In Season 4 of Breaking Bad (Episode 4 or 5): Walt and Hank (with their families) are at Hank's place having dinner. At some point, Walt goes to the kitchen for another bottle of wine. He drinks a glass while at the kitchen and hears Hank talk about Heisenberg (which he believes to be Gale). I assume that Walt hears the conversation and his ego is fighting the urge to take credit for the genius acts done by Heisenberg that allowed him to evade the D.E.A. and also fights the urge not to confess too much to Hank to make him suspect him.

My question is: Why does Walt plant the idea that Heisenberg might still be alive and out there, when Hank believes that the case is closed?

What will he gain? is it pure ego? is it because of the too much wine he drank? Or is it a simple tactic to keep viewers in suspense (especially after the fact that Walt dudged a bullet when he decoded W.W. as Walt Whitman in Gale's Lab Notebook)?

  • 3
    From what I recall, all of the above. You pretty much named the reasons. If Walt would've kept quiet his life might've been much easier, but he just couldn't stop himself.
    – Walt
    Commented May 17, 2015 at 15:53

2 Answers 2


It's pure ego. This has always been Walt's greatest sin: his pride and ego. Mike calls him out on it:

Mike Ehrmantraut: We had a good thing, you stupid son of a bitch! We had Fring. We had a lab. We had everything we needed, and it all ran like clockwork. You could've shut your mouth, cooked and made as much money as you ever needed. It was perfect. But, no, you just had to blow it up. You and your pride and your ego! You just had to be the man. If you'd done your job, known your place, we'd all be fine right now.

He later confesses to his wife that the only reason he stayed in the drug business was because he liked it, not because he was making money for his family (even if that was his excuse).


Hubris. That is the plain and simple answer. Also, a little to toy with Hank and with Skyler. He finds amusement in all this. Also he is a bit liquored up in this episode and he tends to get more cocky when drinking. Most of all, I think that Walt also doesn't want someone else to get credit for his work. He'd rather be caught then not get credit as Heisenberg.

I think the key to Walter White's motives and "Breaking Bad" lies in the first season when we learn about Walt's former company, Gray Matter. Walt describes it to Jesse that when he gave up his share of the company, he gave up his "children's birthright" in exchange for a few months of rent. Gray Matter now makes billions a year, while Walt is a dying High school chemistry teacher making 40k a year. I think this is Walt's biggest regret in his life, up to this point. He made a decision, which in the short run, was for the quick benefit of cash and to help out his family, but in the long run, he lost out on the money, the fame, and most of all the legacy.

After being diagnosed with cancer, having nothing to lose, he creates his own legacy, Heisenberg and his blue meth. And vows to never let this go. Although, when you think about it, interestingly enough Heisenberg is much like "grey matter" in that there is good intentions (white) in the idea of Walt trying to make money to provide for his family although it is also black because of all the evil that comes along with Heisenberg's meth business. Therefore, he has created another "grey matter."

All in all, Heisenberg is Walt's pure id. His blue meth is his product, his creation, his children's birthright, it represents all in his life, that he always wanted to do but never could because he felt intimidated or held back by himself, his wife (nagging him all the time), his brother in law Hank (the hot shot DEA agent), and his former partner's in Gray Matter, Gretchen and Elliot Schwartz, who now are extremely rich and famed due to a company that he helped to co-found. Now, at age 50, with cancer and a shift in confidence and attitude he is now the great Heisenberg. No one can take that from him so he will say whatever and do whatever he wants to flaunt his "greatness" in the meth empire regardless of the consequences.

(Sry off topic a bit at times).

  • "He made a decision, which in the short run, was for the quick benefit of cash" This isn't true. Walt's reasons for leaving Gray Matter can be found here: movies.stackexchange.com/q/11014/13595 The cash-out is simply a consequence of that action.
    – BCdotWEB
    Commented Mar 19, 2016 at 15:11

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