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Breaking Bad and the spin-off, Better Call Saul, are both amazing shows, with a major strength being the incredible and engaging characters that appear in them. Breaking Bad first appeared on AMC in 2008, where it enjoyed consistently positive viewing figures for the first three seasons, but when the series was made available on Netflix, the numbers began to climb significantly.




Thanks to incredible writing from creator Vince Gilligan and his team, and the outstanding performances from the cast, the series has earned a reputation as one of the best made TV shows of all time. And at the heart of the shows within the Breaking Bad universe, the characters are the beating heart of it all. From complex villains, to the conflicted protagonist, all of these characters come together to make an incredible story.


15 Tuco Salamanca

Tuco Salamanca warns Walt not to cross him

Tuco Salamanca is a member of the powerful Salamanca crime family. During the first two seasons of Breaking Bad, he is a central antagonist that Jesse and Walt meet with on multiple occasions to try and expand their drug operation. Tuco is the nephew of Hector Salamanca, who was the first person to take the family drug trade north of the border.


While his story ends in season 2 of Breaking Bad, the prequel series, Better Call Saul dives deeper into the character’s life and background. Tuco is unpredictable and erratic, but also one of the most ambitious members of the Salamanca family. However, prior to his death, Tuco had managed to successfully run his business for many years.

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14 Jane Margolis

Jane with long black hair in Breaking Bad


Jane Margolis had a fairly brief time on Breaking Bad, with her only appearing in season 2. She was a drug addict, and the girlfriend of Jesse Pinkman. Despite her brief time on the show, her role was significant and had a lasting impact on both Walt and Jesse. When she died of an overdose, Walt could have easily helped and saved Jane, but instead he chose to standby and let it happen.

Walt made the choice to let her die, hoping it would help him get control of Jesse, and scare him out of his own addiction. This was a major milestone for Walt, as he had not become accustomed to killing others yet, directly or otherwise. And Jane’s death did have the desired impact on Jesse in many ways, as he became despondant, depressed, and inconsolable. Jesse’s life was forever changed by Jane’s death.

13 Chuck McGill

Michael McKean as Chuck McGill in Better Call Saul.


Chuck McGill is a character that only appears in the prequel series, Better Call Saul. Chuck is Jimmy McGill’s older brother, and a highly respected lawyer who helped to found the prestigious law firm, Hamlin, Hamlin, & McGill. While Jimmy and Chuck appear close early on, it’s later revealed that Chuck was actively halting his brother’s career and progression out of a resentment toward him.

Chuck believed Jimmy was not fit to be a lawyer, and so he attempted to stop Jimmy from succeeding in his career. The character also suffers from issues like Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity, and becomes a recluse as a result. He is complex, underhanded, and believes firmly in rigid obedience to the law.

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12 Skyler White

Skyler and Walt J.r Breaking Bad: Season 5, Episode 14, “Ozymandias”

Skyler White is Walt’s wife in Breaking Bad, and the couple have a teenage son and a baby daughter. However, their marriage becomes incredibly strained throughout the course of the series and ultimately leads to the pair separating. With all the lies from Walt about his dealings and criminal activity, Skyler feels the distance that has creeped into their relationship after Walt’s diagnosis.

However, Skyler is highly intelligent and resourceful, and she is able to recognize when her husband is lying to her. Skyler is also independent, and will not accept being lied to or manipulated. Ultimately, she chooses to help Walt launder his drug money when she uncovers his secrets, and becomes an integral member of the team.


11 Todd Alquist

Todd in the desert with Walt and Jesse in Breaking Bad

Todd is one of the most interesting characters to appear in Breaking Bad. As a for-hire criminal, Todd begins working for Walt, Jesse, and Mike Ehrmantraut in season 5. Despite only having a brief time on the series in the final season, he is pivotal in coordinating the events that lead up to the show’s finale.

Todd appears to be a well-rounded and fairly intelligent ally, but his pragmatism is quickly revealed to be astonishingly dangerous. When a young boy spots the men on a mission to steal ingredients to make more drugs, Todd, without hesitation, shoots and kills the child. Todd is also revealed to be a traitor in Breaking Bad, who was working for his own uncle, Jack, while trying to earn the trust of Walt and steal his operation.


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10 Hector Salamanca

Mark Margolis as Hector Salamanca in Breaking Bad

When Hector first appears in Breaking Bad, he is already in a weakened state, with multiple machines helping to keep him alive. However, despite his feeble condition, Hector remains a powerful and intimidating presence. He is one of the leaders of the drug cartel, and the head of the Salamanca crime family. Hector is highly influential, and puts his family above everything else.


He raised his five nephews, and each of them was involved in his drug trade to varying degrees. While his death is explosive and sudden in Breaking Bad, his character is further expanded in the prequel series. Hector was clearly an imposing figure early on in his cartel career, and continued to hold onto his status and respect until his death.

9 Lalo Salamanca

Lalo Salamanca in Better Call Saul sitting in a purple shirt

Lalo Salamanca is another member of the Salamanca crime family, and one of the most trusted by his uncle Hector, whom he eventually takes over from. Lalo appears to be one of the most reasonable and non-confrontational members of the family, not being a drug user, or erratic like his cousin Tuco. However, when it comes to business, Lalo is potentially even more brutal and violent than his cousins.


He is also one of the highest profile criminal clients of Saul Goodman. As a result of his work with Goodman, Goodman’s profile and status as a lawyer for criminals becomes much more notable. In addition, Lalo’s biggest rival is Gus Fring, and unlike Walter White, Fring is terrified of Lalo due to his ruthlessness and efficiency.

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8 Nacho Varga

Nacho looking beaten up in Breaking Bad


Nacho is one of the first true criminals on this list that displayed a greater degree of nuance in his actions. He grew up working in his father’s hardware store, but due to circumstances, he began a career as a criminal. While he became a trusted enforcer to Tuco Salamanca, and eventually a lieutenant under Hector and Lalo, criminality was not Nacho’s end goal.

Nacho had a moral compass and radar that many of the other characters were either lacking or suppressed. But Nacho continuously showcased how much he cared for the individuals in his life, like his father, whom he wanted to protect at all costs. Nacho may have been a brutal enforcer, capable of terrible violence, but his heart was never in crime.

7 Hank Schrader

Dean Norris as Hank Schrader looking at Walter in Breaking Bad Season 4, Episode 5: "Shotgun"       


Hank Schrader was one of the few characters who chose to live a good and honest life. Hank was a high-ranking DEA officer who worked tirelessly to dismantle the drug trade. Hank was resolute in his beliefs and, using his incredible skills and intelligence, he was able to take down several notable figures in the cartel. However, Hank’s life was majorly complicated by his brother-in-law’s central role in the drug trade.

Hank became suspicious of Walt early on in his criminal dealings, and despite the familial connection, he maintained that the industry and those involved were dangerous. Hank begins to investigate Heisenberg, and found links between him and the cartel, which eventually led to Walt’s capture. However, Hank also died in the line of duty, when connections of Walt shot him dead.


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6 Mike Ehrmantraut

Mike on a park bench doing a puzzle in Breaking Bad

Mike Ehrmantraut is a fixer, who primarily worked for Gus Fring and Saul Goodman. Due to his previous experience in the military and law enforcement, he had in-depth knowledge of how to game the system. Mike may have swapped sides to work as a criminal, but he was always working with the intention of providing for his family.

Mike had clear lines that he was unwilling to cross, and he chose to only work on jobs that he felt comfortable with. He is highly skilled and intelligent, but he is also a good man in many meaningful ways. His career may have had blood on his hands, but having been let down by the system, he was simply trying to provide for those that meant the most to him.


5 Kim Wexler

Rhea Seehorn as Kim Wexler on Better Call Saul sitting outside

Kim Wexler is the ex-wife of Jimmy McGill. Having started as an intern at Hamlin, Hamlin, & McGill, Wexler got to know Jimmy and the two formed an intense relationship. However, the pair didn’t always see eye to eye. Kim was a generally upstanding and noble person within her profession, but due to her associations with Jimmy, she did get caught up in some less savory activities.

Kim and Jimmy’s relationship deteriorated later on, as Jimmy began to work primarily with criminal clients. Despite everything that happened, Kim continues to have a soft spot for Jimmy. But, due to her high intelligence and independence, she was not going to remain in a relationship with him.


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4 Gustavo Fring

Gus (Giancarlo Esposito) sits behind his desk at Los Pollos Hermanos in Breaking Bad

Gustavo Fring is one of the most intimidating characters in Breaking Bad, and a highly effective drug crime lord. Fring ran his drug operation out of an unassuming fried chicken fast food place, and was extremely pragmatic in his dealings. He also had the ability to almost shift personas in the blink of an eye, from a friendly server, to a dead-behind-the-eyes criminal.


Gus developed a working relationship with Walt and Jesse, but was wary of their carelessness. His operation was always run in a tight and extremely organized fashion, turning crime into a high-end business. But, he ultimately met his match with Walt, who chose to turn on him after the relationship soured.

3 Jesse Pinkman

Jesse Pinkman meets Tuco Salamanca in his first appearance in Breaking Bad Season 1, Episode 6 “Crazy Handful Of Nothing”

Jesse Pinkman was a student in high school who studied science under Walt. However, Jesse was a less than reliable student, who spent much of his time high. When Walt eventually decided to try and make some money in drugs, it was Jesse he turned to for help.

While Jesse began Breaking Bad as an aimless kid, he grew and matured to become a pragmatic and competent man. Jesse was unfairly used and abused by many others, but by the end of Breaking Bad, and in the spin-off movie, El Camino, Jesse had forged a new path.


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2 Saul Goodman / Jimmy McGill

Jimmy/Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) sitting in his office in Beter Call Saul.

Saul Goodman is one of the absolute best characters in the Breaking Bad universe, and the only one to get a spin-off series built around him to date. When he first appears in Breaking Bad, he is a slimy criminal lawyer who helps the worst of the worst people keep out of trouble. However, his story isn’t told in full until Better Call Saul.


Before he was Saul Goodman, he was the humble and struggling lawyer, Jimmy McGill. Jimmy worked hard to try and become a successful lawyer, and work with his brother’s firm, but he constantly ran into opposition from those around him. Instead of supporting him and helping him to put his skills to good use, he was pushed to be resourceful, and use his wits to make ends meet in alternative ways.

1 Walter White

Bryan Cranston as Walter White in Breaking Bad Season 4, Episode 5: "Shotgun"       

The most interesting character from the Breaking Bad universe, however, remains the leading man from the original show, Walter White. Like McGill, he was let down in life by constant setbacks, but he used his intelligence and his resourcefulness to do something different. However, Walt was also a victim of his own ambition.


While his work as a drug lord began as a way to provide for his family after his imminent death due to his diagnosis, Walt got greedy. When he found a niche that he excelled in, Walt became addicted to the power and the prestige as he built a persona, Heisenberg, for his criminal dealings. Walt was a complex man, but every move and decision he made could be understood, considering his circumstances, making him a truly compelling protagonist and anti-hero in Breaking Bad.



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