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Michael "Mike" Ehrmantraut

Portrayed By: Jonathan Banks

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    Both Series 

  • The Ace: Pulls off all assignments given to him flawlessly. When things go wrong, he reacts professionally (like his truck getting shot in Better Call Saul).
  • Affably Evil: A nice guy and a loving grandfather, but he is a remorseless killer who'll kill you without hesitation if it's his job.
  • Ambiguous Start of Darkness: At one point Mike gives Walter a speech about how he doesn't believe in second chances or half measures, because when he was a cop Mike tried to do a Scare 'Em Straight with a serial Domestic Abuser, only for the guy to kill his wife two weeks later. Combined with Hank's statement that Mike's time as a cop "ended dramatically" most fans think the abuser case was why Mike broke bad, but it's never actually confirmed. Better Call Saul shows that Mike (along with the rest of his department) was already a Dirty Cop before he moved to New Mexico after the revenge-killing of two crooked cops who killed his son Matty for not being entirely willing to play ball. However, it's unclear if that was his first murder, or if he already covertly worked as a hitman while on the force.
  • Anti-Villain: He's an incredibly efficient assassin who stops at nothing to carry out his job, but he hardly ever holds any ill will towards his targets, and is a pretty decent guy when he's not on the job — even better, he manages to keep professional and personal life separate. He's a Noble Demon who refuses to harm innocents but is ruthless when dealing with enemies.
  • Ascended Extra: Goes from a supporting character on Breaking Bad to the deuteragonist of the prequel show, Better Call Saul. He was originally intended to be a cameo, but his one appearance was well-received.
  • Badass Baritone: His gruff voice is the deepest of the main cast on both shows and he can kick epic amounts of ass in his sixties, making him a very important part of Gus' crew..
  • Bald of Awesome: Has a shiny dome and is very awesome.
  • Bald of Evil: Or bald of anti-villainy. He's a remorseless hitman and an antagonist towards Walt after all.
  • Being Personal Isn't Professional: Mike has learned to handle this trope perfectly since his son's death. It's only Walter that causes him to subvert it when he gets on Mike's temper.
  • Berserk Button: Killing people as a preventative or "prophylactic" measure. Examples are, his rage at Hector for killing a good samaritan, his disgusted reaction to Walt and Lydia wanting to kill the entire remanence of Los Pollos Hermanos, and Todds murder of a random teenage witness. He has a good reason because his own son was murdered in this fashion, and it's constantly tearing him apart inside. Tragically it doubles as a case of you are what you hate. Mike kills or attempts to kill several people, Werner, Walt and Jesse at least, for this very reason. Another downplayed example, but present, is when others ignore his advice.
  • Boring, but Practical: One of the traits that makes Mike so dangerous is his simplistic approach to his work. He won't fire a hundred bullets if he only needs one, he makes clear and concise observations to get the upper hand on opponents, and he favors reliable, basic equipment and vehicles that keep attention away from him.
  • The Cameo: Appears briefly in a flashback in El Camino. He and Jesse are discussing their futures at a riverbank. Mike was actually the one who suggested Jesse go to Alaska to start fresh.
  • Consummate Professional: Very, very little even comes close to making him lose his cool. He's seen everything and worked most angles out. His one Berserk Button is people who refuse his advice. He's touchy since accepting his advice got his son killed.
  • Cool Old Guy: Anti-Villain he may be, but face it: you wish you could get to be this cool when you reach his age.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Occasionally; his professionalism makes him more prone to simply keep his mouth shut however.
  • Doting Grandparent: He clearly loves his granddaughter more than anything else in the world. Although he loses his shit on his granddaughter after he kills Werner and briefly quits working for Gus Fring.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: His grandaughter and, as revealed in the prequel, his family in general including his daughter-in-law.
  • Evil Old Folks: Well, more like "Anti-Villainous Old Folks". He is around his 60's or 70's but is in surprisingly good form to be The Dragon to a ruthless drug lord.
  • Evil Parents Want Good Kids:
    • He dotes on his granddaughter Kaylee and hopes to form a large nest egg for her with all of his work. Part of it also stems from wanting to make up for what he did to her father and his son, Matty.
    • Better Call Saul shows him as proud to have raised his son Matty into one of the few honest cops on the force, when he himself was corrupt throughout his career. It tore Mike up inside to push his son to betray his morals to prevent him from getting killed, especially since Matty wound up dead anyway due to his partners' paranoia.
  • Genius Bruiser: Mike's more than a simple thug. He's also a great investigator and tactician.
  • Honest Advisor: Always. Even if he does happen to dislike you. However, he'll be more inclined to break out the high-grade Brutal Honesty in that case.
  • My Master, Right or Wrong: He has an Undying Loyalty for Gus and always do what her orders him to (like killing), even if Mike himself doesn’t necessarily approve it.
  • Nerves of Steel: He is one of the few people who isn't intimidated by the likes of Gus Fring or the Salamanca family. Next to those people, storming a compound guarded by multiple gangbangers seems almost boring to Mike. Being a broken, bitter old man with nothing to lose might have something to do with his attitude.
  • Noble Demon: He's a criminal but he has a strict code against hurting innocent bystanders and he is extremely loyal to his bosses and employees, believing firmly in keeping his word.
  • Noble Top Enforcer: Is the right-hand man of Gus and is one of the more honorable and less "evil" mobsters in the game (certainly less evil than his boss) and his ultimate goal is just to financially secure his granddaughter's future.
  • Old Master: He has worked on both sides of the law and lived long enough to have a granddaughter, which means he knows how to casually overcome most threats that would kill people a third his age. He is a master investigator, negotiator, clean-up guy, assassin, sniper, burglar, infiltrator, instigator, tracker, reverse-tracker, and has a bunch of other skills that make him a high-level criminal. The saying "Beware of an old man in a profession where men die young." fits him perfectly.
  • One-Man Army: A realistic take on this. Mike has on several occasions dispatched large groups of heavily armed criminals single-handedly. He relies on ambush since he stands little chance in direct confrontation at his age.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Mike losing his cool is a surefire sign that things are getting out of control.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Anytime he's not with his granddaughter, his default expression is a weary scowl that rarely ever leaves his face.
  • Seen It All: The kinds of stuff that send normal people or even criminals into a panic? Mike has probably seen, or likely committed them before.
  • The Stoic: Mike's too world-weary to get worked up over anything. He reacts to most problems with mild irritation and exasperation.

    Mike on Breaking Bad
"No more half measures, Walter."

"I assure you I can kill you from way over here, if it makes you feel any better."

Mike Ehrmantraut is Gus' number one hitman, investigator, and all around problem fixer. Extremely loyal to Gus. Gets along with Walt at first, but stops liking Walt as Walt does more reckless stuff that threatens to ruin their operation. Then he starts to develop a mild respect and even affection for Jesse. Despite a brutal profession, Mike at least acts like a decent person and loves his granddaughter.

  • A Death in the Limelight: While he was never lacking in screen time, he basically becomes the third lead of the show after Walt and Jesse in Season 5 and he's dead by the penultimate episode of the first half.
  • A Father to His Men: His partnership with Jesse is an example. He threatens Walt for calling the police on Tyrus Kitt (who'd been staking out Hank's house on Gus's orders) and he gets very serious with Lydia for suggesting that Gus's former employees be killed to prevent them from talkingnote . Mike even goes as far as to compensate their hazard pay himself, by restarting a meth operation with Walt, to honor a deal and keep them from talking.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Mike dies refusing to sell out the Los Pollos security team, awesomely telling Walt where to go and stick it. This gets Mike, one of the more likable characters on the show, killed by Walt when he goes into a rage, and even Walt seems to come to regret it when he realizes how pointless it was. His actual death scene, as he stares into the sunset while dying in peace, is incredibly somber, and his death pushes Jesse further away from Walt, breaking up the partnership that the show ran on up to that point.
  • Anyone Can Die: A direct victim of Walt's "empire building", at the end of Season 5A.
  • Ascended Extra: Seen once in the season 2 finale, seemingly as a simple PI and fixer for Saul, but his role grows in importance as it's revealed that he's actually Gus's primary enforcer.
  • Avenging the Villain: He initially returns in the 5th season to shoot Walter when he gets the news that Gus Fring is dead. Jesse talks him out of it.
  • Berserk Button:
    • He admits that domestic abusers were his when he was a cop.
    • A rather less explosive one he nevertheless displays a few times is an acute dislike of openly careless behavior: Walt likes to push this a little too much. He seems to forgive Jesse it, to some limited extent.
    • He also hates children being harmed, as shown when he threatens Todd after Jesse punches him for shooting a kid.
    • As the series goes on, Walt becomes a Berserk Button all his own for Mike. At first, he treats him with the same casual disinterest he shows most people admittedly albeit initially fond of him to some extent, but the more time they spend together, the more Walt's ego, recklessness and bizarre plans seem to make him angrier and angrier. When he's dying, his last words are "Shut the fuck up and let me die in peace."
  • Bullying a Dragon: Mike really should have known better than deliberately provoking Walt, even though he's physically stronger. That's not counting the numerous times he attempted to kill him or threatened to do so in Seasons 3, 4 and 5.
  • Clean Up Crew: For both Saul and Gus. One of the first tasks we see him performing is removing all evidence of drug abuse from Jesse's condo and coaching him on how to handle the police when they come to retrieve Jane's body.
  • Dead Partner: "You are not the guy. You're not capable of being the guy. I had a guy, but now I don't. You are not the guy." He's possibly referring to Victor.
  • Dirty Coward: Downplayed. Mike is no coward, but whenever his criminal activities are put in jeopardy of being exposed, he seems to completely abandon his moral code, to the point where he's willing to threaten the life of an innocent little girl or abandon his own granddaughter to avoid being caught. However, considering the shitstorm that pours upon Walt's family after his illicit activities are exposed, this may just be a case of Mike protecting his granddaughter from the truth.
  • The Dragon: If Gus needs something done and there's no room to have it done wrong, it's likely Mike doing it. Saul thinks that he's this to him, but is proven wrong when Mike threatens to beat him.
  • Dragon Their Feet: He was still in Mexico recovering from his wounds when Gus was killed and was thus in no position to have helped him.
  • Easily Forgiven: At the end of season 3 he tried to kill both Walt and Jesse as well as threatened to break Saul's legs. No more than two episodes later Walt tells him that he understands he was just doing a job and Jesse comes to greatly respect Mike and even like him more than Walt. When Mike enters into a partnership with them in Season 5 Saul is the only one to be bitter about Mike's past actions and Walt pretty much just tells him to get over it. There is still plenty of tension between Walt and Mike but that is due to Mike's anger over Walt killing Gus and Walt's greed. The times Mike tried to kill Walt and Jesse aren't brought up much.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Appears briefly at the end of season 2 to help Jesse prep for the police inquiry following Jane's death without any indication of how important he'd later become.
  • Empty Shell: Jonathan Banks describes Mike as having lost his soul but at the same time being fearless and goal driven. There's a strong implication that the death of his son Matty may have been the cause of this.
  • Enigmatic Minion: To a point. Despite his dedication to Gus, he is still a man that is hard to predict.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Mike is no saint, but he still has a moral code he doesn't break easily. He particularly dislikes innocent civilians being put in danger. And in "Madrigal", he can't kill Lydia because it would mean leaving her daughter without a mother, which hits close to home given his close bond with his granddaughter.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Puts on a front of this to scare Lydia, "Where will I shoot you? In the head, that's a pistol not a gun. We're expecting precision here.".
  • Fatal Flaw: Repeatedly ignores his own advice about taking half-measures. It ultimately gets him killed by Walt.
  • Face Death with Dignity: After he gets fatally shot by Walt, he gets out of his car, crawls away, and sits down to watch the sunset over a river. When Walt catches up with him, and tries to apologize, Mike tells him to shut up and let him die in peace.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Had one years before the start of the series. See Start of Darkness below.
  • Foil:
    • To Walt. Season 5 reveals that Mike has a considerable amount of money stashed away in his granddaughter's name, making him and Walt two men committing crimes for their families. However, Mike's professionalism and caution allows his work life and home life to remain completely separate, while Walt managed to get Skyler, and then the rest of his family, horribly entangled in the meth business. And Mike's emotional stability has allowed him to retain an excellent relationship with his granddaughter Kaylee and daughter-in-law Stacey as well, while Walt is emotionally isolated from his family and manipulates them.
    • To Gus Fring. Both wear masks to get revenge, both put the goal over immediate gratification, and neither can stand shoddy workmanship, regardless of whatever else they're dealing with. They also both harbor hatred for Hector Salamanca, because he threatened (in Mike's case) or killed (in Gus's case) a loved one of theirs. The main difference is Mike left whatever morals he had behind upon getting his revenge in a day rather than years before, and had to live dead inside afterwards rather than messing up by dying to get it.
  • Friend in the Black Market: "Fixer and Intermediary" is basically his job description and he lies at the heart of the connection map of relationships in the show.
  • Iconic Sequel Character: One of the show's most iconic characters and doesn't appear until the very end of season 2.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Threatens Saul with this in the season 3 finale.
    Mike: Don't make me beat you 'till your legs don't work.
  • Karmic Death: Mike had several occations where he came really close to killing Walter, but because of the circumstances, he couldn’t do it. But when Mike is forced to leave the city after the DEA finds solid proof to arrest him, he is killed by Walter after giving him one last rant. His death is also poetic in the way that Mike didn’t follow his own advice about ”taking full measures instead of half measures”. Mike only did half measures on Walter (threatening him), Walter did a full measure on Mike (killing him). However, despite all of this, it is made clear that Mike was one of the least deserving men to die, and even Walter himself quickly regrets it and tries to apolize, but Mike just brushes him off.
  • Kick the Dog: When he rescues Chow from the cartel hitmen, Mike shoots Chow in the hand as penalty for not informing Gus about the situation.
    • He threatens to break Saul's legs if he doesn't give him Jesse Pinkman.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch:
    • Nearly killing Walt on Gus' orders.
    • Strangling Gaff to death and nicking Don Eladio's necklace.
    • Threatening Lydia.
  • Knows a Guy Who Knows a Guy: Saul admits that Mike has even more connections than himself, explaining to Walt that Mike gives Saul most of his connections and planning a hit on Gus would be an "epic fail" because it would go through Mike first, and trying to find a hitman without going through Mike risks encountering undercover cops. In the fifth season, Mike is easily able to cover distribution for a meth operation without a question from Walter, Jesse, or Saul.
  • Lawman Gone Bad: His backstory involving his Start of Darkness and Noodle Incident. The death of his son may have had to do with it.
  • Moment of Weakness: The badass One-Man Army that is Mike Ehrmantraut is taken down by a single gut shot by a noncombatant just because Walt manages to catch him by surprise.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: In "Say My Name" Mike absoloutely refuses to let Jesse deliver his money as he doesn't want him in trouble with the authotities. This leads to Walt delivering the money instead and murdering Mike when he refuses to trade the names of his men for the cash.
  • Noodle Incident: His career as a Philadelphia police officer ended under "dramatic" circumstances. Mike doesn't want to talk about it, and Hank isn't really interested in it either because he's more interested in knowing why Gus Fring would hire someone like Mike to run his corporate security, since doing background checks on pimple-faced fry cooks seems like overkill in Hank's book. There's some evidence from Better Call Saul that implies that the circumstances in question were in fact the death of his son, Matthew.
  • Not So Stoic: There are a few times where Mike has been pushed far enough to react with real rage. Like when Walt killed Gus and he prematurely checked himself out of the makeshift Mexican hospital to race back to New Mexico to kill Walt, or when Walt followed him to a bar and asked him to kill Gus. Walt just has this knack for getting under his skin more than anybody else.
  • Older Sidekick: Gus isn't exactly young but Mike is clearly much older.
  • OOC Is Serious Business:
    • Gus's method of killing Victor is so sudden and so brutal that Mike actually raises his gun on instinct before he realizes what is going on.
    • Mike is usually one of the most cool-headed characters on the show, but when he's warned that his lawyer rattled him out and sees the cops show up at the park looking for him, his reaction, while subdued, serves to illustrate the gravity of the situation. Mike, almost always The Unfettered, looks downright terrified.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: Jonathan Banks considers the moment where Mike abandons his granddaughter at the playground to escape the police to be something Mike never would have done, but didn't protest out of respect for the writers and producers. He also found the end of the train heist, and Mike's lack of reaction to Todd killing Drew Sharp, as out-of-character.
  • Only Sane Man: Clearly convinced he is, always acting professional on the job and irritated when someone acts out of line such as Walt and his eccentric problem solving solutions. He would qualify for this trope, if he didn't let his temper get the better of him where Walt was concerned.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: In "Half Measures", he doesn't go through with Walt's plan to have Jesse thrown in jail because it would've upset Gus. He's also much more efficient than the cartel, which makes a point of being as vicious as possible.
  • Private Detective: His "official" position on the Los Pollos Hermanos payroll, which is what he is meant to say if the police think he's involved in Gus's drug network.
  • Put on a Bus: After he's shot in Mexico in season 4, it's stated he'll have to stay at the medical tent Gus had set up to recover for at least a week. This cleverly allowed the writers to take out his boss while leaving him alive to return in season 5.
  • Rare Guns: He's occasionally seen wielding a HK Mark 23 when he's expecting heavier opposition than he could probably handle with his revolver. It looks pretty damn impressive even in his paws, especially when a suppressor is mounted that turns it into one of the largest handguns in existence.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Gives one to Walt during their last encounter.
  • Retirony: Is just about to skip town and presumably retire from the criminal life forever when Walt caps him.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Walt kills him simply because Mike refuses to give him information, but mostly because Mike insulted him. Mike's death signals how just far Walt has fallen. It's the first time in the series he kills someone without any kind of legitimate justification.
  • Self-Serving Memory: Mike blames Walt for Gus's death and their business relationship deteriorating, and calls him out on wanting to "be the man" and turning on Gus out of his pride and ego. Mike forgets that Walt's falling out with Gus began when Jesse protested Gus's dealers using a child to conduct business, and Mike refused to help Walt with Jesse and advised him "no more half-measures", implying Walt should kill Jesse before he causes more trouble. He also conveniently forgets that Gus ordered him to kill Jesse and Walt after Walt killed the dealers, which was what push Walt to ordering Gale's murder to protect himself. Mike also doesn't bring up Gus's plan to kill Hank and telling Walt that he'd have his entire family killed if he tried to intervene; though, he was recovering in Mexico at that time, so he may not have been aware of that factor.
  • Seen It All: The only events in the series that shock him are Walt putting out the hit on Gale, Gus cutting Victor's throat, and Gus' death.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Quite literally "shoot" in this case. All the money Mike was saving up for his granddaughter? All of it seized by Uncle Sam the moment he gets implicated. His decision not to give the names of his locked up men to Walt? Walt makes it known after shooting him, he plans to get the names from Lydia anyway.
  • Start of Darkness: Described to Walt in the episode "Half Measure". Mike used to be a cop. He once gave a repeatedly abusive husband an intimidating warning rather than killing him. Later on, the man beat his wife to death, and that's when Mike decided to never take a half measure again. Then his police officer son got killed because he refused to take a bribe like fellow corrupt officers were doing.
  • Suddenly Shouting: While delivering his aforementioned Badass Boast.
  • Title Drop: For the episode "Half Measure".
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: With Walt in Season 5
  • Trauma Conga Line: In season 5A, life has sucked for Mike:
    • He gets shot during the escape from the cartels' base and has to be hospitalized for a week.
    • While he's in recovery, his boss gets killed and he loses his relatively comfortable job.
    • His boss's slush funds are seized, meaning both the two million dollar inheritance he left for his granddaughter and the hazard pay to buy off his nine incarcerated men are gone.
    • He is forced to go against his better judgement and work with Walt, whom he regards as a ticking time bomb.
    • Pressure from the DEA forces him to retire with a five million dollar buyout (sounds like a lot to a normal person, but not so much when you've got nine guys to pay off).
    • The DEA busts his lawyer and seizes his money again, and now he has no way of paying off his men or supporting his granddaughter.
    • His lawyer tricks him into revealing his present location, a playground he took his granddaughter to, to the police. Mike has to exit his granddaughter's life without saying goodbye.
    • When he finally tells Walt exactly what he thinks of him and explains how he is responsible for basically ruining his life, he gets shot and killed.
    • Mike accepts his death and watches peacefully at the sunset, but Walt has to ruin the moment by reminding Mike that his guys are all going to be killed anyway.
    • Even in death, Mike can't catch a break. His body is implied to be chemically disincorporated by Walt and Todd.
  • Underestimating Badassery: As mentioned, he has a bad habit of repeatedly underestimating the savviness of Walt, which ends up being his downfall.
    • His research into Jack Welker's white supremacist gang leads him to write them off as non-worrisome, when they actually prove to be quite a bit of a problem later on in the series. More specifically as it relates to Mike, they are the ones who are eventually able to murder of all of his guys he fought to keep alive.
  • Undying Loyalty: To Gus. However, after Gus dies, he's still willing to work with Walt and Jesse in order to provide for his granddaughter. He makes it very clear that he's unhappy about the situation.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: His "half measure" speech to Walt is something the latter ends up taking to heart, with Walt eventually becoming as ruthless as Gus or the Cartel, and leaving a long trail of bodies behind him in the process, Mike included.
  • Villain Has a Point: Sums up Walt more accurately than even he could have guessed:
    Mike: "You...are trouble. [leans forward] I'm sorry the kid doesn't see it, but I sure as hell do. You are a time bomb, tick-tick-ticking. And I have no intention of being around for the boom."
  • Would Hit a Girl: Mike is perfectly intent on killing Lydia when he threatens her at her house in "Madrigal". He only doesn't because Lydia's love for her daughter hits home given his own relationship with his granddaughter.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Implied when Lydia doesn't stop hysterically squealing with her oblivious daughter in the vicinity. It's clear he doesn't want to do it...but also clear that he will do it if need be.

    Mike on Better Call Saul
"You know what happened. The question is can you live with it?"
"We all make our choices, and those choices - they put us on a road. Sometimes, those choices seem small, but they put you on the road. You think about getting off... but eventually, you're back on it... and nothing - nothing - can be done about that.''

But before all that, Mike was a cop in Philadelphia – that is, until he took an early retirement due to a series of dark events that he'd prefer to keep buried in the past. A recent transplant to the Southwest, Mike has come to Albuquerque to pursue a quiet life as a grandfather. However, his specialized skill set lends itself easily to the criminal world, and he soon finds his talents are in high demand.

  • A Day in the Limelight: "Five-O", which discusses a bit about his family life, and his deceased son.
  • Ambiguously Trained: It's doubtful that he would have been able to wipe out an entire armed Colombian gang in the desert with a sniper rifle from just being a former cop in "Bagman". It's implied throughout the series that he was a sniper for some form of military unit (largely just thanks to his familiarity with sniper rifles) but it's only clarified outright on invokedthe official podcast.
  • The Atoner: By providing for his granddaughter and doting on her, he's making up for his participation in police corruption creating a situation in which his honest son, Matty, was eventually murdered for not going along quickly enough, even after Mike pushed him to become corrupt.
  • The Alcoholic: To various levels throughout Better Call Saul, but especially after Werner Ziegler's death due to his guilt.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Slightly milder one: don't half-arse your job in front of him without a damn fine excuse. If you're lucky, he'll roll his eyes at you and/or call you out for idiocy. If you're unlucky, you'll be rolling around on the floor in acute pain.
    • He already dislikes suffering through Henry's stories about his dead wife Judy, having realized that he's making them up. But what really pushes him into directly confronting Henry at the support group meeting is when Henry compares Judy to Matt, who Mike knows all too well was a real fresh-and-blood person whose memory Henry is exploiting.
  • Best Served Cold: When Hector threatens him into giving false testimony to the DA about the beatdown from Tuco, Mike takes a calculated revenge path: namely, monitoring Hector's drug operation looking for a weakness to exploit.
  • Broken Pedestal: To his son Matt, who was also a cop. Unlike Mike, Matt was averse to taking money from busts, whereas Mike knew to do it in order to ensure his partners that he had their backs. It crushed Matt for him to find out that his father was corrupt like the other cops.
  • Cold Sniper: His familiarity with the Marine Corp M40 sniper rifle in 'Gloves Off' and comments about the rifle's history imply that he served as one in Vietnam. His skills come in handy when he needs to shoot down some cartel button men preparing to kill Jimmy.
  • Cop Killer: He kills the corrupt cops behind his son's murder.
  • Corrupt Cop: Downplayed, at least according to Mike. Mike argues that if a cop wanted to stay alive and make sure the other guys had their backs, you simply just went along with whatever was going on. Matt, his son, didn't have the same philosophy, which ended up getting him ambushed by his own partners. Given how easily he can make connections with the underworld and seems already an expert in drug dealing, if he did not like being corrupt he knew how to be competent.
  • The Corrupter: How he sees himself. The system couldn't break his son Matt down... but he could, and did. It's hard to say if Mike blames himself more for doing that or for not letting his son go down in a blaze of riotous (if bureaucratic) fury.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: His tenure as a police officer in Philadelphia not only involved corruption, but missions and operations probably not standard for a cop, most likely using skills he'd learned elsewhere. His time there ultimately end under "dramatic" circumstances, eventually following him to Albuquerque.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Much of the light in his life died when Matt did, and it's very clear he blames himself for crossing the lines that ultimately led to it. He now only focuses on enjoying time with and providing for his remaining family by whatever means going, preferably in a way that can only directly bite him. The Atoner, Empty Shell, Vengeance Feels Empty, Miles to Go Before I Sleep and/or Death Seeker: it's open to interpretation what proportion of any of them he is.
  • Determinator: Mashing his buttons just switches on an ostensibly low-key Energizer bunny... who... will... make... you... pay. However long he has to chip away at you for; however many careful steps or slices it takes to get there. As his son's murderers and Hector found out.
  • Deuteragonist: Even gets his own focus episode.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: In "Inflatable", while waiting for the elevator, Jimmy tells him his experience with Tuco and tells him he made the right choice to take Hector's offer and even offers to waive his fee for his service. When the elevator arrives, Mike tells Jimmy to take the next elevator and refuses to take Jimmy's offer.
    • Later, in Season 4, he calls out the group therapy session for wallowing in self-pity, after weeks of refusing to speak, suggesting that he doesn't want anyone else's pity.
  • Do Wrong, Right: Gives advice like this to Nacho and the hopelessly naïve Daniel Wormald, who often don't think out their criminal schemes all the way through.
  • Establishing Character Moment: His first interactions with Jimmy are him steadfastly and pedantically enforcing the parking sticker system and rolling his eyes at all of Jimmy's excuses, establish Mike as having a set of rules that he follows, and he doesn't care what anyone else thinks about them.
  • Experienced Protagonist: Of the Deuteragonist variety. He is a former crooked cop who knows both side of the law, can beat and kill people half his age with no difficulty thanks to old reflexes and thorough planning. It is also hinted that he was in the service during The Vietnam War.
  • Evil Feels Good: Is put in a really good mood after stealing $250,000 from Hector's truck, enough to buy drinks for an entire bar or be a bit flirty with the waitress. Though it ends the moment he learns that a bystander was killed by Hector as a result of the heist's aftermath.
  • From Camouflage to Criminal: He spent most of his career as a cop but the way he handles the sniper rifle in "Gloves Off" and his comments about it imply that he has a military background.
  • Good Samaritan: Is actually a pretty amicable (if rather grouchy) person when left to his own devices, and stepped up to help Jimmy when the police tried to pinch him undeservedly — even going so far as to advise him on how to find the Kettlemans. Also walks Daniel, the out-of-his-depth white collar criminal he is hired to escort, through how to deal with the drug traffickers instead of just watching him stutter through it and get screwed over like he could have done as just the bodyguard. Of course, this all stretches the term "good" a bit.
  • Hates Being Touched: The armbar Mike gives to Jimmy is provoked by little more than an aggressive poke, and he is visibly angry when the cop patted him on the shoulder.
  • Honor Among Thieves: He follows a strict set of rules for his conduct in the criminal world, making sure he stays honest to his word even if there's something to be gained from doing otherwise.
    • When Jimmy asks why he didn't or wouldn't just run off with the millions of dollars they stole from the Kettlemans for himself, Mike responds that it wasn't part of the job that was asked of him.
    • Later, Gus and Victor try to pay him for helping sabotage Hector's business, and he refuses since he believes they're already even by that point, making payment unnecessary.
  • It's All About Me: A Downplayed Trope, as it's complicated by his status as The Atoner and his affection for his granddaughter. All the same, it's strongly implied that one of the reasons he angrily outs Henry as a liar at the group therapy sessions and then berates the group for being too self-pitying to see it, he does so because he's deeply resentful after hearing that his daughter-in-law is starting to move beyond her grief for Matty, something Mike refuses to do. More generally, he's shown to care much less about Stacy, his son's grieving widow, who is implicitly suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, than he does about getting to spend time with his biological granddaughter, largely because providing for Kaylee is his way of making up for failing his son so badly. More generally, Mike believes in his code, but couldn't care less about other "rules," whether legal or personal.
  • It's Personal: There is no real reason why he would want to survey and plan to attack the Cartel other than Hector threatening his family. Everything is said and done and Mike has $50,000, but he won't let that slide.
  • Jack-of-All-Trades: Once he starts doing dirty business, Mike does everything from muscle to sniping to infiltrations.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Stops doing business with Daniel after Daniel shows up for a meet in a flashy Hummer, Mike knowing full-well that it's only a matter of time before Daniel attracts the attention of the cops.
  • Kick the Dog: Mike rarely loses his cool, so to see him yell at his granddaughter for reminding him of his son's profession and untimely death was a real gut punch.
  • Made of Iron: For a guy his age he sure can take a beating.
  • Manly Tears: When discussing the conversation he had with his deceased son that revealed how the former wasn't the hero the latter thought he was.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: His reaction when he learns about what happened to an innocent person when the heist was cleaned up.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: He wanted to avoid killing during the heist of Hector's money (and attempt to have cops put the squeeze on him). It ends up with a Good Samaritan helping the driver and Hector shooting said Samaritan for his trouble.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity:
    • He pretends to be falling-down drunk to get the corrupt cops who killed his son off guard, and make sure it was really them before he kills them. He may have been planning the murder for months beforehand as well.
    • When baiting Tuco into a fight, he acts the part of a doddering old guy who seems totally ignorant to "accidentally" hitting Tuco's car.
  • Old Master:
    • Two current (and much, much younger) cops try to enlist his experience to help them put pressure on Jimmy to put pressure on Nacho. Turns out he's even better at the job than they bargained for when the very experience they hoped to use shoots them down for being too narrow-focused to see the big picture, once he gets hold of more than just their synopsis.
    • He later walks the clueless Daniel Wormald through the criminal side of the street with a master class performance as a bodyguard and a mentor. It's very clear that Mike knows all the moves for both sides of the law, forwards and backwards.
    • He casually dusts off his background knowledge in tailing and stakeout skills to great effect when figuring out exactly how Hector's operation works. It doesn't take him all that long, and he makes it look depressingly easy, despite the (complacent) precautions the cartel tries to take.
    • In both of his interactions with Lawson, the Consummate Professional gun dealer, he makes it abundantly clear that, unlike Walt, Lawson has nothing to teach him when it comes to picking the right gun for a given job. There's a strong implication that his knowledge and skills stem from being a marine sniper in The Vietnam War.
    • When he realizes that he's been bugged, he meticulously uses a gambit that allows him to turn the tables so that he is the one tracking them. Explained in detail here.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: When he gets a panicked call from Stacey at work, he immediately begins waving drivers past his parking booth so he can focus on the call. Anyone who's been watching the show up to the point knows that's a big sign of how much he cares about his family.
  • Papa Wolf: What he tried to do for Matty was pure, unadulterated Wolf. As was what he did after his son's death. How those guys stayed in one spot when he let his expression change is anybody's guess. Running for the hills and/or needing brown trousers would have been more common reactions. Pro-tip: hands off his daughter-in-law and granddaughter.
  • Pet the Dog: Reporting the Good Samaritan's body to the police so that the family can have closure.
  • Relative Button:
    • Harm his family, and he returns the favor in kind.
    • When his family needs money, the first thing he does is to contact the criminally-connected veterinarian.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Hector already forgot about what Mike did to him and moved on, but Mike refuses to forget that he threatened his family. His actions indirectly got a Good Samaritan killed by Hector.
  • Rules Lawyer:
    • You're not getting past his booth without the appropriate number of validation stickers or cash. Unless his daughter-in-law is on the phone, that is.
    • If you're buying drugs from his employer, you also better make sure you have every penny you promised, otherwise no deal.
  • Saved by Canon: He is a major character until the end of season 5A in Breaking Bad so there's no chance of him dying in this show.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!:
    • He could have run off with the Kettlemans' money, either all of it or splitting it with Jimmy, and probably would have been happy to do so if Jimmy had wanted to. That wasn't why Jimmy hired him, though, and as Mike himself says when you agree to do a job, you keep your word.
    • He also returns some of Nacho's payment to him after his plan to get rid of Tuco does not work as well as he had expected.
  • Shoot the Dog: When he kills Werner for becoming a liability. Werner would have been killed regardless by Gus, Mike only does the deed to make his death quick and ensure his wife's safety. This sets up Mike for later on pointing a gun towards Walt's head in season 3, both men in similar circumstances, but this time Mike showed no hesitation or remorse before Walt turned the tables on him.
  • Start of Darkness: As of the beginning of Season 2, while Mike did kill the police officers who murdered his son, he has shown himself willing to go to extraordinary lengths (such as suffering a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown from Tuco for half the pay he would have gotten for killing him) to avoid having to kill again. He even turns down criminal work that involves simply hurting people. The series seems to be just as much about his path to becoming Gus Fring's ruthless enforcer as it is about Jimmy's path to becoming an Amoral Attorney.
  • Stealth Mentor: More than once Mike gives solid advice for the hapless criminals he works with on how to be better at what they do.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: The Salamancas threatening his family is hard to swallow.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Mike takes Pimento cheese sandwiches along to stakeouts and drug deals.
  • The Unfettered: When Gus attempts to intimidate Mike for his involvement with Nacho's actions against Hector, Mike isn't even a bit phased when Gus raises his voice in front of Gus' goons. Instead telling Gus to cut the bullshit and get to the real reason why Gus invited Mike to their meeting place.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Gus implies that Mike is this regarding hurting Hector after Hector paid him off therefore no longer thinking about harming Mike's family. Mike however, smoothly defends himself by asserting that Hector's attempted murder was justified after he killed a Good Samaritan who wasn't in the game. Played straighter when he's unwilling to return Saul's favor while he pretty much forces him to do things for him.
  • Villain Protagonist: Unlike Jimmy who has yet to become a full on Amoral Attorney, Mike is pretty much a full-on criminal, albeit one who starts out avoiding violence when he can. He has his endearing moments though. As the series goes on he is shown becoming Gus' hitman and his hesitation to use violence is gone.
  • You Are What You Hate: In season one Mike kills a pair of crooked cops. The cops had killed his only son, just because they were afraid his son might expose their crimes. Come season 4 Mike is Forced to kill Werner, a relatively innocent man, because Gustavo Fring is worried he might expose his crimes. The realization of this sends Mike into an alcoholic BSOD.
  • Villainous BSoD: He drinks himself stupid to cope with his guilt in killing Werner Ziegler in Season 5.


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