‘Breaking Bad’: Is Walter White’s Cancer Caused By a Business Partner in His Illegal Drug Venture?

Breaking Bad is one of the most beloved and respected dramas in the history of American television. Any true fan of television has seen the acclaimed drama at least once, and the show is consistently ranked amongst the greatest shows amongst both fans and critics alike.

One of the main causes of the dark and violent events shown in the critically-acclaimed drama is Walter White’s (Bryan Cranston) struggle with lung cancer. Walt begins his career as a meth-maker in order to offset the staggering costs of his cancer treatment, which according to one theory may be the fault of a future business partner of Walt on Breaking Bad.

What is ‘Breaking Bad’ about?

Bryan Cranston as Walter White
Bryan Cranston as Walter White on ‘Breaking Bad’ | AMC

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Known for its powerful examination of familial drama and the dangers of the drug underworld, Breaking Bad provides audiences with a story that is darker than many other popular shows. The show follows Walt and his partner Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) as the unlikely pair attempt to navigate the dangerous and unpredictable world of meth-making and dealing.

They become known for their infamous blue meth, which is more powerful than any product in the streets. The blue meth attracts attention, most of it unwanted by Jesse and Walt.

Along the way the top of the drug world, the two make a few allies and a lot of enemies, which Walt must confront in the show’s excellent series finale. The ending of Breaking Bad was not the end of the stories in the world of the show.

The extremely popular spinoff titled Better Call Saul is still airing new seasons, which features beloved Breaking Bad characters like Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk). Fans of the show can also see Jesse’s life following the series excellent finale in the Netflix original movie El Camino: A Breaking Bad Story. 

How does Walter White’s cancer factor into the show

Walt’s battle with cancer is a major part of the show and the inciting event that causes his initial interest in meth-making. As a middle-school teacher, Walter does not have the funds to pay for his medical bills and support his family.

At the beginning of the series, Walt has a specific monetary goal, which he figures will be enough to pay for his family’s needs after he is gone, including a college fund for his two children. As he progresses in his journey, this amount rises and rises, which results in more violence and higher stakes. For Walt, the highest stakes are providing for his family.

Walt’s love and dedication to his children and wife are the reason that the mild-mannered high school teacher is willing to such brutal extremes in the show. 

The theory that explains how Walter White got his cancer 

Walt’s cancer is an important part of the show, and according to one theory, it may have happened as a result of a future business partner that Walt eventually teams with to sell meth. That company is Madrigal Electromotive, which also the owner of the iconic Los Pollos Hermanos franchise.

The chicken restaurant is well-known to Breaking Bad fans, as one of the locations is operated by Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito). Fring is one of the first partners Walt and Jesse produce meth for, without the knowledge that Fring is under the control of Madrigal.

According to the theory, Madrigal may have sold defective air filters to Gray Matter, the company that Walt worked for in his past. Walt’s position at Gray Matter involved him working with dangerous chemicals, which if inhaled could result in future health problems.

Walt’s past with Gray Matter also factor into his financial troubles, as he was bought out of the company for a lowly $5000, while his partner went on to make millions on the back of Walt’s hard work. This deep and multi-tiered level of connection is possible, as Breaking Bad creative team is known for this type of tight and tethered writing.