Like many other TV dramas, AMC’s Breaking Bad has a few weak aspects. However, one area where it towers above the rest is character development. While every character has a lot going for them, no character’s life unfolds in a more intriguing manner than that of Walter “Walt” White, as the lead character has a hand in just about everything that happens.
Going from a brilliant scientist to a struggling teacher to a drug kingpin is quite a life journey. It’s easy to pity Walt, given how much life is unfair to him, but he is largely responsible for his own woes too. He is also responsible for the woes of many others. Here are the saddest things about the meth cook.
The Cancer Diagnosis
In the first season, Walt passes out while working part-time at the A1A Car Wash. When he is taken to the hospital, Dr. Belknap discovers that he has terminal lung cancer.
Walt’s cancer is what influences his decision to begin manufacturing Methamphetamine. He suffers a lot due to the disease. He even coughs blood at one point while in the desert with Jesse. Despite the pain, he is initially reluctant to have surgery. He eventually bows to pressure from his family and undergoes the procedure, only for the tumor to begin growing again.
He Could Have Been Rich
The saddest thing about Walt is that he wouldn’t have needed to manufacture meth at all. He could actually have been insanely rich, had he made better decisions in his past.
In the first season, it’s revealed that Walt started the company Gray Matter Technologies with his friend Elliot. After a short while, he decided to leave the company for not-so-solid reasons and sold his shares to Elliot for $5,000. After he left, Gray Matter went on to become a multi-billion-dollar company.
Losing His Family
There is nothing Walt loves more than his family. Thus, it’s sad to watch him lose his wife and kids in the end. Initially, Walt tries to make everyone happy. He allows Skyler to help him launder money and goes as far as to buy Walter Jr. an expensive car.
Unfortunately, he becomes too greedy, secretive, and power-hungry. His family is unable to tolerate his actions and they eventually turn against him. Skyler wants nothing to do with him while a pissed-off Walter Jr tells him the kind of last words no father would want to hear: “Why don’t you just die already?”
He Becomes Amoral
In later seasons, it becomes clear that Walt will do anything to win, and he doesn’t feel guilty about anything he does. When his relationship with both Gus and Jesse becomes strained, he decides to fix things in a rather extreme manner.
He poisons Andrea’s son Brock and makes Jesse believe that Gus did it. His intention is to turn Jesse against Gus and possibly make him whack the drug lord. Jesse doesn’t kill Gus, but the relationship between the two is never the same. Poisoning a child to achieve a personal objective is a despicable act, even for a man like Walt.
His Marital Problems
No one would want to go through the kind of marital problems Walt has. When it reaches a point where you give your spouse a death stare and tell them that “I am the danger,” the marriage is truly on sickly grounds.
Walt’s decision to keep secrets, including having two phones, is what kicks off the marital woes. His penchant for disappearing and lying makes matters worse. Eventually, Skyler cheats on him with her boss Ted. Things almost turn tragic when Skyler cuts his hand with a knife. When Walt becomes a wanted man, Skyler and Walter Jr. are left with no option but to part ways.
Walt initially gets into the drug business for the right reasons. He doesn’t want his family to suffer financially when he dies of cancer. With time, it becomes more of an obsession to him than just a way to make a lot of money.
He soon makes more than the $737,000 he had estimated his family would need but he doesn’t stop. He keeps wanting more. When asked when he is in the money business or the meth business, he says he is in the empire business. “Say my name?” Yeah… statements like that mean he is in it for the fame now like Pablo Escobar.
The Wayfarer 515 Air Disaster
It’s easy to admire Walt at times for his genius actions, but when it comes to the Wayfarer 515 mid-air collision, all the admiration goes out of the window. He is partly to blame for the disaster in which the Wayfarer 515 commercial airliner collides with a chartered plane above Albuquerque, New Mexico, killing all 167 people on board.
When Walt finds Jesse’s girlfriend Jane asphyxiating from her own vomit, he lets her die because he believes she is a bad influence on Jesse. Jane’s father, Donald Margnolis—who happens to be an air traffic controller—is deeply traumatized by the incident. He thus makes a mistake while at work, resulting in the crash.
He Unknowingly ‘Exposes’ Himself
Hank’s discovery that Walt is Heisenberg is brought about by the former Chemistry teacher’s own actions. During a party at Hank and Marie’s house, Hank is glad to have finally figured out who Heisenberg is. He believes it was Gale all along and goes on to label him a genius.
Instead of simply watching as Hank relishes in his misinformation, a drunk and proud Walt can’t stand the fact that Gale is taking the credit for the work he has done. He suggests to Hank that Gale might have been copying someone. This statement convinces Hank to re-open the investigation. He eventually discovers that Walt is Heisenberg.
A Pathological Liar
Walt can’t help but lie to everyone. He lies to his family, he lies to his business associates, and to his enemies too. Walt even lies to himself that he is cooking meth for the right reasons.
Walt constantly lies to Skyler about his whereabouts and his possession of two phones. This is what causes the biggest dent in their marriage. He also lies to Jesse and manipulates him into killing Gale as well as cutting ties with Gus. Soon, all his lies come back to haunt him.
Despite all of his misdeeds, Walt’s death at the end of the series feels sad. Worse still, instead of succumbing to cancer like he always thought he would, he dies a violent death. He also dies alone, since Jesse drives away too.
Fans of the show can agree that Walt was just a man who was unlucky in life. Cancer diagnosis? Missing out on a fortune? It can be too much for anyone to persevere against.