The Smartest Characters in Breaking Bad

Join me as I count down the smartest and most astute characters from the highly acclaimed TV show by Vince Gilligan, Breaking Bad.

Breaking Bad is a story of a chemistry professor who’s diagnosed with lung cancer. In order to provide for his family, he collaborates with a former student and cooks methamphetamine. As he becomes more and more powerful, other opponents appear.

Many of these characters are quite intelligent, and I trust many of them belong on this list of the smartest characters in Breaking Bad. Obviously, this article is best read if you’ve seen Breaking Bad before, as it contains spoilers.

Walter White (“Heisenberg”)

The Smartest Characters in Breaking Bad

It’s best to talk about the main character of the story first. Arguably, Walter White is the most intelligent man in Breaking Bad. While he constantly shows signs of emotional breakouts and other irrational acts, they only humanize him.

Within this man lies a genius that is both a brilliant chemist and a cunning tactician. He manipulates every person around him and uses them for his own advantage in a dangerously brilliant way.

Unafraid to utilize drastic, anti-social, and diabolical methods to become an exceedingly dangerous drug lord, Walter White (who is also known as “Heisenberg”) is truly one of the scariest and most formidable characters in the show.

Gustavo Fring

The Smartest Characters in Breaking Bad
Giancarlo Esposito portrays Gustavo “Gus” Fring on Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad.

If there’s a man who’s able to come close to the intellect of Walter White, it’s Gus Fring. On the outside, he’s a pleasant man who runs a fast-food chain. When you take a glance at him, there’s nothing that suggests he’s someone far more sinister than an honest, successful, and friendly businessman.

Yet, the very reason why he seems so is because he wants to be seen like that. Gus is extremely careful and he hides the fact that he’s a drug lord that can rival the cartel itself in such a cunning way. In terms of planning and organizational skills, he far surpasses even Walter White.

Mike Ehrmantraut

Mike Ehrmantraut is a reticent and almost disturbingly calm man whose intelligence is all about quick decision-making and formulating effective strategies. As the enforcer of Gustavo Fring, this level of calmness and shrewdness is essential.

Ehrmantraut never lets personal feelings get in the way. Like Gus, he’s very careful in managing what he does. Because he deals with other unsavory characters, Ehrmantraut often has to take part in gunfights. In these scenarios, he comes up with strategies that would overwhelm even a group of enemies.

Hank Schrader

Hank is the brother-in-law of Walter White. Of course, he doesn’t know the true nature of his trusted friend, Walt. As a DEA agent, he constantly proves to his superiors and himself that he’s a master when it comes to taking down drug dealers and other organizations.

Hank was smart enough to suspect Gus Fring to be a drug kingpin and he was like a bloodhound following trails of his opponents. It’s for great reasons that Schrader was widely respected in the DEA.

Saul Goodman

Saul Goodman is a lawyer who is often sarcastic and witty. He was a major player in Walter White’s rise as a drug kingpin. Honestly, White wouldn’t have become as feared as he was if not for Goodman.

With a silver tongue that’s able to persuade almost anyone, Saul got many of his clients out of certain imprisonment in unbelievably clever ways. Of course, he knew the law well enough to find ways to exploit it to the advantage of his clients and himself. Saul is the lead character in the Breaking Bad spinoff Better Call Saul.

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