Better Call Saul Season 6: Why Nacho is A Perfect Breaking Bad Antihero (2023)

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First introduced as a mid-level cartelman on Better Call Saul, Nacho Varga (Michael Mando) became one of the Breaking Bad universe’s best problem-solvers.

Better Call Saul Season 6: Why Nacho is A Perfect Breaking Bad Antihero (1)By Alec Bojalad | |

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Better Call Saul Season 6: Why Nacho is A Perfect Breaking Bad Antihero (2)

This article contains major spoilers for Better Call Saul season 6 episode 3.

NO, REALLY. PAY ATTENTION TO THE BIG YELLOW SPOILER ALERT ABOVE YOU! I’ll even add a couple of blank paragraphs just to be safe. Those who have not yet seen Better Call Saul season 6 episode 3 have been duly warned!


(Video) I Watched Breaking Bad After Better Call Saul

Nacho Varga (Michael Mando) is one of Better Call Saul’s most consummate survivors. And that’s why he had to die.

That’s right. As those who watched Better Call Saul season 6 episode 3 “Rock and Hard Place”, or merely those who ignore big yellow spoiler warnings, now know – Nacho is the first major casualty of the show’s final season…and inarguably its biggest character death since Chuck McGill at the end of season 3. Framed by Gus Fring for the attempt on Lalo Salamanca’s life, Nacho was truly between the rock and hard place of the episode’s title. His only options were to accept the relatively merciful death at the hands of Gus’s people or the decidedly less merciful death that the Salamancas had to provide. Ultimately he chose the same path that a certain chemistry teacher will eventually take in a few years, dying from a bullet he himself fired.

Reading this in the wake of Nacho’s death, it may seem ironic or cruel to call him a consummate survivor. But that’s what he was in all sincerity. Through six seasons of Better Call Saul, Nacho was consistently crafty, resourceful, intelligent, discerning, and even athletic. Seemingly every new season provided a new opportunity for the show to execute Nacho (one of the few main characters it actually could kill since so many other characters fates’ were wrapped up in Breaking Bad), and yet every season he somehow got through until now.

Look at what Nacho does to survive just within the first few episodes of season 6 alone. He runs through the harsh Mexican desert for hours on end, with no chance of rest. Then he’s guided to a seedy, non-air conditioned motel in the middle of nowhere by Gus’s people. Gus has every intention of this motel functioning as Nacho’s tomb but Nacho uses his intellect to sniff out the treachery and takes out a would-be assassin. Then, as the Salamanca twins and all of their soldiers arrive, Nacho hot wires a truck and drives it through a hail of bullets to relative safety once again. If all that weren’t enough, however, the Salamancas catch up to Nacho’s damaged ride in the beginning of “Rock and Hard Place.” Thinking absurdly quickly, Nacho opts to hide, not run. He crawls into an abandoned oil tanker in the field off the dirt road, and even submerges himself under the inky black sludge when one of the twins comes looking.

Nacho’s desire to survive is remarkable and his self-preservatory skills are nearly unmatched. Like Walter White, Mike Ehrmantraut, and even Gus Fring before him, Nacho has every physical and mental tool in place to get out of life-threatening situations. And like Walter White, Mike Ehrmantraut, and Gus Fring before him, Nacho also now just happens to be dead.


(Video) Saul, Jesse & Walter In The Desert | Breaking Bad | Better Call Saul

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Nacho is the latest and most profound example of what Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul do better than almost any other storytelling venture. These shows present believable characters who unquestionably embody Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” ethos and then it kills them anyway. Because even all the ability, intellect, and experience in the world can’t make up for any given character’s original sin.

Walter White’s original sin is pride. In the Breaking Bad series finale, he says it himself: he did all of this for him…because it felt good. Pursuing that sense of self superiority leads him only to ruin. He dies with his family loathing him, his empire in ashes, and the cancer he thought he could outrun coursing through his body. Gus’s mercy cannot prevail over his wrath. He lets Hector Salamanca live to emotionally torture him and Hector eventually kills him with an assist from Walt. Mike Ehrmantraut gets greedy. Gus’s death would be the perfect time to get out of the game but Walt’s meth was so pure and his granddaughter had so many future bills on the horizon. Mike dies alone watching the sunset.

What was Nacho’s original sin? Unlike the other karmic ghosts of the Breaking Bad universe, it’s not one of the seven deadly ones. In reality, his sin was simple complicity. Nacho has been a part of the criminal underworld on Better Call Saul ever since the series second episode. First introduced as a lieutenant to Tuco, Nacho then is elevated to Hector Salamanca’s right hand when Tuco is carted off to prison.

During his time with Hector, Nacho began to have second thoughts about his life in the cartel. After Hector expresses a desire to turn Nacho’s father’s store into a laundering operation, Nacho betrays him and poisons his medication with an assist from Mike. It’s ultimately this act of familial loyalty that dooms Nacho. Since Gus knows what Nacho did, he blackmails him into being a double-agent against the Salamancas. That sets him down a path that eventually concludes with his involvement in Lalo’s assassination attempt becoming known and his death becoming inevitable.

Nacho was a “good” cartel member. He had love for his family, was gentle with the people in his life, and abhorred violence. As early as the show’s second season, Nacho clearly wanted out of the life that he had chosen for himself. The problem was that he already chose it. His father would routinely beg him to go to the police, confess, and leave this whole life behind. But obviously Nacho could do no such thing. There is no cell or safe house on Earth that could keep him from the Salamancas vengeance forever. Nacho’s fate was sealed before the first moments of Better Call Saul season 1 even began. What’s remarkable is how the show eventually gets around to it…three episodes into the final season nearly a dozen before the show’s ultimate end.

This is another example of the Breaking Bad universe’s improvisational writing style paying dividends. Better Call Saul likely always had plans to kill Nacho Varga. His absence from the plot in Breaking Bad was unavoidable. Writing this before the release of episode 3 and not having spoken with Peter Gould or the show’s writers, I would venture a guess that the timing of when death came calling for Nacho surprised even them. But now was indeed the time.


(Video) Nacho 💔 | Better Call Saul #Shorts

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All the major characters on Breaking Bad and now Better Call Saul solve problems over and over again. Walter White is presented with a problem, like say the DEA tracking down his cooking camper in an impound lot, and he solves it. Jimmy McGill is presented with a problem, like say Howard Hamlin not settling the Sandpiper lawsuit quickly enough, and he solves it. There comes a time for each character where fate forces their hand and the problems can no longer be solved. The math quite simply does not add up.

That’s what makes the circumstances of Nacho’s demise so tragic, yet dramatically satisfying. He did it all right. He trudged through dirt, mud, blood, and oil. And yet the math finally started to work against him. Luck ran out. There is no world in which Nacho can survive both Gus Fring and the Salamanca family wanting him dead. Rather than insulting the audience’s intelligence and insisting otherwise, Better Call Saul has Nacho accept his fate.


As another TV titan, Captain Jean-Luc Picard, once said “it is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness. That is life.” Sometimes the difference between good television and great television is whether or not it understands that maxim.

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(Video) What Is The Best BETTER CALL SAUL Or BREAKING BAD Season? (Worst To Best)

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Better Call Saul Season 6: Why Nacho is A Perfect Breaking Bad Antihero (3)

Written by

Alec Bojalad|@alecbojalad

TV Editor at Den of Geek and Television Critics Association member. Based in Cleveland, Ohio. Very upset about various sporting events.

Read more from Alec Bojalad

(Video) The Full Story of Mike | Better Call Saul & Breaking Bad Retrospective


Is Nacho an antihero? ›

First introduced as a mid-level cartelman on Better Call Saul, Nacho Varga (Michael Mando) became one of the Breaking Bad universe's best problem-solvers.

Was Nacho a good guy in Breaking Bad? ›

Mando considered Nacho the only character in Better Call Saul that was "breaking good", as "an ambitious person who believes in a morality outside of justice" and trying to improve his situation, making him "heroic, romantic, and transcendent".

Is Nacho a protagonist or antagonist? ›

Ignacio "Nacho" Varga is a major protagonist in the crime drama series Better Call Saul, the prequel to Breaking Bad. He is a calculating, intelligent career criminal and the right hand man to Tuco Salamanca, heir to the crime family of the same name.

Why is Nacho working for Gus? ›

Against his will, Nacho later became an informant to Gustavo Fring after being blackmailed by him.

Who is the anti-hero in Breaking Bad? ›

Breaking Bad is about how power can corrupt anyone, even a bumbling small-town chemistry teacher with terminal cancer. That is why Walter White is the ultimate antihero: unlike Tony Soprano (who is in therapy), White is past the point of redemption.

What makes an antihero an antihero? ›

An anti hero is a narrative protagonist who is defined by their own self-interest. The anti hero often feels rejected by society, and veers down a self-destructive path that results in isolation or death.

Who is the nicest person in Breaking Bad? ›

While Jesse Pinkman is technically a villain and someone who would typically be hated on most shows, in Breaking Bad he is the most likeable character. While he cooks meth, kills people, and generally just causes problems for people, he is showcased in a really positive way.

Why was Nacho killed in Breaking Bad? ›

Mando explained to Variety that Nacho's final act was one of sacrifice, and by doing so he guaranteed that Gus would protect his father, who never approved of Nacho's reluctant life of crime.

Did Nacho work for Gus? ›

So when he confirms Nacho had tampered with Hector Salamanca's medication, he uses this to his advantage. Nacho works for Gus now on Better Call Saul after Gus reveals that he knows what Nacho did in "Breathe." This puts Nacho in a perilous position as he must be a double agent in the Mexican drug cartel.

Does Lalo know Nacho betrayed him? ›

Nacho flees as the assassins enter and kill most of Lalo's family and guards. Lalo kills all but one assassin and then tells him to call the middleman who arranged the attack and report that Lalo was killed. Lalo realizes Nacho has betrayed him and angrily strides away from his house.

Why does Chuck hate Jimmy? ›

Although in the first season it seemed that he was initially supportive of Jimmy, Chuck harbored resentful feelings toward him because of his conman past and charisma, in addition to Jimmy's approach to his career. From the second season onward, Chuck transforms into Jimmy's nemesis.

Who is the main antagonist of Better Call Saul? ›

Don Eduardo "Lalo" Salamanca is one of the two main antagonists (alongside Chuck McGill) of Better Call Saul and a posthumous antagonist in Breaking Bad.

Why did Salamanca spare Gus? ›

In "Hermanos", Eladio says that when he ordered Max killed, he spared Gus because of his unstated but apparently powerful connection to Chile.

Why does Salamanca hate Gus? ›

He is also the business rival and arch-nemesis of Gus Fring, whose drive for revenge was created by Hector when he murdered his boyfriend, Max Arciniega, in front of him under Don Eladio's orders.

Why does Nacho hate the Salamancas? ›

Since the beginning of Better Call Saul, Nacho worked for the Salamanca family—first for Tuco and later for Lalo—after Tuco's incarceration. Despite being involved in a world of drugs and violence, Nacho retains a virtuous moral code that causes him to resent members of the Salamanca family.

Is Skyler White an anti-hero? ›

We didn't know it back then – perhaps even Breaking Bad's creator Vince Gilligan didn't fully understand – but Skyler was the precursor for the modern antiheroine, a character type who's only just now showing up on screen.

Is Saul an antihero? ›

On TV, Saul Goodman was a supporting character in AMC's Breaking Bad but becomes the antihero in popular show Better Call Saul. Antiheroes are also very popular in YA fiction.

Is Heisenberg a good or bad guy? ›

Heisenberg is definitely evil, but he's not entirely to blame. Miranda kidnapped him when he was a child and infected him with the Cadou parasite, which is the source of his powers.

Can an anti-hero be a villain? ›

What Is the Difference Between Anti-Villain and Anti-Hero? While an anti-villain might be a villain with some redeeming features, an anti-hero is a heroic character without the conventional charms. They might do the right thing, but mostly out of self-interest.

Can an anti-hero become a villain? ›

Hero with an F in Good: Has good intentions, but fails at being good. He Who Fights Monsters: A character's anti-heroic qualities can lead them to become just as bad as the villains, or in the worst cases, becoming a villain themselves.

Is an anti-hero still a hero? ›

Answer: An anti-hero is a type of character in literature who lacks the qualities of a traditional hero, like morality or a clear interest in rules. Anti-heroes are not the villains of the story because there are reasons to cheer for them, despite their complex motivations and questionable actions.

Who has the saddest life in Breaking Bad? ›

Todd Alquist Is the Sociopathic Villain of Breaking Bad's Final Season. Here's What to Remember Before El Camino.

Who is the most hated character in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul? ›

Lalo Salamanca (Tony Dalton)

Lalo Salamanca is the evilest man in Better Call Saul, and may even be eviler than Jack Welker of Breaking Bad. Lalo Salamanca is simply a psychopath. His way of thinking is different than most people's.

Who is the saddest Breaking Bad character? ›

Breaking Bad: 10 Saddest Character Deaths, Ranked
  • Combo. Jesse Pinkman loses a lot of people close to him throughout the series and Combo was the first. ...
  • Gale Boetticher. Gale was an unusual and key figure in the Breaking Bad world. ...
  • Andrea Cantillo.
Oct 29, 2019

Does Gus protect Nacho's dad? ›

Nacho realizes telling the Salamancas and cartel leaders that Gus had no role in the attack on Lalo is the only way to protect Manuel, but will also result in his own death. He places a farewell call to Manuel, then surrenders to Gus in exchange for Mike's guarantee of Manuel's safety.

How did Gus find out Lalo is alive? ›

After Bolsa and Gus visit Hector and promise him vengeance for Lalo's supposed death, Gus realizes from Hector's demeanor that Lalo is still alive.

Who is Nacho Varga girlfriend? ›

Amber | Breaking Bad Wiki | Fandom.

What happened to Kim Wexler? ›

The ultracompetent attorney who married Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk), the man most likely to bring out the shadier side of her character, never appears in Breaking Bad, which led some viewers to assume she would die before Saul finished its run. But as Monday's series finale confirmed, Kim Wexler lives on.

What did Gus do to Salamanca? ›

To establish this story, Gus kills Arturo the next time he and Nacho come to pick up the Salamanca supply of drugs, and has their car driven to the remote desert and fired repeatedly into it, and then critically wound Nacho to make it look like a rival gang attacked and stole the drugs.

What did Nacho do to Salamanca? ›

During the fiery three-way desert showdown between Nacho, Gus Fring, and the Salamancas in Better Call Saul season 6's "Rock & Hard Place," Nacho gleefully admitted to Hector's face that he was responsible for putting the indomitable mob boss in a wheelchair.

Why did Lalo smile when he died? ›

Lalo died smiling as a nod to the maniacal personality he carried throughout life, but also to stress the satisfaction he derived from having been right about Gus. The familiar, creepy smirk was one final act of rebellion. Even in his most painful moment, he refused to let Gus see a glimmer of defeat on his face.

Why did Nacho want Tuco dead? ›

Nacho, Tuco's partner in drug dealing, wants him dead because Tuco is a homicidal loon — a fact that will not come as news to anyone familiar with his history.

Why does Gus fear Lalo? ›

Because of the rivalry between Gus and Hector, Lalo becomes dedicated to disrupting Gus' legitimate restaurant business Los Pollos Hermanos and Lavandería Brillante, as well as his reputation with the cartel. Unlike his other rivals such as Walter White, Gus was highly fearful of Lalo due to his cunning and resilience.

Who killed Chuck McGill? ›

Now that Better Call Saul's final season has made its way to Netflix, there's no better time to look back at the Chuck McGill suicide. Jimmy "Saul" McGill's older brother Chuck died by his own hand in a house fire, and the show clearly sets up the reasons why.

What mental illness does Chuck McGill have? ›

But the supporting cast are given plenty to do as well, including character actor Michael McKean, who plays Chuck McGill. One of the subplots of the show follows Chuck's obsessive compulsive order (OCD), a mental illness where people suffer from intrusive thoughts and compulsions.

Why didn't Jimmy cry when Chuck died? ›

He knows deep down that Chuck's ailment and eventual death has to do with his actions. But that truth is too painful for Jimmy to face. It's classic denial. He told himself he didn't care, and acted like he didn't care, so he didn't have to deal with his own feelings.

Who is smarter Lalo or Gus? ›

Up to this point, Gus is portrayed as the smartest person on the show, matched only by Walter White in Breaking Bad. In spite of this, Lalo is able to believably outmaneuver him at nearly every turn.

Who is the most badass character in Better Call Saul? ›

1 Jimmy 'Saul Goodman' McGill

With electric confidence, fast-talking, and an unbeatable drive to succeed; there's no way Jimmy McGill can't be the best character in his own show.

Is Lalo good person? ›

Most notably, Lalo Salamanca has been the most significant villain of Better Call Saul and easily rivaled those of the original series. He might be charismatic, but he's also unpredictable and psychopathic.

Why was Gus angry at Nacho? ›

But it seems to me like Gus hates Nacho because he threatened to take away his chance for a long and painful revenge for Hector. I think that perhaps if anyone else tried to kill Hector Gus would not congratulate them but they would become his enemy.

Why did Gus stop liking Walter? ›

Immediately upon meeting Walter, Gus did not like him or want to work with him because he felt that he is sloppy and works with a drug addict.

Why did Don Eladio keep Gus alive? ›

The most likely reason that Don Eladio didn't kill Fring was that he knew he had an established distribution network set up and it would cost money and time (and risk exposure) murdering Fring and then trying to either obtain his routes or start new ones.

Does Gus have autism? ›

Gus is known to have ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), and he most noticeably has a form of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder).

Why did Gus not like Jesse? ›

Gus's goal was to destabilize Walt, he didn't care about Jesse. He considered him dangerous because he was a drug addict, but he knew Walt psychologically needed to have control over Jesse. So Gus took Jesse away slowly and designed experiences to instill false confidence in him.

Why does Gustavo hate Don Eladio? ›

Breaking Bad

He has his Los Pollos Hermanos trucks, which store meth in them, hijacked by the Cartel's men. Eladio sends one of his men, Gaff, to Gus so he will give him the recipe for Gus' Blue Sky meth, the true reason for the sudden hits against him.

Is Nacho Varga a good guy? ›

Mando considered Nacho the only character in Better Call Saul that was "breaking good", as "an ambitious person who believes in a morality outside of justice" and trying to improve his situation, making him "heroic, romantic, and transcendent".

Why did Nacho betray Tuco? ›

Tuco's right-hand man, Nacho Varga, realizes that associating with Tuco is a risk that could end badly for him, so he decides to betray Tuco and enlists Mike Ehramantraut to help.

Why did Mike replace Nachos Safe? ›

The overriding intention behind Mike's Better Call Saul safe-swapping trick was to ensure Nacho's death without casting suspicion over Gus Fring.

Who is the anti-hero in BNHA? ›

Chizome Akaguro or Stain is a former vigilant, villain and antihero in mangá / anime My Hero Academia.

Is Nacho Varga an antagonist? ›

Ignacio "Nacho" Varga is a major protagonist in the crime drama series Better Call Saul and a posthumous character in Breaking Bad.

Who is the antihero in Thor? ›

Loki appears as a major antagonist turned anti-heroic major protagonist in the Thor movies, set in the MCU. He was portrayed by Tom Hiddleston.

Who is the anti-hero in The Godfather? ›

The result shows that the novel portrays Michael Corleone as an antihero for having the identical characteristics of an antihero proposed by Wilson et al. (2013), namely empathy, humility, self-awareness, flexibility, and an ability to acknowledge the uncertainty.

Is anti-hero good or evil? ›

An anti hero is a protagonist who lacks all the heroic qualities needed to be a hero. They are most often not evil or immoral, but they do lack all the traits of traditional heroes such as bravery, nobility, and virtue. And they add in some of their own, like aggression, cynicism, and other character imperfections.

Who is powerful anti-hero? ›

Updated November 18th, 2022, by Darby Harn: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever introduces Namor The Sub-Mariner to the MCU. Perhaps the greatest antihero in Marvel Comics history, Namor walks a fine line between hero and villain.

What was Nacho Varga hiding in? ›

Having taken on the role of inside man in Gus Fring's plan to assassinate Lalo Salamanca, Nacho was quickly fingered by everyone as being key to the plot. The cartel wanted him, the Salamancas, too, and Nacho was forced to hide in a puddle of oil to escape them.

Why did Nacho Varga betray? ›

Tuco's right-hand man, Nacho Varga, realizes that associating with Tuco is a risk that could end badly for him, so he decides to betray Tuco and enlists Mike Ehramantraut to help.

Who is Thor hardest enemy? ›

Loki – Thor's archenemy and adoptive brother.

Who is the most evil version of Thor? ›

Thorr Odinson is a villain from the Avengers and is an evil alternate reality version of Thor Odinson as well as a member of the Tyrant Avengers.

What villain can lift Thor's hammer? ›

Korbinite alien Beta Ray Bill can lift Thor's hammer with ease.

Who is the real villain in The Godfather? ›

Emilio "The Wolf" Barzini is a fictional character and the main antagonist in Mario Puzo's 1969 novel The Godfather and in its 1972 film adaptation, in which he is portrayed by Richard Conte.

Who is the weak Corleone brother? ›

Fredo is weaker and less intelligent than his brothers, and so has little power or status within the Corleone crime family. In the novel, Fredo's primary weakness is his womanizing, a habit he develops after moving to Las Vegas and which earns his father's disfavor.

Who has the most power in The Godfather? ›

Don Vito Corleone

One of the most powerful characters we meet in The Godfather is Vito Corleone. Though Vito is not the main protagonist of the film, many audience members still idolize his character.


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