Follow TV Tropes

Following

What An Idiot / Breaking Bad

Go To

Walter White is a genius, Hank Schrader is a brilliant investigator and the drug dealers they go up against are highly competent in their own right, but man do they make a lot of stupid decisions. Here are just a few.


Breaking Bad

  • In "Cat's in the Bag", after killing Emilio Koyama (and imprisoning Krazy-8), Walt and Jesse decide that Jesse must corrode Koyama's corpse as while Walt must kill Krazy-8 himself and then corrode his corpse later on. Walt specifically orders Jesse to buy a polyethylene bin so that the corrosive hydrofluoric acid won't eat through it.
    You'd Expect: Jesse to get the polyethylene bin and if it's not in one store then try another.
    Instead: He forgoes the whole plastic bin failing to find it after trying in only one store, (of course getting jumped by Skyler's threat to arrest him on false marijuana-dealing accusations by Walt didn't help), and proceeds to use his own porcelain bathtub as the cesspool of hydrofluoric acid thinking that a sooner solution is better than a sturdier one.
    Result: Jesse's house becomes a toxic wasteland uninhabitable for human life, leaving him with nowhere to sleep and making him flee for a motel.

  • Advertisement:
  • A mysterious drug dealer named Heisenberg begins selling the purest meth ever cooked. You are Hank Schrader. You are the DEA agent in charge of catching the guy. Your brother-in-law is Walter White. He happens to be a brilliant chemist who works as a high school teacher despite being a genius and suffers from terminal lung cancer (and is very likely dying). On top of that, after spending well over a decade showing zero interest in Hank's line of work, he suddenly became very interested in how lucrative meth could be, and even asked to see an actual lab right after said diagnosis. Meanwhile, some chemistry equipment from aforementioned school is stolen and being used to cook meth.
    You'd Then Expect: Hank to connect the dots and realize Walt is probably the only person to fit Heisenberg's profile perfectly, or at least is involved in his gang in some way.
    Instead: Hank never suspects a thing... until Walt's own what an idiot moment. Granted, Hank generally writes Walt off as book-smart but dumb at everything else, considering him to be a mild-mannered underachiever who "wouldn't know a criminal if he was close enough to check you for a hernia," but in actuality even that should've pushed Walt into the suspect line, as the recent wave of drug-related activity was characterised by its amateurish approach and lack of "street" skills.

  • Advertisement:
  • In "Down", Jesse's parents decide to take over his Aunt Ginny's house. And they will not let him sleep or live in either their current house or his Aunt Ginny's house. And because poor Ginny passed away of cancer, she can't defend Jesse to stay in her house any longer.
    You'd Expect: Jesse to have planned ahead earlier and work to get Ginny to sign the house over to him in her will through legal documents so that he can legally inherit it, protecting him from eviction.
    Instead: He poorly assumes he "earned" it by taking care of Ginny and looking after her. Without any legal document that proves Ginny would have wanted Jesse to have the house, his parents now have the legal freedom to kick out their own son out on the streets having to beg his friends for a place to stay.
    Results: He gets forced to get housing assistance from Jane Margolis, a drug addict herself who agrees not to charge Jesse a fortune for rent. This may seem like a good thing, though Jane was putting Jesse back on course of becoming a drug addict all over again.

  • Advertisement:
  • In "Peekaboo", Walter wants Jesse to recover $1,000 of meth from a pair of addicts who stole it from one of Jesse's distributors, preferably without violence.
    You'd Expect: He'd tell Jesse this explicitly, or come up with a plan for getting it back.
    Instead: He tells Jesse to take care of business and to bring a gun.

  • About halfway through "Peekaboo", Jesse finds the addicts (Spooge and his wife), pulls a gun on them and coerces them into handing over what they stole.
    You'd Then Expect: He'd keep them at a safe distance using the gun, or just shoot them on the spot so they won't pose any danger to him.
    Instead: He plays peekaboo with their son after they fall asleep.

  • During "Peekaboo", Spooge decides to break into an atm from the bottom. Only using a chair to keep it upright.
    You'd Expect: Spooge would just lay it on the ground while he's drilling into it. Also, since he's in such a vulnerable position. He'd keep quiet and try not to provoke anyone.
    Instead: He follows the plan and gets into an argument with his wife. After he calls her a "skank" one too many times, she pushes the ATM causing it to fall and crush his head.

  • In "Better Call Saul", Badger realizes he's probably getting set up as part of a drug sting when he notices what look like surveillance vehicles parked nearby, and the customer he's selling to is a little confident in himself.
    You'd Expect: He'd walk away and go back later for the drugs.
    Instead: Badger being Badger, the undercover cop manages to get him to fall for the old "undercover cops can't deny that they are cops when asked directly" urban legend.
    As a Result: Badger goes through with the deal and is promptly arrested.

  • In "4 Days Out", Walt and Jesse have to go into a dessert far from surveillance and city eyes with their RV to cook hundreds of pounds of Blue Sky to recoup the $80,000 spent on fixing Badger's screw-up with the law back in "Better Call Saul". Jesse decides to put the RV keys on the counter, but Walt objects to that being the work station.
    You'd Expect: Jesse to either just hang onto the keys in his pockets, or inside one of his junk food bags so that the keys can stay inside the RV and still be secured.
    Instead: He puts them in the worst place imaginable - inserts them RIGHT BACK IN to the ignition lock. For 2 days straight. The RV's battery drains, and they start a Blame Game over whose fault it is. ("Did your mother drop you on your head when you were a baby??!" "I WANTED TO LEAVE THEM ON THE COUNTER, BITCH!")

  • In the flashback teaser from "I. F. T.", Tortuga, a high-ranking cartel member (and DEA informant), not long after selling information to Hank Schrader, decides to meet with his boss Juan Bolsa in a dingy tavern somewhere out in Mexico.
    You'd Expect: Tortuga, having snitched on his gang to law enforcement, would sooner-or-later realize that he's probably not going to survive if his superiors learn about his treachery, and would flee into hiding (or maybe even enter Witness Protection) for his own safety.
    Instead: Not only does Tortuga meet up with Juan Bolsa in that bar, they have a seemingly-friendly chat where Bolsa offers to give him a late birthday present. Tortuga, still not feeling wary or suspicious at all, decides to accept Bolsa's "gift": a pet tortoise.
    As a Result: Tortuga expresses his thanks and gratitude for receiving the new turtle, up until Bolsa writes a message on its shell: "Hola DEA". Marco and Leonel Salamanca then walk in and decapitate Tortuga with a machete.

  • In "Sunset", Walt finds out that Hank knows about the RV and that he is surveilling Jesse's house. After consulting Saul he rushes to the yard where the RV is stored and orders its destruction. So far so good, but Badger is at the yard at the moment and asks Walt about Jesse.
    You'd Expect: That Walt would realize that Badger, being Jesse's buddy, would tell him about Walt's plan. Thus, you'd expect that Walt'd tell Badger that Hank is staking out Jesse's house and would follow Jesse straight to the RV.
    Instead: Walt ignores Badger's question.
    As a Result: Badger does tell Jesse about Walt's plan, and a furious Jesse drives off to the junkyard to confront Walt, which of course, leads Hank right to the RV.

  • In "One Minute", the Cousins ambush Hank in a parking lot. Hank disables Leonel, and then there's a brief exchange of gunfire between him and Marco, which ends with Marco shooting Hank twice in the chest, wounding him. Marco then steps up to Hank, pistol drawn:
    You'd Expect: Marco just put a bullet between Hank's eyes, since Hank is now incapacitated and clearly not in a position to fight back.
    Instead: Marco decides, "No, too easy," and walks back to his car to grab his axe.
    As a Result: In the time it takes him to return with axe in hand, Hank manages to load the spare "Black Death" bullet that Marco dropped while reloading into Leonel's gun, and is able to shoot Marco in the head right when Marco prepares to swing the axe. To be fair to Marco, it's possible that he didn't notice that he'd dropped the "Black Death" bullet, but it still fits this....

  • In "Full Measure", Walt has Jesse kill Gale.
    You'd Expect: He'd destroy any evidence that he knew Gale.
    Instead: He keeps a book from Gale, with a note from the guy, in his bathroom where anyone could find it. Come season 5A, guess what happens.

  • In "Shotgun", Hank is at a dinner party with the Whites when he announces that "Heisenberg" has been found dead and was actually Gale Boetticher.
    You'd Expect: Walt would congratulate his brother-in-law for nailing a dangerous criminal, or at least keep quiet.
    Instead: He derides Gale as an amateur who couldn't possibly have been smart enough to be Heisenberg. Now, to be fair, Walt was inebriated, and Walt deriding Gale isn't out-of-character for him, as Walt's pride won't let anyone else get credit for what he sees as his, but still...
    As a Result: ...saying it to Hank's face is enough to prompt Hank to reopen his investigation. Though later on, it's implied that, subconsciously, Walt is trying to get Hank to catch him out of the belief that he would be safe from Gus in prison and could drag Gus down with him.
  • Caballa Sin Nombre: At the start of the episode, a police officer sees Walter driving to work with his windshield broken and pulls him over. Walt tries to explain that this is a result of recent Wayfarer 515 collision, the heavy debris of which broke his windshield, but the officer still writes him a ticket, saying that the cause of the damage does not exempt him from having to abide by driving safety regulations, and tells him to wait in his vehicle.
    You'd Expect: Walt to obey the police officer and accept the ticket. The officer has made it clear that he is not interested in excuses and arguing with him about it will not resolve anything. Plus disregarding an officer's orders to stay put can easily be perceived as a threat, leading to even more trouble. If Walt still feels he has wrongfully been cited, he can file a dispute about it later.
    Instead: Walt cockily maintains his belief that the officer has no right to cite him considering how his car was damaged, and gets out of the vehicle to belligerently chew the officer out for it, disregarding the officer's warnings to calm down and return to his vehicle.
    The Result: After one too many warnings, Walt gets pepper sprayed and arrested for his behavior.
  • "Bug": Ted Beneke has been cooking his accounting firm's books with Skyler's help since Season 2, and the IRS begins to investigate him for embezzlement.
    You'd Expect: He and Skyler would meet together and work to get their stories straight, and maybe even hire a couple of good attorneys.
    Instead: He doesn't tell Skyler about the indictment until the day before his meeting with the IRS. And, to be fair, Skyler does seem kinda annoyed that Ted didn't notify her earlier about the audit, but it's still poor planning on Ted's behalf....
    • In "Salud", Skyler narrowly helps Ted avoid criminal charges by making it seem like the missing money is the result of ignorance, but he still owes the back taxes. Then he receives from Saul Goodman an inheritance check for the exact amount he owes from a relative he didn't know he had. Money that...
      You'd Now Expect: ...he use it to pay the IRS because that was obviously the intent of whoever sent it.
      Instead: ...he uses to it buy a Mercedes, figuring he'll eventually get a better offer. This forces Saul to send Huell and Kuby to force him to sign the check. Knowing he was forced to sign a BAD check that will bounce and put him through even more litigations, Ted makes a dash - only to trip on his carpet and break his back.

  • Mike (by his standards, at least) in "Buyout": all right, tying up someone to a radiator by one hand with temporary handcuffs is perfectly reasonable.
    You'd Expect: That as Mike is doing it to someone he just called out for being a loose cannon and who is a genius at escaping, either use a second set of handcuffs, or clear the immediate area of objects that could be used to break these handcuffs.
    Instead: He leaves Walt unattended long enough for Walt to undo his restraints.

  • In "Blood Money", Hank has figured out that Walt was Heisenberg and puts a tracking device on Walt's car.
    You'd Expect: That Hank would remember how he showed a tracking device to Walt when he asked him to put on Gus's car in season 4, and put on a tracker in a location that Walt won't think to look.
    Instead: Hank uses the exact same kind of tracking device that he had Walt put on Gus's car, which ensures that Walt knows exactly where to find it.
    Even Worse: It gets even more idiotic if you remember how in "Dead Freight", Hank chewed out another agent for planting tracking devices on the methylamine barrels at the Madrigal warehouse that weren't hidden well enough. To Hank's credit, though, it was several days before Walt found out about the tracker, meaning he can't remove it at own leisure like Gus did (Gus knew he was being bugged before the fact; by the time Walt found out about his tracker, he'd already visited Saul and Jesse); still, it was a bit of oversight on Hank's behalf where he was putting the tracker.

  • In "To'hajiilee", Hank finally has Walt right where he wants him: blinded by rage, irrational, and leading Hank right toward a mountain of irrefutable evidence of Walt's wrongdoing.
    You'd Expect: Hank to immediately call for backup and bring the full force of the DEA down on Walt, complete with choppers and squadrons of agents and cops in SWAT gear, or at the very least, phone his findings in to other men at his office so that if the worst should happen, his investigation won't die with him and someone else takes Walt down.
    Instead: He shows up with Gomez and a couple of guns and tells no one where they're going or why. Enter a militia of 6 heavily-armed neo-Nazis, and well, we all know how it ends for them.

  • Speaking of that, in "Ozymandias", Jack Welker has killed Hank and Gomez, captured Jesse, and stolen every barrel but one of Walt's millions of dollars.
    You'd Expect: Having stolen his money and killed his brother-in-law, Jack just kill Walt, a man he knows must despise him.
    Instead: He lets Walt go, and we all know how that turns out.
    Additionally: It's a strange decision since Jack clearly has no loyalties to anyone but himself and his fellow Neo-Nazi crew, so it's all the stranger when he leaves alive a witness who now has a million reasons to want him dead. It's partially handwaved in that Jack says that Todd respects Walt and would be angry with Jack if he were killed. Some fans even argue that Jack left Walt alive to keep the heat on Walt (since killing him would just lead the police to look for Jack's crew), but still, it's enough to qualify for this page.

  • In "Felina", Walt confronts Jack and his white supremacist gang. Jack quickly decides to kill Walt, who then accuses him of having gone into partnership with Jesse.
    You'd Expect: Jack to just laugh at Walt, tell him that he's holding Jesse prisoner and then shoot him dead. Whether or not Walt knows the truth of the situation isn't going to matter a whole lot when he's dead, and everyone else there knows exactly what's going on.
    Instead: Jack acts all offended, and then has the chained-up Jesse dragged into the room just to let Walt know how wrong he is.
    As a Result: Walt then actives a home-made automatic turret in his car's trunk, which kills the entire gang (and mortally wounds Walt), leaving Jesse as the only survivor.

Better Call Saul

  • In "Uno", Jimmy hires two skaters to jump in front of Betsy Kettleman's car as part of his scheme to get back into her good graces. He gives them information about the car and the route that Betsy takes. He even tells the skaters important information to memorize, like the license plate and the specific shade of brown on the car:
    You'd Expect: That the skaters would maybe write this down and maybe even take a picture of the car.
    Instead: They target a stationwagon that's a similar model and similar in color to the Kettlemans' car, which happens to be driven by Tuco's grandmother. Though in their defense, Jimmy trained and encouraged them to do this based on memory alone and even admitted that Tuco's grandmother's vehicle appearing was a stroke of bad luck.

  • From the above, the car hits one brother and they start their act. But suddenly the car takes off.
    You'd Expect: The brothers to just call the police, since even though they were scamming the driver, the driver has committed hit-and-run. There are also lots of witnesses who saw the hit so can provide a license plate. Or alternately, that they wait for Jimmy to show up.
    Instead: They follow the stationwagon to another house and end up in Tuco's captivity.

  • Add to that, when the stationwagon arrives at the house, the driver, an elderly Hispanic woman, climbs out:
    You'd Expect: That the brothers would immediately realize that there's no way this non-English speaking granny could be "Betsy Kettleman" and just go on their way.
    Instead: They follow her into the house and continue to try to get money from her, with one of them calling her a "bizznatch".
    As a Result: Tuco beats them up and comes close to using brutal methods of murder/torture on them, and Jimmy has to talk Tuco into breaking only one leg on each brother.

  • Not long after the aforementioned incident, one of Tuco's henchmen, Nacho, decides to try ripping off the actual Kettleman family. After Jimmy refuses to help out, it's left to Nacho himself to do surveillance on the house prior to his attempted heist.
    You'd Expect: Nacho to use an inconspicuous vehicle, or ideally a different vehicle each night he watches the house.
    Instead: He uses a highly conspicuous white van... which also happened to be the vehicle used to transport the two aforementioned brothers to the site where Tuco originally intended to execute them, and contains their blood stains. While his attempted robbery is foiled anyway thanks to Jimmy tipping off the Kettlemans, he ends up being easily spotted and arrested when the family is reported missing. It's subsequently left to Jimmy to get him out of trouble, and also to point out that his assumption that the bloodstains in his van wouldn't matter because they didn't belong to the Kettlemans is kinda flawed considering that the two bothers are in hospital for broken legs, and this would tie Nacho directly to their "accident."

  • In "Amarillo", Jimmy comes up with the idea that Davis & Main could build a targeted TV commercial directed at a specific Sandpiper Crossing facility. It's a brilliant idea, and when he pitches it to Cliff, Cliff seems open to the idea. So Jimmy goes to work, hires his camera crew from the billboard stunt, films an ad and even does a dry-run for Kim.
    You'd Expect: That Jimmy would take his completed ad to Cliff first, so that the bosses can see exactly what's about to be put on the air with the Davis & Main brand name.
    Instead: Jimmy doesn't go by the bosses first and airs the ad.
    The Result: Kim gets demoted to doc review at HHM because she didn't give them a heads-up about the ad. Jimmy gets put under closer scrutiny at Davis & Main.
    Also: Davis & Main scraps Jimmy's ad and replaces it with one that uses the successful "white text on blue swirly nebulous background with monotone narrator" formula that Jimmy was not impressed by.

  • At the end of the second season, Chuck records Jimmy confessing his tampering with paperwork in order to cause HHM to lose the Mesa Verde account. In the third season episode "Witness," Jimmy finds out about the tape through Kim, who after some research finds that the chances of it ever being accepted as evidence in any court case are close to non-existent. However, Jimmy is still clearly very concerned about the tape, and what Chuck intends to do with it.
    You'd Expect: Jimmy to just sit tight and wait and see what happens. About the only thing Chuck could use it for is blackmail, and even if he tried that Jimmy could probably turn his own scheme back on him.
    Alternatively: Hire Mike — who Jimmy had met for an unrelated matter just the day beforehand — to break into Chuck's home and either damage the tape or swap it for a blank one, since they have a quid pro quo agreement.
    Instead: After finishing work for the day, he goes around to Chuck's home, smashes in the front door, assaults Chuck, finds and destroys the tape, and makes further threats of violence against his brother. All of this ends up being witnessed by a private investigator whom Chuck had hired for just such an occurrence, along with Howard, who had just arrived to tell Chuck how his plan likely wouldn't work. Even Chuck himself had lampshaded just moments beforehand how unlikely it was that Jimmy would try breaking into his house in broad daylight.

  • In light of the above, Jimmy is arrested, then gets put before the New Mexico State Bar who seek disbarment. Prior to the Bar hearing, Chuck and Howard tour the room where the hearing will be held. Howard asks Robert Alley, the Bar's attorney, to leave the room so he can have a moment to talk strategy with Chuck. Howard suggests that as he and the private investigator were there for Jimmy's break-in, it's unnecessary for Chuck to testify against Jimmy.
    You'd Expect: That Chuck would realize Howard is making some good points and agree to let Howard and the private investigator carry all the weight, that their testimony alone will be enough to guarantee Jimmy's disbarment. Not only that, it would also protect HHM, because as Howard points out, the fact that Jimmy accessed documents that should have been locked up securely might very well come to light and cause the firm to lose clientele.
    Instead: Out of sheer pride, Chuck dismisses Howard's concerns, saying that meting out justice against Jimmy is more important than protecting HHM. It turns out then that this is what Jimmy and Kim had anticipated, as it allows them to put their antics (bringing in Rebecca to unsettle Chuck, and hiring Huell to plant a charged cell phone battery in Chuck's pocket) into play, causing Chuck to break down on the stand when Jimmy cross-examines him and exposes his "illness" as fake.
    End Result: Jimmy gets a one year suspension of his law license, not the disbarment that Chuck had hoped for.

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie

  • After managing to escape to Todd's former apartment and tracking down where he hid his share of Walt's drug money, Jesse is caught by two of the gang's former associates, Neil and Casey, who are posing as cops. While Casey keeps a Nosy Neighbor distracted, Jesse offers up the location of where Todd was hiding the money in exchange for his freedom. After he actually reveals it to Neil, however, Jesse starts taking some of the money for himself, saying that Neil can't shoot him because everyone in the building, especially said neighbor, would hear it.
    You'd Expect: Neil to pistol-whip Jesse into unconsciousness — the sound of which could be far more easily explained away than a gunshot, seeing how Neil's disguised as a cop and appears to be searching the apartment — restrain him again, then take all the money while leaving Jesse for the cops to find.
    Instead: Neil just shrugs, agrees to let Jesse take a third of the money — equivalent to about $200,000, which Casey later calls him out on — and even ends up indirectly reminding Jesse of exactly who he is, and where he works.

  • As a direct result of the above, Jesse confronts Neil and Casey — who have spent an evening on cocaine and prostitutes — at their business, and demands $1,800 that he needs to pay Ed the vacuum cleaner guy for a new life. He promises that they'll never see him again, though is clearly armed with what appears to be a pretty weak pistol.
    You'd Expect: Neil and Casey to just give Jesse what he wants, considering it's such a miniscule fraction of the half-million or so that they've got. Or heck, ask Jesse for something in return for the $1,800 — maybe his and Walt's crystal meth formula, which would be worth its weight in gold seeing how Walt and Todd are both dead, Gus Fring's operation is long-defunct, and Jesse's about to skip town for good.
    Instead: In a bout of cocaine-induced insanity, Neil challenges Jesse to a duel for the money, and in their drug-addled state, neither he nor Casey notice that Jesse has concealed a second, much more powerful gun in his jacket. He accepts the duel, promptly kills them both, takes all of their money, and for good measure blows up their workshop.


Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report