There have been many great TV villains and antiheroes but not many can match up to Walter “Walt” White aka Heisenberg. Walt was a fictional chemistry teacher who used his knowledge to make high-quality methamphetamine and ended up being one of the biggest drug kingpins in America.
But the world of Breaking Bad didn’t just have one super criminal. In fact, it can be argued that apart from Walt’s son and the DEA team, no other supporting character in the show was clean. Here are the reasons why Walt/Heisenberg was the best villain (and five other characters who can claim the title too).
Heisenberg: He Constantly Fooled Hank
What makes Walt an extraordinary villain is that his brother-in-law Hank— the most competent DEA agent in the state of New Mexico—never figured out he was Heisenberg until the tail-end of the series. It’s like Batman finding out that Alfred is The Joker.
Due to Walt’s ability to maintain his image as a middle-class family man who drove an affordable Pontiac Aztek, as well as his expertise at conjuring up lies on the go, Hank rarely suspected him. And even after discovering who he really was, he never got the pleasure of putting him behind bars.
Jack was a subscriber of white supremacy and Nazi beliefs. This trait alone set him up to commit plenty of evil deeds. He killed Walt’s DEA brother Hank, despite Walt crying and begging him not to do so. He also turned the tables against Walt and took 90% of his hard-earned drug money.
Not to forget how he planned the killing of ten of Mike’s former associates in different prisons so that they could not rat. To top that, he enslaved Jesse, put him in chains, and forced him to cook pure crystal meth for him. Jack was also the hardest villain to eliminate and to kill him, Walt ended up sacrificing himself too.
Heisenberg: Acting The Part
Walt was never a tough guy by nature but he somehow lived by Saul’s mantra—anyone can believe that you are who you say you are so long as you believe it too. Whenever he wore his trademark black hat and the shades, Walt would instantly turn from a broken man who couldn’t deal with his own family drama to an intimidating drug lord.
He once saw a man buying the tools needed to cook meth in a store and followed him outside before warning him and his boss to stay off his turf. His golden moment of putting up the tough guy act came when he told Declan: “Say My Name!” It takes a lot of guts to order a criminal surrounded by gun-totting buddies to say your name.
Alternative: Hector Salamanca
What makes Hector an impressive villain is that he still did plenty of damage despite being unable to walk or talk. Hector blew himself up together with Gus and his henchman. Before that, he had pretended to want to offer Hank crucial information. He was wheeled to the DEA offices only for him to insult Hank in front of his colleagues.
When Walt and Jesse tried to kill Tuco by poisoning him, Hector warned him by ringing the bell on his wheelchair. Tuco would have probably killed them if Hank didn’t arrive. And in a flashback scene, we a healthier Hector was seen peeing and shooting Gustavo’s partner right in front of him.
Heisenberg: The Motivation
To every villain, the ultimate question has to be asked: why are you doing this? Most of the other antagonists in the show were just tough guys who had nothing better to do than be criminals. For Walt, there was a goal. He was dying of cancer so he wanted to leave enough money for his family.
And even when his family discovered that he was a monster and refused his money, he still made a plan courtesy of The Schwartz to ensure the money would eventually reach them without their knowledge. Another reason why Walt stuck to the drug trade is that it “made him feel alive.” He was the best meth cook to ever walk the earth and it didn’t make sense to him to stop doing the only thing that had given him success and happiness.
Tuco was a little bit over the top and not as intelligent but he gave Walt and Jesse plenty of headaches in the first two seasons. He was prone to violent outbursts and this made him a very scary villain. When Jesse pitched the superior blue meth to him, he took it, refused to pay, and beat him up.
And when his henchman No-Doze decided to speak on his behalf during a meeting, Tuco beat him to death. Like a true selfish villain, Tuco didn’t care about the welfare of his employees either. At one point, he arranged for Walt and Jesse to be taken to Mexico to cook for the cartel. Walt objected because he had a family only for Tuco to tell him “You will get a new one!”
Heisenberg: Ingenious Plans
Walt wore his thinking cap at all times. Only a man like him could come up with a plan to steal thousands of liters of methylamine from a freight train and replace it with water of the exact quantity so that no one would ever realize there was a heist. He also blew up Tuco’s pad using fulminated mercury so that the drug lord would take him seriously and it worked.
Another genius plan occurred during Walt’s fugitive days. In order to prevent his wife Skyler from being charged as an accomplice, Walt called her to mock her and brag that she knew his plans. He knew the authorities were listening so he wanted to make them think she was innocent in all of this.
Alternative: Don Eladio
Cartel leader Don Eladio mostly operated from the shadows but he caused more trouble to Gus than law enforcement ever did. As soon as Gus started selling a superior product thanks to the genius of Walt and Jesse, Don Eladio began intimidating him by sending men to hijack his tracks.
Eladio wanted half of Gus’ empire so Gus made a deal with him that he’d bring Jesse to teach his men how to cook the superior meth. But after Jesse had taught them, Eladio decided he was going to keep him for good. That would never happen as Gus poisoned him and his men before fleeing.
Heisenberg: He Left The Stage On His Own Terms
For most villains, it always ends either of the following ways—they get killed by cops, a hero or a fellow criminal, or they go to prison. Neither of these things happened to Walt. Instead, he died courtesy of bullets from his own automatic machine gun.
Throughout the series, Walt managed to deal with everyone that was a threat to his life or his criminal career. And in the final episode, he set up a machine gun on the trunk of his car, drove to Jack’s compound, and triggered the gun by popping open the trunk after pressing a button on his keys. Walt died after getting hit by some of the bullets but at least he died on his own terms.
Alternative: Gustavo “Gus” Fring
Hiding in plain sight was the modus operandi of Chilean-born drug lord Gustavo “Gus” Fring. He ran a successful restaurant chain and portrayed himself as an honest businessman but behind the scenes, he was one of the biggest traffickers in the south. To make his product, he constructed a well-hidden superlab beneath a laundry facility.
Gus was friends with the DEA too, hence no one ever suspected him except Hank. His most impressive trait was that he could morph from a calm guy to a ruthless monster in a second. He sliced the throat of one of his employees with a box cutter. But his most impressive feat was killing the entire cartel by giving them poisoned tequila.