Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

This Is The Biggest Betrayal On Breaking Bad

The classic AMC drama Breaking Bad is a unique series in television history. Its creator, Vince Gilligan, conceived it as a series that would attempt to pull off a narrative feat that had never exactly been done before. Over the course of the show's run, he intended to take his relatable, everyman protagonist and slowly but surely transform him into the show's villain, while somehow managing to keep the audience rooting for him the entire time. In Gilligan's own famous parlance, he set out to turn Mr. Chips into Scarface — and in setting out the blood-soaked, twisty tale of high school chemistry teacher-turned-Albuquerque meth kingpin Walter White (Bryan Cranston), he succeeded smashingly.

The story of Breaking Bad began with Walter as a dedicated teacher and family man struck with the tragic diagnosis of terminal lung cancer, and he ended it as the near-mythical Heisenberg, perhaps the most feared figure in the entire Southwest. He also ended the series completely alone, dying on the floor of a meth lab with no friends or family to comfort him, having systematically betrayed every principle he had ever professed to hold and everyone who had ever been close to him. Whether it was his wife Skyler (Anna Gunn), his DEA agent brother-in-law Hank Schrader (Dean Norris), or his ex-student-turned-partner-in-crime Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), there was nobody Walter wasn't willing to betray if it served his purposes. Whether it was to reinforce a lie, gain a strategic advantage, or simply save his own skin, betrayal became second nature for Walter — or rather, for Heisenberg — as he became one of the most ruthless criminals to ever grace the small screen.

Walter's betrayals on Breaking Bad were too numerous to count

For starters, Walter betrayed his wife and his son, Walter Jr. (RJ Mitte), the moment he decided that the meth business was his key to providing for them when he was gone. Even though Skyler would eventually become begrudgingly complicit in his illegal activities, it was a betrayal from which she never really recovered. From the moment she discovered Walter's double life, she never saw her husband in the same light again — and as far as Walter Jr. was concerned, he would have been happy to see his father walk off a cliff once he became aware of his crimes.

Walter's duplicitousness also readily extended to his criminal associates. When he and Jesse discovered that their employer Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) had been using children to deal drugs — one of whom, the young brother of Jesse's girlfriend Andrea (Emily Rios), had been murdered as a result — Jesse became bent on getting revenge on the underlings who were responsible. Rather than allow this to happen, Walter actually ratted Jesse out to Fring — which led to an uneasy truce that would become even less tenable over time.

When it later became apparent that Fring intended to kill Walter and replace him with his co-worker, the easygoing Gale Boetticher (David Costabile), Walter pulled the ultimate power move: he had Jesse murder Gale, who had never done a thing to Walter, in cold blood. This arguably constituted a betrayal of Gale, Jesse, and Fring all at once — and afterward, Walter correctly assumed that Fring would have him and Jesse both taken out at his earliest convenience. In order to get to Fring first, he executed his worst-ever act of betrayal. And in doing so, he put the life of a complete innocent — one very close to Jesse — in grave danger.

Walter's poisoning of Brock broke his relationship with Jesse for good

This was no spur-of-the-moment deal; Walter's scheme to get Jesse firmly on his side over Fring was exceedingly complex. Walter had given Jesse a vial of the deadly poison ricin to use on Fring if he had the chance, but Jesse did not go through with using it. So, Walter had the pair's "criminal lawyer" Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) arrange to lift the vial from Jesse. When Andrea's son Brock subsequently fell ill, Jesse initially suspected Walter — which was actually part of the latter's plan. Planting the vial in Jesse's robot vacuum, Walter was able to get his young partner to think that it had simply fallen out of the cigarette pack he'd put it in for safekeeping — and, therefore, that Brock must have been poisoned by Fring as a warning to the pair.

This won Jesse firmly over to Walter's "Fring has to go" way of thinking — but in reality, Walter had poisoned Brock, just not with ricin. He used an extract from a toxic plant called Lily of the Valley, and when Brock's toxicology test came back after his recovery, the boy's doctors (as well as Jesse) assumed that he had simply ingested some of the plant's berries accidentally. At that point, Jesse had already helped Walter to successfully take out Fring — who, Walter reasoned, had needed to be killed regardless of whether he'd been responsible for the poisoning. 

It was a risky but well-thought-out plan, one that just happened to involve putting Jesse through the severe emotional distress of nearly losing an innocent child he was very fond of. Jesse would later discover this betrayal — and it was this discovery that finally, irrevocably blew up his relationship with Walter once and for all.