Like a Son to Me: Jesse. Walter admits this to several people in 5B when it becomes apparent that Jesse is a risk to him and he may have to kill Jesse. Hank even mentions to Jesse that Walter cares for Jesse in a twisted way.
  • Living Legend: In Season 5, Heisenberg has become this to drug lords in the American Southwest, as evidenced by his scene with Declan.
  • Lonely at the Top: In the mid 5th season finale, Walter reaches this point when he successfully makes more money than his family could ever spend in 10 lifetimes and has lost the emotional support of all his loved ones. This and the news of his cancer returning help him decide to quit his empire.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Walt claims he does what he does out of love for his family, which is partly true. Of course, he also has more egocentric motivations. As time goes on, the ego motivation outweighs the love motivation more and more.
  • MacGyvering: He does this from time to time to get out of trouble, like mixing the right chemicals to escape Krazy-8 and Emilio Koyama. Jumpstarting a car with sponges. Or the pipebomb activated bell that kills both Hector and Gus. And an automated M-60 turret made with a garagedoor opener and car keys.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Grows into one more and more of the course of the series, and by the 5th Season, even his son is an unknowing victim of his manipulations at times.
  • 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 unforgivable actions.
    • Werner Heisenberg, a theoretical physicist turned Nazi weapons scientist who died of cancer, also may have been a basis for Walt.
      • Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle is also symbolically in play — the more certain Walter is of what he thinks needs to be done, the more unpredictible he becomes.
    • In the planned Spanish-language remake Metastasis, the character will be named Walter Blanco, keeping the theme.
  • Missing Mom: Walt's mother never appears, nor does he even tell her about his cancer - she finds out from Skyler, who doesn't seem to have enjoyed the conversation.
  • Mistaken for Gay: By Jesse at first because he insists on making meth in his underwear.
  • 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 relatively innocent (Gale) or whom he deliberately screwed over (The nine prisoners whom Walt denied security payments owed by Gus and Mike) are glossed over.
  • Morality Pet: His family, in particular his children.
    • It turns out that Jesse also qualifies as one. Despite manipulating his protege several times, Walt does indeed care for him. It gets to the point that he refuses to even consider killing him until Pinkman outright declares himself to be his enemy.
    • Walt is this to Todd.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: His Ph.D. in Chemistry from the California Institute of Technology means he knows more about cooking meth than anyone else in the business.
  • Motivational Lie: Uses one to try to get Jesse on his side in the season 4 finale.
  • Motive Decay: An intentional and 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. Neither. I'm in the empire business.'
  • Murder By Inaction: After moving Jane after a heroin injection, he watches her die from her own vomit.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: In Season 5, this is Walt's answer to dealing with Mike's incarcerated associates.
  • 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."
  • Must Make Amends: The main drive of "Felina" is Walt's last-ditch effort to fix the damage he caused to his family. He first launders the remainder of his drug money into a corporate-sponsored trust for Flynn, then discloses the location of Hank's body to Skyler, giving her enough leverage to escape RICO's grasp. Finally, Walt wipes out Lydia and her drug ring and leads the police to their superlab, ending the threat posed to his family forever.
  • 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.
    • Goes through one in "Ozymandias" when his kidnapped daughter's first word is "Mama".
    • Happens to him in Salud following a very ugly argument with Jesse that results in a fight. When Jr asks his father how he got hurt, Walt breaks down in tears and begins apologizing to his son. Judging by the fact that Walt calls his son "Jesse" shortly after Jr is able to calm him down and sedate him, it could be inferred that his apology was actually meant for Pinkman.
    • A very subtle, non-verbal example occurs in "Felina", when he realizes exactly how much torture Todd and Jack have put Jesse through. Prior to that moment, Walt had every intention of killing his former partner. When he sees that Pinkman has been turned into a slave, however, Walt's face expresses visible regret over the fact that he handed him over to them.
  • My Greatest Failure: Selling his stock in Gray Matter.
  • Narcissist: Examples of It's All About Me, Manipulative Bastard, Never My Fault, and most of all, his Pride are all over this character page.
  • Never Hurt an Innocent: He originally declares this to Jesse in the beginning. Unfortunately, desperate situations lead to the subversion of this trope at the end of season 3 with Gale.
  • 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.
    • 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 ordered Jesse to kill Gale so Gus couldn't kill them.
    • You'd think it was inverted when he admits his fault and guilt in driving Jesse too far when trying to get him to kill Gus with the bug and everything. Yes-no: he admits his mistake, alright... to the wrong person (his uninvolved son). He can only admit guilt under specific circumstances. And, only in a way that doesn't step on that Pride of his. He very quickly goes back to Justifyville, Denial.
    • A bit more of a subtle example, but his selling out of Jesse to Jack's crew and telling him the truth about Jane can easily be interpreted as Walt blaming him for Hank's death.
    • Subverted after his attempted kidnapping of Holly in Season 5, when Walt makes a phone call to Skyler (which he knows is being intercepted by police) and seemingly blames her for everything that has led to his downfall. But what Walt is really doing is making himself look like an abusive spouse so that the extent of Skyler's complicity won't be uncovered and so she won't be shunned by the remaining family.
    • Even his backstory with his following out with Grey Matter. Walt constantly alleges that he got frozen out and his ideas were stolen. Come the final season he admits to Jesse he actually sold his shares when he walked out from the company and only regretted later when they became successful.
  • Nice Hat: The pork pie hat is an integral part of Heisenberg. When he first wears it he looks like someone's absurd, uncomfortable grandpa. It doesn't stay that way.
  • 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.
    • Perhaps Walt's most severe and devastating incident yet happens when he thinks Jesse is about to have him killed, and summons Jack's white power gang for backup. He tries to call them off when he sees that Jesse is with Hank and Gomez. Jack's gang ignores the order, shows up after Walt's arrest, and proceed to gun down Gomez and execute Hank to Walt's limitless anguish.
  • Nominal Hero: Walter is far from being a model human being, but the drug distributors he deals with are usually worse than he is. However, by season 5, this trope no longer applies, seeing as how Walter has become just as ruthless as anyone else in the business, and remains in it solely for his ego.
  • Noodle Incident: Whatever happened at Gretchen's parents' house - it made Walt break-up with her and leave Grey Matter.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: Zig Zagged throughout the whole show.
    • Heisenberg is seen as this in the 2nd season when the meth industry becomes aware a customer's head was crushed by an ATM. Subverted when everyone knows it wasn't his doing.
    • In the 4th season... Walter is living in fear of Gus the entire time. Looking for desperate attempts to kill him, but always one step behind. Until the end of the season...
    • In the 5th season, Jack's crew and Lydia completely underestimate Walter because he looks like a wreck and has no money left.
  • Not So Omniscient After All: A lot. Especially visible in season 3, where the fact that he is hunted by the Twins and that Gus is playing a much more elaborate game than just selling meth completely flies over his head. Although he deduces it very quickly after events.
  • Oh, Crap: Several in the final episodes: realizing Hank found and took Leaves of Grass in "Blood Money", and realizing that Hank is talking to Skyler in "Buried".
  • One-Man Army: Single-handedly kills the entire Neo-Nazi gang, with the exception of Todd. A rare non-physical example.
  • Only Sane Man: He invokes this often enough, as it's what he loves to convince himself he is. And/or try to convince others he is in comparison, as well. However, it's actually inverted when you notice just how ill-considered, skewed and short-termist many of his ideas are at root.
  • Out-Gambitted: By Hank and Jesse.
  • Papa Wolf: A trio of bullies quickly find out it's a bad idea to make fun of Walt Jr's cerebral palsy in the pilot.
    • Despite his frequent belittlement and manipulation of Jesse, Walt tends to get very angry if his protege is subjected to any serious harm, or is manipulated by someone other than him.
  • Parental Substitute: To Jesse. Which doesn't stop him from being horribly abusive to him.
  • Pet the Dog: Deconstructed. The deeper we go into the series, the writers avoid humanizing Walt more and more. Most obvious Pet the Dog moments - like him talking to his son - are manipulation tactics.
    • When Walt leaves a hundred dollar tip to the kind waitress Lucy.
    • His interactions with baby Holly - the only person in the entire series that he can't, and doesn't attempt to, manipulate - are the only consistently genuine ones he has.
    • There is seriously no love lost between Walter and Victor Salamanca, but Walt does give him a chance to back out of their plan to frag Gus Fring.
  • Playing Sick: His fugue state in season 2.
  • Poison Is Evil: His use of poison at the end of Season 4 is generally seen as the point where he crossed the line from Anti-Hero/Anti-Villain to full Villain Protagonist. Though part of this involves the person that he poisoned.
  • Poisonous Friend: Although their relationship is more complex than simple "friendship" and the traffic on the Toxic Friend Influence highway is by no means solely one way, he's this very specifically to Jesse as he does start outright manipulating him from the beginning to get what he wants — ending up undermining most of Jesse's outside relationships in a bid to both maintain control and keep his loyalty. However, he does this kind of thing not only to Jesse. Just look at the lives of the people he's touched, be they "friends", "enemies" or "family"...
  • Prepare to Die: Walt gives a good one to Tuco when he snaps on Walt and Jesse.
    Walt: We tried to poison you. We tried to poison you because you're an insane, degenerate piece of filth and you deserve to die.
  • Precision F-Strike: To Gretchen.
  • 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.
    • Even after he gets into the meth business, his pride keeps screwing things up: The prospect of claiming that his meth profits are a gift, inheritance or randomly found money is so abhorrent that he pays 20% of his profits to Saul and slowly launders the remainder. In Season 4, he talks Hank out of believing that Gale Boetticher was Heisenberg, because he can't stand the idea of another cook being credited with his precious Blue Sky.
    • As of "Buyout", his ego and the boost it gets from cooking meth are why he stays in the meth business.
    • And in "Granite State", seeing Elliott and Gretchen appearing on television and making him an Un-Person in Gray Matter's history is what drives him to go back to Albuquerque rather than turn himself in.
    • And at last in "Felina", part of Walt's partial redemption involves letting go of his pride, making sure through Gretchen and Elliott Schwartz that Walt Jr. and Holly receive all the remaining millions he has left to him even at the cost of letting them think the money is from the generosity of his hated ex-business partners rather than through his work. He also finally admits, to himself and to Skyler, that his meth cooking was always much more about him than the family.
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: Arguably the modern-day codifier. Specifically, creator Vince Gilligan describes the show as "What happens when Mr. Chips becomes Scarface." Gradually, Walter's civilian life dies and the Heisenberg alter ego takes over.
  • 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.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Walt manages to build that nest egg for Walter Jr. and Holly before his death, but his actions have led to his brother-in-law's death, his family losing their house and his son and wife disowning him. He barely manages to keep his wife out of jail for her role as an accomplice in laundering his money. And while his family was cleared of any criminal charges, they've been forever scarred and remembered for his crimes.
  • 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.
  • Reality Ensues: His confrontation with the show's Final Boss, Uncle Jack's Aryan Brotherhood. No matter how good he's proved at manipulating people, he couldn't do anything to stop Jack's crew from executing Hank and taking over his eighty million for themselves. They have guns and he doesn't.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Gets one from Mike, and it doesn't end so well for him.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The blue to Jesse's red.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Somewhat in Felina. Just before dying, despite still being completely unapologetic about the decisions he's made throughout the series, it's clear that Walt had regained at least some of his lost humanity.
  • Revenge: While he started out insisting that he wanted as little trouble as possible, his actions have always shown him to be extremely vindictive when wronged. From attacking a man mocking his son to setting a random asshole's car on fire to his lack of hesitation in going after Tuco when he found out that he had hurt Jesse to his reaction when he found out that one of Jesse's dealers had been ripped off (despite Jesse insisting it wasn't a big deal), Walt's always gone out of his way to hit back at people who have messed with him, regardless of the offense or risk.
  • Sanity Slippage: In "Crawl Space" after finding out that his wife gave most of their money to Ted to pay for taxes, when he desperately needed it to disappear them all after Gus threatened to murder his entire family if he tried to stop him from killing Hank. Many viewers say that Walter never came out of the crawl space, only Heisenberg.
    • In the opening to "Live Free or Die", he is completely out of it and can barely form a coherent sentence anymore.
  • 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.
  • Say My Name: "You're Heisenberg." "You're goddamn right."
  • Science Anti-Hero: Think if MacGyver turned evil.
    Tuco: What was that stuff?
    Walt (as Heisenberg): Fulminated mercury... a little tweak of chemistry.
  • Secret Identity: His Heisenberg persona that he uses to sell meth. Eventually, it becomes his true persona.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: His manner of speech, especially when contrasted with Jesse's.
  • Shouldn't You Stop Stealing?: Both Skyler and Jesse call him out on this.
  • Sliding Scale of Unavoidable vs. Unforgivable
  • 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.
  • Smart People Play Chess: During Walter's first day at Gus's laundry, he plays chess with Gale.
  • Start My Own Meth Empire: After killing Gus. He even outright states he'll manage his operation just as well as Gus.
  • Suicide by Cop: In the first episode, it's strongly implied that Walter's plan when he thinks he's going to be cornered by police is to open fire on them so they'll kill him. This should give a few implications about his personality from the outset.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: Season 1. Later, not so much.
  • Taking the Bullet: Unwilling to let Jesse get caught in the path of gun turret, Walt tackles him to the floor and pretends to beat him up. With the Nazis now distracted by the scuffle, Walt secretly activates the smart key to his Buick, unleashing a hail of bullets and shielding Jesse with his own body.
  • Taking the Heat: After Walter flees his home, he calls back while the Whites are under police surveillance to feed a story that he was solely responsible and forced Skyler to his will, so she isn't held accountable.
  • Talking Your Way Out: Probably too many times to list...
    • Deconstructed to all hell in "To'hajiilee" and "Ozymandias".
  • Tears of Remorse: Walt with his first murder. Also, after he lets Jane die.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: In reaction to Hank's death and his family leaving him ("Ozymandias"), Walt submerges himself in the Heisenberg persona, barking out threats and gloating over the deaths he's caused. Not necessarily because he takes pleasure in it, but because he wants to distance Skyler from being linked to his crimes. Most telling is that during the whole scene, despite his harsh tone, he is weeping profusely.
  • This Means War!: Against Jack for stealing 70 million dollars of his money and murdering Hank.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Deconstructed in the 1st to 3rd season. In season 1, an emotional Walt kills a drug dealer because letting him free after events would mean the certain death of him and his family. Trying to keep this moral trope proves difficult in the 2nd season when Badger, a dealer of Walt and Jesse, becomes a liability and paying off the right people becomes impractical in their line of business and expensive, at least at the time. In the 3rd season, despite his claim to Jesse that they aren't murderers regarding the issue with the 2 rival drug dealers, Walter has Gale murdered in order to secure his and Jesse's survival. By Season 5, he has absolutely no problems with it anymore unless it's family.
  • 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's barely any humanity left in Walt.
  • 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.
  • Tragic Hero/Villain: A textbook example to the point that he has been widely compared to many of Shakespeare's characters. Walt is a genius-level chemist (restricted to a job far below his skill level), loving father, and all-around good person at the start of the series. Diagnosed with lung cancer, his own pride drives him to refuse handouts from anyone else and deal with the issue on his own terms. As time goes on, his decisions drive him further down a dark path, draining him of any morality. By the time he realizes just how far he's fallen, the only things left for him to do are humble himself and make amends before dying.
    • Comparisons have also been made to Dr. Jekyll, a decent man who indulges his dark side until it eventually subsumes him.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Walt has a tendency to remember his important kills through gifts and adopting mannerisms:
    • He cuts off the crust from his bread in memory of Krazy-8.
    • He keeps the eye from the furry toy from the plane crash in ABQ. It represented his morality and his regrets about what he was doing.
    • He keeps a book from Gale, which ends up screwing him over.
    • Some of Gus' cleanliness seems to have rubbed on him; for example, he puts a towel on the floor before kneeling down to vomit, just as Gus did.
      • His handling of Lydia in the car wash directly mirrors his talk with Gus about Hank's bug at Los Pollos Hermanos.
      • Additionally, his grieving pose in "Ozymandias" (lying face-first on the ground, beaten and humiliated) mirrors that of Gus when Max killed.
    • After killing Mike, he starts to drink alcohol the same way.
      • And he tells Lydia that she needs to learn to "take yes for an answer", just as Mike told him.
  • Tranquil Fury: A masterful example can be seen at the end of "Granite State". He keeps his poker face on after breaking into Elliott and Gretchen's house, which probably greatly contributes to their panic.
    "I love your new house."
  • The Unfettered: After living afraid for 50 years, as Walt himself puts it, he starts to become this soon after "Heisenberg" arises, being capable of nearly anything to achieve his goals: from lying, abusing and manipulating the people closest to him into doing his bidding to threatening, poisoning or murdering anyone who stands in his way. Though there is at least one line he will never cross: he won't (physically) hurt family, no matter what it costs him, and has a bit of a breakdown when his actions accidentally result in the death of Hank.
  • Un-Person: On the verge of becoming one in "Granite State": his legal identity is erased, his character as a father and husband is denied, his contribution as a scientist in Gray Matter is discredited, and his reputation as the legendary Heinseberg is steadily diminished as his signature blue meth remains on the market despite his disappearance. This is what drives his actions in the finale. The tagline of the final season says it best: Remember My Name.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: He lets Jane die in "Phoenix", which quickly snowballs into a mid-air collision in "ABQ".
    • Walt also tells Jack about Jessie's relationship with Andrea and Brock. This leads to Todd killing Andrea in the Penultimate Episode.
  • Victory Is Boring: In "Gliding Over All".
  • Villainous Breakdown: At the end of the Season 4 episode "Crawl Space".
    • And an even more severe one in Season 5's "Ozymandias", when Hank is killed right in front of him.
      • Right before "Ozymandias", "To'hajiilee" sees Walt set up by Jesse and Hank with a ruse to threaten his money, which results in Walt furiously ranting to Jesse about how he earned all of that money and everything he did for it- The entire rant was recorded by Hank for the purpose of busting Walt. The last third of "To'hajiilee" through "Ozymandias" is one long villainous breakdown for Walt.
  • Villain Protagonist: His actions have gradually become more extreme and amoral as his greed and pride increasingly influence his behavior, pushing the limit on how far he can go before he stops being a sympathetic Anti-Hero. Come Season 5 he has finally transitioned to full villain status, murdering several people to secure his own safety, continuing to cook even though he has more money than he ever needed, and stating outright that with his family life in ruins, his goal now is to build a drug empire. Dials back slightly in the second half of the season when he finally gets out of the business for good and makes it clear that he still loves his family, but it may be too little too late in-universe by this point. By the end, he flat out states that everything he did was all for himself, and while he admits this to his wife and is finally honest to her and himself, he is still completely unapologetic.
  • Was It Really Worth It?: Deconstructed Trope
    • Both Jesse and Skyler call him out on this in the first half of season 5.
    Jesse: Mr. White... is a meth empire really something to be that proud of?
    • In the second of half of season 5, Walt ties up his loose ends and finally admits the truth to Skyler. Most notable is he never apologized to anyone in the end.
    Walt: I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. And I was really...I was alive.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Walt goes in and out of this with Jesse until Jesse finds out that it was Walt who poisoned Brock.
    • He was also fairly close to Hank until he found out Walt is Heisenberg
  • What You Are in the Dark: A major element of the series is putting Walter through ever higher and higher stakes and showing his response. Almost every one he makes shows him to be quite a reprehensible human being - and steadily getting worse.
  • When It All Began: Walter's life as Heisenberg begins on his 50th birthday, the day Hank offered to take him on a ride-along for a meth bust, and ends on his 52nd.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: In the earlier seasons, it seems like his meth cooking and increasingly aggressive behavior is his way to get even with a world that had always treated him like dirt. Even after all the terrible things he's done, it's hard not to feel sorry for him in "Granite State" when he has to go into hiding in complete solitude, pays someone 10 grand to be his friend for just an hour, and has his son yell at him that he needs to just die.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Poisoned Brock as part of his plan to get Jesse back on his side against Gus.
  • Would You Like To Hear How She Died: After the shooting that results in Hank's death, Walter taunts Jesse with the exact details of Jane's death before Jack's men take him away.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: In "Ozymandias".
  • 0% Approval Rating: Achieves this at the end of "Ozymandias," after Skyler attacks him with a knife, thinking he killed Hank (which he indirectly did), Flynn calls the cops on him, and he flees with Holly. After that, the entire world learns who he is, he becomes the most wanted man in America, and when he returns home after his exile in New Hampshire, his mere presence is enough to scare the living shit out of anyone who recognizes him. Even the infant Holly seemed to want nothing to do with him, which is what prompted him to return her, and use Saul's identity eraser. His deliberately psychotic sounding tapped phone conversation with Skyler certainly didn't help him either. By the end of "Felina," the only characters who have even the slightest amount of respect for him are Skyler (for finally admitting to her that he did it all for himself), and Jesse (for freeing him from Todd and Jack, and eliminating Lydia to fully free him from the meth business).

    Characters/Breaking BadBreaking Bad Jesse Pinkman

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