Bryan Cranston insists the Walter White is dead at the end of Breaking Bad, debunking a popular fan theory that has persisted for years. Cranston famously embodied the slow descent into criminal madness by the former teacher-turned-meth-dealer across all five seasons of the critically acclaimed show. Breaking Bad made Cranston and co-star Aaron Paul household names. It spawned an equally enthralling spin-off series, Better Call Saul, as well as a sequel movie, El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, in which Cranston reprises the role of White in a flashback.
The finale of Breaking Bad sees Walter try to sacrifice himself to save Paul’s Jesse, and the final moments of the series show him dying in a meth lab while Jesse escapes. The sequel movie confirms that White is dead, but many fans on the internet have claimed that Breaking Bad secretly takes place in the same universe as Cranston’s hit sitcom Malcolm in the Middle and that White actually survives, assuming the identity of Hal Wilkerson and going on to live a regular suburban life. The theory is so pervasive that Cranston and Jane Kaczmarek reprised their roles as Hal and his wife Lois for an exclusive alternate ending on a Breaking Bad DVD box set.
Despite that video, Cranston, speaking on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, has confirmed that Walter White is quite dead. In response to a question from Fallon about the fan theory, Cranston first jokes that he can’t reveal whether it’s true, but then dismisses it, saying it’s fun to speculate, but that White is definitely dead. You can see the full quote below.
I’m not at liberty to disclose that kind of information without security clearances. I think it [the theory] is fun. But, you know. No, Walter White is definitely dead. He’s dead, he’s dead, he’s dead, he’s dead.
Cranston, at this point, must be getting tired of the questions surrounding White’s fate in Breaking Bad, but it’s fun to see him play with Fallon and entertain the idea of the two shows crossing over. Of course, he’s already had fun with the theory by shooting the so-called alternate ending. However, it’s clear now that Cranston is ready to put the role behind him, squashing any thoughts of a sequel series, or return as Walter White in anything but flashbacks.
What the theory does make obvious, though, is just how versatile an actor Cranston is. Despite the two roles being completely different – Hal is a floundering suburban dad with very little authority, while White becomes an unhinged power-hungry madman throughout Breaking Bad’s run – Cranston is equally iconic for both and has fans from both shows.
He’s the rare leading actor who can switch from comedy to searing drama. He was wildly successful in both shows, getting nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series multiple times for Malcolm in the Middle and winning Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for Breaking Bad four times.