You are not a real lawyer! University of American Samoa, for Christ's sake? An online course? What a joke! I worked my ass off to get where I am! And you take these short cuts and you think suddenly you're my peer?! You do what I do because you're funny and you can make people laugh?! I've committed my life to this! You don't slide into it like a cheap pair of slippers and then reap all the rewards! (...) I know you. I know what you were, what you are. People don't change! You're Slippin' Jimmy! And Slippin' Jimmy, I can handle just fine, but Slippin' Jimmy with a law degree is like a chimp with a machine gun! The law is sacred! If you abuse that power, people get hurt. This is not a game! You have to know on some level, I know you know I'm right. You know I'm right!
|― Jimmy brutally discovering what Chuck actually thinks of him as a lawyer.|
Charles Lindbergh "Chuck" McGill, Jr. was the older brother of Jimmy McGill. He was the co-founder and named partner of Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill (HHM), one of Albuquerque's most prestigious law firms. A brilliant man who held himself and others to high ideals, Chuck firmly believed that doing the right thing is the only true path to success.
Chuck claimed to suffer from electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) -- essentially an adverse physical reaction to electrical devices -- which made it challenging for him to lead a normal life. However, in reality, it is shown that Chuck's condition was a mental illness.
Despite Jimmy admiring his older brother and believing him to be supportive of him as a lawyer, it is eventually revealed that Chuck greatly resents his brother for his past actions as a conman and believes him to be completely unfit to be a lawyer and personally sabotaged him to prevent him from thriving as a lawyer, thus creating a majority of the obstacles Jimmy faces early on in his career. Despite this however Chuck seemed to genuinely love his brother though was willing to get him disbarred at all costs. In contrast to this presumed affection, Chuck later claimed that he never cared that much about Jimmy in the first place and as a result was Jimmy's true nemesis.
After suffering a major relapse of his EHS following his failed attempt to get Jimmy disbarred as well as failing to sue HHM for breach of contract and destroying his friendship with Howard in the process, Chuck committed suicide by setting fire to his house. The fire department, however, officially ruled it as an accident and it was mentioned as such on Chuck’s obituary.
Chuck McGill was born in Cicero, Illinois in 1944 and was the eldest son of Ruth and Charles McGill Sr. Chuck seemed to have had a decent childhood and a good relationship with his parents, though it appears that his younger brother Jimmy was favored over him more. Chuck once helped with the finances for his father's store and discovered that Jimmy had stolen money over the years, to his father's disbelief. Six months after the bankruptcy of his store, their father died (""). Chuck would secretly blame Jimmy for this incident ("").
Chuck graduated valedictorian from Francis Xavier High School at the age of 14, making him the youngest graduate in the history of that school. He later attended the University of Pennsylvania and graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center. After clerking at both the Delaware Court of Chancery and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, Chuck joined George Hamlin's solo practice in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Over the next twenty-three years, the two men, along with George's son Howard (whom Chuck tutored for the bar exam), built up their law firm, Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill (HHM), turning it into one of the largest and most prominent law firms in the Southwest. Early in his career, Chuck excelled in criminal law, famously arguing and winning the precedent-setting case of State v. Gonzalez ("").
In 1992, after having not seen Jimmy for almost 5 years, Chuck helped him avoid serious charges including property damage, assault, and a possible sex offense. Chuck traveled to Cicero to visit Jimmy at his request through their mother. Jimmy begged for Chuck to use his knowledge of legal loopholes to make the charges disappear. Although originally reluctant, Chuck agreed to help him after Jimmy stated that his life would be over if he did not get out of the situation. As a condition of his help, however, Chuck insisted that Jimmy leave Cicero permanently and move with Chuck to Albuquerque, to enter a legitimate career path. Chuck warned Jimmy not to make a fool of him if he got back out, but Jimmy promised to change. (""). Chuck would later express regret for having gotten Jimmy out of this situation. ("").
True to his word, Chuck brought Jimmy to to Albuquerque with him to make a living through legitimate means, giving him a job as a mail-room clerk at HHM, a job that Jimmy performed well in. Chuck would later reveal that he was very proud of Jimmy when he finally straightened out and acknowledged this in a letter he wrote to Jimmy in the event of his passing ("", ""). However, when Jimmy became a lawyer after secretly putting himself through school, Chuck, secretly disgusted and outraged at the thought of "Slippin' Jimmy with a law degree," ordered Howard not to hire Jimmy, completely sabotaging his chances of getting a job with the firm to which Jimmy wrongfully blamed Howard, never suspecting it was in fact Chuck ("", ""). In order to feign support for Jimmy becoming a lawyer, it was Chuck who personally vouched for his younger brother before a bar committee and reluctantly took part in Jimmy's celebrations afterwards ("").
Around (or before) this time, Chuck was married to Rebecca Bois, a famous violinist whom he seemed to have a decent marriage with (""). However, at some point in 2001, Chuck and Rebecca separated and it was shortly after this separation that Chuck began developing his electromagnetic hypersensitivity condition. To accommodate this, he had all his electronics removed from his home. When he later invited Rebecca over for dinner in an attempt to reconcile with her, he created an elaborate lie with Jimmy's help to explain the lack of power and hide his condition from her. Though the dinner was initially a success, Chuck's behavior betrayed him when Rebecca answered a call on her phone, eventually driving him to knock it out her hand. He compounded his mistake by refusing to be honest about his condition and chastising an irate Rebecca over "cellphone etiquette," prompting her to immediately leave in a cab. Shortly after this, the two officially divorced ("").
Chuck's condition caused him to have to take an extended leave from HHM in early 2001. He started living in an electricity-free home, relying on gas lamps for light. Before entering his house, visitors have to place all of their electronics in the mailbox and "ground themselves" (remove the static charge from their body). Chuck is sometimes seen wearing what Jimmy calls a "space blanket," to shield himself against static electricity ("").
Better Call Saul
After being house-ridden for a year and a half, Chuck begins receiving checks for $26,000 from HHM. Jimmy thinks it is in Chuck's best interest to buy out his part of the company ($17 million), as he believes that Chuck will not be returning to work due to his illness. However, Howard wants to continue paying Chuck long term, saying that it is an "extended sabbatical". On his way out, Jimmy is followed by Howard, who tries to pass along some documents for Chuck, which Jimmy declines ("").
Jimmy goes to visit Chuck, who insists he’s going to get better and return to HHM. Chuck rejects Jimmy’s pleas to demand a buyout from his partners, objecting that the firm would probably have to liquidate to raise that much cash, putting more than a hundred people out of work. Jimmy tells him his public defender work isn't going to keep both of them afloat, which just results in a lecture from Chuck about how the experience of helping people is more important than money. Chuck also reassures Jimmy that he does not have to provide for him, since Howard stopped by to deliver a check over $857, the first of a new weekly stipend. He also relates Howard's concern about Jimmy using his name in his law practice, and suggests that he change it so as not to confuse potential clients. An infuriated Jimmy leaves. ("").
When Jimmy comes home wasted and dropped on the couch, Chuck is disturbed to see that he didn't leave his phone in the mailbox, which he does normally. Chuck has to pick up the phone with tongs and throw it out of the house to feel better. Chuck also sees that Jimmy has with him a hospital bill he paid for broken legs of the twins, Lars and Cal Lindholm.
The next morning, Jimmy wakes up and sees Chuck sitting near him, wrapped in his "space blanket". Realizing that his brother has seen the hospital bill, Jimmy promises that he isn't returning any customs from the past (referring to Slippin' Jimmy). Jimmy then asks for Chuck to take off the "space blanket". Chuck reluctantly takes it off, only to put it back on when Jimmy leaves the room ("").
Jimmy arranges a publicity stunt in which he pretends to save a worker from falling off his own billboard. As planned, Jimmy is regarded as a hero and is featured in an article in the. Jimmy visits Chuck but hides the newspaper that reported the "rescue" to keep him from seeing it. Chuck congratulates Jimmy on his new success but is oblivious to the stunt. Chuck notices that one of his daily newspapers is missing, which Jimmy dismisses. After Jimmy leaves, a suspicious Chuck painstakingly hurries to his neighbor's house and collects their copy of the Journal, in which Chuck reads about the stunt, greatly upsetting him ("").
Chuck's theft of the newspaper does not go unnoticed, leading the police to lay siege to Chuck's house. Due to his condition, Chuck insists they leave behind all electrical equipment, to which they knock down the door and taser him. Chuck is taken to the hospital and panics when he wakes up surrounded by electrical equipment. Jimmy arrives and disables the surrounding equipment to restore him to full consciousness. Chuck tries to explain his electromagnetic hypersensitivity to his physician, Dr. Cruz, but she privately tells Jimmy that his condition is more than likely a mental problem, which she was able to prove by activating Chuck's hospital bed which does not affect him at all. Jimmy however refuses to commit him.
After Jimmy brings Chuck home and helps him to the couch, he catches sight of the Albuquerque Journal on the floor - still open to the article about the billboard stunt. He confronts Chuck, pointing out that his symptoms always seem to worsen when he thinks Jimmy has been up to no good. Chuck denies this, but Jimmy continues to plead his case: the billboard was just a bit of showmanship to get the ball rolling. Now he's ready to embrace the straight-and-narrow, even thinking of specializing in elder law. Chuck remains skeptical, but Jimmy vows sincerely that the stunt was a one-time thing ("").
A few days later, Jimmy stops by Chuck’s house and is surprised to find Chuck standing out in the yard. Chuck counts aloud, struggling to remain outside surrounded by the electricity that makes him so ill. He manages to last for two minutes, then races back inside. Panting, he explains to a bewildered Jimmy that he has been exposing himself to electromagnetic fields for short amounts of time in an attempt to build up a tolerance, the same way that some people build up tolerance to poisons. He is eager to overcome this malady and go back to work. Hearing this, Jimmy remembers that he has a couple of boxes of unfinished paperwork that he was hoping to store at the house. Before Chuck can protest, Jimmy wheels the boxes in and promises that he’ll be back to claim them soon. On the way to his car, Jimmy peers through a window and sees Chuck sifting through the paperwork, just as Jimmy hoped he would ("")
After discovering evidence of systematic overcharging of the elderly residents of Sandpiper Crossing, an assisted living facility, Jimmy heads over to Chuck's house to consult the files of some of his other Sandpiper clients. He shares his discovery with Chuck, who has been unable to resist processing the paperwork that Jimmy asked him to store. Chuck is shocked that he missed such egregious errors, but begrudgingly agrees that a class action lawsuit could be brought against Sandpiper if Jimmy can establish a pattern of over-billing. Jimmy returns to Sandpiper, but is banned from the premises as they have enacted a new policy in order to protect their residents from unwanted "legal solicitation" and have attempted to destroy evidence by shredding a large amount of paperwork.
At Chuck's house after stealing the shredded documents from Sandpiper's recycling bin, Jimmy spends the entire night piecing the shredded documents back together. The next morning, Chuck finds an exhausted Jimmy, still up from the night before. Chuck is at first angered that Jimmy stole the garbage but agrees that it was within legal boundaries. He agrees to let Jimmy work in the dining room, appreciating his company. Chuck steps away to make coffee and returns to find Jimmy asleep. Impressed by his commitment, Chuck decides to pick up where Jimmy left off, and by the time he wakes up, Chuck has assembled the "smoking gun" - an invoice for syringes from a medical supply company in Nebraska. Energized by the work, Chuck gives Jimmy a long list of case law to pull for research. Jimmy, ecstatic to be working with his brother, hugs him. Outside, Jimmy calls Kim and asksher to print the case law Chuck requested and to bill it to his account. Although worried that Chuck's involvement with Jimmy's case could violate his contract with HHM and, more importantly, endanger his mental health, Kim proceeds.
Schweikart receives a fax that includes a new, proper demand letter from Jimmy and Chuck, along with copies of reassembled Sandpiper billing statements. Schweikart and his team arrive at Chuck's house to negotiate with the McGill brothers. Jimmy meets them at the curb, curtly asks them to leave their electronics in the car, escorts them inside, and seats them at Chuck's dining room table. He then ducks into the kitchen to get Chuck, whom he finds disheveled and in a state of anxiety. Jimmy reassures Chuck, helping him into his jacket as he restores Chuck's confidence and leads him into the dining room where Schweikart concedes that some Sandpiper residents were over-billed because of an innocent accounting error. He offers $100,000 to reimburse the residents and cover legal fees, with the caveat that Sandpiper admits no wrongdoing. Jimmy responds by referencing the syringe invoice, declaring pointedly that the inclusion of interstate commerce means RICO provisions kick in, elevating the case to fraud and entitling his clients to much higher damages. After a moment of intense private discussion with his team, Schweikart asks Jimmy what number he's got in mind. Chuck, thus far silent, demands "$20 million, or we'll see you in court". After Schweikart and his team leave, Jimmy panics over Chuck's demand. Chuck calmly assures Jimmy that it's actually a conservative estimate for a multi-state federal class action lawsuit with RICO considerations at the penalty phase. Jimmy falls quiet, catching a glimpse of the magnitude of this case. Chuck emphatically lists their next steps; Jimmy's ready to dive in.
Later, Jimmy stops by Chuck's house with boxes of new paperwork and legal documents. He leaves a box in the car, but is too tired to go and get it himself. Engrossed in a file and impatient to get the code provision documents he needs, Chuck marches out the front door, grabs Jimmy's car keys from the mailbox, and retrieves the box of files from his trunk. He's out of the house - and not in pain. Jimmy watches from the doorway, amazed. Jimmy calls quietly to his brother. Chuck suddenly realizes where he is, and the box falls from Chuck's stunned hands to the ground ("").
A short while after Chuck surprised both Jimmy and himself by leaving his house without wearing a space blanket, the brothers sit quietly on a nearby park bench. Chuck tries to relax and enjoy the sunshine, but keeps glancing nervously at the power lines overhead. Jimmy redirects his attention to the soft grass, successfully encouraging Chuck to take off his shoes. Finally reaching his limit, Chuck tells Jimmy that he's ready to go inside and get back to work building their case against Sandpiper Crossing. He rises and walks gingerly back toward his house, buoyant Jimmy at his side.
Schweikart seeks a restraining order against Jimmy on the grounds that his "loud and flamboyant" nature disturbs the routine of the Sandpiper residents. The judge doesn't buy it and rules in Jimmy's favor. Jimmy rides high on his victory all the way to Chuck's house, but finds that Schweikart has sent over boxes and boxes of documents, trying to drown the McGill brothers in paperwork. Chuck tells Jimmy that the case is quickly becoming too big for them to handle alone, and insists they partner with HHM. Jimmy argues vehemently against it, but Chuck eventually convinces him that it's the only way to win the case.
Jimmy crashes on Chuck's couch that night, exhausted from burning the midnight oil. Chuck steals past his sleeping brother and retrieves a pencil and an oven mitt. Wrapped in his space blanket, Chuck tiptoes outside and collects Jimmy's cell phone from the mailbox. Grimacing, he turns it on and uses the eraser end of the pencil to dial and call someone.
At HHM, Howard arranges for everything electric to be deactivated in preparation for Chuck's arrival. He shuts his cell phone off and tosses it into a bin as Kim powers down the last of the lights. The HHM employees gather in the firm's lobby and shower Chuck with applause when he enters with Jimmy. A cheerful Howard embraces Chuck and guides him upstairs, leaving Jimmy behind to balance a tall stack of files. In the conference room, Jimmy and Chuck bring Howard and his associates up to speed on the Sandpiper case. Howard guarantees Jimmy 20% of the common fund share of the final settlement, as well as an immediate "of counsel" fee (as high as $20,000) for the referral. Everything is going well until Jimmy implies that he'll be joining HHM as an attorney. Clearing the room, Howard tries to break the news gently to Jimmy: HHM wants the case, but, "the partners" aren't interested in hiring Jimmy. Shocked and hurt, Jimmy lashes out at Howard and quashes the deal.
The next morning, Jimmy visits Chuck and tells him he's going to give the Sandpiper case to HHM after all. Chuck agrees that this is for the best and offers to put a good word in with Howard. Jimmy points out that Chuck could threaten to leave HHM; with the way the staff applauded his arrival, there's no way the partners would risk his return. When Chuck hesitates, Jimmy reveals that he already knows that Chuck is not remotely interested in bringing Jimmy into the fold. Since Jimmy always turns off his phone when he puts it in Chuck's mailbox, he became suspicious when he found the battery dead. A call to the phone company revealed a deleted call to Howard two nights prior, while Jimmy was asleep on the couch. Only Chuck could have made that call.
Jimmy accuses Chuck of telling Howard not to let him work on the case, and to not hire him after he passed the bar years prior. Jimmy demands to know why Chuck has been working against him. Chuck angrily replies that Jimmy is not a real lawyer, having taken shortcuts like online courses and diploma mills. Chuck believes that his brother hasn't changed from his "Slippin' Jimmy" ways, and that Jimmy poses a danger if he practices law. Jimmy realizes what his brother really thinks of him. He explains that he's brought over enough supplies to last Chuck a few days - after that, Chuck will have to fend for himself. Heartbroken, Jimmy walks out of the house without turning back despite Chuck begging him to come back in the house ("").
Chuck is last seen being delivered groceries from an HHM employee and giving up a large box of case files. Chuck sees Jimmy sitting outside in his car, and slowly prepares to open the door to go out and speak with him. Jimmy drives away before this can occur, leaving Chuck disappointed ("").
Upon being informed by Howard that Jimmy has been hired by the law firm of Davis & Main (D&M), Chuck feigns excitement. During a meeting between HHM and D&M concerning the Sandpiper case, Chuck sits in to "bear witness" as Jimmy argues on behalf of his clients.("") During a later meeting, Chuck questions whether Jimmy used illegal methods to solicit new clients in the case, though Jimmy denies it and is able to hide the fact that he actually did ("").
When Jimmy gets in trouble at D&M for broadcasting a tacky TV commercial without the firm's approval, his friend Kim Wexler—who had vouched for Jimmy on behalf of HHM—is demoted to document review, a.k.a. the "corn field." Jimmy promises to quit law in exchange for Kim being reinstated, but Chuck doesn't take the bait (""). During a meeting with Kim, Chuck blames Jimmy's childhood theft for the demise of the store in Cicero and the death of their father shortly afterwards. Chuck allows for Kim to be reinstated ("").
Kim resigns from HHM to launch twin solo firms with Jimmy, and secures Mesa Verde Bank and Trust as her exclusive client. Alarmed, Chuck summons Mesa Verde's legal team to HHM without turning off the office's power beforehand. Though he manages to persuade Mesa Verde to keep HHM, he collapses from the EHS exposure. Wanting to get back at Chuck, Jimmy visits his brother and, while he is asleep, photocopies his Mesa Verde files and doctors the address information.("")
Chuck spends the next week writing Mesa Verde's submission to the state regulator, unaware he is using falsified address information. During a hearing before the New Mexico Banking Board, confusion over the address leads to a six-week delay for Mesa Verde. Chuck's insistence on deflecting blame for what seems to be his mistake makes him appear arrogant and condescending, which frustrates Mesa Verde's staff, leading them to fire HHM and return to Kim. Chuck correctly suspects that Jimmy is behind the fiasco, and summons both Jimmy and Kim to lay out his allegations. Although she knows that Chuck is telling the truth, Kim decides to reject his claims and instead charges that his lack of faith in Jimmy caused his pattern of misbehavior in the first place. Chuck later visits the shop where Jimmy copied the files and becomes increasingly angry when the clerk (who Jimmy bribed) denies any wrongdoing. Overwhelmed by his emotions and his EHS, Chuck hits his head and loses consciousness.("")
Jimmy blows his cover by barging into the shop to come to Chuck's aid. At the hospital, Chuck asks Jimmy why he was there, but Ernesto, an HHM employee who is working as Chuck's personal assistant, covers for him. When Jimmy later asks why, Ernesto remarks that Chuck is obsessed with taking Jimmy down. Chuck is overwhelmed by the electricity as he is examined at the hospital, leading him to go through a self-induced catatonic state.
When Chuck returns home, he covers the entirety of his living room in foil, ostensibly to keep out more electromagnetic signals. Chuck also expresses disillusionment with himself for his "mistake" with the Mesa Verde files. Feeling guilty about Chuck's low self-esteem and worsening condition, Jimmy admits all of Chuck's accusations about the Mesa Verde files were true. However, unbeknownst to Jimmy, Chuck has faked his behavior to induce Jimmy into confessing, which he has recorded on an audio tape.("")
Immediately after Jimmy makes his confession, Chuck begins removing the foil from his living room walls. While Jimmy is helping him, he comes across an old copy of The Adventures of Mabel, a children's book which was read to him by Chuck when he was little. The two brothers engage in brief childhood nostalgia before Chuck cuts it short, stating that he will never forgive nor forget what Jimmy has done and that he will pay.
Later, Chuck plays the tape of Jimmy's confession to Howard. While angered by Jimmy's actions, Howard explains that the tape can't be used as evidence against Jimmy, nor could it be used to win back Mesa Verde. Chuck suggests that he has something else in mind. Later, when Ernesto drops off groceries and changes the batteries to the tape recorder, Chuck makes it so that he "accidentally" overhears Jimmy's confession. Chuck pressures Ernesto to not tell anyone what he heard on the premise of confidentiality.("")
Predicting that Ernesto will tip off Jimmy about the tape, Chuck hires a private investigator named Dave Brightbill to wait for Jimmy to break in and steal it "under cover of darkness." However, after Jimmy learns about the tape from Kim, he angrily drives to Chuck's house in broad daylight, breaks down his door, pries open his desk drawer, and rips apart the tape in Chuck's face. However, Chuck comes out with the upper hand as Howard and Dave make their presence known, having just witnessed Jimmy committing a crime.("")
After having Jimmy arrested, Chuck, apparently reconsidering his choices, suggests to DDA Kyra Hay that they offer Jimmy a pre-prosecution diversion (PPD) agreement where in exchange for confessing to his crimes, he avoids jail time. However, part of the deal is that Jimmy's confession goes straight to the New Mexico Bar Association, which would almost certainly result in Jimmy getting disbarred—Chuck's true goal all along. After Kim promises to support him, Jimmy decides to "take that PPD and shove it up Chuck's ass." ("")
Jimmy has a criminal acquaintance, Mike Ehrmantraut, come to Chuck's house posing a repairman for the door; Mike repels Chuck with an electric drill, then takes photos of the house's interior and copies Rebecca's contact information from Chuck's address book. Later, while meeting with Jimmy, Kim, Howard and Hay, Chuck disputes the wording of Jimmy's confession and raises Jimmy's restitution by a few dollars to pay for the destroyed tape. When Kim informs Chuck and Howard that she will move to suppress the tape from Jimmy's scheduled hearing before the bar, Chuck admits that Jimmy destroyed a duplicate and that the real tape is under "lock and key" and will be played in court. However, Kim anticipated this move.("")
Jimmy has Rebecca flown to Albuquerque to attend his hearing before the bar association and informs her of Chuck's purported EHS, which draws her sympathy. While cross-examining Chuck, Jimmy claims that he lied about doctoring the Mesa Verde files because he was worried enough about Chuck's state of mind to tell him what he wanted to hear. Jimmy presents Chuck's EHS as a mental illness, illustrating his point using Mike's pictures of Chuck's house.
Jimmy questions Chuck about the range of his EHS, revealing he has had his cell phone in his pocket all along. Chuck recognizes that Jimmy removed the battery. However, Jimmy has Chuck check his breast pocket, where he discovers the fully-charged battery, planted by Huell Babineaux nearly two hours earlier. In all this time, Chuck has displayed no symptoms despite the battery's proximity to his body. Chuck snaps and delivers a rant showing his resentment towards Jimmy and his desperation to have him disbarred. After Chuck regains his composure, Jimmy dismisses him from the witness stand, having elicited the reaction that he wanted. ("")
Following his meltdown in court, Chuck ignores Rebecca's attempts to talk to him as he cries over the results of his scheme. Howard later sits down with Chuck over a bottle of thirty-five year old liquor and tells him that Jimmy's license has been suspended for a year and that Chuck should let his vendetta go as it is doing him no good. Chuck resolves to work through his EHS delusion, contacting Dr. Cruz and making an unaccompanied trip to a supermarket to buy groceries. Chuck is eager to cure himself and return to living a normal life, but Dr. Cruz warns him against pushing himself too hard.("", "")
Unknown to Chuck, however, after learning that his malpractice policy premium will go up by 150%, Jimmy has leaked to the insurance company holding Chuck's policy his mental condition and breakdown in court. As a result, the insurance company seeks to double the premiums of every lawyer at HHM. Howard makes a diplomatic suggestion to Chuck that he retire for the good of the firm, but Chuck assails Howard and storms out. He then announces his intention to sue HHM for breach of contract, determined to protect his legal career even at the risk of dragging his firm into a lawsuit it can't afford.("", "")
Chuck is prepared to follow through with his threat to take HHM to court, but gives Howard the chance to put their disputes aside. Instead, Howard criticizes Chuck for putting his personal vendettas before the good of HHM, and calls him out for his vindictive willingness to put the firm at risk in order to settle scores. Howard hands Chuck a check for $3 million of his own money and promises two more installments per the partnership agreement, depriving Chuck of his financial blackmail over HHM. Chuck is forced to watch as Howard announces his immediate departure in front of HHM's assembled staff. Chuck is given farewell greetings by everyone but Howard as he leaves.
Kim's recent car accident convinces Jimmy to reconsider his feud with Chuck, and he reluctantly drives to Chuck's house to reach out to his brother. Jimmy tells Chuck that he regrets certain action he took which escalated their quarrel, but signals a willingness to make amends. In response, Chuck says that Jimmy's overture is pointless because it is in his inherent nature to hurt the people around him, and asserts that he'll never change. With a final vicious jab, Chuck tells Jimmy that he never really mattered to him. Jimmy is left crushed by Chuck's statement and leaves.
That night, Chuck begins a major relapse into his EHS delusion, pulling all of the breakers in his house. When he notices that his meter is still running, he tests the switches, removes the light bulbs, and disconnects the phone. When he sees that the meter is still running, he begins tearing apart every wall in his house looking for any hidden source of electrical current. He finds some wiring behind the wall, but realizes the meter remains running; he is driven to destroy the meter with his baseball bat in a rage. Finally, that night, with his interior completely destroyed, Chuck purposefully kicks over one of his gas lanterns, setting his house on fire and killing himself in an act of suicide. ("")
Chuck is revealed to have died by smoke inhalation in the fire and is mourned by Howard (who blames himself for Chuck's death), Rebecca and his many colleagues. Jimmy, however, overall shows no remorse for his older brother's death despite his own culpability and he happily allows Howard to shoulder all the guilt after he correctly theorizes Chuck's suicide was due to being forced out of HHM (""). Kim remains oblivious to Jimmy's role in Chuck's demise and accuses Howard for trying to shoulder his guilt onto Jimmy and tells him to stay away (""). Jimmy later receives from Kim a personal letter Chuck wrote to him in the event of his passing which he reads aloud. In the letter (obviously written before Jimmy became a lawyer and was still in HHM's mail room) Chuck praises Jimmy for turning his life around and says he is proud of Jimmy as a brother though is also condescending. Jimmy is not emotionally impacted at all by the letter given Chuck's disdain of him though Kim breaks down crying over it ("")
In a flashback to 1993, Jimmy is delivering mail at HHM and talks to his co-workers about a betting pool for the Oscars he has them involved in. He crosses paths with Kim, who is also doing mail rounds. Chuck enters the office to a big round of applause, having just won a big inheritance lawsuit using his knowledge of obscure case law. When Chuck approaches the pair, he answers Kim's questions on case law, but is annoyed by Jimmy. After Howard collects Chuck and Kim continues her rounds, Jimmy walks past HHM's law library. He turns around and steps inside, deciding to become a lawyer like Chuck and Kim ("").
Chuck's actions throughout Season 3 still have strong repercussions for Jimmy nearly a year later when he is denied reinstatement as a lawyer due to a lack of "sincerity" in his statements before the bar committee and his failure to show remorse for what he did to Chuck that led to his suspension. Jimmy is outraged when Kim points this out to him, stating that he does think about nor miss his older brother in the least ("").
In another flashback, Chuck stands for Jimmy when he is officially made a lawyer. He attends Jimmy's celebration party but decides to leave early, citing early meetings. Chuck reluctantly agrees to stay to watch Jimmy do karaoke and gets sucked into a duet before taking it as a solo from Jimmy. Afterwards, Chuck escorts a drunken Jimmy home and listens to his ramblings in which Jimmy is excited about joining HHM. Lying beside each other in bed, the brothers happily continue their duet as they fall asleep. In the present, as part of his plan to regain his license and seem remorseful for Chuck's death, Jimmy anonymously donates a library in Chuck's name and takes part in a scholarship committee set up by his estate. In a final effort to impress the committee, Jimmy begins reading Chuck's letter to them, but stops himself. Instead, Jimmy speaks from the heart about Chuck and how he tried so hard to live up to his standards. Jimmy accepts that he can never be the man Chuck was, but promises to try if they give him a chance. However, he gleefully admits to Kim after being reinstated that his whole speech was a lie and that he did not mean a single word about his late brother and mocks the panel for believing him. This leaves Kim stunned and upset. ("")
Chuck is mentioned by Jimmy during the celebration of his reinstatement. Jimmy contemplates throwing a promotional event selling his remaining drop phones and considers offering a 50% discount for non-violent offenders. Kim is concerned that what Jimmy is planning will encourage his clients to continue their criminal behavior and will reflect badly on Jimmy himself. He tells her that he can't go back to being regarded as "Chuck McGill's loser brother" and insists that his new identity as Saul will give him a fresh start, implying he has changed his name in order to escape from his late brother completely ("").
Jimmy mentions his brother when Howard confronts him for harassing him after offering Jimmy a job at HHM. Howard acknowledges he knows Jimmy is in pain and an infuriated Jimmy openly blames Howard for killing Chuck and shouts he has grown too big for the constraints of an HHM job ("").
Personality and traits
- "Chuck is a name partner at one of Albuquerque's most prestigious law firms. A brilliant man of high ideals, Chuck believes that doing the right thing is the true and proper route to success. Unfortunately, an unusual illness makes it difficult for him to live a normal life."
- ―Information about Chuck
Chuck is a brilliant man of high ideals; he believes that doing the right thing is the true and proper route to success. Chuck is a highly intelligent and dedicated lawyer who views the law as being sacred and is very determined in helping his clients in any way possible. He is well respected by his colleagues at HHM and also other prestigious law firms.
In contrast to his younger brother Jimmy, however, Chuck appears to be a less likable individual and is not as humorous as Jimmy, tending to be uptight and serious. Despite this, Chuck appears to view himself as being superior to his brother and that he does not deserve to be a lawyer due to the simple steps he took to become one and his past delinquent behavior. Although Chuck does care for his brother somewhat, it is very apparent that he loathes him for many reasons. He views him as being nothing more than a conman who has not changed at all since his "Slippin Jimmy" days and that the way he obtained a law degree was a joke. He also resents how Jimmy is able to win people over so easily, such as his ex-wife and even their own parents. It is hinted that Chuck is jealous of Jimmy to a degree which may be another contributing factor to why he always tries to cut him down in order to prevent him from surpassing himself at feats that he worked hard at to accomplish. Chuck firmly establishes the reasons for why he hates his brother in the episode "" and later claims to Jimmy that he never mattered to him at all.("")
Even though Jimmy himself took care of Chuck for almost a year and a half while suffering from his condition, Chuck has not changed his opinions on him at all and went to extreme lengths to prevent him from working at his law firm, even after Jimmy found and built a strong legal case against Sandpiper Crossing. This incident also shows that Chuck would rather sacrifice a potential multi-million dollar case for HHM than to have Jimmy work at his law firm. Chuck also does not appear to care much for the well-being of others who are affected by his attempts to cut Jimmy down, noticeably Kim. Chuck firmly believes that he is protecting people from getting hurt by sabotaging Jimmy's attempts to be a successful lawyer as he claims people will get hurt if the power of law is abused.
Chuck is also shown to be rather cold toward his younger brother on many occasions such as lying to him that their mother spoke any last words before her death (she called for Jimmy) and brutally telling him of how he is not a real lawyer and that "Slippin Jimmy" with a law degree is nothing short of dangerous. Chuck is also shown to be a hypocrite to a degree as seen when he snaps at Jimmy for stabbing him the back, all the while completely ignoring that he has stabbed Jimmy in the back and betrayed him numerous times.
After Chuck correctly deduces that Jimmy sabotaged his Mesa Verde files in order for the case to be returned to Kim, and was completely humiliated as a result, he embarks on a warpath against him to bring him down once and for all. Chuck has been shown to possess a rather ruthless side to a degree as he cunningly gets Jimmy to confess to the deed in private while pretending to feel remorse for his "mistake" and overcoming his electricity condition to record it on tape, showing that Chuck will go to extreme lengths to succeed at his goal. ("")
It's highly indicated that Chuck's electromagnetic hypersensitivity is, in fact, a mental illness, not an actual allergy despite Chuck's beliefs. In one case, Dr. Cruz activated Chuck's hospital bed without his knowledge and he was unaffected, using it as proof to Jimmy that Chuck is in fact mentally ill rather than physically. ("") On another occasion, Huell Babineaux planted a fully-charged cell phone battery in Chuck's pectoral pocket, essentially putting it right up against Chuck's skin. Chuck remained completely unaffected and despite his claims that he could sense when an electronic object was close to him due to its effect on him, did not sense the battery. Chuck was completely unaware and unaffected for an hour and forty-three minutes, right until Jimmy revealed the battery's presence to him, further pointing to Chuck being mentally ill rather than physically sick. During the time this happens, Jimmy suggests that Chuck developed his condition in response to his divorce from his wife. ("") Chuck later states that this incident caused him to reevaluate his condition and realize that perhaps everyone is right and was left to wonder if he was wrong about the condition, what else he was wrong about. ("")
When he feels that he has been crossed, Chuck becomes vindictive towards that person above all else. This is seen with both his actions towards Jimmy and Howard Hamlin following Howard suggesting that he retire. When following his personal vendettas, Chuck is seen to be willing to do anything to win, even if it means destroying the law firm he helped build when his actions caused Howard to lose faith in him. Even Howard, who had supported Chuck against Jimmy, noted that Chuck went too far with his vendettas and caused serious collateral damage to everything around him in the process. Chuck has also shown a willingness to use and even sacrifice his own employees in pursuit of his vendettas, notably manipulating Ernesto into revealing the existence of his tape recording of Jimmy's confession to Jimmy as part of his scheme, and later firing him for unknown reasons.
Following his courtroom breakdown, Chuck reevaluated his life and finally sought help for his EHS delusion. He expressed hope of returning to a normal life and was eager to move forward. He also appeared to regret some of his choices. After finally seeking help, Chuck was able to do grocery shopping for himself with some help, turn his power back on and even cook for himself over a regular stove for the first time in years. While still haunted by his EHS, Chuck had developed coping mechanisms with the help of Dr. Cruz that appeared to involve him naming what he could see and focusing on that. However, Chuck's behavior did not change in any other way following this and he retained the vindictive parts of his personality, as seen with his interactions with Howard following the meeting with the malpractice insurance company.
At the end of his life, Chuck suffered a major relapse of his EHS following his being forced from HHM and his vindictive last conversation with his brother. In this state, Chuck was compelled to destroy his own house in search of a single source of electricity still running and ultimately the power meter. This relapse appeared to be worse than Chuck's original onset of the delusion as he never went to such an extreme except when he wrapped his house in Mylar which was part of his plot to trick Jimmy. This major relapse, coupled with losing everything important in his life ultimately drove Chuck to commit suicide.
Deaths connected to Chuck
- Himself: Committed sucide by kicking over a gas lantern and setting his home on fire after suffering a major relapse of his EHS following the destruction of his friendship with Howard and being forced to retire from HHM, causing himself to die by smoke inhalation. ("")
- "It's not a situation, it's a condition. Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity. For reasons unknown, my nervous system has become sensitized to certain frequencies of electromagnetic radiation."
- ―Chuck explaining his condition
- Jimmy: "I'm your brother. We're supposed to look out for each other. Why were you working against me, Chuck?"
- Chuck: "You're not a real lawyer."
- Jimmy: "I'm what?"
- Chuck: "You're not a real lawyer. University of American Samoa, for Christ's sake? An online course? What a joke. I worked my ass off to get where I am. And you take these shortcuts and you think suddenly you're my peer? You do what I do because you're funny and you can make people laugh? I committed my life to this! You don't slide into it like a cheap pair of slippers and reap all the rewards."
- Jimmy: "I thought you were proud of me."
- Chuck: "I was. When you straightened out and got a job in the mailroom, I was very proud."
- Jimmy: "So that's it then, right? Keep old Jimmy down in the mailroom. He's not good enough to be a lawyer."
- Chuck: "I know you. I know what you were, what you are. People don't change. You're Slippin' Jimmy. And Slippin' Jimmy I can handle just fine. But Slippin' Jimmy with a law degree is like a chimp with a machine gun. The law is sacred! If you abuse that power, people get hurt. This is not a game. You have to know on some level, I know you know I'm right. You know I'm right."
- ―Chuck reveals his true feelings to his brother.[src]
- "My brother is not a bad person. He has a good heart. It's just he can't help himself, and everyone's left picking up the pieces."
- ―Chuck to Kim Wexler.
- "Jimmy, don't think I'll ever forget what happened here today. And you WILL pay."
- ―Chuck threatening Jimmy.
- "Here's what's going to happen. The police will arrest you and I'm sorry, but I will be pressing charges. I told you there would be consequences. But I have to believe you'll face those consequences and you'll come out the other side a better man. I know it's hard to see right now. But Jimmy, this is an opportunity. That's why I'm doing this. Not to punish you. To show you... truly show you, that you have to make a change. Before it's too late. Before you destroy yourself. Or someone else. And I believe you can change. You'll find your path. And when you're ready... I will be there to help you walk that path."
- ―Chuck to Jimmy before getting him arrested.
- "I am not crazy! I know he swapped those numbers, I knew it was 1216! One after Magna Carta, as if I could ever make such a mistake! Never! Never! I just–I just couldn't prove it! He–he–he covered his tracks, he got that idiot at the copy shop to lie for him. You think this is something? You think this is bad, this–this chicanery? He's done worse. That billboard! Are you telling me that a man just happens to fall like that? No, he orchestrated it! Jimmy! He defecated through a sunroof, and I saved him! I shouldn't have! I took him into my own firm! What was I thinking? He'll never change. He'll never change! Ever since he was nine, always the same! Couldn't keep his hands out of the cash drawer! "But not our Jimmy! Couldn't be precious Jimmy!" Stealing them blind! And he gets to be a lawyer?! What a sick joke! I should have stopped him when I had the chance! And you, you have to stop him! You—" "
- ―Chuck imploding in front of his relatives and the New Mexico Bar Association.
- "This condition, to me it's as real as that chair - it's as real as this house, as real as you. But what if it's not? What if it's all in my head? And if that's true, if it's not real, then what have I done?"
- ―Chuck to Dr. Cruz about his condition.
- Chuck: "Look. You see? I'm better! Howard, I'm fine!"
- Howard: "This is not what 'fine' looks like."
- ―Chuck and Howard about Chuck's condition.[src]
- Chuck: "Yes, I'm suing HHM for breach of contract."
- Howard: "Do you have any idea what you're doing?"
- Chuck: "I believe I do. I'm calling your bluff. This is MY firm. I built it. Your father was working in a 2 room office when I joined him, and you, I tutored for the bar exam. You're not kicking me out. If you can't trust my judgement then, as you say, so be it. But you're going to have to pay me for my share. I believe it comes to around 8 million dollars. We both know the firm doesn't have the money."
- Howard: "You'd rather tear down HHM than retire?"
- Chuck: "You think I'm trouble now, as your partner? Imagine me as your enemy."
- ―Chuck and Howard arguing after Chuck decided to sue HHM.[src]
- Howard: "17 years. 18 in July, actually. All those years we built this place together. And all that time I've supported you. Looked up to you, deferred to you. Because I always thought you had the best interests of the firm in mind."
- Chuck: "I have."
- Howard: "You did. For a long time. But you've let personal vendettas turn your focus away from what's best for HHM. You've put your needs first. To our detriment."
- Chuck: "I don't think that's accurate."
- Howard: "And the moment that I mildly suggest, with empathy and concern, that maybe it's time for you to consider retirement the first instinct you have is to sue me?! To sue the firm? Well, I I-I don't even know I-In what world is that anything but the deepest betrayal of everything we worked so hard to accomplish? In what world is that anything but the deepest betrayal of our friendship?"
- ―Howard confronting Chuck.[src]
- Chuck: "Three million dollars?"
- Howard: "The first of three payments, as per the partnership agreement."
- Chuck: "The firm can't afford this. Are you... ? You're not shutting down, are you?"
- Howard: "I would never endanger the firm. This is mostly from my personal funds... and a few loans."
- Chuck: "You're paying me out of your own pocket?"
- Howard: "You won."
- ―Howard eliminating Chuck's leverage over HHM.[src]
- Jimmy: "'Cause I wanted to tell you..."
- Chuck: "That you have regrets. And I'm telling you: don't bother. What's the point? You're just gonna keep hurting people."
- Jimmy: "That's not true."
- Chuck: "Jimmy, this is what you do. You hurt people, over and over and over. And then there's this show of remorse."
- Jimmy: "It's not a "show"."
- Chuck: "I know you don't think it's a show. I don't doubt your emotions are real. But what's the point of all the sad faces and the gnashing of teeth? If you're not going to change your behavior, and you won't..."
- Jimmy: "I can change."
- Chuck: "Why don't you skip the whole exercise? In the end, you're going to hurt everyone around you. You can't help it. So stop apologizing and accept it. Embrace it. Frankly, I'd have more respect for you if you did."
- ―Part of Chuck's and Jimmy's final conversation[src]
- "Let me put your mind at ease, Jimmy. You don't have to make up with me. We don't have to understand each other. Things are fine the way they are. Hey. I don't want to hurt your feelings... but the truth is you've never mattered all that much to me."
- ―Chuck's last words to Jimmy, refusing to forgive him.
- Chuck shares a scene with every main character except Nacho Varga, Gustavo Fring and Lalo Salamanca.
- Chuck is the first main character in Better Call Saul to die. He is also the first main character to kill another main character, being himself.
- Chuck shares some similarities with Hank Schrader: Both men are dedicated servants of the law in different ways, and are directly related to the shows protagonists, Jimmy and Walt. While loyal in the beginning, Chuck's/Hank's relationship with Jimmy/Walt dissolves upon knowing about their crimes. They later die after obsessively pursuing them.
- Matt Zoller Seitz of Vulture considers him to be the Better Call Saul equivalent of Breaking Bad character' Skyler White. In both shows, their controlling demeanor towards both Jimmy and Walt contributes towards their downwards transformation into their respective Saul Goodman and Heisenberg personas.
- Season 5 is the first where Chuck doesn't appear, making him the first main character to not appear for a full season after their introduction.
- Michael McKean's ITW for the New York Times about Chuck's death: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/19/arts/television/better-call-saul-finale-michael-mckean-chuck.html
- Chuck's age in Klick