Plenty of characters on Breaking Bad had a complicated relationship with the antihero, Walter White. Even his own wife hated Walt by the end of the series. However, one of the most contemptuous relationships was the barely concealed hate between Walt and Gus Fring’s chief enforcer, Mike Ehrmantraut.
Mike had every reason to be distrustful of Walt. In the end, he murdered Mike for no good reason in one of the most tragic deaths on the show. Here’s a brief history of their relationship and what went so wrong.
Walter White and Mike Ehrmantraut never got along
Part of the issues between Walt and Mike stemmed from a difference in personality types. Mike, a former cop, was meticulous, efficient, and ruthless performing duties for Gus. He was the one Gus called whenever he needed a witness silenced or a murder scene cleaned up. Mike was willing to do anything to protect Gus’s drug empire and was excellent at his job. He even protected Walt’s life on multiple occasions.
Meanwhile, Walt’s methods were much more reckless and brazen. He was new to the criminal lifestyle and unsure how to navigate the drug world. To some extent, this naiveté worked to Walt’s advantage — but he made a lot more work for Mike. And Mike referred to him as a constant threat.
“You are trouble,” Mike told Walt, according to Screen Rant. “I’m sorry the kid here doesn’t see it, but I sure as hell do. You are a time bomb. Tick tick ticking. And I have no intention of being around for the boom.”
Mike was furious when Walt killed Gus
Even though Mike didn’t love his boss, he wasn’t thrilled that Walt killed him. He found Walt to be selfish, arrogant, and egotistical, plus reckless with who he killed and why. Mike was forced to get along with Walt because he was also working for Gus. But after Walt murdered Gus, the dynamic changed completely.
Mike’s feelings for Walt can be summed up with a single iconic quote from the series. He says of Walt killing Fring, “Just because you shot Jesse James don’t make you Jesse James.”
All along, Mike was paying his guys in prison to keep quiet, and they got a substantial cut of the drug profits. Walt didn’t want to pay them anymore, so he had them all murdered.
Walt shoots Mike for no reason
By the end of Breaking Bad, Walt completely lost any sense of conscience and was willing to lie, murder, and cheat to get what he wanted. Eventually, that led to Walt killing Mike in rage. The incident happened just after Mike quit working for Walt and had his assets seized — again.
Most of Walt’s murders were for a reason, even if they were never fully justified. But Walt killing Mike was simply vindictive, mean, and pointless. Walt shot Mike in the gut and then Mike walked to a river to die alone.
Walt kept bothering him, inspiring Mike to say his final words, “Shut the f*ck up and let me die in peace.”
It’s one Breaking Bad murder that fans still haven’t fully recovered from.