Breaking Bad 

Breaking Bad: The 5 Best Character Arcs (& 5 Characters That Stayed Mostly The Same)

While not every character in Breaking Bad had an amazing narrative journey, there are plenty who completely changed throughout the series.

Breaking Bad is still widely considered to be one of the greatest TV shows of all time. That is in part due to the complex character developments that took place over the course of multiple seasons. It’s a trait that Better Call Saul, the prequel show, has also managed to replicate.

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While not every character in the Breaking Bad universe had an amazing narrative journey, there are plenty who completely changed throughout the series. Those who did not remained roughly the same, with little character development. This wasn’t due to poor writing but simply due to their personalities always showing through.

Stayed The Same: Saul Goodman

Saul Goodman looking worried

Saul Goodman is the same showman throughout Breaking Bad. The key reason is that the former Jimmy McGill is actually a fully established character before the events of the original show.

The lawyer has been developed so much through Better Call Saul that in terms of his personality he’s pretty much set. He’s therefore a great reactionary character, but viewers see far more of his development in the prequel series.

Best Character Arc: Jesse Pinkman

Jesse Pinkman looking serious in Breaking Bad

Jesse Pinkman started the show as a lost former student to Walter White. He was dealing to make a little bit of cash on the side, but he really was incredibly immature with no direction.

The years since have not been kind to Jesse, but they’ve made him a completely different man. It’s fair to say that perhaps Jesse was the protagonist all along, having a very distinct arc that culminated with his deserved freedom in El Camino. 

Stayed The Same: Gus Fring

Whether it’s the prequel show or the original series, the owner of Los Hermanos Chicken Shop, Gus Fring, has been a consistently psychopathic boss.

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Whether he’s leading his fast food restaurant or his secret drug empire, Gus is quick to anger with moments of devastating calm. Gus is full of the same malice throughout the show and is one of the series most famous antagonists because of these characteristics.

Best Character Arc: Hank Schrader

Breaking Bad Hank Schrader before he died

Hank Schrader starts the series as a loud, obnoxious member of the DEA. While he always stays in the same role, his arrogance and hyper masculinity is completely shattered after surviving the attack from the cousins.

After this Hank goes on a journey that sees his world collapse in on itself. This speeds up after finding Walt is actually the drug lord Heisenberg, leading to his genuinely heroic death. Hank eventually put his words into action!

Stayed The Same: Walter White Jr

Walter White Jr. does develop throughout the show, but his character arc is more reactionary rather than anything else. The audience doesn’t learn anything new about the character.

His own story is controlled by his father’s actions, with ‘Flynn’ jumping between favoring either parent before finally rejecting his drug lord dad after learning about his terrible deeds. His personality does not shift through this though.

Best Character Arc: Skyler White

Skyler White

Skyler White is an incredibly polarising character throughout the series. She goes on a similar journey to Walter, having a child, having an affair, deciding to join in on his criminal empire and eventually rejecting everything he stands for.

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She makes many choices that shift the perception of her character, but ultimately she’s trying to find some peace and perhaps even happiness in a world of chaos that has been created for her.

Stayed The Same: Marie Schrader

Marie has always been a kind soul that has cared for her sister and her husband. She’s consistently stepped up when she’s needed most, looking after Hank after his attack and taking in Skyler and Walt’s children.

She’s remained consistent in her loving attitude and really her main character development happens off screen, after Hank has been killed as a result of Walt’s actions.

Best Character Arc: Mike Ehrmantraut

Mike stood outside in a jacket in Breaking Bad

Mike has a lot of character development throughout Better Call Saul, much like Saul himself. However, the original series shows a change in Mike that both the audience and the characters didn’t expect.

Introducing his granddaughter, as well as having him leave Gus, both indicated that there was a lot more to this hardened killer than everyone would have originally thought.

Stayed The Same: Todd Alquist

Todd has always been a sociopathic murderer with very little understanding of the consequences. His one big moment is when he kills a child, but the signs were always there.

Todd seemingly doesn’t feel the same emotions as everyone else. He makes a number of terrible decisions but he’s ultimately always the same, seemingly innocent young man, with a darkness inside of him.

Best Character Arc: Walter White

Walter White is the main character in the show and has the most defined arc. While many suggest he’s always had the same selfish characteristics, something does shift within him.

His journey into becoming the drug lord Heisenberg, is full of complications, messy decisions and cruelty on the part of Walt. It’s possibly one of the most incredible character arcs in any show or film series.

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