With the return of AMC’s hit show Breaking Bad via a 10-year anniversary marathon, fans have been reminded as to how stellar this gripping drama was and is. One of the key reasons for this lies in the cast of unique, dynamic characters, strengthened by some terrific acting performances. From the dual personalities of Walter White (Bryan Cranston), to the zany Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk), there’s no shortage of memorable personalities.
Still, with so many greats occupying this show’s relatively short 5-season run, it’s easy for some on the periphery to get lost in the shuffle. You’ve certainly got plenty that largely seemed overlooked or overshadowed. You’ve also got the occasional figure who’s often unjustly disliked by fans or underused by the showrunners.
With this article, we’ll take a look at 10 characters we feel are the strongest examples that fall under one or more of these categories, and explain why they’re underrated.
Madrigal’s uptight Head of Logistics manages to convey both a charming kindness and underhandedness at the same time. For this reason, Lydia stands out as a unique, intriguing character, and an underused antihero for the most part, even after she was finally introduced in Breaking Bad‘s final season.
Lydia camouflages a conniving nature and wit beneath her timid, friendly exterior. Her desire to keep the dealings of her and the criminal enterprise around her as air-tight as possible is what drives her character, and makes her potentially dangerous at times. The dynamic performance by Laura Fraser is even more impressive given that she hides a Scottish accent while still playing the role convincingly.
When it comes to Saul Goodman’s associates, we’d really love to give this spot to the equally amusing Kuby and Huell, who play off each other extremely well and each bring their own unique style. However, for the sake of consistency, we’ll be focusing on a single figure for this entry; Kuby, played by the hilarious Bill Burr.
Considering stand up was his main game when making his Breaking Bad appearances about a decade ago, Burr nails it in terms of the sly, wise-cracking demeanor you might expect from a Goodman cohort. While he rarely got his time to shine, Kuby did have a few chuckle-worthy bouts, particularly in the episode “Dead Freight.” We certainly would have liked to see more than the few episodes he was featured in.
Though you could definitely say it was relieving to have Walt and Jesse overcome this guy – with Hank dealing the final blow – Tuco was no-doubt an underused villain. This drug kingpin was so creepily short-fused and psychotic that you couldn’t help but feel uneasy during each of his scenes.
His intense nature and violent outbursts instantly took center stage during his appearance at the end of season 1. And while most were memorable in their own way, few of the more malevolent figures managed to capture this same intimidating vibe. At least he’s gotten some more time in the spotlight in Better Call Saul.
Sure, you could make the argument that Galbraith held some similarities to the likewise memorable Mike Ehrmantraut. Regardless, this undercover vacuum cleaner repairman, played by the late, great Robert Forster, definitely brought his own dynamic; a sternness and practicality that we’d have liked to see more of outside the tail-end of season 5.
His frank, solemn attitude, coupled with at least a tinge of friendliness and charming wit, would have been a great fit elsewhere in the show. But like Tuco, he did get one final moment to shine, reprising his role in El Camino, as Jesse seeks his help to start a new life in Alaska.
Speaking of Ehrmantraut, there’s definitely much to appreciate about this hard-nosed, badass ex-cop, whose cunning and intensity stole the spotlight on Breaking Bad. It’s not like Mike didn’t get featured quite a bit, in fairness. Still, he did seem to get overshadowed by the likes of figures close to him like Walt, Gus, and Saul. His escapades in running various tasks with Jesse made for some fun viewing, as the two complimented each other well. This was also the case when Mike acted as a sort of more seasoned, tough counterpart to Walt.
While he definitely stands out as an awesome figure in the show’s later seasons, the brutal, anticlimactic way in which he went out was a bummer, to say the least.
In just about any other scenario, Walt’s protective wife Skyler would be viewed as more of a hero. Yet, through the lens of Heisenberg in Breaking Bad, (and thus, many viewers), she’s viewed in a more negative light, serving as the sort of obstructive antagonist. This is a shame, given her kind and considerate ways — and the great performance of Anna Gunn to bring her to life.
While she gets some heat for making things tough for our protagonist, she ultimately wants what’s best for her and her family, overcoming obstacles put in front of her with her cunning and passion – just like Walt. She makes a few bad moves, to be sure, but this just makes her more human, and given the tough spot she’s put in, Skyler makes plenty of smart, calculated moves.
As was the case with Huell, Skinny Pete gets the short end of the stick here, despite the fact that he’s an equally great, amusing character in our book. Still, when it comes to this dynamic duo and buddies of Jesse, Badger gets the nod here. Although he did get to flex his likable, comedic muscle in the first act of El Camino, Badger doesn’t get nearly enough time to shine in Breaking Bad.
Jesse’s funny, lighthearted friend acts as a refreshing counterpart to Pinkman’s more serious demeanor, and provides quite a bit of comic relief amidst the chaos and violence we often see in Breaking Bad. Scenes like him twirling a company sign, doing the River Dance, or rambling about zombie video games demonstrate that we needed more Badger.
Walter Jr. tends to get overlooked, partly because he’s usually in the often blander family scenes, and partly as a result of being overshadowed by Jesse, who Walt almost treats like his other son.
Regardless, RJ Mitte does a terrific job of playing the role of Walter’s son, who maintains a charming, supportive attitude despite his hardships. Even following the turbulence around him and an eventual rift in his family, Jr. does what he can to keep the peace and stays positive. In this sense, Walter Jr. stands as an identifiable figure for young people forging ahead while caught in the middle of circumstances beyond their control — family or otherwise.
Sure, the meth-cooking partnership of Walt and Jesse is a memorable one with some great “chemistry,” if you’ll excuse the pun. Still, we would have liked to see more of the similarly charming duo of Walt and Gale, as this bookworm played off White very well. The delightfully quirky, friendly ways of Gale were sorely missed after he was abruptly, and unjustly killed by Pinkman at the request of Walter.
This character seemed like an interesting contradiction given his role in whipping up potent meth while being as pure and kind as he was. Yet, this provided a stark reminder that good people can get caught up in bad things, which is one of the key themes of Breaking Bad itself.
Walt’s counterpart and brother-in-law is really one of a kind. There are few characters that exude such a tough, badass personality while also providing so many laughs quite like he does. Like Skyler, this witty DEA agent would make a great hero in most other narratives. But alas, through the perspective of a drug kingpin, a DEA top dog is naturally going to be seen as the villain.
In this sense, while he’s had quite a bit of screentime, one can’t help but think he’s been underappreciated, especially given the intense, convincing performance by Dean Norris. He certainly did go out in epic fashion, though it’s a bummer he had to go out at all.