Breaking Bad Wiki
Breaking Bad Wiki

Gustavo Fring promotional photo

Gus in his office at Los Pollos Hermanos.

"Gus is an empire-builder and a great inspiration and motivation to Walter White - whether Walt would admit it or not."
Vince Gilligan

A defining characteristic of Gus is the friendly and low-key exterior he maintains: he takes an active role in managing his front businesses and personally supervises employees and serves customers at his Los Pollos Hermanos restaurants. Quiet and humble, he is incredibly cautious about with whom he does business and keeps a very healthy distance from the product he sells in order to appear almost invisible. Despite being a multi-state meth distribution mastermind, Gus carefully maintains a public profile of propriety: noticeably, he is a major booster for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and has made large donations to the agency's Albuquerque office. Gus is so successful, in large part, because of his cautious nature — he plans ahead and has the patience to let his business grow slowly. As part of his scheme to "hide in plain sight", he drives a modest dark blue 1998 Volvo V70.

Gus holding box cutter

Gus menacingly holding a box cutter in the superlab.

However, Gus is ruthless and machiavellian in managing his vast drug empire, keeping the entire operation under his icy control. Gus admires professionalism and caution in his colleagues, and is generally calm and calculated. He employs a number of enforcers and has personally killed rivals and associates, making him a dangerous, cold-blooded murderer. In interviews, Giancarlo Esposito said he made the choice to make Gus "graceful". He described him as "someone who is poised to take over the cartel, someone who is poised to manipulate other people into doing what he needs them to do". Gustavo doesn't trust anyone who isn't as cautious as he is, as they are too unpredictable, and he prides himself on being several steps ahead at all times. With that, Gus is controlled, cold, powerful, and menacing. Even someone like Walter White, at its moment, was terrified about what Gus could do to both himself and his family due to having proven it before by killing Victor, one of his closest and most reliable employees, right in front of his eyes without any hesitation.

Gus Fring with the DEA

Gus during a meeting with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), before he was revealed to be a drug kingpin.

There is a fair amount of information that is unknown about Gus's past. Gus left Chile in 1986, the same year in which the Manuel Rodríguez Patriotic Front attempted to assassinate Augusto Pinochet. Although there are no existing Chilean records of Gus, there are two instances which demonstrate his possible involvement in the Pinochet government: Hector Salamanca refers to Gus as "Grand Generalissimo" in a flashback, and Don Eladio tells Gus that he is "not in Chile anymore", but spares his life because he knows who Gus really is. A possible interpretation of Don Eladio's line is that they spare Gus because killing him could put them at risk of being subject to retaliation that their association with the cartel cannot protect them from. Gus appears to be quite proud of his Chilean roots, even preparing paila marina, a traditional Chilean seafood dish, for both Walt and Jesse. He tells Walt "it's just like my mother used to make it".

Gus explain yourself

Gus telling Walter White to "explain himself" after the murder of the Rival Dealers

Gus has shown to have an obsession in having everything perfectly clean and controlled by himself and does not tolerate when something is not going as he planned it to be. Right after learning about Gale's murder, he went to the superlab, where at that moment Walter and Jesse were restrained as hostages. Before killing Victor, Gus is seen putting on a hazmat suit to avoid getting blood onto his clothes, and after he murdered Victor, Gus took a shower, cleaned his glasses and dressed again. After tricking Don Eladio and the rest of the cartel into drinking poisoned Zafiro Añejo by drinking a shot himself, Gus excuses himself to the toilet and takes the time to neatly fold his jacket, take off his glasses, and place a hand towel on the floor to keep his pants clean before vomitting the tequila. This is further seen in Better Call Saul, when Gus was being threatened and scared by the posible return of Lalo Salamanca, and in order to keep himself in calm, Gus cleans up his own house and the kitchen of Los Pollos Hermanos, attempting to leave them perfectly clean. Also, before going to his laundry and facing Lalo, Gus takes off the tie he was wearing to ensure it won't get dirty. Gus is also a man of honor as he reimburses any damages done to the property of his employees such as their cars when performing duties he requires them to. After Hector Salamanca went to Los Pollos Hermanos and threatened the employees, Gus sincerely apologized to all of them, offering them full pay for their shift, having them to take the rest of the day off, and gave an additional 24 hours of overtime pay. He is even seen with Jesse due to the suffering he was going through because of Brock's condition, offering to Jesse use his influence to give the child the best medical treatment and letting him to return to the lab the next week. While having no problem killing someone, Gus seems to not enjoy doing it and only enjoys killing people that did something to him, like Eladio Vuente or Juan Bolsa. Even in dangerous situations, he keeps his apathetic head. However, he lost his cool several times, such as when he discovered that Hector was going to suicide bomb him and when he fought Lalo in the superlab, repeatedly pulling the trigger on his gun even after running out of bullets and looking terrified.

Gus tortures Hector

Gus torments Hector Salamanca

However, Gus has been shown to genuinely care about people, noticeably Max Arciniega (the other "hermano" of the Los Pollos Hermanos brand name), who Gus took off the streets of Santiago, put through school, cared for and was interested in developing his potential. The humanity of Gus' personality played an integral role in his development, especially the very deep business and romantic relationship that Gus had with Max. The brutal loss of Max at Hector and Eladio's hands is partially what turned Gus into a ruthless villain, who is not above anything when it comes to avenging Max's death, including the murder of children (like Tomàs Cantillo) and the gradual killing of Hector's entire family. However, his dedication to avenging Max's death would ultimately be Gustavo's one and ultimate weakness which would lead to his own violent demise and the destruction of his drug empire.