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The Most Evil Things Walter White Ever Did

In "Breaking Bad," Walter White's descent from mild-mannered family man to murderous meth kingpin is one of, if not the, greatest character arcs in television history. Every step of the way is meticulously plotted, flawlessly executed, and believable. Nothing feels forced or rushed, and the consequences of the events depicted are fully and satisfyingly explored. But that doesn't make it comfortable to watch. Walt commits some heinous atrocities, ranging from outright felonies like murder to more subtle cruelties inflicted on those he supposedly loves. We decided to do a deep dive into the show to rank the most downright evil things one of TV history's greatest antiheroes-turned-villains has ever done.

We won't include the big, defining sins, like lying to his family or dealing drugs, because those took place over the course of the entire show and also, duh. But there's plenty of other, arguably unnecessary acts of violence and manipulation dealt out by Heisenberg over the course of the show's five epic, award-winning seasons. That means competition for the somewhat unenviable title of "most evil thing ever" is stiff. So what lies, crimes, and acts of selfishness are in the running? What's on top (or maybe bottom)? We've taken the liberty of assembling them here. Warning: SPOILERS AHEAD.

Telling Marie about Skyler's affair

Overconfident after his victory over Gus and increasingly comfortable with his evil side, Walt finds it easier in the first half of Season 5 than ever to betray, lie, and manipulate. This is not lost on Skyler, who helps him launder his money but who becomes increasingly intimidated by a man who resembles the husband she married less and less with each passing day. Their loveless sham of a marriage suffers to the point that she can no longer pretend everything's okay, even just until Walt's cancer returns and, um, solves the problem for her. She attempts suicide by walking into their pool in front of Hank and Marie, thus making it loud and clear that things are not well at home.

Hank and Marie agree to take Walt, Jr. and baby Holly for a while, while Walt and Skyler sort things out. Rather than keeping their issues private, Walt later tells an understandably concerned Marie that the problems began with Skyler's affair with Ted Beneke. Marie, of course, tells Hank before revealing to Skyler that she knows, in an attempt to get her to go easy on herself. Obviously, Skyler is outraged that the man who's truly behind their marital issues blamed her instead and revealed a shameful secret to her sister without permission.

It's far from the most monstrous thing Walt's done, but it shows how depraved and cruel he's become, even when he's just lounging at home with the family.

Getting immigrants deported

In Season 4, Walt grows bitter and suspicious when Jesse begins spending more and more time with Mike Ehrmantraut, believing Gus Fring is only giving the kid, whom he'd once written off as a worthless junkie, more responsibility simply to drive a wedge between them. He's not entirely wrong, although that's a selfish oversimplification. In "Cornered," the season's 6th episode, Jesse is pulled away on a security job before he can help Walt clean the lab. Furious that he's once again stuck doing a two-man job alone, Walt rebels against Fring by going upstairs to the laundromat above the secret lab and paying three immigrant women there to help him scrub down the equipment. It's yet another act of defiance that convinces Gus, and his subordinates, that Walter must be dealt with. First and foremost, though, those women need to be deported back to Honduras because they've seen too much.

In his defense, Walt does feel guilty after learning about their deportation, and does have a point that he was being unfairly undermined by Jesse's absences. But he knowingly puts the lives of those women in danger by showing them the lab after they initially expressed hesitation about going downstairs. After all, Gus is not the type of man to let people who know too much live. Walt should have assumed they would be killed. Their deportation is relatively merciful, but still tragic, and a very foreseeable outcome of Walt's selfishness.

Blackmailing Jesse into cooking with him

We still sympathize with Walter White as he was in the show's pilot. He's an underachieving genius trapped in two soul-sucking jobs with a second child he can't afford on the way. Then, he gets diagnosed with lung cancer after collapsing at work. The poor guy just can't catch a break. Unsure how he'll make ends meet or provide for his family after his death, he remembers a news story in which his brother-in-law, Hank Schrader, had helped take down a meth lab. You all know what happens next: Walt, a chemistry teacher, decides to cook and sell just enough meth to provide for his family after his death. Problem is, while he knows the chemistry better than almost anyone alive, he's in no way equipped to handle the social side of the drug trade. He needs help for that. While riding along with Hank to another bust, he sees his old student, Jesse Pinkman, escaping the scene. Walt tracks Jesse down and blackmails him, threatening to turn him in if he doesn't help him sell drugs.

It's the springboard of one of TV history's most iconic character duos and greatest-ever stories, but it's also a pretty dark, evil moment that hints at how Machiavellian Walt would later become. Jesse might've — and, hell, probably would've — gone back to the drug trade on his own. But that doesn't excuse Walt's selfishness here, or the fact that their entire relationship is built on a threat.

Forcing his way back into Skyler's life

To hide his clandestine activities, Walt spins a web of lies that ultimately tear his family apart. Skyler becomes increasingly suspicious of his late nights and weird alibis. She quickly rules out an affair and deduces that he's selling drugs. In one of Season 3's most underrated moments, Walt, caught red-handed and realizing his lies have carried him as far as they could, confesses: He's cooking and selling methamphetamine. He then tries to buy her loyalty back by showing her several duffle bags of cash, saying this is their children's college tuition and a future for her after he passes from cancer. Admirably, she stands her ground and demands they separate.

But Walt's having none of it. He spends some time on his own. But after quitting the drug game and realizing she still isn't softening her position towards him, he decides to muscle and manipulate his way back into the house, daring her to call the cops and playing dumb when she does. Then he goes back to work for Fring anyway. Although Skyler does eventually agree to launder his money and participate in his lies, Walt brazenly exploits her reluctance to expose his sins and thus destroy their family. By the end of the show, she feels so overwhelmed and trapped that she attempts suicide. But he couldn't care less.

Getting Jesse to shoot Gale

Walt and Jesse agree to work for Gus Fring in exchange for ludicrous amounts of money that dwarf the pennies they were pulling in on their own. But they aren't the easiest employees to manage. Tensions between Fring and his cooks soon rise, reaching a boiling point after Walt helps Jesse murder two of Gus' henchmen, who had killed a child after Gus bowed to Jesse's demands and told them to stop using children as distributors.

Gus decides to do what he's always done — train up a replacement and eliminate the original, thereby tying up loose ends. Problem is, Walt and Jesse see this coming, and hatch a plan to kill Walt's replacement, Gale Boetticher, in the hopes that it will force Fring to keep them on payroll. In one of the show's most intense moments, Mike abducts Walter and plans to kill him in the lab. But Walt reveals their plan, forcing Mike to hold his fire. Jesse then shoots Gale in the head in his own apartment. The plan works; Gus has no choice but to keep the only cooks he has on staff while he searches for a new solution.

You can make a good argument that this is all in self-defense. It is. But Gale's innocent, and the ease with which Walt orders his murder and moves on from it, especially when it clearly haunts Jesse to the core afterward, is absolutely chilling.

Hiring Neo-Nazis to murder witnesses in prison

The most lucrative chapter of Walt's career comes after Gus Fring's death, when he teams up with Jesse and Mike for a Season 5A cook-and-distribute operation that, though considerably smaller than Fring's, means the three can be full owners. But nobody gets along. Jesse's caught in between Mike and Walt, who hate each other and fight constantly. A particular pain point for Walt is the fact that much of his profits are going to buy the silence of Mike's "guys," holdover enforcers and distributors from the Fring era who'd been arrested after the chicken man's death, and who are under serious pressure from Hank Schrader to rat out Mike. Walt doesn't like it, but he knows that if Mike goes down, he won't be far behind. He agrees to keep them silent for now.

But when Jesse and Mike retire and Schrader's DEA probe closes in, Walt decides to go it alone, with no intention of continuing to pay off Fring's people. He then murders Mike (an event which almost made this list) and teams up with a Neo-Nazi meth gang run by Todd Alquist's uncle, Jack, to have Mike's henchmen all simultaneously murdered in prison. It works. Hank's investigation hits a wall, and the whole affair is arguably Heisenberg at the peak of his power. But man, is it a selfish, evil thing to do. And he has to team up with Nazis to get it done.

Bombing a nursing home

When Gus Fring no longer needs the services of an employee, he terminates them. You don't become a kingpin by getting sloppy with loose ends. Toward the end of Season 4, he makes serious threats against the lives of Walt's family members if he continues to contact Jesse, whom he'd pried away from Walt and whose consent for Walt's murder he hoped to secure. Walt needs to act, and fast.

We understand that Walt has no choice but to get rid of Gus. And, being at least as smart as Walt, far more experienced in the drug world, and always flanked by bodyguards, he's not an easy man to outmaneuver. Walt only gets the best of him by exploiting Hector Salamanca, Gus' mortal enemy, who by now is a wheelchair-bound stroke victim living in a nursing home. Hector has no love for Walter, but hates his old rival Gus even more. He stages a fake meet with the DEA to convince Gus he's a snitch and thus lure him into the open. Then, he blows him to hell with a bomb of Walter's design.

Walt wins, but he has to bomb a nursing home to do it. As far as we know, only Hector, Gus, and Tyrus — Gus' bodyguard — die in the blast. But that's by luck. We doubt Walt would care if he'd offed Granny and Pop-Pop in the room next door.

Making the "confession" tape

We all knew Hank would eventually discover that Walt was Heisenberg, but the show still manages to blow our minds and have us on the edge of our seats when it actually happens. One night, Walt sees a tracking device on his car and goes to Hank's house the next morning to ask about it. Unable to hold back his anger any longer, and despite not yet having the smoking gun he needs to put his brother-in-law in prison, Hank punches Walt and confronts him about his crimes. Walt pleads ignorant, but it's clear Hank knows the truth and isn't relenting. Walt's next idea to deter Hank is to "confess" via a tape in which he admits to being Heisenberg, but frames all his crimes and misadventures as being organized by Hank himself, who he claims had enslaved him as a cook and sold his drugs using connections he made in the DEA.

Admirably and not surprisingly, Hank assumes Walt and Skyler, who helped him make the tape, are only bluffing and would never go public with it. He thus refuses to let it hinder his pursuit of the elusive evidence he needs to bring the case home. He eventually captures Walt (but dies immediately after), meaning the tape is little more than a brief hurdle on the path to Walt's arrest.

But still, the fact that Walt and Skyler make it in the first place reflects a complete collapse of their moral sensibilities.

Poisoning Brock

Gale Boetticher's death buys Walt and Jesse some time. Gus can't murder and replace them without, well, a replacement. And finding someone who can match Walt's chemical brilliance or replicate his formula is difficult. That's not just because the work is hard, but because Walt would have to train his own replacement and would certainly pick up on what was happening. In the end, the only person who can pull it all off is Jesse Pinkman himself.

Gus gets to work driving a wedge between Jesse and his problematic lead cook by giving Jesse greater responsibilities and generally treating him with more respect than Walt. Still, Jesse figures out what's happening. While he agrees to run Gus' lab, he refuses to sign off on Walt's murder, threatening to quit if Gus kills him. Gus agrees, but then exploits his wording and threatens the lives of Walt's loved ones instead. Next best thing, we suppose.

Walt knows that Jesse's loyalty is the only thing keeping him alive, and, realizing that weeks of fights and manipulation have damaged his relationship with Pinkman, crafts a plan to kill Gus that revolves around winning back the kid's loyalty. In a nutshell, he (nonlethally) poisons the child of Jesse's former girlfriend, whom Jesse loves, and frames Gus for it. It works long enough to kill Gus, but when Jesse later figures out what really happened, he turns on Walt for good. Can't say we blame the guy.

Letting Jesse get captured by Neo-Nazis

To say Jesse is furious when he discovers that Walt poisoned Brock and used that to manipulate him would be a massive understatement. He abandons his plans to flee Albuquerque as Hank's Heisenberg probe closes in. Instead, he goes on a rampage that sends Walt and his family into hiding. Realizing Jesse can't be talked down, Walt calls up Jack's Neo-Nazis and puts a hit out on his former partner and friend. But Jesse, who gets caught by Hank attempting to burn down Walt's home, decides to partner with his former enemy to take down Heisenberg. Together, they and Steve Gomez lure Walt into the open by threatening to burn his hidden money. By the time Walt realizes they don't actually know where the money is and won't until he leads them to it, it's too late. Hank arrests him on the spot.

And then the Nazis show up, even after Walt sees his brother-in-law and tells them not to come. A shootout ensues that leads to Steve's and Hank's deaths, despite Walter's pleas for mercy on their behalf. When it's over, Walt reminds Jack that he agreed to kill Jesse, whom he sees as a traitorous snitch. Todd intervenes, saving Jesse's life by arranging to have him cook meth for them as a slave. Walt makes no attempt to stop this, instead cruelly telling a captured Jesse that he watched Jane die (more on that below), just to dig the knife in a little deeper.

Letting Jane die

In Season 2, Jesse falls in love with his neighbor, Jane, with whom he begins doing heroin. Walt, who's furious that a high Jesse jeopardizes their first big drug deal with Gus Fring, refuses to give Jesse his share of the money until he can prove he's off heroin. Jane then blackmails Walter into handing over the cash.

Later on, Walter meets Donald Margolis, Jane's father, at a bar, without knowing who he is. In one of the show's most underrated scenes, Walt talks about Jesse and Donald talks about Jane, with neither of the two having any clue as to the connection. This inspires Walt to visit Jesse and make amends. While there, he tries to shake Jesse out of his sleep and ends up accidentally rolling Jane onto her back. Overdosing, she vomits and begins to choke. Walt rushes to help, but, realizing she's a threat who knows too much, lets her die instead. In the aftermath, Jesse is shattered and Donald, an air traffic controller reeling from grief, drops the ball at work and causes two passenger jets to collide in mid-air.

Of course, that plane crash is not a reasonably foreseeable consequence of Walt's actions. But even without that, devastating Jesse by letting Jane die, a crucial moment in Walt's transformation to Heisenberg, is the single, most chillingly evil thing he ever did. And that's saying quite a lot.