Breaking Bad thrived due to a memorable cast of dynamic and generally likable characters. The writers, showrunners, and the actors themselves excel in bringing them to life by way of some convincing performances and ample depth. But as one might expect for such a dense, action-packed show with a moderate length, there are a number of characters who didn’t quite get the chance to shine as much as they deserved to. Likewise, fans have pointed to a handful of mainstay figures on the show that perhaps wore out their welcome or ceased to serve a major purpose in the narrative as time went on.
With that said, here are 5 characters on Breaking Bad that would have benefited with more screentime, along with 5 that may have gotten too much.
Less Time: Hank Schrader
It should really be stressed that this big cheese of the DEA is an amusing character and a terrific counterpart to his brother-in-law, Walt.
Still, one can’t help but feel that the cat and mouse game between these two men got a tad old after several dozen episodes. As things progressed, there is a growing sense that the showrunners didn’t quite know where to take this character, who Walt managed to evade more than the Road Runner escaping Wile E. Coyote. With that said, Hank largely returns to his former glory in terms of intrigue and impact when he does finally catch onto Walt’s secret drug empire.
More Time: Patrick Kuby
One could argue that this “right-hand man” to Saul Goodman exuded a similar zaniness and wit to Saul himself, which may seem a tad redundant to some. Regardless, it’s tough to deny the charm and likability of this vastly underused character.
Bill Burr excels in bringing his comedic talents to this Breaking Bad figure, as Kuby provides a sense of wit and wackiness to the handful of scenes he’s in. He also plays off the similarly-charismatic and funny Huell, another of Saul’s henchmen who only narrowly misses this list. It surely would have been interesting to see more of Goodman’s hijinx and maneuverings carried out by the ever-humorous Kuby.
Less Time: Skyler White
As is the case with Hank, Skyler White – played marvelously by Anna Gunn – is a terrific character who simply managed to feel a bit redundant and overused.
She spends much of the first 2 seasons being naive as to Walt’s secret life as a drug pusher, forcing Walt to keep his work under wraps. Once she does catch wind of this, she essentially oscillates from angered and disturbed to fairly understanding and even supportive. It certainly makes sense to have that figure that keeps Walt in check and offer a sense of morality and reason. Still, these constant shifts felt a bit erratic and tended to get old.
More Time: Gus Fring
One need only look at the hype surrounding Giancarlo Esposito’s appearance as the lead villain in Far Cry 6 to gauge the quality of his performance as a cold, calculating bad guy. Indeed, for many fans, the Chilean drug boss shines as one of the most memorable villains in TV history.
Though he occupied a good chunk of the middle seasons of Breaking Bad, it felt bittersweet that Walt managed to take him out before the final season. Between his history as a former affiliate of the Mexican cartel and his eerie, no-nonsense demeanor, the show would have benefited with more Gustavo.
Less Time: Steven Gomez
Of course, DEA agent Hank all but needs a supportive partner to play off him and offer extra firepower when needed. Still, Steve Gomez tends to come across as something of a “yes man” for the majority of the series.
His character does provide some intrigue at times, like when he attempts to reel in the clearly-troubled and angered Hank in the middle of the series. But he usually just ends up reverting back to the role of the typical sidekick. The otherwise charming, humorous Steve also gets a bit irritating by the final season as he remains oblivious to Walt, and increasingly questioning Hank’s findings.
More Time: Tuco Salamanca
The majority of fans were likely relieved to see Tuco gone early in season 2 – but this is really just a testament to what a creepy, intimidating villain he was. And as the spinoff show Better Call Saul illustrated, a crime action-drama tends to benefit from dynamic antagonists.
While characters like Gus posed a threat in terms of influence, Tuco was a rare physically intimidating figure on the show. Added to this was his rage-induced mental state, leaving fans uneasy as one never knew what would set him off. Given his eerie presence and his history with the cartel, Breaking Bad surely could have had some more thrilling episodes with Tuco.
Less Time: Walter Jr.
There’s much to like about this rare figure of innocence on Breaking Bad and son of Walter, who serves as a source of motivation and inspiration. Yet, when it comes to the role of Walt’s “apprentice” as it were, the likable renegade Jesse Pinkman tends to overshadow his actual son.
Like Skyler, Walter Jr. often just seems to fulfill the role of the show’s rare moral, grounded center for Walt, who’s juggling family life with a criminal enterprise. It’s good to have that more benign contrast from the show’s darker moments – but these moments can also be dull and uninteresting at times.
More Time: Lydia Rodarte-Quayle
Breaking Bad thrives when it highlights figures with depth – and this often means bringing a dual nature to a character. They may have a likable and sympathetic side but can prove downright sinister behind the scenes. This is true with figures like Walt and Gus, though an underrated character in this regard is Madrigal’s Head of Logistics, Lydia.
It’s understandable – though unfortunate – that she doesn’t make her first appearance until season 5, given her role in the story at large. Still, with her believably timid, uncertain demeanor juxtaposed with her sneaky nature, it’s safe to say this villain was underused.
Less Time: Saul Goodman
It usually behooves a film or TV show to provide some comic relief, especially when it comes to the grim, gritty crime show that is Breaking Bad. And certainly, Walt’s zany lawyer offers plenty of comedic charm and witty zingers. Still, given his frequent appearances – extended further by his spinoff show – it can feel a bit overdone.
Moreover, as the series progresses and Walt gains prominence, Saul’s role tends to take a backseat compared to other players.
More Time: Mike Ehrmantraut
Fans often regard Mike’s murder at the hands of Walt as one of the more disappointing and needless deaths on the show. This is a testament to how strong and likable a character he was. His dual nature mirrors Jesse’s in a way, while his age adds some much-needed wisdom. His grouchy and cynical nature, balanced with a dry sense of humor makes for a memorable figure in the show who often takes center stage.
While Better Call Saul examines his interesting background as a corrupt cop and history with Saul in greater detail, it would have been interesting to see more of this on Breaking Bad too.