In the world of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, there is no such thing as fixed morality. Extreme measures often need to be taken to survive and the characters’ sense of justice often feels warped by traditional standards. While poisoning a group of people would be downright evil in most circumstances, it feels just in Breaking Bad when it’s Gustavo Fring poisoning Don Eladio and his capos as revenge for Eladio having Gus’s partner Max killed many years ago.
Even in this cold-blooded world, though, there are moral lines that shouldn’t be crossed. The worst things that Gus Fring does in both Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul are when he crosses those lines and endangers or actively harms others in needlessly cruel and damaging ways.
When He Took Out His Emotions On Lyle
While waiting for a crucial phone call and feeling like he wasn’t in control, Gus took out his emotions on his Los Pollos Hermanos employee Lyle. The normally professional Gus directed cold and passive-aggressive comments at Lyle such as “This is acceptable to you?” and “You can go home” in regards to Lyle cleaning the fryers at Los Pollos Hermanos.
Determined to get it right and please his boss, Lyle kept scrubbing furiously, even as his hands became red and raw. The situation had nothing to do with the innocent Lyle or the cleanliness of the fryers and was just about Gus trying to assert a feeling of control when he felt like he had none otherwise.
When He Discontinued Hector Salamanca’s Medical Treatment
Hellbent on still getting his long-awaited revenge against Hector Salamanca, Gus hired a specialized doctor to help Hector recover after his stroke. The doctor helped Hector become cognizant again and to respond to verbal cues and to communicate by merely tapping his finger. The doctor told Gus that with more treatment, Hector might be able to walk and talk again.
Gus chose to discontinue the doctor’s treatment so he could keep Hector trapped in a state of being cognizant without being able to ever talk or move. Hector was a ruthless individual who callously murdered Gus’s partner Max, but that doesn’t negate the sheer cruelty of what Gus did to Hector, keeping him trapped in a state where Hector knew he was being tormented without being able to do anything about it.
When He Deported His Own Employees
When Gus and Walter White’s relationship was at a particularly fraught point in season 4 of Breaking Bad, Walt tried to stick it to him by refusing to clean the lab and having some of Gus’s laundromat employees clean it instead. Walt paid them handsomely for the work and took satisfaction in Gus having to watch his employees do Walt’s work.
Gus retaliated by having the employees deported. Gus would claim that he did this because bringing them into the lab was a security risk, but it was ultimately about proving his dominance to Walt, even at the cost of deporting his own workers.
When He Killed Victor With A Box Cutter
Victor was certainly no angel, but he was always loyal to Gus. After Victor was seen by civilians at the scene of Gale’s tragic death, Gus slit Victor’s throat with a box cutter and let him bleed to death. Gus felt that Victor had become a liability and wanted to send a message to Walt and Jesse of what would happen to them if they crossed him again.
While this scene was gruesome, the true horror was how Gus emotionlessly murdered one of the most loyal and dedicated individuals in his organization. Gus ultimately cared most about self-preservation and power and would eliminate anyone who threatened these ideals, even his most trusted men.
When He Continued To Employ The Street Corner Dealers
Thanks to Jesse, Gus learned that two of his street corner dealers were using kids as part of their drug trade. These specific dealers used Andrea’s 11-year-old brother Tomás for the exchange of drugs and even to kill rival dealers such as Combo.
After this came to his attention, Gus told the dealers they could no longer use children, yet he continued to employ them because they brought him good business. Gus cared more about the money these men were making than about the fact that they were manipulating and using an 11-year-old boy.
When He Threatened To Kill Skyler, Holly, And Walt Jr.
During one of the show’s best scenes that take place in the desert, Gus told Walt that he would handle Hank Schrader and that if Walt tried to interfere, Gus would murder Skyler, Holly, and Walter Jr. While Gus never followed through on this threat, given his cutthroat nature and how far he was willing to go to protect himself and his business, there is no doubt that Gus would’ve killed them if he felt it was necessary.
Threatening to kill someone’s wife, teenage son, and infant daughter and meaning it is a level of savagery that only a true villain would embrace. This once again showed that even children were not off-limits when it came to Gus’s business and survival.
When He Had Werner Ziegler Killed
Werner Ziegler ran off to see his wife and not to spill any secrets about the secret methamphetamine lab he was building for Gus. Nevertheless, Gus felt that Werner had become too great of a risk–especially given what Lalo Salamanca knew of Werner–and this left Mike with no choice but to kill Werner for Gus.
The kind and intelligent Werner just wanted to see his wife and didn’t deserve to be killed off in the middle of the desert. Even though Mike had dedicated himself to never killing again, Gus put Mike into a situation where he had to kill Werner, which sent Mike down a dark and self-loathing path in the following season of Better Call Saul.
When He Gave Hank’s Name To The Salamanca Cousins
Insisting that Walter White was off-limits, Gus gave Hank Schrader’s name to the Salamanca cousins instead. This meant that the Salamanca cousins would kill Hank instead of Walt in retribution for the murder of Tuco Salamanca.
Gus set Hank up to potentially be brutally executed and even with a phone call warning, Hank still barely survived and ended up in a grave physical situation that took a long time to recover from. Gus gambled with Hank’s life as part of his plot to eliminate his rivals within the cartel, which is one of the worst things any Breaking Bad character has done.
When He Continuously Blackmailed Nacho
After realizing that Nacho was responsible for Hector Salamanca’s stroke, Gus used the knowledge to blackmail Nacho and turn him into a mole. Gus threatened the life of Nacho’s father to keep Nacho obedient. Gus also had his men shoot Nacho and nearly kill him.
Even after doing everything that Gus asked of him, managing to not arouse suspicion in Lalo Salamanca, and sharing invaluable information, Gus refused to relinquish his hold on Nacho and insisted on continuing to threaten the life of Nacho’s father to keep his son obedient. Having Nacho as a mole was largely pragmatic for Gus, but a lot of it was needlessly vindictive as Gus really wanted to punish the man who unknowingly interfered in the master plan to get revenge against Hector Salamanca.
Using His Restaurants And Connections To Build A Thriving Drug Empire
Gus used his Los Pollos Hermanos restaurant business and his connections within the community to create a thriving drug empire that no one suspected. While this was inherently immoral, the worst part was how Gus turned the Los Pollos Hermanos employees, law enforcement officers, charities he donated to, and other members of the local community into unwitting participants in his drug trade.
After his death and the reveal of his drug empire, many of these individuals were left jobless through no fault of their own. This included the DEA’s ASAC Merkert who was fired simply for being friends with Gus and failing to see the truth about his so-called friend.