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Breaking Bad has no shortage of morally questionable characters. Fans only need to look at its main cast to drive that point home. In fact, Walter White (Bryan Cranston) could even be seen as the villain of the series — though he’s not necessarily the first person you’ll think of as its Big Bad. In part, that’s because Giancarlo Esposito’s performance as Gus Fring steals the show, even if Esposito only appears in a select number of Breaking Bad episodes.

The seasons Gus plays a prominent role in are defined by his presence, with Walter and Jesse (Aaron Paul) doing everything they can to avoid the drug boss’ wrath. And it’s hard to blame them — he’s a terrifying guy. Here are Giancarlo Esposito’s scariest moments as Gus Fring in Breaking Bad.

Giancarlo Esposito is all business in his first scene

Giancarlo Esposito as Gus Fring in 'Breaking Bad' Season 4. He's wearing a suit and looks displeased.
Giancarlo Esposito in ‘Breaking Bad’ | AMC

Giancarlo’s Esposito’s first scene in Breaking Bad takes place during the AMC show’s second season. When Walter White meets Gus Fring at Los Pollos Hermanos, the man proves he’s all business. He barely shows any emotion when Walt propositions him, and it takes only a second for him to point out the flaws in a prospective partnership.

This alone should have tipped Walt off to how cunning Gus is — and to how far he’ll go to save his business. He shows little empathy for Jesse’s struggles, and he’s willing to sacrifice more revenue in order to keep things in order. While this moment isn’t as scary as the others on this list, it definitely feels foreboding.

Gus beats Juan to the punch

Walter isn’t the only person who underestimates Gus, and that’s evident in the man’s interaction with Juan Bolsa (Javier Grajeda) at the beginning of season 3. The cartel boss calls Gus with a warning: he believes Esposito’s character had something to do with Leonel Salamanca’s (Luis Moncada) death. Of course, he’s correct, but his threats do little to deter Gus.

As Gus waits on the phone, Juan is attacked by his men, cleaning up the job in its entirety. This moment proves Gus doesn’t leave loose ends. It also demonstrates that murder and revenge are nothing more than a short phone call for the character.

Gus proves he’ll get his hands dirty in ‘Breaking Bad’ Season 4

When Gus Fring is first introduced, Breaking Bad highlights that he doesn’t need to get violent to make commands. The people who work under him know he means business, and they don’t dare cross him. They know better than to push things to the point of violence. And even when someone does get in Gus’ way, he’ll usually have one of his men take care of it.

That’s not the case during “Box Cutter,” which gets its name from one of Esposito’s most memorable scenes. After Walter begs Gus not to kill him and Jesse, he takes his wrath out on Victor (Jeremiah Bitsui). Gus slits the man’s throat with a box cutter, his carefully contained anger finally bubbling over. It’s a shocking moment that shows exactly why no one wants to get on Gus’ bad side.

Gus Fring’s revenge is 1 of ‘Breaking Bad’s most memorable moments

Gus Fring wasn’t always the most terrifying person in the meth-making business, and Don Eladio (Steven Bauer) once crossed him. It’s not a slight Esposito’s character forgets about, and it’s one he enacts revenge for in Breaking Bad Season 4.

In “Salud,” Gus goes so far as to poison himself in order to make sure his vengeance is successful. He kills most of the important members of the Cartel in one fell swoop, all while a shocked Jesse stands by and watches. He barely bats an eye when it’s over, highlighting just how little remorse he feels when taking human life.

Giancarlo Esposito puts his all into firing Walter White


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Gus shows Breaking Bad fans over and over just how ruthless he is, and Walter probably should have accounted for that. The man is merciless when it comes to protecting his business — and he doesn’t get any softer when it comes to innocents or even children. That’s part of why Gus firing Walter is so horrifying. He doesn’t hesitate to threaten Walter’s family or even his newborn daughter. In fact, it seems like par for the course for his character.

And Esposito brings his all to this scene, capturing the character’s thinly veiled fury in every line. It’s one of his best performances from the show — and it’s exactly what pushes Walter to become just as terrible as he is.

All seasons of Breaking Bad are currently streaming on Netflix.