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Breaking Bad Taught Bryan Cranston That Anyone Can Be Dangerous

"Breaking Bad" protagonist Walter White (Bryan Cranston) devolved from a quiet high school chemistry teacher into a cold, murderous drug lord over the show's five seasons. White's slide began after he was diagnosed with lung cancer and faced massive medical bills and the possibility of leaving his wife (Anna Gunn) and two children alone and penniless.

His solution — to cook meth and eventually join forces with Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito), who was both partnered with and rival to dangerous Mexican cartels — leads Walt down a path that ultimately costs him his family and some of the people close to him their lives, including his DEA agent brother-in-law Hank Schrader (Dean Norris).

In a Season 3 Q&A featurette, Cranston responded to a question about where he drew inspiration for the two halves of Walt's personality by explaining, "What I've learned about people in this, is that given the right set of circumstances, even the meekest person — the most milquetoast person — can be dangerous. And you see that in the animal world all the time; a seemingly harmless animal, when cornered, comes out fighting."

Walt's transformation causes significant harm to those around him

Walter White uses the same cornered animal analogy while haranguing Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) In Season 2, Episode 7, "Negro y Azul." Walt is trying to convince Jesse that his cadre of dealers should expand their territory, something Jesse is hesitant to do. Walt steamrolls over Jesse's objections, telling him, "You are a blowfish ... small in stature, not swift, not cunning. Easy prey for predators. But the blowfish has a secret weapon ... the blowfish puffs himself up four, five times larger than normal ... it makes him intimidating."

Jesse ignores the insults from his partner and seizes on Walt's misguided message, eventually lifting himself out of bed to shout the affirmation, "I'm a blowfish," before grabbing his bong, which Walt quickly snatches from him.

Jesse proves to be correct in his caution when one of his dealers, Combo Ortega (Rodney Rush), is soon killed by 11-year-old Tomás Cantillo (Angelo Martinez), the younger brother of Jesse's girlfriend Andrea Cantillo (Emily Rios). Andrea meets her own dark fate late in Season 5 when she is killed by Jesse's replacement as Walt's cooking partner, Neo-Nazi Todd Alquist (Jesse Plemons). Andrea, Combo, and Jesse are just three people on a long list who suffer throughout "Breaking Bad" because of Walt's cornered animal instincts, a list topped by the very wife and children he was supposedly trying to protect in the first place.