All these years later, Breaking Bad villain Gustavo Fring still stands as one of the greatest antagonists in television history. Sure, he was a bad guy, but he very much understood the idea of commanding respect rather than fear (though he throws in a hefty dose of fear as well) when possible.
He was the foil to Walter White — an example of how he could turn out if he played his cards right. But not only was he just as smart as Walter White, but he had built up the resources to take him on in every way. So formidable was he that it took over two seasons for him to get taken out, as show creator Vince Gilligan reflected with Uproxx:
“Oh man, that took forever! The trouble is, when you’re telling stories, when you’re writing a story about formidable foes, you want them to be as smart as possible. And Gustavo Fring almost took on a life of his own. He was almost supernaturally smart and we figured, who better? The smartest guy on this show up til now has been Walter White, and we love the fact that we had inadvertently come up with a character who’s even smarter than Walt. . . . The temptation when you’re really desperate and the clock is ticking is to have your genius bad guy character do something stupid. But you feel really terrible at heart when you’re pitching those kind of ideas because you say to yourself, any dumb mistake that the bad guy makes lessens the good guy’s brilliance and the good guy’s fortitude and all that kind of stuff. So, we made a promise to ourselves: ‘We gotta keep this guy smart all the way to the end.’”
But how did they actually bring this plan to fruition? How can you kill off a guy who is always five steps ahead? It wasn’t easy, but they finally gave him a weakness.
“So we came to create this whole backstory about how much Gus Fring hated Hector. And we created that long after the first episode, during which we saw Hector and Gus together. It came later, that backstory of this loathing Gus Fring had for Hector Salamanca, as a device, as a way in to allowing Gus to make a mistake, and let Walt get too close to him. In a weird way, a lot of the most emotional character-driven beats throughout the life of Breaking Bad were created for very meat and potatoes logistical reasons, which I find kind of funny in hindsight.”
As stated above, Gus stands as one of the best antagonists in TV history. Not only is he smart, strong, and cruel, but he’s somewhat sympathetic. You don’t necessarily think he’s a great guy, but you know where he’s coming from, and from his perspective, Walter White was a damn liability who needed to go.
What are some of your favorite Gus moments? Let us know down below!
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