The main characters of Breaking Bad make up some of the most complex television characters in recent memory. While some are easier to label as good or bad, many exist in a grey area, and it is their journey throughout the series that really shows the kinds of people they are.
While some characters like Walter White and Jesse Pinkman might hide their true personalities at times, there are certain lines in the series that really speak to who they are at the center of it all. The quotes might be quite simple or seemingly unremarkable but these few words sum up the Breaking Bad characters perfectly.
Walt Jr: “My Dad Is My Hero.”
Though he is not featured heavily in the main storylines, Walt Jr. is an easy character to like. He cares about his family and wants everyone to be happy. But he is also living in the dark about his own family.
When being interviewed about his money-saving endeavors for Walt, Walt Jr. beams about how proud he is of his father. It is a heartbreaking glimpse at how Walt Jr. thinks he is part of this happy family and is oblivious to his father’s evil. By the finale of Breaking Bad, that illusion is finally broken.
Todd: “Just So You Know, This Isn’t Personal.”
What makes Todd one of the most effective and unsettling villains on the show is how casually sadistic he is. He appears to be this pretty normal guy who is polite and friendly to others right up to the point where he does something terrible.
Todd doesn’t seem to understand that he is a bad guy and that is seen in the brutal scene in which he kills Andrea to teach Jesse a lesson. His pathetic apology to her suggests he doesn’t really think he should be blamed for this and speaks to his creepy view of reality.
Marie: “It Just Feels Good To Think About.”
There are some who laugh at Marie’s shoplifting storyline and consider it to be a pointless inclusion in the show. However, it is actually an interesting way of exploring how she is like Walt, but with more self-control.
She has these tendencies to “break bad” but knows when it’s too much. After learning Walt’s secret, Marie talks to her therapist about her fantasies of killing him but insists they are just thoughts. It seems to directly address that, unlike Walt, Marie knows every thought and impulse doesn’t need to lead to action.
Gus: “I Hide In Plain Sight, Same As You.”
Certainly, Gus Fring is the smartest villain on Breaking Bad and that is best seen in how careful he is in his business. Even in Gus’s very first scene in the show, Walt fails to realize the friendly manager of the fast-food restaurant is the drug lord he is supposed to be meeting.
When speaking to Walt, it becomes clear that these men are very similar, living these secret lives. Gus knows the secret to his success is that he makes himself appear as the last person someone would suspect of being a drug kingpin.
Saul: “Only The Very Best And Just The Right Amount Of Dirty.”
Saul Goodman is one of the funniest characters on the show and has a tendency to say whatever is on his mind. He is also not shy about displaying some of his worse qualities, especially if they can be put to good use in a criminal enterprise.
When meeting Skyler White for the first time, Saul makes this crude comment about how Walt’s taste in women is the same as his taste in lawyers. Not only does this capture his obnoxious and unfiltered style, but it also shows how willingly he accepts that he is a sleazy lawyer.
Mike: “No More Half Measures.”
Mike Ehrmantraut is a great foil for Walt because he is one of the few characters who refuses to indulge Walt’s ego. Mike is a no-nonsense operator who is reliable, professional, and always takes care of business.
In one of the show’s best scenes, Mike tells Walt a story about a time he regretted taking a “half measure” and vowed to never do that again. Throughout the series, Mike also brings that unwavering approach to every situation, unwilling to compromise for anyone.
Hank: “A Guy That Clean Has To Be Dirty.”
When Hank Schrader is introduced on the show, he seems like a stereotypical meathead cop. And while he can be obnoxious at times, it quickly becomes clear that he is, in fact, an exceptional detective.
Throughout the series, very little ever gets past Hank. Even with someone like Gus Fring, who works so hard at appearing like a stand-up citizen without any suspicions, Hank can sense something dirty about him. It is a sign of his talents as an officer and also explains his reaction to learning Walt had him fooled for so long.
Skyler: “Someone Has To Protect This Family From The Man Who Protects This Family.”
Though the first episode introduces their happy marriage, the relationship between Walt and Skyler gradually falls apart due to the lies and crimes. At times, it becomes as if they are enemies living under the same roof.
While Walt is the one who insists this is all for his family, Skyler is the true selfless person in the relationship. She is willing to stay with this man who she no longer loves and actually fears because she feels it is the only way to ensure that her family is safe.
Jesse: “Like I Came To You, Begging To Cook Meth.”
The relationship between Jesse and Walt is a very interesting one that starts out as a dysfunctional and reluctant duo before evolving into something much more complex. In those early days, Jesse complains to Walt that he didn’t want this arrangement in the first place.
The line shows Jesse’s comedic side as a sarcastic and immature young man. But it also speaks to Jesse’s journey of being dragged along through so much pain and loss. None of it is his idea and yet he is someone who is punished more than anyone else on the show.
Walt: “I Did It For Me. I Liked It. I Was Good At It.”
When Walt begins cooking meth to provide for his family, it is obvious that it is a terrible idea, but one that is somewhat understandable. Walt is not breaking the law for selfish reasons, but to help his loved ones. As time goes on, that defense gets harder to justify.
It becomes clear that whatever reasons Walt had to begin with, his meth business is now about ego. It is not until the finale when he is saying goodbye to Skyler for the last time that he admits to her and to himself what has really been motivating him this whole time.