While the main man in Breaking Bad is obviously Walter White, there’s no way of getting around the fact that Hank Schrader is one of the most important and influential members of the BB family.
He went from a plot device to something so much more than that, with the fanbase growing to love him as he closed in on Heisenberg – aka Walter White. Today, we want to run through some of Hank’s most heroic moments from the show’s run, in addition to a few moments that he’d probably rather forget. He may have been divisive, but he was one hell of a DEA agent.
HEROIC – Tuco Shootout
When Walter White goes missing in the midst of his cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment, there’s naturally quite a bit of uncertainty in the air.
Eventually, with Hank leading the charge, his mission to find Walt and his quest to go after Heisenberg meet in the middle. He comes face to face with Tuco, the man who kidnapped Walt, and after an entertaining shootout, he is able to get the upper hand and put a bullet between the eyes of the kingpin. It’s a big moment in the show, and it shows the steel that Hank has.
WORST – Illegal Cigar
When Hank and Walt are hanging out in the latter’s garden, they decide to take the edge off in the form of a few cigars. Walter decides to question the legality of smoking Cubans, and Hank just seems to brush it off by suggesting that forbidden fruit tastes the sweetest.
We’re still in the early stages of his character development but this point, but it’s important to note that Hank and Walt are actually pretty similar – it just turns out that they’re on different sides of the law when it comes to manufacturing meth.
HEROIC – Battling The Cousins
The cousins have one objective and one objective only during their tenure on the show: get revenge for Tuco. They initially go after Walter White, thinking he’s the man that they need to pursue. Eventually, it becomes clear that they’re going after Hank, and when Schrader gets tipped off that they’re coming for him, he does his best to be ready.
While he has to battle some adversity, Hank manages to shoot one through the head and leave the other on life support with no legs. That’s quite the accomplishment.
WORST – Mocking Walt
When we go all the way back to the pilot, it quickly becomes clear that the show has a much more simplistic idea of what sort of character Hank Schrader is going to be. It seems as if he’s being used, at the time, as a plot device and nothing more. One key element of that stems from his ‘bravado’, especially in the pilot.
He decides to make a short speech for Walt but instead of being 100% complimentary, he teases him before taking his beer. It may not seem like a lot, but putting him down like that could’ve been one of the contributing factors behind the route he eventually went down.
HEROIC – Confronting Walt
In the first episode of the final eight, Walter White and Hank Schrader finally come to blows after years of fans wondering whether or not Hank would ever discover the truth about his brother-in-law.
When Hank lands one square on the jaw of Walt and sends him to the ground, you just know it must’ve felt good. He looks into the soul of Heisenberg after all this time, and while some may choose to take a step back, he soldiers on. Then, he manages to outsmart the smartest man he’s ever met – and that must’ve felt pretty good.
WORST – Battering Jesse
When Hank assumes that Jesse Pinkman has fabricated a call in which Hank’s wife Marie is in the hospital, it’s pretty clear to see that he isn’t very happy about it. He tracks Pinkman down, goes straight up to him and quite literally beats the hell out of the guy.
It’s one of those moments where you just know he’s messed up, allowing his emotions to get the best of him. In another world perhaps he would’ve kept his cool, but he was too deep into the chaos by this point already.
HEROIC – The Last Stand vs Jack
While Hank finally getting the chance to arrest Heisenberg was a great moment, the true headliner came when Jack’s gang arrived and the two parties engaged in a stand-off. Hank and Gomez were never going to be able to overcome them, but they went down swinging as we all knew they would.
He looked what was probably going to be the end game directly in the eye, and he wasn’t scared. Why would he be? He’s faced tougher before and while the numbers weren’t in his favor, he didn’t care one bit about any of that.
WORST – Cheating On Marie
In an amusing ‘extra’ scene that many fans probably haven’t even seen, we get a look at a quick flashback to Hank & Marie’s wedding. Hank clearly has cold feet heading into the big day, and when Walt goes to find him and get the wedding started, Hank reveals that he’s cheated on Marie pretty recently – and while he didn’t go all the way, he still feels guilty about it.
The whole thing is played off as being comedic, but the issue lies in the fact that this wasn’t really alluded to throughout the course of the show.
HEROIC – Opening Up
At various points throughout the show’s run, Hank takes the time to open up to certain characters and really let them know how he feels. One of the most obvious examples of that came when he was in an elevator with Marie, and he suddenly bursts out crying.
The fact that he’s comfortable enough to drop his guard and let Marie see that side of him shows us what kind of man Hank really is. His world may be collapsing around him, but that isn’t going to stop him from fighting back.
WORST – Not Call Backup
In the aforementioned shootout with Jack’s gang, Hank and Gomez are hopelessly outgunned – but it didn’t necessarily have to be that way. If Hank had decided to call for backup when he had Walt arrested, as opposed to calling Marie to tell her the good news, maybe they would’ve had a chance.
Some will argue they probably wouldn’t have arrived in time, but if they’d decided to take cover, they may have had a chance to ride it out in time for their backup to arrive. Either way, Jack’s gang wouldn’t have been able to get away quite so easily.