In Breaking Bad, Alburquaqee, New Mexico is a battlefield of sorts where wars are won using mind games, intimidation, guns, bombs strapped to wheelchairs, and even box-cutters. Generally, the powerful characters go through less pain than the weaker ones. When they fall, they find it easier to stand up again and engage in more mischief.
The power of each main character in the AMC series can be judged from their financial position, social standing, ability to control and influence others, and general value to their associates. Characters with less power like Jesse have been threatened and manipulated, while stronger characters like Gus and Walter have crashed their enemies and gone back to preparing chicken… and meth.
Skyler’s character development is brilliant, but she rarely finds herself in a position where she can dictate things. The only exception happens when she negotiates for the purchase of the A1A Car Wash. That aside, she isn’t in a position of authority, and she doesn’t really have control of anything all that consequential in the grand scheme of things. However, she does have the ability to influence Walt, fighting back against him as he devolves further into a major player in the criminal underworld.
Yet, she fails to influence Walt on a number of things, and she is thus forced to rely on Hank and Marie to make Walt see sense. She is unable to influence her lover, Ted, either, and he uses the money she gives him on luxuries instead of paying taxes and saving his family.
Jesse is Walt’s trusted partner, but he isn’t smart enough to garner enough influence for himself. The only time he gets respect and admiration is when people think he killed a junkie. Financial power is also out of the question for Jesse since he throws most of his money away in the streets. Aside from Badger and Skinny Pete, the people Jesse works with don’t respect him either.
Hank and Gomez despise Jesse, too, as do Jack Welker and his gang. Jesse is tortured and forced to cook meth before Walt intervenes in the finale. The only reason Jesse doesn’t come in last on the list is that there are brief moments when he is valuable to Walt and Gus as a preferred meth cook.
As a former police officer, Mike happens to have plenty of connections in the criminal underworld. It is these connections that help him become Gus Fring’s trusted henchman. Having Fring’s ear has its perks. Mike commands respect from nearly all of the same men and woman that work for or are associated with Gus.
However, Mike doesn’t have much going for him individually. His life purpose is tied to only two people: his granddaughter and Gus. When Gus dies, Mike’s descent begins, and he ends up dead, too.
Saul’s connections in the underworld are remarkable. No matter how difficult the situation is, he happens to know a guy who knows a guy that can take care of it. Having a tight network of associates not only improves one’s social standing, but it also helps them make more money and exert even more control.
Saul escalates Walt’s ascent into criminal superstardom by linking him with Gus Fring. He also helps Walt disappear when he is being hunted down by authorities. There’s also the fact that Saul is famous thanks to his “Better Call Saul” adverts on the streets and on the TV screens. Being famous or influential helps you hold great power over ordinary citizens.
Narco-traffickers are normally powerful criminal figures, and the case is no different for Tuco. He is one of only a few characters in the series who frightens Walt. The psychotic drug lord almost gets the better of Walt and Jesse before he is killed by Hank.
A high-ranking member of the Juárez Cartel, Tuco is specifically in charge of the cartel’s operations in Albuquerque. This has made him a feared and respected figure in the area. All of the street-level dealers under his command are completely intimidated by him, as he has a habit of murdering even his own men. The fact that he does all this without consequences proves his power.
Jack Welker has control over not only his gang, but over several other criminal circles, as well. When Walt tasks him with murdering 10 inmates across three different penitentiaries, he is able to get the job done fairly quickly through his connections on the inside.
His gang is armed with military-grade weaponry, as seen during the shootout with Hank and Gomez in “Ozymandias.” This implies that he has connections to corrupt people in the military or high-end dealers in the black market. His men are also shown to fear him, not hesitating to move when he barks.
Walter “Walt” White
Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them. Walt is one who achieves greatness. He starts off as a high school teacher who blew his chance to make it big in the world of sicence, but he grows to be one of the biggest meth manufacturers and distributors in America.
As Heisenberg, Walt becomes extremely powerful; the “Say My Name” incident is proof enough of this. He manages to not only manipulate his family, but also to convince hardened crime bosses like Jack Welker and Gus Fring to do things his way. When he goes on the run in the fifth season, he is listed as one of America’s most wanted fugitives.
Walt’s brother-in-law Hank holds a position of authority in the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). He is the Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC) of the Albuquerque department. He is mostly seen as a star agent in the DEA. His superiors place him in high esteem, and he is often allowed to pursue cases on his own even when there is no solid evidence. He is also loved by his own family members. Walter Jr. appears to look up to him more than his own father.
As the Head of Logistics at Madrigal Electromotive GmbH, Lydia oversees plenty of operations and thousands of employees, and she also has ties to powerful people. She is the person her boss, Peter Schuler, trusts the most. She is also close to Gus Fring and continues to supply him with the chemical methylamine until his death. She later works with Walt, Mike, and Todd.
Through her connections and intel help, she lets Walt and his crew known about a train that will be transporting hundreds of liters of methylamine through New Mexico. This way, they manage to rob the train and get enough methylene to cook thousands of batches.
Gustavo “Gus” Fring
The proprietor of Los Pollos Hermanos has hundreds of employees working for him. He also happens to be the biggest drug lord in Albuquerque and its environs. As a top dog in the drug trade, he has plenty of associates in powerful places, including the multifaceted conglomerate Madrigal Electromotive GmbH.
Fring’s influence also stretches to the DEA. The agency that’s supposed to be investigated him sees him as a respectable citizen thanks to his charitable activities in the state, though his criminal connections are eventually unveiled following his death.