‘Breaking Bad’: All of Walter White’s Nicknames, From Heisenberg to Juice Box Killer, Explained
Walter White is a man with many nicknames. Over five seasons of Breaking Bad, he transforms himself from a mild-mannered, completely ordinary high school chemistry teacher into a ruthless, power-hungry drug kingpin willing to kill anyone standing in his way. Showrunner Vince Gilligan set out to create a series that “turned Mr. Chips into Scarface” and fans agree he succeeded.
During the antihero journey Walt embarks upon, he accumulates many different nicknames that each reveal some deep facets of his character. Here’s what they are and what they mean.
Walter White starts out as just Walt or Mr. White
Walt begins the series as an average suburban husband and father. Like other suburbanites, Walt is a very regular guy who drives a Pontiac Aztec and monitors his cholesterol. The name “Walter White” was chosen to convey how boring he was. Gilligan said, “white is the color of vanilla, of blandness.”
The Breaking Bad audience finds out later that in his younger years, Walt helped create a scientific research company with his friend Elliot Schwarz at Caltech. He sold his share of the company to Elliot for just $5,000. Eventually, the Gray Matter Technologies earned a valuation of $2.1 billion.
Walt is bitter at missing out on the opportunity to make real money. After receiving a terminal cancer diagnosis, he decided to use his science-minded brain to earn cash quickly by manufacturing crystal meth. He teamed up with a former student, Jesse Pinkman, who calls Walt “Mr. White” during the entire series.
He eventually becomes Heisenberg
Many real life drug dealers use pseudonyms in the street and Walter White was no different. He chose the name “Heisenberg” as his alias and conducted business using that moniker.
The name Heisenberg comes from the Nobel-prize winning physicist Werner Heisenberg who, like Walt, was diagnosed with cancer. He is well known for coming up with the Uncertainty Principle which essentially says that even though some properties of a thing may be known there may be equally important properties that are unknown.
Walt turning into Heisenberg helps him disconnect from the evil acts he commits while operating as a drug dealer. Actor Bryan Cranston, who plays Walt on Breaking Bad, explained to NPR: “I think he takes on that name – and that look – in order to not recognize himself. That as long as he doesn’t recognize the man in the mirror, he can sort of keep going.”
Walter White’s other nicknames
Heisenberg is the most notorious nickname, but it’s not the only one Walt uses in the series. He pretends to be Mr. Mayhew just before kidnapping Saul Goodman and taking him to the desert to convince him to legally represent Badger.
He’s Mr. Lambert while holed up alone in the log cabin after going on the run from the police. And Walt calls himself “David Lynn” when calling Gray Matter pretending to be a New York Times reporter seeking Gretchen and Elliot.
One of the strangest nicknames Walt received happened off-screen. The writers on Breaking Bad allegedly called him “Juice Box Killer” because of the time he poisoned Brock to emotionally manipulate Jesse. It’s never revealed how Walt poisons Brock, but writers imagined it was something sinister like putting ricin in the child’s juice box.