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Villain Overview
Who are you talking to right now? Who is it you think you see? ...Do you know how much I make a year? I mean, even if I told you, you wouldn't believe it. Do you know what would happen if I suddenly decided to stop going to work? A business big enough that it could be listed on the NASDAQ goes belly up; disappears, it ceases to exist without me. No, you clearly don't know who you're talking to, so let me clue you in. I am not in danger, Skyler. I am the danger. A guy opens his door and gets shot, and you think that of me? No, I am the one who knocks!
~ Walter White
Walter White: Say my name.
Declan: You're Heisenberg.
Walter White: You're goddamn right.
~ Walter's famous quote
This is punitive, is what this is. We're happily married. I am happily married. I am happy. We're just....I love you Skyler and I would do anything for you. Would you even consider?...I mean Jesus! You come in here and wave these papers in my face when there's a whole other entire side to this thing; there's your side and my side and you haven't heard my side yet. You haven't heard any of it at all.
Skyler: You're a drug dealer.
No. What? How? What? How?
~ Walter and Skyler as they reveal he is Heisenberg

Walter Hartwell White, Sr., also known by his alias Heisenberg, is the main protagonist and anti-villain of the television series Breaking Bad. He also appears in flashback scene in El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie. A brilliant but underachieving chemist working as a high school science teacher, Walt is diagnosed with terminal cancer, which spurs him on to use his chemistry knowledge to cook and sell crystal meth to provide for his family after his imminent death.

As the series progresses and he becomes more involved in the drug world, the formerly mild-mannered and unassuming teacher slowly changes and transforms into an increasingly sinister, dangerous and ruthless criminal driven more by ego and greed than his stated altruistic motives, this way becoming some sort of big bad of the series.

He was portrayed by Bryan Cranston, previously best known for his role as Hal Wilkerson in Malcolm in the Middle. Cranston won four Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, tying him with Dennis Franz for the record in this category.

Personality and Traits

An extremely complex character, the entire story of Breaking Bad shows Walter White's transformation from well-meaning and sympathetic anti-hero to a ruthless and loathsome villain of his own story. It also charts his constantly shifting personality and motivations as they become darker and more selfish as the series goes on. His turn to villainy and the gradual reveal of the darkness that was within him all along over the course of the series has led him to be commonly compared by critics to a number of Shakespeare villains, most prominently Macbeth.

In the beginning, after being diagnosed with lung cancer, Walter's stated motivation was to make enough money to leave behind for his family. While this was true to some degree, holes could be seen in this motivation as early as the first season, where he turns down the seven-figure job from his former business partners out of pride. While the money he could leave behind continued to be an important driving point for him for the rest of the story, he gradually reveals that he sincerely enjoys the thrills and feelings of power that being a criminal brings, and he has such great pride in his near perfect blue meth. He mentions early on in the series that he never felt like he had any say in his life, and so his work as a drug dealer is the first time he's had control. He also feels that he is making up for his rash decision to leave his former business partners for a $5,000 buyout, abandoning a company that is now worth billions of dollars, creating a meth empire to give himself a similar feeling. He reveals to Skyler in the end that everything was done for himself, as it made him feel alive.

Walter was an extremely prideful and arrogant man, to the point of being a narcissist. Nearly everything he does is driven by his massive ego, leading a very smart man in making very stupid decisions. This ranges from turning down the aforementioned job offer to cluing his brother-in-law, Hank, in that his primary suspect for being Heisenberg, was most likely not the real Heisenberg, not wanting anyone else to take credit for his work, even at the risk of being captured later. As a result of his ego, Walter takes criticism extremely poorly; this is best shown when Mike calls him out for turning on and killing Gus Fring because he thought he could run his business just as well but turned out to be wrong. While he was absolutely right, Walter became so angry that he shot and killed Mike in an ego-driven rage. His very partial redemption at the end comes from letting go of his pride to a degree, though it was still his pride that drove him to make his final moves when he saw his former business partners discrediting him.

As the series moved forward, Walter became more ruthless. The man who sobbed as he strangled Krazy 8 in self-defense was eventually able to poison a young child without remorse in order to begin his final plans against Gus-even brushing off Drew Sharp's death as he whisteled at work after his disappearance was announced on the news. The decay of his morality was noticed by both Skyler and Jesse, making Skyler terrified of him despite helping him before, and disturbing Jesse into wanting to leave the meth trade altogether.

Despite his ruthlessness, Walter still deeply cared about his family, growing angry at the idea of Saul's suggestion to kill Hank after he realized who Walter was. In the pilot episode, he even assaulted a jock for making fun of his son's cerebral palsy. Before Jack killed Hank, Walter begged and bargained for Hank's life and was utterly broken when Jack fired the shot. Getting revenge on Jack became one of his driving motivations in the final episode of the series. He was also greatly against the idea of killing Jesse until it seemed necessary to him, and at the end took a bullet to save Jesse's life. This did not stop him from being emotionally abusive and manipulative towards them. His relationship with Jesse, in particular, was as an abusive father-figure who kept Jesse loyal to him through manipulation and blackmail.

As much as he loved his family, it is made clear that he loves one thing more. While dying, he strolls through the meth lab, examining the equipment lovingly, signifying that his one true love was his precious blue meth, the empire he built.


  1. Emilio Koyama
  2. Krazy 8
  3. Jane Margolis (Caused)
  4. 167 unnamed Wayfarer 515 crash victims (Indirectly Caused)
  5. Rival Dealers
  6. Gale Boetticher (Caused)
  7. Hector Salamanca (Caused)
  8. Tyrus Kitt (Caused)
  9. Gustavo Fring (Caused)
  10. 2 of Gus' henchmen
  11. Mike Ehrmantraut
  12. Dan Wachsberger (Caused)
  13. Ron Forenall (Caused)
  14. Dennis Markowski (Caused)
  15. Jack McGann (Caused)
  16. Andrew Holt (Caused)
  17. Anthony Perez (Caused)
  18. Isaac Conley (Caused)
  19. William Moniz (Caused)
  20. Harris Boivin (Caused)
  21. Raymond Martinez (Caused)
  22. Steve Gomez (Indirectly Caused)
  23. Hank Schrader (Indirectly Caused)
  24. Andrea Cantillo (Indirectly Caused)
  25. 2 unnamed white supremacists
  26. Kenny
  27. Frankie
  28. Lester
  29. Matt
  30. Todd Alquist (Caused)
  31. Jack Welker
  32. Lydia Rodarte-Quayle (Caused)
  33. Himself



  • Counting all people he has killed (whether intentionally or not), Walt is responsible for 202 deaths in the series (including his own).
  • The song Walt whistles after hearing about Drew Sharp's disappearance is "Lily of the Valley". Coincidentally, this is the same plant he used to poison Brock with.

External Links


           Breaking Bad Villains

Krazy 8 | Emilio Koyama | Tuco Salamanca | No-Doze | Saul Goodman | Gustavo Fring | Neil Kandy | Casey | Mike Ehrmantraut | Marco & Leonel Salamanca | Hector Salamanca | Lydia Rodarte-Quayle | Jack Welker | Todd Alquist | Jesse Pinkman | Walter White

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