Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul are easily two of the greatest TV shows of all time, and they would have never worked if the cast of characters weren’t so phenomenal too. There isn’t a weak link in either show, as even the side characters were captivating – but that’s not what I’m focussing on for this list.
It’s a little subjective what a “main” character is, but I think I’ve selected the eighteen biggest players across both stories. This will look at the character’s contribution across both shows – so people in both series have a bit of an unfair advantage!
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18 – Marie Schrader
As much as I love all of these characters, I’d be surprised if anyone but Marie was in last place in someone’s ranking.
Like with many characters, she starts to get really interesting in the final few seasons of Breaking Bad – but the first few seasons are what lets her character down. Her kleptomaniac arc is probably my least favourite of all the storylines, and she’s just generally annoying when she grinds the momentum of the story to a halt.
As a quick disclaimer – all of these main characters are acted to perfection, and I hold nothing against the actors themselves … just the way their character was developed or used in the plot.
17 – Lydia Rodarte-Quayle
Again, while Lydia is a great villain that appears near the end of Breaking Bad, she’s always going to rank in the bottom two of lists like these – especially when you compare her to the other amazing characters.
She just doesn’t really do much in comparison to the other characters, and especially to the main villains of Season 5. While she adds a cool business dimension that the show needed, she wasn’t the most interest character to watch.
16 – Walt Jr.
Does Walt Jr. do anything in the story? Not particularly, but Breaking Bad wouldn’t have been the same without him.
His interactions with Walt make for top-tier dialogue, and Walt’s love for his son is partly what drives him to do the dastardly things later in the series. For the way Walt Jr. ends up affecting the plot later on, and for his love of cereal, I had bump him up a place or two.
15 – Howard Hamlin
A punching bag of a character, Howard Hamlin exists as a sort of enemy in Jimmy and Kim’s one-sided prank war.
It all comes to a head in Season 6, and for a brief period he even starts to fight back – right up until his shocking death in the mid-season finale. It’s one of the most memorable character exits for a show I’ve ever seen, but I’m even more surprised there are 14 other characters that are stronger.
14 – Chuck McGill
Saul Goodman always seemed like the kind of guy who could only come out on top, so the reveal that he had an emotionally abusive older brother was quite the shock.
Chuck is a bit too much of an asshole for me to fully like his character, but some of the individual scenes – like the famous Chicanery – made for the best moments of Better Call Saul’s early seasons.
13 – Uncle Jack
The big baddie from Breaking Bad Season 5, but you can’t help but feel that he isn’t quite as intimidating as Gus (and another similar villain I’ve ranked later makes more of an impression).
He didn’t need to be another Gus Fring though – his violent ruthlessness and Neo-Nazi following make him the only equal to Heisenberg’s drug empire, and his death is one of the most satisfying TV moments ever.
12 – Skyler White
My appreciation for Skyler was like a rollercoaster – her character started off simple enough in Seasons 1 and 2, she got really annoying in 3 and 4, but by Season 5 I finally saw her for the victim that she was.
Walt’s villainy really takes a toll on his family, and nowhere is that better portrayed than with Skyler’s character. I felt so bad for her in the final season, and Anna Gunn’s acting is perfection – especially in “Fifty-One” and “Ozymandias”, coincidentally the two episodes that won her some Emmys.
11 – Tuco Salamanca
The first big antagonist in Breaking Bad, Tuco is just about as crazy as I’d expect from a terrifying drug overlord.
From his first appearance you could tell he meant business, and right up until his awesome demise there was an unsettling presence about him that made every scene more intense.
That being said, I’m glad they killed him off when they did – a “super crazy psycho” villain is only interesting for so long before he becomes predictable.
10 – Todd Alquist
The true antagonist of Breaking Bad’s final episodes, Todd starts off as quite an unassuming ally before morphing into a horrific psychopath.
Unlike with Tuco, Todd actually felt like a psycho that could blend into crowds – and that made him infinitely scarier in my eyes (I got some serious Hannibal Lecter vibes from him, which is cool ’cause I love that character).
By the end of the series, he felt like the source of all Jesse’s pain – and that made him public enemy number one in my book. When Jesse finally choked him out, getting revenge for Andrea’s murder, I delighted in watching the life drain from his empty eyes.
9 – Nacho Varga
Nacho was exactly the kind of character that Better Call Saul needed – he doesn’t appear in Breaking Bad, so every scene he’s in adds another layer of intensity as you don’t know if he’s gonna bite the dust.
He gets put through a lot over the course of the show, and his final few episodes in Season 5 and 6 made me feel so bad for the guy.
8 – Hank Schrader
Yep, I consider 8 of the Breaking Bad universe characters to be some of the best characters in television history.
By the end of the series, Hank was the main hero. He seemed to be the only character with his heart in the right place, and his desire for truth and justice was truly admirable.
7 – Lalo Salamanca
Lalo appeared quite literally out of nowhere, and what started as an unassuming side character ended up being one of my favourite villains in this universe.
He’s charming and cunning, and there was hardly ever a moment where I felt he would either lose or make a single mistake. His intellect could only be rivalled by Gus Fring himself – so it was fitting that his death ended up being by the Chicken Man’s hands.
6 – Kim Wexler
There’s an argument to be made that Kim’s relationship to Jimmy was the entire driving force of Better Call Saul, and the journey that her character takes was masterful.
Her descent from respected lawyer to misled trickster was both captivating and heart-breaking – she said it best herself when she realised that she and Jimmy were poison to those around her.
5 – Gustavo Fring
One of my favourite villains in any entertainment medium, Gus started off as a simple businessman and ended up being the most terrifying antagonist in TV history.
His cat-and-mouse chase with Walter in Breaking Bad Season 4 was a sight to behold, and his appearances in Better Call Saul never got stale.
4 – Mike Ehrmantraut
The coolest guy to ever live, Mike was already one of my favourite characters but he got even better in Better Call Saul.
All of his badass actions now have solid reasoning behind them, and his brief spell as a main player at the start of Breaking Bad’s fifth season was one of my favourite character runs in all of television. It’s a shame Walt ended up cutting it short.
3 – Jimmy McGill / Saul Goodman
If we were just looking at Breaking Bad alone, Saul Goodman probably wouldn’t have cracked my top 5. If we include his own spinoff show, and the masterful character building that went along with it, he easily breaks into my top 3.
His transition from Jimmy to Saul to Gene and back again was some of the best television writing I’ve had the pleasure of seeing, and Bob Odenkirk brilliantly conveyed both the comedic and tragic elements of the character. Give this man his Emmy!
2 – Jesse Pinkman
These top two are quite comfortably my two favourite television characters of all time – hell, they might even be my favourite characters across any medium ever.
Jesse Pinkman was the perfect side character – he played against Walt brilliantly, and his character arc and suffering made for the most compelling drama of all time. I wouldn’t blame anyone for ranking him at number one.
1 – Walter White
Who else was it going to be?
Walter White is THE drama character that every other fictional figure is compared to. He has the best arc of all time, a downfall to rival a Greek tragedy, and Bryan Cranston gives the best acting performance I’ve ever seen. A perfect character in every regard.
Aaaand that’s my list. You can check out some of my latest blog posts below:
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