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Gustavo "Gus" Fring

Portrayed By: Giancarlo Esposito

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    Gus on Breaking Bad
"If you try to interfere, this becomes a much simpler matter. I will kill your wife. I will kill your son. I will kill your infant daughter."

Gus is the largest distributor 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.

  • Affably Evil: Gus is a polite and reasonable man, even behind his public mask. His politeness isn't an act (at least not at first), either; he genuinely believes in running his meth empire as professionally as any other company and shows some disdain for the blood-soaked gangland-style Stupid Evil management of the South of the Border Cartel and Salamancas. If you respect him and abide by the rules, he'll be fair to you. But if you cross him, he will absolutely destroy everything you are.
  • Affluent Ascetic: He's, at the bare minimum, a multi-millionaire, but you'd never know it by looking at the way he lives.
  • Ambiguously Bi / Ambiguously Gay: There seemed to be vibes between him and his late ex-partner Maximino. Openly discussed by the creators in the Insider Podcast as a valid interpretation of their relationship. However, when he makes dinner for Walter and Jesse, it appears that he has an unseen family: a wife and children, presumably. Whether they exist at all is another matter, and if they do exist, whether he actually loved the hypothetical wife or if she was just The Beard.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Even for a criminal, something about Gus just feels... off. Sure, in public he can put up a show — he really seems like a normal, if a bit eccentric businessman — but in private, his voice goes into a Creepy Monotone and he stops showing visible emotion. While his Control Freak tendencies make sense for his job, he shows them even in situations they really don't matter to the point they border on Super OCD. He never lets go of his grudges, and his hate is obsessive and sadistic; he even mentions in Better Call Saul that as a child, he once tortured an injured animal by keeping it alive, suggesting the sadistic side has always been there. Yet at the same time, he also shows too much emotion to be The Sociopath.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Whether or not he did in fact order the execution of 11-year old Tomás Cantillo after Jesse was willing to kill the two adults using him to deal meth is never revealed. Walt believes Gus did, but is specifically saying this to convince Jesse to turn against him after Brock is poisoned. Gus does threaten to kill Walt's family at one point, so his supposed innocence in this situation is definitely suspect.
  • Arch-Enemy: The Juarez Cartel and specifically Hector Salamanca is this to Gus. Over time, Walt came to view Gus as his greatest enemy. This is entirely one-sided however, as Gus never held Walter in any regard other than being a great pest. In fact, Fring thinks so little of Walter that he never suspected that it could ultimately be his undoing.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Gus' death is cast in a somber light due to how tragic it is that he never got his final revenge on Hector, the man who killed his partner (and possible lover), and the calmly melancholic music that plays as Gus walks to his death.
  • Asshole Victim: He had it coming after he tried to kill Hank and threatened to kill Walt’s family if Walt interfered. The overall tense atmosphere the narrative have had since Crawl Space makes his demise relieving.
  • Badass Boast: After murdering the entire Juarez Cartel, he says this:
    Gus: Don Eladio is dead. His capos are dead. You have no one left to fight for. Fill your pockets and leave in peace, or fight me and die!
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: He's always sharply dressed and takes care to make himself presentable.
  • Badass Longcoat: Gus will occasionally don a black peacoat that reaches his mid thigh, such as when he calls a Cartel Sniper’s bluff by walking straight out into the open, complete with his hands up.
  • Bait the Dog: He first appears in "Mandala" to be no more than the pleasant, mild-mannered proprietor of a fried chicken franchise. This continued for the first half of Season 3. Then "One Minute" and "I See You" came along.
  • Batman Gambit:
    • His ploy to have two attackers come after Jesse and Mike to cause Jesse to spring into action and then start questioning his loyalty to Walt. It extends even further because Gus allows Walt to do much of the damage to their relationship himself, which he proceeds to do so through his Jerkass behavior driven by his massive ego.
    • Before that, granting Leonel and Marco permission to go after Hank instead of Walt. This played into Gus' plans perfectly: if Hank dies, the police turn up the heat on the cartel's operation, allowing Gus to corner the market; if the attack fails, Walt is safe, two of the cartel's biggest hitters are down, and Gus can force a sitdown.
  • Black and Nerdy: The nerdy part is Justified by the glasses and hyper-competent business acumen. A darker Four Eyes, Zero Soul variation.
  • Benevolent Boss: From Walt's point of view at first. Gus really is this to his Los Pollos Hermanos employees, and his drug empire employees who follow his orders and don't compromise themselves, to the point that he made sure that his meth-manufacturing associates got hazard pay in the event of his death. Gus only kills Victor after he makes a mistake he can't fix and sours on Walt when he starts to become a huge liability.
  • Beneath the Mask: An Exaggerated Trope. A mild restaurant owner is secretly a ruthless and two-faced drug kingpin.
  • Best Served Cold:
    • Gus drags out his revenge against Hector Salamanca across 20 years, slowly picking off all of his relatives (save for Tuco, who was solely Hank's doing) as he wastes away in a retirement home. This ultimately leads to his own undoing, though.
    • Whatever Gus was when he originally lived in Chile, it was scary enough that Don Eladio spared his life at the cartel manor. The Don instead killed his partner, then reminded Gus to restrict his business to chicken. Gus would pitch the same deal decades later, whereupon Eladio fell dead at the exact same spot where Max was shot.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: He's nicer and more stable than Tuco, but more lethal due to his professionalism and superior business intelligence — enough to match Walt for a time.
  • Big Bad: The biggest one of the series. He's introduced late in Season 2 and holds the position from the end of Season 3 until his death at the end of Season 4.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: With Don Eladio Vuente in Season 4. After the departure of Tuco, the Cousins, and Juan Bolsa, it is Don Eladio's cartel that causes problems for Gus during the season, and his tensions with Gus solidify again.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: To the public, Gus is a very respectable and compassionate entrepreneur who does much to give back to the community. In reality, he is a cruel and ruthless drug lord who has no qualms with ordering murders and callously manipulating those around him to maintain power and get revenge.
  • Blofeld Ploy: Pulls this in "Box Cutter" by slitting Victor's throat in front of Walt and Jesse with a boxcutter. Justified in that Walt has him at a standstill so that Gus can no longer kill him, and Victor had been seen at the site of Gale's murder, which could potentially lead the investigation back to Gus.
  • Can't 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.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The seemingly polite and legitimate owner of Los Pollos Hermanos is actually a drug kingpin.
  • The Chessmaster: If he does anything, there are probably far more layers to his decision than you would originally think.
  • Consummate Liar: On par with, if not surpassing, Walt himself. Gus is incredibly meticulous in protecting his double life and effortlessly spins lie upon lie to the DEA, most of whom believe every word coming out of this mild-mannered good Samaritan's mouth.
  • Consummate Professional: Holds himself and his employees in the meth business to the same high standards of professionalism as he does his employees in the chicken business. Subverted at the very end when it turns out it's not all business to him, but a very long-term plan for revenge.
  • Contrasting Sequel Antagonist: To Tuco in Season 2; in fact, both are complete opposites. While Tuco was explosive, deranged, emotionally unstable, childish, openly sadistic, rude, blunt and unsophisticated; Gustavo was characterized for being calm, cool, collected, polite, sophisticated and professional.
  • The Corrupter: He takes both Gale and Jesse under his wing in order to turn them into his ideal subordinates: loyal, grateful, and beholden to no one but him.
  • Crazy-Prepared:
    • He has a secret hospital set up with medical staff on his payroll to revive him when he self-poisons. 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).
    • He made arrangements for his entire meth operation in the event of his death, including hazard pay for any employees that might be sent to prison.
  • Create Your Own Villain:
    • Though Walt was by no means a pure-hearted hero beforehand, Gus's influence and Walt's exposure to his money and power hastened his transformation into a Villain Protagonist that ultimately outwits and destroys Gus.
    • This arguably goes both ways. Gus was perfectly happy to be a reasonable employer for Walt at first, but as Walt and Jessie go off increasingly half cocked, it doesn't take long for Gus to rethink Walt's usefulness.
  • Cultured Badass: Gus is one of the most intelligent and cultured characters in the series. It also takes balls to poison himself to take down the Cartel leadership. A few episodes before that, he walks straight into sniper fire, daring Gaff to kill him.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: He's a successful legitimate businessman through the Los Pollos Hermanos restaurant chain, which operates at least 14 restaurants in several states across the south-west. Gus could live a perfectly comfortable life on that alone, but the only reason he built up the chain was to use it as a distribution network for his meth empire. Ironically, to maintain his disguise as a mild-mannered restauranteur, Gus lives a very modest lifestyle below his means.
  • The Dandy: Generally very well dressed. Even when stuck in his garish yellow shirt at the restaurant, his clothing is always as neat and impeccable as always. On the rare occasion when he personally gets his hands dirty, he will even take the time to remove as much outer clothing as possible (hanging it up neatly) so as not to mess his outfits up. This even includes stopping to place a towel on the floor before he kneels at a toilet to induce vomiting, before the poison he took kills him.
  • Deadpan Snarker: He is not above being this under specific circumstances, mostly when he's left alone with Hector.
  • Decapitation Strike: His ultimate gambit against The Juarez Cartel. With their entire leadership dead, there's no one left for cartel members to fight for, and all but one of the remaining members fled.
  • Devil in Plain Sight: He is a minor public figure, a well-known businessman and philanthropist who gladhands with high-ranking DEA agents, none of whom suspect a thing until Hank manages to figure him out.
  • The Don: A white-collar version of this trope. As the undisputed leader of a large criminal organization whose illicit businesses are money laundering and meth distribution, he's incredibly professional in keeping a low profile and presenting himself as a honest businessman and philanthropist who gladhands with high-ranking DEA agents. Basically, he's everything Heisenberg wants to be: Feared, powerful, rich, and one of the biggest drug kingpins in the region, with state-of-the-art infrastructure.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Much of his actions against the cartel are to avenge the death of his friend, Max Arcinega.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Invoked in "Full Measure" when he gets affronted at the implication that he ordered the death of a child. Subverted when he threatens to kill Walt's entire family, including his son and his infant daughter.
  • Evil Gloating: He's generally too smart and cautious to indulge in it, which makes it telling when he begins to do so late in Season 4.
  • Evil Mentor: Largely an unintentional one to Walt, who clearly envies his success and business style. The writers have admitted that, while he'd never admit it, Walt looks up to Gus and sees him as a role model for his criminal behavior.
  • Evil Versus Evil: With the Cartel and more specifically the Salamanca family. He is a cold blooded kingpin while they are hot headed drug lords with little care about who gets hurt in their schemes.
  • Face Death with Dignity: After a bomb literally blows half his face off and leaves him looking like Harvey Dent, 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.
  • Familial Foe: Gus spends decades scheming to bring about the deaths of the nephews and grandson of his rival drug lord Hector Salamanca (who killed Gus's best friend and possible lover) before killing Hector himself.
  • Famous Last Words: "Last chance to look at me, Hector."
  • Fascinating Eyebrow: He'll occasionally do this when speaking to employees who aren't exactly treading on thin ice yet, but still need a reminder of whom they're talking to.
  • Fatal Flaw: For all of his pragmatism, his obsession with personal revenge against Hector proves to be his downfall.
    • Gus tends to underestimate his opponents. Although he is wary of Walter, he still only sees him as a minor annoyance, which also leads to his downfall. This trait can be seen in the prequel as well, where he underestimates Lalo’s tenacity and as a result, fails in having him killed quickly.
  • Faux Affably Evil: From time to time, this flashes a fin before it can get solidly shoved under his façade. But, the clincher is when he can't help but see to his revenge personally and even indulges in Evil Gloating. When he doesn't feel the need to keep himself restrained any longer... ouch.
  • Foil: To Walt, as the framing frequently accentuates. He and Walter are similar in that they are both (ostensibly) reasonable men hiding their criminal enterprises in plain sight, but this ultimately serves to highlight the differences between them — namely, Gus being much, much better at this than Walter. See this video essay on the subject.
    • On a side note, their abilities as a leader are quite the opposite. Walter is a great tactician, but a poor strategist. Gus, on the other hand, is a great long strategist, but is somewhat lacking in his tactics on the military aspect. As shown in Better Call Saul, Gus depends on Mike to figure out a lot of the short term plans, due to his experiences as a soldier and cop. When Mike isn’t around to do this, Gus flounders more, and this ultimately leads to his demise.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: No one would ever guess that a small time Chilean drug dealer would assemble enough power to cripple the Juarez Cartel and establish a monopoly on the meth trade of the southwestern United States. On the other hand, if numerous mentions of the Noodle Incident in Santiago is any indication, Fring was far above small-time level.
  • 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.
  • Horrifying the Horror: He texts the Salamanca Brothers with a single word, "Pollos" when they're waiting at Walter's home to ambush him. While the looks they exchange are as stone cold as ever, they immediately bail before Walter even knows they're there.
  • Hypocrite:
    • He wants revenge on the Jueraz Cartel for the murder of his friend (and possibly lover) Max. In the process, Gus takes great pleasure in taunting Hector over the slow destruction of his family, and later tells Walt he will have his brother killed and if he intervenes he will also kill Walt's entire family.
    • He's disgusted with Walt for having Jesse as a partner because he's a junkie and initially refuses to do business with Walt for that reason; Gus is a drug kingpin building his empire on the money of people just like Jesse, and he later adopts Jesse as his primary cook, claiming he "sees something in him".
    • He's surprised that Walt would be willing to kill two of Gus's low-level street dealers to protect Jesse, since Gus still sees him as just a junkie. In the very same episode, Gus orders Walt killed over this incident.
  • Iconic Sequel Character: One of the show's most iconic characters and doesn't appear until the very end of season 2.
  • Karmic Death: Hector's bomb destroys half of Gus' face, making him resemble a certain supervillain. The camera focuses on his uninjured side (the "legitimate" fast food mogul which everyone sees) — and slowly pans around to his disfigured side (representing the blood-soaked meth dealer). His death is also a reference to how a chicken will continue to walk around for a bit even after it's beheaded.
  • Kick the Dog: His threat to Walt that he would murder his entire family, including his infant daughter, should Walt interfere with Hank's murder. But it may have just been a bluff, since if Walt's family was suddenly wiped out, Jesse would probably figure out that Gus was responsible. Then again, Gus had no problem having Jesse kidnapped and forced to finish a batch, implying that Jesse’s loyalty was no longer needed to keep him in line.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch:
    • His business strategy regarding the Mexican twins.
    • Mass-poisoning the cartel.
    • Works both ways during his conflict with Walt; on the one hand, it's satisfying seeing the arrogant chemist be brought down a peg after having Gale murdered as well as being an Ungrateful Bastard towards Gus' at first reasonable management style, but on the other hand, it's equally satisfying seeing Walt get his revenge on Gus after the latter threatens to have Hank murdered as well as Walt's whole family — including the infant daughter.
    • Tormenting Hector about his victories against the Juarez Cartel. Although the scenes are conveyed in such a way to inspire some measure of pity for Hector, the prequel series makes it sure he absolutely has all of it coming.
  • Knife Nut: He slashes Victor's throat with a box cutter.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Granted, Krazy-8 and Tuco were quite dangerous, but the show still retained a prominent comedic element. However, after Gus is introduced, the show starts to gradually take a much darker turn.
  • Lack of Empathy: Somewhat Played With. Gus is very good at manipulating people because he can read people's intentions, but that doesn't mean he understands them. While he is able to bring Walt back into the meth business by exploiting his ego and desire to provide for his family, he cannot grasp why Walt would want to save his partner, who Gus views as "comtemptable junkie". Later on, he also cannot understand Jesse's (the guy he wanted dead not too long ago) desire to keep Walt alive, only recognizing this as a minor obstacle for his plans. Basically, Gus empathizes with people only when it suits his interests. When it doesn't, he just doesn't care.
  • Lured into a Trap: At the climax of Season 4, Gus visits Hector at the nursing home to put him down after the latter went to the feds... only Hector didn't tell the feds anything (he was just trolling the feds) and the trip was made to coax Gus to get close to him and the pipe bomb Walt strapped to his wheelchair.
  • Machiavelli Was Wrong: Gus refuses to accept Mike's suggestion that he 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 killing Victor, or threatening to kill Walt's family in order to keep Walt in line. Double Subverted when his very ruthlessness proves to be his undoing. If Gus hadn't outright threatened Walt's family, Walt might not have have been desperate enough that he was willing to poison Brock — a new Moral Event Horizon for Walt — to win Jesse back.
  • Manipulative Bastard: He convinces the cousins to go after Hank instead of Walt, and tips Hank off about a minute before they come to kill him. This starts his scheme to take over meth production and distribution in the region. He also nearly succeeds at turning Jesse against Walt.
  • Master Actor: His ability to remain in character as a polite, honest, and low-key restaurant owner. Best demonstrated when he successfully convinces George Merkert, Steven Gomez, and Tim Roberts that he's innocent in Hank's investigation.
  • Mysterious Past: All we know for certain is that he is Chilean, and did something down there during the Pinochet dictatorship to make Don Eladio spare his life. The Chilean government has no record of his being born or living in that country, and Mike's investigations have turned up nothing. At least one fan theory surmises that Gus was linked with Chilean secret service or even military intelligence, and was bailed out of the country with CIA assistance.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: Like Walt, he's far from any kind of physical threat. Even when he was younger and driven by adrenaline and rage, a middle-aged mobster was able to restrain him without much trouble. He doesn't bother to carry a weapon, either.
  • Non-Idle Rich: This is part of the image he cultivates. Despite owning a fairly large restaurant chain, he chooses to work alongside the employees at the flagship location, assisting them in running registers and cleaning floors. This gives him the cover of a kindhearted businessman to help hide his status as a meth kingpin.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: As Walt goes further off the deep end, he becomes more and more like Fring; deceptive, manipulative, and leading a double life. This trope was invoked by Saul when Gus is first mentioned:
    Walt: Well, what's his name?
    Saul: No idea... he's very low profile, he's careful like that... ya know, from what I do hear about him, he sounds a little like you.
  • Not So Above It All: For all his stoicism and professionalism, Gus would often take the time out of his day to visit Hector in the nursing home solely to bully him in a rather childish way.
  • Not So Similar: While they have personality similarities, Gus himself does not believe that he and Walt are very similar at all due to what he perceived as Walt's carelessness; Walt, with his pride and ego, believes that he and Gus are very similar — criminal equals, in fact — and that he can run a meth empire just as well as Gus. This is ultimately one of the things that leads to Walt's own downfall. In the end, it turns out that Gus was right; Gus cautiously and successfully ran a massive multi-million dollar meth empire with not a single lead on himself for over twenty years, only falling because of the unavoidable Doom Magnet Walt screwing him. Walt's careless mistakes led to him being outed as Heisenberg after spending just a little over a year as a criminal and then dead a few months after that.
    Mike: Listen, Walter. Just because you shot Jesse James, don't make you Jesse James.
  • Not So Stoic: Seconds before the bomb goes off, his calm exterior finally crumbles into confusion and panic. His last act is to recompose himself from this, stoic to the bitter end.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: After wiping out the Cartel he could have killed Hector without fear of reprisals but keeps him alive so he can torment him. Had Gus not spared him then Walt may not have been able to kill him as getting Hector's help was instrumental in him accomplishing that.
  • Only Bad Guys Call Their Lawyers: Plays this straight when he's asked questions for a police investigation by the DEA.
  • Overarching Villain: He is one of the few antagonists of the show who stayed alive for more than one season. Even after his departure in Season 5, his name remains relevant after the revelation of him being part of a complex corrupt operation where various criminals and white-collar criminals were involved, from minor criminals who were in jail to corrupt corporate executives.
  • Out-Gambitted: By Walt in Season 4's finale.
  • Perfect Poison: He uses the same bottle of tequila to dispatch Don Eladio and all his capos at once.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: One of his defining traits.
  • 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 Hank is the one who actually shot Tuco — but then proceeds to anonymously tip Hank off so that he can get the jump on them and take them out of the equation.
  • Properly Paranoid: In the end, it turns out that he really should have turned Walt away as soon as he saw trouble. Played with, however, in that Jesse was the one who Gus was more worried about, and while he does initially prove a major loose cannon, he ends up becoming arguably even more loyal to Gus than he is to Walt by late Season 4.
  • The Quiet One: Gus is very soft-spoken, calm, and collected even in the most stressful situations.
  • Real Men Cook: Quite the Supreme Chef.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: He prefers to motivate his employees by appealing to their higher natures (Gale's love of science, Walt's desire to provide for his family) and only uses fear as a last resort. He also makes allowances for the personal situations of his employees and does his best to make sure that everyone is nice and happy under his employ.
  • Revenge Before Reason: One of the main reasons for his war against the Mexican cartel is his desire for revenge. This turns out to be his Fatal Flaw in the season 4 finale when he chooses to kill Hector himself.
  • Self-Made Man: Gus is able to cover distribution of drugs by simply using the refrigerator trucks that were used to deliver supplies to the Los Pollos Hermanos restaurants, rather than hire "mules" to distribute the product (although "mules" would be used to get the drugs from the restaurants to the dealers). Mike makes it very clear to Walt that Gus was so successful with his business because Gus handled so much himself and started with nothing 20 years prior. In Gus' own words:
    "I grew up quite poor. We lived in the hills. In a place my brothers built from things they found. Metal sheeting, plywood. When it rained, it smelled like hay. We were always hungry."
  • Self-Poisoning Gambit: How he dispatches the heads of the Juarez Cartel. He brings an extremely rare and expensive bottle of tequila as a peace offering to his meeting with Don Eladio. The Don insists that Gus drink first, so Gus does, tricking the Don and the rest of the capos into believing that the tequila was safe and thus also drinking. Unlike the others, Gus has the advantage of having taken some pills first and then going and inducing vomiting, which helps slow down the poison long enough for him to get medical attention.
  • Shadow Archetype: Inverted. He's everything Heisenberg wants to be. Feared, powerful, rich, and is one of the biggest drug lords in the region, with state-of-the-art infrastructure. But as Mike later puts it in his "The Reason You Suck" Speech, Heisenberg's no Fring, what with his ego and pride clouding his judgement. Needless to say, when Heisenberg kills Fring and tries to take over the operation, it all goes downhill.
  • Signature Move: Straightening his tie/changing his clothes in a dramatic fashion in general.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: Male example. He cooks meals for guests he invites for dinner in his home and performs chores like throwing out the garbage at his fast food restaurants, then as a drug kingpin he is brutally killing his own employees for their failures.
  • Start of Darkness: The death of his "brother" Max turned him into the cold, ruthless meth kingpin we all know and love, although it's implied that he had some dark history in Chile before ever coming to North America. A story of his childhood that he tells in Better Call Saul suggests that he may have always had a taste for vengeance, given that he snared a coati, accidentally wounded it, and kept it rather than mercy killing it, all because it was eating fruit from a tree that he had cultivated.
  • Stepford Smiler: Type C and terrifyingly so. That which lies under the smile is Nightmare Fuel-inducing. Arguably the depressed type as well where his friend Max is concerned.
  • The Stoic: Not even the terror-inducing Salamanca Cousins scare him at all.
  • Straight Edge Evil: Gus lives quite comfortably, but apart from that has few visible vices and even expresses distaste for the addicts who buy his product. His one real indulgence in life ends up getting him killed.
  • Supreme Chef: Gus has standards: from the best goddamn spicy-fried chicken in the state, to a carefully prepared gastro-foodie delight cooked at home... to producing the highest standard of meth in the business. If he can't do it all himself, he makes sure to train and supply the people who can with the best available ingredients.
  • The Sociopath: Generally only with what naturally comes with being a drug kingpin, unlike Eladio. It should be noted that a large part of Fring's motivation for even remaining in the drug trade (despite being rich) is to avenge his fallen friend, Max (though this is undercut by him continuing his operation after he gets revenge). Eladio himself seems to be aware of Fring's bottled-up feelings, and spitefully suggests he dispose of them. For his criminal line of work, Gus is genuinely an affable and fair boss, but he won't hesitate to violently and remorselessly dispose of anyone that's become a liability to his operations.
  • They Look Just Like Everyone Else!: Invoked, and implied to be why he dresses like middle-aged middle-management.
  • Tranquil Fury: Especially in "Box Cutter". When Gus is more quiet than usual, that's when to be afraid. Just ask Victor.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Downplayed as he's still a cold-blooded killer but he's less openly mean or passive-aggressive to Mike or his employees than he was in Better Call Saul.
  • Undignified Death: Gets killed by the man he hated the most who was stuck in a wheelchair, and after he had tried to kill that same man.
  • The Unfettered: Obsessed with avenging Max's death, and not above harming innocents along the way.
  • Unflinching Walk: Into a hail of sniper bullets. And again in his death scene.
  • Villain Has a Point: A sociopathic murderer who is ultimately proven correct about Walter, whose carelessness destroys both of their empires and gets himself killed not even a year and a half into the business.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: He's the well-respected owner of the successful Los Pollos Hermanos chain of chicken restaurants, who publicly supports the DEA at fundraisers and sends in free chicken to all the cops waiting by Hank's hospital bedside. He even contributed to Walt's cancer treatment fund.
  • Villainous Breakdown: An eerily calm example in Box Cutter, knowing he's been Out-Gambitted by Walt and Jesse, he theatrically strolls around the room before ultimately slashing Victor's throat and then telling Walt and Jesse to get back to work.
  • Who's Laughing Now?: The Mexican cartel killed Gus' partner and mocks him about it. He ends up killing all of them.
  • A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing: Oh boy, is he ever. Under that concerned, upright citizen's face hides a world of hurt for people who cross him.
  • Would Hit a Girl: "I will kill your wife. I will kill your son. I will kill your infant daughter."
  • Would Hurt a Child: When he promises to stop using children in his drug business, he has the children under his employ (including the kid brother of Jesse's girlfriend) killed. Later, when he fires Walt, he warns him not to interfere in his dealings with Hank, promising to murder his son and infant daughter.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Sending the Twins after Hank. No matter who loses, he wins.
  • You Have Failed Me: Initially, he appears to be a nicer, stabler person than other drug lords Walt and Jesse have encountered (and by comparison, he arguably is), but he soon starts showing his more ruthless side:
    • He first pulls this on both Walt and Jesse after they kill a couple of his drug dealers in revenge for their murdering Tomás Cantillo, and quickly begins plotting to eliminate them both and bring Gale back into the fold as the lab's sole cook, with things going From Bad to Worse when Jesse kills Gale on Walt's orders. While Gus eventually warms up to Jesse again, he remains permanently soured on Walt.
    • 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.
    • Walt nearly takes Hank to the location of his manufacturing business for investigation, and despite Walter managing to avoid confrontation by staging an accident, it finally gives Gus the pretext he needs to ditch him once and for all (only stopping short of just killing him straight away because Jesse talks him out of it). He has Tyrus abduct Walter outside of Jesse's house, has him taken out to the desert, and fires him, warning him about approaching Jesse or his labs again, and telling him that not only will Hank die for Walt's meddling, but if Walt tries anything to prevent Hank's assassination, his entire family will pay with their lives. One of the few times he has ever raised his voice beyond his usual cool and even tone — which makes what he says even scarier.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: It's indicated that he only ever intended Walt to be a temporary solution while Gale (and later Jesse) was trained up to precisely duplicate his formula, but was content to let Walt stick around until his cancer inevitably returned and he either died or become too ill to work. However, Walt ends up causing him to pull the trigger prematurely when he proves too much of a liability.

    Gus on Better Call Saul
"From now on, You. Are. Mine."
"When you are at Los Pollos Hermanos, you are under my protection."
Los Pollos Hermanos Employee Training: Emergency Situations

Gus is a local Albuquerque businessman, the respected proprietor of Los Pollos Hermanos, a thriving local fast food restaurant. A man of many secrets, Gus is as careful, deliberate, and meticulous with his employees and customers at Los Pollos Hermanos as he is navigating the politics of the Mexican drug cartel. When we meet him in Better Call Saul, Gus is on the front-end of building both his fast food and his drug empires, brick by brick.

  • Almighty Janitor: Even disregarding his status as a drug lord, he's the owner of Los Pollos Hermanos and still finds time to do some menial work around the place.
  • A Father to His Men: Part of his public figure (and arguably one of the only aspects of his personality that translates both in his private and personal life). Gus insists on maintaining a healthy workplace environment and tries to keep a good relationship with his employees, offering advice and training. This serves him well as a motivating productive factor (happy workers means better production), but it's also a personal ethos: when you're under his wing, you're safe. Anything less than that is unacceptable.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Like in Breaking Bad, Gus's relationship to Max is subject to interpretation. Hector Salamanca makes a homophobic remark regarding them and Lalo later insultingly calls Max Gus's "boyfriend." Whether or not he's literally referring to them as having a romantic relationship or just deriding them for being very close is left unstated. Nothing is ever stated of Gus possibly having a wife and/or children, at least until Breaking Bad (whether or not they actually exist is heavily debated). Word of God and Word of St. Paul have said this is a valid interpretation of Gus and that they chose to keep it ambiguous.
  • And Starring:
    • "with Giancarlo Esposito" in season 3.
    • "and Giancarlo Esposito" in season 4.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: True to form, he wears a smart suit and is a fearless badass in the face of danger from Hector Salamanca.
  • Bad Boss: He is this when people under his employ make mistakes, or if he is just in a bad mood. He only acts nice when it is pragmatic to do so. His version of firing someone is killing them (and their loved ones if they're somehow a liability), and if he does the killing himself, it's drawn out to be as painful as possible.
    • He is this exclusively to Nacho, constantly controlling him through fear and intimidation when he makes it a point to never resort to such means other than as a last resort. When Mike brings this up, Gus points out that Nacho has betrayed every single boss he's had, so he needs the stick instead of the carrot.
  • Bad Liar: He puts up a very elaborate smokescreen to explain Werner's death to Lalo (namely, that Werner stole cocaine from him, and his crew were definitely NOT working on a secret basement but on a new blast chiller for his warehouse), but Lalo doesn't buy it for a second.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: He tells a story about how, growing up poor, he snared a coati that was eating the fruit from a tree he cultivated, and despite it having a broken leg that would have made killing it more merciful, kept it. For the record, this is a coati.
  • Benevolent Boss: He compliments his staff on how they handled the hostage situation, promises to compensate them for the lost work time, offers them professional counseling to deal with any distress, and makes sure to give them a positive motivational speech (along with a good cover story for why Hector was harassing him) to raise their morale.
    • He also lets Werner's crew go home fully compensated after Werner's death rather than have them killed.
  • Berserk Button: Denying Gus his revenge against Hector Salamanca. During Gus' confrontation with Nacho, this is one of the few times we ever see an extremely angered Gus and one who acts physically at that, he is livid at the thought of having his revenge taken away from him and makes it clear to Nacho that the only reason he is alive is that he has the perfect leverage over him.
    • A lack of loyalty, unpredictability, professionalism, or general instability are all surefire ways to get under Gus's skin. He treats Nacho poorly because he sees that has a tendency to betray all of his bosses. He's willing to murder his own employees if they act untrustworthy or unprofessional. He's a much better boss towards Mike, who's loyalty and professionalism wins him over.
  • Best Served Cold: Prevented Hector's murder because a bullet to the head was "too humane" for him.
  • Black Sheep: Juan Bolsa claims that deep down, Gus will always be this to the Juarez Cartel and that he will never really be one of them. Not that he gives one fuck about this.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: A brief and dark bout of this is when Gus is forced to give up $700,000 to the DEA. He spends a night with his mind awkwardly spaced out and going back and forth into his office and his restaurant's friers. Lyle, who insists on helping out overtime, even notes that Gus seems incredibly distressed.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Gus shows signs of this sort of banter in his interaction with Mike. "I am not completely unsympathetic towards your... sense of justice".
    • There's also his exasperated, "Then I suggest you give the man a badge", comment to Lydia.
  • Death Glare: He's excellent with these when aggravated, and this becomes his default expression after the chaos with Werner.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: His plan of building from scratch an underground meth lab beneath a laundromat, which takes most of season 4. Not only does it involve contacting architects from Europe (who have to be hooded when brought to Albuquerque, to keep them from knowing the location), the one hired to oversee the construction, Werner Ziegler, spells out the difficulties of building such a thing: taking into account the budget and material needed, the structure could collapse, not to say cause enough noise to attract attention. This, of course, without taking into account human resources like the rabble-rousers like Kai or the increasingly homesick Werner. However, the work moves forward per Gus' instructions since once finished, it'll allow him to produce his own product without relying on the Cartel, avoid possible detection, and keep a stable space for everyone to work without any restraints.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: He more or less enslaves Nacho because he almost killed Hector before Gus could have completed his revenge. He also said he tortured a coati to death as a child because it ruined the tree he cultivated.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: Technically, he's an employee of Peter Schuler, his partner-in-crime at Madrigal Electromotive. However, from their interactions it's clear that Gus is the dominant personality, and Schuler has little to do with the day-to-day operation of Fring's drug empire.
  • Eagleland: He invokes this in his speech to his Los Pollos Hermanos employees.
  • Enemy Mine: Forms an alliance with Mike out of the realization that their hatred of Hector Salamanca is mutual.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • The tone of his voice suggests even he found Hector's ruthless killing of a civilian distasteful.
    • He finds Hector's decision to take his restaurant hostage to be a bit excessive. Given those are his employees, this is understandable.
    • His professionalism shows up again when he refuses to take a 'commission' from the money Mike wants to launder for this family, as his stated objection is that he will not steal from Mike's family.
    • He absolutely can't stand Lydia's nervousness, and his response to her complaining to him about Mike is to tell her "Then I suggest you give the man a badge" with a very no-nonsense tone.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: He seems to be quite fond of Gale, though he has no qualms manipulating him in order to further his own ambitions.
  • Evil Is Petty: When he is forced to sacrifice $700 000 to throw the DEA off his trail, he takes out his anger on his employee Lyle by saying that he is doing a bad job with the cleaning.
  • Gut Feeling: Like in the previous series Gus has great intuition, realizing right away Nacho is the one behind Hector's heart attack.
  • Hidden Depths: He is incredibly sophisticated and cultured for a drug lord, a far cry from Eladio and the Salamancas. When Mike bluntly insinuates Fring is just some drug dealer, Lydia implies there is so much more to him than meets the eye.
  • Immigrant Patriotism: See the Eagleland entry above.
  • Implied Death Threat: He makes a serious one of these towards Mike when he becomes increasingly belligerent after Werner's death. While Mike isn't dumb enough to fully tell Gus where to stick it, he does blow him off harshly.
  • It's All About Me: He is pretty angry to find that Nacho was responsible for Hector's heart attack. It doesn't occur to him that Nacho's father's safety may be more important than Gus getting his revenge for his friend's death as a direct consequence of selling meth in Don Eladio's territory. Even before he had Mike's car bugged in case he had the audacity of trying to kill his mortal enemy and even snarks at Mike's sense of justice when his reasons are similarly petty.
  • I Will Punish Your Friend for Your Failure: As a variation of his infamous Blofeld Ploy. He and Victor murder Arturo Colon in front of Nacho Varga and hold him as he sees his life fade away to highlight three points: 1) No unwarranted alpha posture on the Cartel's part (Arturo demanded a bigger supply by brandishing a gun as a way of peacocking); 2) Nacho made a huge mistake by trying to off Hector Salamanca on his own and will step in line, even if he won't die today; 3) As punishment, Nacho will follow every single one of Gus' orders or else he'll serve him to the Salamancas as a gift. This way, Gus punishes Arturo for his cockiness and has Nacho under his thumb to act as a double agent within the Salamanca organization.
  • Kick the Dog: How does Gus react when Nacho is proving incapable of prying Lalo for more information? He gets his goons to take him on a road trip in the middle of the night, then shows him he's on the verge of murdering his father.
  • Knight of Cerebus: When he shows up, the show acquires the same tone as Breaking Bad.
  • Manipulative Bastard: All of his actions throughout the series (not to mention over the last twenty years) are directed toward cornering the cartel, while letting them think they're forcing him into it. He runs Albuquerque for them and pays them well for the privilege, bringing in so much money they can't risk disrupting his operation. He sabotages Hector's trucks, so Hector 'forces' him to move Salamanca product, which Gus does so well that he becomes the sole transporter for all cartel product into the US. All of this time, he's busily constructing a hidden superlab in secret, giving him both a choke-hold on meth coming from Mexico, and his own source of product north of border. Subverted in Season 5, he's completely at a loss as to how to deal with Lalo Salamanca when forced to throw away thousands of dollars to the DEA.
  • Mask of Sanity: Gus is a cold blooded killer motivated by revenge alone, he wants Hector to suffer and die by his machinations and will not accept anyone interfering. All the professionalism and politeness is just a cover for his obsession.
  • Mirror Character: From the Cartel, ironically. While he sees himself as morally superior to them and professional, Gus is shown to be just as cruel, petty and vindictive as the likes of the Salamancas. He often uses the murder of Max as a justification for his actions, but has no problem doing the same thing to other people (Nacho with Arturo and his father). Ultimately, Gus is just as bad as the cartel, the only thing that makes him somewhat “better” is his Pragmatic Villainy and Benevolent Boss moments.
  • Noodle Incident: His whole past is chock full of these, but notably, when Bolsa claims Fring is an impersonal man all about business, Lalo retorts he did something in Santiago that speaks volumes of the opposite. Bolsa does not have an answer for this.
  • Not So Above It All:
    • Has a goofy moment where he throws the paper with Hector's shoe shit into the bin - and nails it in one shot!
    • A darker example when he drops his stoic nature when he talks about a bullet to Hector's head being far too humane.
  • Not Worth Killing: His general opinion of Hector Salamanca - or rather, "Not Worth Killing Quick and Painless". Why waste time and ammo in having a quick revenge on a man too despicable for such compassion instead of giving him the slow, painful demise he so richly deserves without raising any suspicions?
    Gus: A bullet to the head would have been far too humane.
  • Taunting the Unconscious: A rather grim, twisted example: Besides paying for his treatment, Gus visits Hector in the hospital. He tells him a story about the way he made a creature suffer beyond any reason by keeping it alive for having crossed him. As such, he's determined to keep Hector alive... since he's not done with him.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Goes to great length to ensure Hector lives long enough to receive the comeuppance he had prepared for him, such as thwarting an assassination attempt, giving the old man CPR when he collapses, and flying in specialists from Baltimore to get Hector the best treatment.
  • Tranquil Fury:
    • After a whole day of Werner running wild and causing extremely jeopardizing problems, Gus spends the next day seething with stoic fury over the incomplete construction work and the fact that Lalo is aware of Gus's project as a result of Werner's carelessness.
    • He's visibly stewing for most of the first half of season 5 as he deals with the threat from Lalo.
  • Pet the Dog: Compensates his employees after Hector pays an extortion visit and promises not to take money from Mike that he could use for his family.
    • Also appears to have warm relations with Gale Boetticher.
    • He also tells Nacho to leave one of the Los Pollos restaurants in a rather fatherly tone, prior to blowing it up.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: True to form, he teams up with Mike due to this.
  • Pulling the Thread: In spite of Mike giving him the excuse that Hector threatened his family, Gus, deductive as ever, points out that Mike was already willing to let bygones be bygones when he stole Salamanca's money and made him look like a fool. Then, he goes further and makes him admit that this has something more to do with assuaging guilt over the death of a passerby because of his stunt.
  • Sadist: Sort of. He doesn't really gain pleasure from the pain of others, and dislikes the Cartel's Stupid Evil brutality, especially when innocents are involved. But, if you cross him, even if you didn't mean to, he will make you suffer. His very drawn out murder of Arturo stands out as one the cruelest deaths in the series, and if his story about the coati is to be believed, he has been seeking prolonged vengeance on his enemies since he was seven.
  • Saved by Canon: He's a major player in Breaking Bad, so he'll be fine by the end of the series.
  • Secret Test of Character: He's been doing these for a long time, secretly testing Mike's abilities from the shadows.
  • Scarily Competent Tracker: He's got his men bugging the cars of anyone who could become useful or are a liability to his organization. Additionally, as a child he once waited hours to catch an animal that had eaten the fruit he cultivated and sold to support his family, having tracked it and trapped it earlier.
  • The Sociopath: A lot of his more ambiguously evil moments, like if he had a hand in ordering a child's death or threatening to kill Walt's whole family, are confirmed here. Gus has no problems manipulating friends and enemies alike for his objective, will order innocent family members or non combatant killed and even tell a story about how he tortured an animal when he was a kid. His love and dedication for Max is still mentioned, but as the character is still long dead we don't really see how their relationship was while we are shown moments hinting that Gus will go on an obsessive revenge crusade over anything (like the aformentioned animal). It's also made clear that his business relationship with Walt falling apart is not something special, but a reccurring issue in Gus' business, which we see with the Werner situation. Werner's mistake was not nearly as bad as Walt's, but that didn't stop Gus from ordering his death, and almost having his innocent wife killed as well.
  • Verbal Tic: Tends to say "Unfortunate", a lot.
  • Villainous Breakdown:
    • When Hector has a stroke, Gus rushes to his aid and goes to great length to keep his enemy alive and conscious so he can execute his vendetta, while frantically cursing at him not to die under his breath. He also personally kills Arturo in a gruesome manner to show Nacho his displeasure of almost being robbed of his revenge.
    • After the Werner incident, Gus has been in a perpetual state of this. His expression is a perpetual Death Glare and he is simmering with Tranquil Fury in every scene he's in.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: As part of his cover. He's in good standing with major organizations; the Albuquerque Fire Department, for one, is very taken in with his support and even the chief praises him as a pillar of the community. If they only knew.
  • The Villain Knows Where You Live: He's got no qualms with threatening Nacho's father to force Nacho's cooperation.


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