I am from India and in our country, the law enforcement department (Police Department) starts the new recruits with same training. But later on based on the recruits inclinations and skills, they are diverted towards other departments like Cyber Crime, Narcotics, Special Forces and so on. I don't know how things work in USA, but Hank from Breaking Bad must have not just entered DEA directly. He must have worked his way through APD and then got promoted to DEA as he must have obtained extensive knowledge of drugs.

My point here is, Hank being a law enforcement officer, he has been trained to fight criminals and even kill them if necessary. Also, this whole thing is part of his job. So knowing all this fact, why did Hank Schrader got disturbed after killing Tuco. Also, in El Paso, when the team he is working with gets blown up. He again gets scared.

I mean, every cop, soldier or person involved in defense service know what he is signing up for. I don't understand Hank's character because of this incidents.

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    Walt answered this nicely so I won't bother adding another answer, but I wanted to correct you on something. Hank did not need to work his way through APD as the DEA (much like the CIA or MI-6) is a government agency. It's very possible he entered the DEA directly from college. That part is never stated either way (to the best of my knowledge) in the series. Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 13:34
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    @JohnnyBones APD is also government; the term you want is federal.
    – cpast
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 15:44
  • That said, @Guru, you are seriously mistaken about how US law enforcement works. There is no "the police;" there are many different law enforcement agencies, all of which are separate, and you cannot be "promoted" from one to another any more than you could be promoted from the APD to the Indian fire service. Also, the vast majority of US law enforcement officers never fire their weapon in the line of duty.
    – cpast
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 15:50
  • @cpast - Correct! Never type anything until you've had coffee. :oD Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 18:18

1 Answer 1


Let's put aside the fact that Hank's machismo is a disguise for his trepidations and that this makes him a pretty fascinating character and talk real life. Sure, cops, soldiers and firefighters etc. know that they might be in life-threatening situations. However:

  1. Those aren't supposed to happen. The fact that these people are in dangerous jobs doesn't make their lives expendable. There are procedures, precautions and protective gear all designed to make life-threatening situations as rare or avoidable as possible.
  2. That doesn't make a phenomenon like PTSD any less real or prevalent. PTSD is a serious and debilitating condition that affects as much as 18 percent of cops in the US. I'd never presume to claim it's because they were flawed or ill-prepared in any way.

That said, let's now take a look at the traumatizing events Hank had to deal with in close succession (perhaps even in less than one year, since the show only spans 2 years):

  1. The Tuco confrontation, where he was sprayed on with an assault rifle without any backup or protective gear and had a split second to shoot a person in the head before that person shot him. This is not how these situations should go down and would presumably shake up any law officer. (Note that even though he was outgunned, unprotected and alone, Hank still got the upper hand. He's obviously tough and well-trained.)

  2. The El Paso incident, where he was sent to a much tougher region than he's used to and was met with a situation where his unit was blown to pieces by a severed head on a turtle. This is not a common occurence and most law enforcement officers do not expect to be in a war zone.

  3. The cousins shoot-out, where he's shot multiple times by 2 skilled assassins (but still manages to take them out), and is injured so badly he almost dies and has to undergo a long and expensive rehabilitation process to even walk again.

The fact that Hank is still in the force after all these experiences and still extremely devoted to his job despite his doubts and fears actually makes him pretty brave in my eyes.


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