There is no denying that Walter White is one of the most intelligent characters in Breaking Bad. His quick thinking has gotten him out of many sticky situations. But he is also a flawed and complex character which means sometimes his intelligence fails him.
There are moments in which Walt makes horrible decisions that put himself or others at risk. In other cases, he simply succeeds in making himself look ridiculous. While these foolish moments might not outweigh his smart tactics in the show, they prove that even Walt can’t be a genius all the time.
His Peace-Offering Of Pizza
As someone who is operating outside the law, Walt has to be very aware of his surroundings at all times. So it is quite surprising that he can often lack such obvious self-awareness. This is especially true when it comes to his family issues.
After Skyler kicks Walt out of the house, he comes by with pizza for the whole family acting like nothing is wrong. He tries to worm his way in without realizing how desperate and pathetic his ploy is. This ends with Walt so frustrated that he throws his pizza on the roof which is also not one of his best moments.
Inviting A Cleaning Crew Into The Lab
Though Walt finds himself working with some very dangerous people, he is not always very cautious about how he deals with them. When Gus sends Jesse on an errand, it leaves Walt alone to clean the lab after the day’s work.
However, Walt sees this as a punishment that he decides to fight against. He recruits some of the staff of the laundromat to clean his top-secret and hidden lab. This results in Gus sending the cleaners out of the country. It is a prime example of how Walt’s short-sighting actions often harm others more than himself.
Arguing With The Police Officer
Though he begins the show as a mild-mannered person, it becomes more and more clear that Walt has a real problem with authority. And this can often result in some very reckless behavior on Walt’s part.
After getting pulled over for a broken windshield, Walt tries to talk his way out of the situation only for the officer to write him a ticket. This sends Walt over the edge, becoming less about right or wrong and more about his own wounded ego. In the end, Walt’s tantrum gets him pepper-sprayed and arrested.
Falling For Hank And Jesse’s Trap
Once Hank discovers the truth about Walt, he does everything he can to bring him to justice. But while Hank is the smartest cop on Breaking Bad, it is Jesse that helps him set the perfect trap by exposing Walt’s biggest weakness.
After making Walt believe Jesse found his hidden money, Walt rushes out to secure it only to find himself caught. While Walt would usually be able to see a trap like this coming, his greed clouds his mind.
Trying To Confront Ted
After her relationship with Walt falls apart, Skyler begins an affair with Ted. And instead of living a lie as Walt did for so long, Skyler is very open to Walt about what she did. Of course, Walt doesn’t see his own fault in this but rather confronts the situation with more unproductive anger.
Walt shows up unannounced to Ted’s business and demands to speak to him. When Ted refuses to come out of her office, Walt tries and fails to throw a potted plant through the window. It is an embarrassing and pathetic display that proves Walt didn’t really have any plan in mind.
Given the kind of deadly people Walt has associated with over the course of the series, Jack Welker didn’t seem especially dangerous. Walt first hires him when he needs someone to kill Mike’s men who were serving time in prison and could potentially rat Walt out.
The problem is that Walt sees Jack as someone he can control and learns the hard way how wrong he is. Without someone like Mike to recognize the trouble, Walt relies too heavily on Jack which results in the death of Hank and most of Walt’s money being stolen.
Telling Hank That Heisenberg Is Still Out There
Whereas someone like Gus Fring seems to be endlessly careful in his work, Walt has moments of self-sabotage where it almost seems like he wants to get caught. Nowhere is this more apparent than his drunken challenge to Hank.
After Hank investigates the death of Gale, he concludes that Gale was Heisenberg. Instead of seeing that as good news, Walt is jealous that someone else is getting credit for his work and suggests to Hank the real cook is still out there which spurs Hank’s investigation to continue.
Turning Down Elliott’s Job Offer
Looking back on the series, it is clear that a lot of trouble could have been avoided if Walt kept his ego in check. In fact, had Walt been able to swallow his pride just a little, he would not have needed to start cooking meth in the first place.
In the early days of his illegal work, Walt visits with his former colleague Elliott who offers him a job at their company, Grey Matter. When Walt sees it is an offer at least somewhat out of pity to allow him access to health insurance, he refuses it as well as the money Elliott and Gretchen offer.
Leaving Evidence Out In The Open
After the countless time when Hank almost caught Walt without knowing it, finding a book in the bathroom was the big clue. It is quite fitting that such a mundane and domestic thing would point Hank to his brother-in-law, but it is also another foolishly reckless moment for Walt.
Having known that Hank knows who Gale is and investigated his murder, it would have been wise of Walt to get rid of any trace of evidence to connect him to Gale. Instead, he leaves one key clue out where Hank could very easily find it.
Wanting To Continue In The Meth Business
While Walt’s decision to start cooking meth was obviously a terrible one, his motivations are at least understandable. But once Walt made enough money to take care of his family once he was gone, the fact that he continued on was purely for selfish reasons.
By the time both Mike and Jesse are ready to walk away from the business to avoid further risk, Walt’s insistence on staying goes beyond simple greed and becomes self-delusion. He begins to see himself as invincible and fails to see his downfall coming.