One of the best scenes in Breaking Bad involves Walt ordering Declan to say his name during a desert meet. It’s Heisenberg, and the meth cook appears to love it even more than viewers. Walt’s street name is not only cool, it’s also beneficial, as it protects his true identity and keeps him a free man for most of the show.
Walt isn’t the only person who prefers to go by any other name than his own. Aliases are common in the AMC series and so are nicknames. In a show that mostly tackles serious themes, some of the names give viewers something to laugh about, simply because they are too ridiculous.
Walt and Jesse have a major problem on their hands when Badger — one of the most underrated characters in Breaking Bad —lands in jail after selling meth to an undercover police officer. With Saul assigned to Badger’s case, Walt pretends to Badger’s uncle, Mr. Mayhew. He attempts to bribe the lawyer to convince the low-level trafficker not to talk. When Saul refuses, Walt and Jesse kidnap and threaten him. Saul is able to figure out that Walt is Mr. Mayhew, thanks to his cough.
Walt is forced to use the “Mr. Mayhew” alias because he is desperate. If Badger talks, Walt’s promising career as a drug lord will come to a premature end. The alias is perfect because Badger’s full name is Brandon “Badger” Mayhew and relatives do share names. It has a comical element to it too since Walt dresses rather absurdly in a cap and shades to really look like Mr. Mayhew.
Before Jesse and Walt team up and develop one of the greatest bromances on Breaking Bad, Jesse uses Cap’n Cook as his street name. His signature brand is the much inferior Chilli P. Meth, made from pepper and pulverized fruit. Cap’n Cook becomes popular enough for the DEA to develop an interest in him and raid one of his labs.
The name sounds cool but it’s a bit exaggerated because Jesse is nowhere near a captain of cooking meth before he meets Walt. Though it still sells, Chilli P. Meth is less than 50 percent pure while the meth Jesse cooks under Walt’s tutelage is over 95 percent pure. Jesse’s decision to drop the name even after becoming a good cook is a move tied to maturity. He is no longer just a street dealer. Now he works with the best in the business.
Hank and Marie have one of the most successful relationships on Breaking Bad, but he becomes cold towards her as he recovers from injuries sustained during the shootout with The Cousins. Stressed, Marie goes back to her old ways of being a kleptomaniac. She visits open real-estate open houses, pretending to be interested, only to steal items. In each house, she puts on a straight face and introduces herself as Tori.
Breaking Bad characters appear to love pretending to be a Costner. Saul once confesses that he lied to a woman she was Kevin Costner and she believed him. As for Marie’s case, her alias and her actions, in general, are gripping since she is married to a law enforcement officer.
Walter Jr. keeps juggling between Flynn and his actual name. He first insists on being called Flynn when Walt shows up in a store naked, pretending to have amnesia. When his parents separate, he stops using the name Flynn as a sign of rebellion. In their final phone call, father and son have one of the biggest arguments in Breaking Bad and Walt is heard referring to Walter Jr. as Flynn again.
Though its meaning is never explained, the name Flynn is an indicator of how cohesive the White family is at any given moment. Whenever there is a major fallout or a major breakthrough, Walter Jr. switches names.
Peter aka “Skinny Pete” is the character with the most deserving nickname. Jesse’s trusted friend and drug distribution partner shows no signs of ever gaining muscle. It’s hinted that Skinny Pete looks the way he does because he spent many years at the Los Lunas state prison, where conditions were terrible.
For a nickname to be great, the person being labeled has to fully accept it. Skinny Pete would never consider going by another name. Peter doesn’t sound so good on him either.
The nickname is born out of mockery and Hank gets it just before he gets killed in broad daylight. In the iconic “Ozymandias” episode, the DEA agent finds himself on the ground at the mercy of gang leader Jack Welker. Wounded, he tries to reach for his gun but Jack tells him to “Simmer down, Sparky.” He has no chance and it’s largely his own fault because he failed to identify himself.
Though it’s a sad moment, the nickname lightens up the proceedings. Hank has always been too aggressive for his own good. While that kind of personality is beneficial in his work, this is one time where he really should have stood down. But Hank is who he is. He neither departs without a fight or without a nickname.
Ed Galbraith’s day job is that of a vacuum cleaner repairman, but in secret, he helps fugitives and people in danger by giving them new lives, making them disappear. Towards the end of the series, he helps Walt and Saul go into hiding.
While other characters have gotten nicknames and aliases effortlessly, Ed has earned his. His services are effective, as seen from how he is able to make Walt disappear for months, without a trace, yet authorities are looking for him everywhere.
A forlorn Walt pretends to be a New York Times reporter named David Lynn when he calls Gray Matter Technologies to ask for the home address of Elliott and Gretchen, his former business partner that he abandoned before the start of the show. He then heads over to their home, where he tricks them into pledging to give Walter Jr. money when he turns 18.
The alias holds a lot of weight because Walt is in his most desperate state when he uses it. His son has rejected him and the authorities are after him. He knows what he did can’t be for nothing. He started cooking meth for his family and they must get the money, whether they like it or not.
Comical lawyer Jimmy McGill practices using the alias, Saul Goodman. The series doesn’t explain why Jimmy chose to go with this name, but the details are all there in the prequel, Better Call Saul.
Jimmy gets high points for selecting such an alias because it’s a creative take on the phrase, “It’s all good man.” He gets more points for deciding not to keep a name that he shares with his more educated brother, Chuck, since it’ll mean always being in his shadow.
The Heisenberg name becomes a sensation in the series, with the DEA, the media, and the ABQ underworld being aware of it. Walt first uses the name when he goes to collect money from Tuco. Hank then spends much of the series trying to figure out who Heisenberg is, and comes close to catching him a number of times.
By using the Heisenberg name, Walt adds mystery to his character, making himself even more powerful. It’s a reminder of superheroes that operate in secret. It’s better if people don’t know Batman is Bruce Wayne. It’s better too if people don’t know Heisenberg is Walter White. But secrets eventually come out.