Breaking Bad was one of the best series to ever grace the small screen. It followed the story of a high school chemistry teacher diagnosed with terminal cancer, who decides to cook and sell meth in an effort to earn money to leave for his family once he passes. The show had so much character development, it was practically bursting out of the TV.
Walter White, the protagonist and chemistry teacher turned drug kingpin, was joined by his sidekick Jesse Pinkman, a drug-dealing high school student he commissioned to help him. Outside of the duo, there was a cast of other characters the pair met along the way. Not every personality on the show had the best story, however. Some had arcs that were tremendously satisfying, while others left much to be desired. Let’s take a look at some of the best and worst.
Best: Jesse Pinkman
Jesse’s character arc was one of the best in the series, especially considering that the character was supposed to be written out in the first season. Luckily, the chemistry (pun intended) between actors Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul was so intensely good that the character’s story continued.
Starting off as a lowly drug dealer (and user) with no direction in life, Jesse emerged as a lethal part of Walter’s team, even learning a thing or two about chemistry along the way. Thanks to the Netflix movie El Camino, we got to see his character arc all the way through, making his one of the most satisfying.
Disappointing: Mike Ehrmantraut
Mike was a fantastic character who served as the muscle, middleman, and second-in-command to Gus Fring, then Walt. Despite his dirty dealings, this once corrupt cop had a softer side too, as was seen in the scenes with his daughter-in-law and granddaughter.
Sadly for him, his character’s story was cut short after Walt executed him for insulting him, retiring from the business, and being too big of a risk. This meant that Mike’s family would never see the money he worked so hard (if illegitimately) to earn for them. Thankfully, his back-story gets more attention in spin-off series Better Call Saul.
Best: Walter White
Walter’s own character arc is the most compelling of the entire series. He began as a high school teacher who never stood up for himself and trudged through life, just going through the motions. One taste of power and a light bulb went off.
Season after season, Walter became more and more hardened, until he was downright terrifying. His former self was left in the dust by the time the final season began, and while it was a descent into the dark underbelly of the criminal world, it was a striking one to watch nonetheless.
Disappointing: Huell Babineaux
There was potential for Huell to be more than he was on the series. As the personal bodyguard to lawyer Saul Goodman, he was also a skilled pickpocket. While he wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, he was rather large and intimidating, so he could perform his duties well.
Playing a part in Walter’s poisoning of Brock by stealing the ricin, the last we see of him is when he’s being taken to a DEA safe house and interrogated. Where did he go? Many fans joke that, years later, Huell is still waiting in that safehouse for someone to come get him, since both DEA agents (Hank Schrader and Steven Gomez) died before they got back to him.
Best: Gustavo “Gus” Fring
Gus was brutally murdered by White in a mesmerizingly massive explosion in a retirement home that saw him emerge with half of his face blown off. It was time for his character to go, frankly, as his arc had run its course.
The mob boss, drug kingpin, and restaurateur was Walter’s archrival and biggest competitor. The back and forth between the two as their deal went sour was compelling to watch, as was Gus’ ability to always stay one step ahead of Walter. In the end, though, Walter got the last laugh via a bomb delivered by Gus’ long-time enemy and former associate, Hector Salamanca.
Disappointing: Jane Margolis
The one-time girlfriend of Jesse, Jane was too much of a distraction and got Jesse involved in serious drugs, which Walter didn’t like. While he didn’t strictly kill her, Walter did watch her die, as she choked on her own vomit.
She only appeared in the second season, initially just as Jesse’s landlord until they struck a bond and eventually fell in love. While she was a very bad influence on Jesse and could have taken him down a much darker path, that could have been an interesting angle to see.
Best: Saul Goodman
The very fact that this character got his own spin-off is a testament to the fact that he had one of the best character arcs of the series. Essentially forced to work as Walter’s lawyer, helping him launder his drug money and getting him out of difficult situations, Saul quickly becomes a trusted advisor.
When things came to a head, Saul had to escape to Omaha and start a new life, evidently working as a manager at a mall Cinnabon. While Better Call Saul provides a great glimpse into his life pre-Heisenberg, we’d love another spin-off with a continuation of Saul’s life today, as he evades capture and lives in constant fear and regret.
Disappointing: Skyler White
Skyler was despised among viewers, oddly because of her suspicions about and objections to Walter’s illicit behaviors. She was always pretty controlling of him, then became fearful of him once she discovered what he had become.
It was interesting to see her finally acquiesce and become part of the criminal empire, even if reluctantly. However, some of the moves she made in between (including attacking Walt and having an affair) just made her a disappointing character all around.
Best: Hank Schrader
For the story to really keep you on the edge of your seat, there had to be someone who was always one step away from capturing Walt. That person was Hank. As a DEA agent and his brother-in-law, Hank began to have his suspicions. His character slowly put two and two together and figured out what was going on.
It was only fitting that when things would come to a head, Hank would have to go. There’s no way he would be allowed to take down Walt and everything he worked for, even if that was the right thing to do. So, while it was sad to see him go, the character arc was just as it needed to be.
Disappointing: Marie Schrader
Marie’s character was so disappointing that the series might have been better had Walt’s brother-in-law Hank simply been single. As Walt’s sister-in-law, Marie got into their business often, and offered support for her sister Skyler. She also has an odd penchant for shoplifting, randomly stealing items to feed her perceived kleptomania.
There was little done with her character, aside from her moves to help her husband Hank after he was shot and help her family and baby niece when she felt they were in danger. Highly unlikable, she just seemed to get in the way more than she added any substance to the story.