While the mile-a-minute story gets most of the praise, there’s certainly something to be said for the characters as well. Breaking Bad is full of brilliant characters, many of whom the fans loved, cheered, and despised. But in some cases, there are characters that fans genuinely despised – not in a “love to despise” sort of way. Scouring the internet, it’s clear that each camp contains very clear and distinct characters.
Love: Walter White
Of course, there’s series protagonist Walter White, who is often regarded as one of the greatest protagonists in television history. He begins the series as a sad sack loser beholden to a job he is massively overqualified for. As the series progresses, he gradually turns into a despicable villain willing to poison children and melt their bodies in acid. Despite this sudden turn, every decision he makes is understandable, and it helps prevent him from turning into a cartoon.
Hate: Skyler White
Even though Skyler was one of the few good people of the show, Breaking Bad fans absolutely despised her. Of course, it largely comes down to the show’s point of view. Walt is the protagonist, and audiences see most of the story through his point of view. In that way, Skyler is the obstacle that is always getting in the way of the “hero’s” journey. It negatively affected how audiences perceived her, and it made them hate her with a ferocious passion.
Love: Jesse Pinkman
Breaking Bad is full of horrible people, and Jesse is certainly among them. But among the criminals, Jesse is perhaps the most lovable and sympathetic. Throughout Breaking Bad, Jesse Pinkman is portrayed as the most tragic figure. He’s constantly manipulated by Walter, everyone close to him dies, and even his own family wants nothing to do with him. It also helps that he’s a really funny guy, however unintentional that humor may be.
Hate: Marie Schrader
Unlike Skyler, audiences didn’t hate Marie because she got in the way of Walt’s journey.
She was just perceived as boring. Most of the complaints surrounding Marie is that she was too “one note” to be enjoyable. She didn’t really add anything to the story, her character showed little depth, her personality bordered on the annoying, and her whole kleptomania subplot just wasn’t interesting in the slightest.
Love: Saul Goodman
Breaking Bad‘s “criminal” lawyer Saul Goodman is arguably its most hilarious. Unlike Jesse, Saul actually intends to be funny, and it often results in some genuinely wonderful one-liners. His garish outfits and hairdo are always enjoyable to behold, his wordplay is second to none, and he shows depth by actually being good at his job. Breaking Bad thankfully avoided the whole “bumbling lawyer” trope, and it was delightfully refreshing.
Hate: Walter Jr.
Walter Jr. was certainly important to the plot, but only in the way that he kickstarted the entire story. Aside from that, he has very little to do. “Walter Jr eating breakfast” became a meme because that’s pretty much all he did. He was never involved in the main story, he went through very little character development, the whole Flynn thing was just embarrassing, and he was just way too one-dimensional to be interesting.
Love: Hank Schrader
Breaking Bad managed to do the impossible – it made viewers root for both the “hero” and the “villain.”
And it somehow managed to cloud those words into near-meaninglessness. By traditional storytelling mechanics, Walt is the “hero” (even though he’s the villain) and Hank is the “villain” (even though he’s the hero). Yet the show managed to make viewers care about both, and they generally wanted both to succeed – even if they knew it was impossible. It’s an incredibly hard trick to pull off, but Breaking Bad made it look easy.
Hate: The Cousins
The Cousins helped give Breaking Bad one of its most thrilling subplots, but as characters, they were weak. The show is often nuanced and complex in its approach to writing characters, with many showing shades of good and evil. And then there are the Cousins, who seem ripped straight from The Terminator. This type of “unstoppable and emotionless killing machine” character didn’t really fit into the otherwise nuanced Breaking Bad universe.
Love: Gus Fring
As horrible a person as Gus Fring was, Breaking Bad fans couldn’t get enough. That’s in large part due to a combination of dexterous writing and acting. Gus has very few – if any – redeeming qualities, but Esposito’s performance and Gus’s penchant for playing the polite good guy in public made him a wonderfully compelling villain. His character was so successful that they made him a major part of Better Call Saul. Audiences just can’t get enough.
Hate: Jack Welker
There are villains that audiences love to hate, like a Gus or a Todd. And then there are villains like Jack, who everyone just kind of forgets about. Jack didn’t really have much of a character – he was just your stereotypical villain with little nuance or depth and who was obsessed money and violence. It was character writing well below what Breaking Bad was capable of, and it made Jack a really anticlimactic “final boss.”