Ranking the 10 Best Breaking Bad Characters – Is Walter White #1?

Giancarlo Esposito at Fan Expo

Breaking Bad has been off the air for years. However, that universe refuses to die. Better Call Saul is seen by many as an even greater series that the original franchise starter, and El Camino was a brilliant extension from where the show last left off.

Needless to say, people are constantly on the hunt for TV series like Breaking Bad. They usually come up empty, and circle back to this familiar universe.

Vince Gilligan’s writing and directing is a huge part of that, as he crafted sensational characters. The casting department ran with it, of course, as the Breaking Bad characters we now know and love are some of the best in television history.

So, which Breaking Bad characters are the best? It’s highly subjective, but I’ve compiled my top 10 Breaking Bad character rankings. Let me know in the comments how right or wrong I am.

10. Lydia Rodarte-Quayle

Her stay with the Breaking Bad franchise was short-lived – quite literally. However, Lydia was a necessary evil to facilitate the story late in the series.

Lydia is seemingly always present in the background of the series, but we don’t see her face until season five.

An overly cautious and peculiar executive for Madrigal Electromotive GmbH, Lydia plays a key role in the distribution of Gus Fring’s meth, but her role on the series blossoms once he’s killed.

She quickly proves her worth, and not too long after shows that she’s a considerable liability.

She’s a loose cannon. I am telling you, she will turn a gun or a badge on us the first chance she gets. The woman put a hit out on me.

Mike Ehhmantraut on Lydia in Breaking Bad

Lydia never appears completely poised, but she originally sells herself as a business professional that can be trusted.

We learn over time that Mike is very correct in his assessment of her character, and Walter White ultimately pulls the plug on her by poisoning her coffee with ricin.

While her on screen time is minimal, she played a huge hand in the unraveling of the series, and Laura Fraser played the character wonderfully. To me, she definitely deserves to live among the top 10 Breaking Bad characters of all-time.

9. Hector Salamanca

It’s arguable Hector shouldn’t make my top 10 Breaking Bad characters list, simply because he was mute for most of his time on the series.

We got to dig more into his background on Better Call Saul, but he’s still an integral part of the puzzle.

Whether it’s his early days in the series with Tuco out in the desert, or putting the final nail in the coffin for his hated rival Gus Fring, Hector leaves a mark, one bell ringing at a time.

8. Skyler White

White isn’t the most likable Breaking Bad character, but that makes sense, since she’s the voice of reason and standing against the story’s main focal point.

The audience is conditioned to want Walter White to succeed, and White gets in his way every step of the way. Anna Gunn plays her role flawlessly, and even balked at fan reaction when the show was still running.

That’s just a testament to how well she played the character, though.

White was strong in the face of pure evil, managing an already unraveling family life that only got crazier when blue meth and drug money was introduced to the equation.

Skyler stood her ground, had her own compelling narrative, and gave us a whether-we-like-it-or-not-realistic-spin on what the wife of a sporadic drug lord would look like.

7. Tuco Salamanca

While pretty one-dimensional, Tuco was an extremely necessary source of violence and impulsiveness that served as a very real catalyst for Walter White’s progression into madness.

Tuco gave Walter and Jesse a path to Gus Fring, and was the first domino to fall in an increasingly wild world.

Before he fell out of favor with the series, however, Tuco was the classic edge-of-your-seat antagonist, forcing the audience to assume the worst and brace for the unexpected every time he was on camera.

6. Hank Schrader

I’d love to rank Hank higher in my top 10 Breaking Bad characters breakdown. The fact that I can’t simply tells you that this show is stacked with amazing actors and some truly brilliant performances.

Walter’s brother-in-law doubled as a DEA agent hot on Heisenberg’s trail, even giving the cancer-stricken White an inside look at the meth world on a ride along early in the series.

While offbeat and even affable at times, Hank Schrader was also committed to his job, and a hard-nosed cop that put the law above everything else.

He was responsible for one of the most unforgettable moments of the series, too.

Despite being a hardened man of law, Hank also had a soft side, making his inevitable demise out in the desert perhaps the hardest Breaking Bad death to swallow.

5. Mike Ehrmantraut

Easily a contender for the best Breaking Bad character of all-time, Mike was also way too good to not be included heavily in Better Call Saul.

Jonathan Banks really brought this character to life, giving Gus Fring’s right hand man some serious gruff and edge, while also letting the audience know he can handle just about any situation.

Equal parts enigmatic and badass, Mike gave fans the best of both worlds as an ex-cop and complex bad guy that never seemed to have both feet seeping into the grime.

Mike’s poise, nuance emotional depth, and cerebral impact made him an unforgettable character, and one that could truly rival Walter White.

4. Saul Goodman

As great of a character as Mike is/was, he can’t quite top Saul Goodman, who ultimately got his very own TV series as a spin-off.

Rightfully so, as Bob Odenkirk played this offbeat, slime ball lawyer to perfection.

You get to fully dive into who Goodman really is in the spin-off show, but we get to know him plenty well in Breaking Bad, where he’s coerced into assisting White and Pinkman to further their meth dealing enterprise.

Morally flexible, witty, and oddly ingenius, Goodman developed into a fan favorite right away, and in the end made the character fully his own.

3. Walter White

I know, I did a Breaking Bad rankings post and the main character isn’t in the top spot. Don’t get me wrong Bryan Cranston is legendary for this iconic role, and it’s arguable nobody could have done it better.

Playing a lead character that is this unlikable, yet weirdly redeemable, is next to impossible. Creator Vince Gilligan always knew Cranston was the guy for the gig, though.

He smashed it out of the park, first playing the truly humbled and family centric science teacher who finds out his world is ending with a cancer diagnosis.

That, combined with a heaping pile of regret for not capitalizing on past chances at riches, slowly turned Walter White into a mad man consumed by power.

White graduated from man-making-money-for-his-family to a full-fledged drug lord. The maturation of his character, compounded by sheer desperation and vulnerability, made Walter White one of the best TV show characters ever.

As amazing as he was, he oddly isn’t the best Breaking Bad character, though.

2. Jesse Pinkman

Aaron Paul, who played Jesse Pinkman, has always marveled at co-star Bryan Cranston’s acting ability and methods. However, it’s Paul’s off-the-cuff approach to a punk drug dealer that captured the hearts of so many early in Breaking Bad.

In fact, his performance was so good, that Vince Gilligan couldn’t help but keep him around. Originally planned to be killed off early in the series, Paul’s portrayal was simply too impactful to ignore.

Fortunartely for the show, the creator had the foresight to hold onto such a key piece to the puzzle.

Pinkman was valuable for his comedic timing and iconic one-liners, but he also showed remarkable growrth throughout the series.

Through Pinkman, we got to view the world of drugs from a very different lens, and his personal tug-of-war with Walter White was a driving force in his character’s roller coaster ride.

1. Gus Fring

I think it’s pretty arguable that the top three Breaking Bad characters are fairly interchangeable. Walter White is the biggest main character, and without him the show wouldn’t even exist.

He is, quite literally, the good guy that breaks bad.

That said, sometimes side characters are too good to ignore. Jesse Pinkman steals scenes left and right throughout the show, and was so good that he staved off his own execution early in the series.

But if we’re just looking at pure acting masterclass and imprint on the show, nobody leaves a mark like Gus Fring.

There’s a reason people want him to have his own Breaking Bad spin-off series, after all.

Fring is so cool and collected, and we honestly never get to see enough of him, even sprawled out across two amazing AMC shows.

I’ll gladly accept Walter White or Pinkman as the top dog when looking at the best Breaking Bad characters, but for me, Fring is the GOAT.

Alex Marps


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