Walter White’s age was an important aspect of Breaking Bad throughout the show’s five-season run. Bryan Cranston played the central character for all 62 episodes of the AMC series created by Vince Gilligan. The crime drama, which followed a despondent teacher who turned into a drug kingpin following a grim diagnosis, became a hit in the eyes of critics and viewers alike. Much of the positive reception came from character development, especially Walt’s complicated journey. Here’s a breakdown of how old the lead figure was during his rise to power, up to his eventual demise.
According to details unveiled in Breaking Bad, Walt studied at the California Institute of Technology. As an accomplished chemist, he helped co-found Gray Matter Technology with his best friend, Elliot Schwartz. Walt became engaged to the lab assistant, Gretchen, but he ended up leaving her and sold his shares of Gray Matter back to Elliot. The company went on to be worth billions of dollars while Walt jumped from job to job before becoming a high school science teacher in Albuquerque. By then, he was married to Skyler and the pair had a son named Walt Jr., who later went by “Flynn” for a time.
Walt’s official birthdate was September 7, 1958, based on specific details revealed in the plot. The Breaking Bad pilot episode strategically took place on Walt’s 50th birthday (as indicated by his special breakfast). Unfortunately, that was the same time that he was diagnosed with lung cancer, giving him about two years left to live. Even though the show’s setting followed a present-day setting at the onset, not much time passed over the course of the series. In fact, less than a year went by between the beginning of Breaking Bad and the end of season 4. By then, Walt had fully transformed into “Heisenberg” as his meth business took off with his partner, Jesse Pinkman.
Walt didn’t turn 51 years old until the fourth episode of Breaking Bad season 5. The episode, appropriately titled “Fifty-One,” featured a family birthday gathering, but by then the White family was already falling apart. About eight months prior, Walt and Skyler had a second child, Holly, but sadly, she never had a chance of growing up in a normal environment. Less than a month after Walt’s 51st birthday, he learned that his cancer had returned. From there, everything began to spiral, including his betrayal by Jack Welker’s neo-Nazi gang, the murder of his brother-in-law, Hank Schrader, and the forced separation from his family.
When Walt’s identity was exposed, he went into hiding, living in a remote cabin somewhere in New Hampshire. Months later, Walt traveled back to Albuquerque to tie up loose ends since he was already dying from cancer. After making sure his family was set up financially, Walt arrived at Jack’s compound to kill the gang and free Jesse, who was forced to work there as a prisoner. During the attack, Walt was mortally wounded. He ended up dying in the compound’s meth lab at the closing moments of the Breaking Bad series finale. The date happened to be September 7, 2010, which marked his 52nd birthday.