Breaking Bad Wiki
Breaking Bad Wiki

Howard in his office at Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill (HHM).

"Sun-kissed and patrician, Howard Hamlin is one of life's winners. Chuck's law partner in the wildly successful firm Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill. Howard's good looks, charm and success are only part of the reason Jimmy can't stand him."
―Information about Howard.[src]

Howard Hamlin was a successful member of Albuquerque's legal community, and spoke and acted in a thoughtful and professional manner. However, due to his golden-boy image and position as a name partner of HHM, he sometimes came off as arrogant, a trait that vexed Jimmy as he considered Howard responsible for his station in life. Many of his decisions came across as unfairly strict, such as when he reassigned Kim to document review as punishment for losing the Kettleman case; giving him the image of an uncaring corporate overlord from Jimmy's perspective. He initially blocked Jimmy from working as a lawyer at HHM, although this was revealed to be at the behest of Chuck. For much of the first three seasons, Howard assisted Chuck in his attempts to prevent Jimmy from finding success as an attorney, though he took no pleasure whatsoever in it and simply did it all out of loyalty to Chuck.

Chuck and Howard

Howard with his colleague and close friend, Chuck McGill.

However, it was shown that most of Howard's decisions were what he felt to be in the best interests of his firm and employees. Howard stood up to Chuck when his increasingly erratic behavior threatened the firm's future, going so far as to fire Chuck and pay his severance money out of pocket. He has also demonstrated compassion, such as when he forgave Kim's scholarship debt and attempted to give Jimmy a second chance at HHM. It is also hinted that Howard felt somewhat railroaded into his position by his father, George Hamlin, and felt pressure to live up to his position as name partner, particularly when HHM goes through financial hardship. It is later revealed that he personally liked Jimmy, giving him the nickname "Charlie Hustle", and may have sympathized with him living in Chuck's shadow due to also being related to a successful lawyer, his father George Hamlin. Howard saw his unique personality as a potential asset to the firm, having considered hiring him before Chuck vetoed him. Howard instead put in a good word for Jimmy at Davis & Main. In Season 5, Howard offered Jimmy the chance to come to work at HHM, although Jimmy - now Saul at this point - bore too much of a grudge to accept and viewed himself as being above such a position, and later attempted to sabotage Howard by smashing his car with bowling balls and humiliating him by sending prostitutes to his business lunch.


Howard talking with Jimmy McGill and Kim Wexler.

Howard was devastated and felt personally responsible for Chuck's suicide, having fired him just days before his death - unaware that Jimmy was responsible for the insurance hike that precipitated those events. In the aftermath of Chuck's death Howard went into debt and HHM was forced to make layoffs in order to stay in business, and during this period Howard was plagued by insomnia and began seeing a therapist. One year after Chuck's death, Howard seemed to have recovered mentally and financially along with his firm and seemed to have made peace with himself, as exemplified by his license plate NAMAST3. He was even shown searching for forgiveness for his past actions of denying Jimmy a job at HHM by generously offering him a position at his firm.

One of Howard's best qualities were his social skills, which led him to fix the image of HHM and its financial situation. Jimmy said that Howard was more a "salesman" than a lawyer, and in the latter seasons Howard had proven to be true, often using his communication skills to gain the confidence and professional respect of his peers. His good look and the image he portrayed was one of the main reasons for Jimmy and Kim to make the scam against him. Even lawyers from other firms strongly respected him, such as Richard Schweikart and Clifford Main, with the latter having a close friendship with Howard often having lunch or playing golf together, and both sincerely lamented Howard's demise, with Richard claiming that Howard truly cared about his clients and he never met anyone who was so dedicated to help them, not even Chuck.

Howard was extremely good at reading people and was one of the few to realize the inner pain Jimmy suffered from due to Chuck's suicide, even though he never admitted it and even appeared to recognize that Jimmy was jealous and enraged of how he had been able to move on from his grief over his friend's death while Jimmy obviously did not, hence his harassment of Howard. Even though Jimmy blamed him solely for Chuck's death and berated him for being a small man in comparison to him, Howard demonstrated patience and composure and simply walked away without a word while Jimmy humiliated himself and makes a scene, showing his unwillingness to fall for Jimmy's games. By the end of the fifth season of Better Call Saul it is evident that Howard had accepted that Chuck was indeed right all along about Jimmy being a dangerous crook. Despite her past treatment of him, Howard still showed concern for Kim and tried desperately to warn her of Jimmy's actions and that he needs help though she refused to accept it and instead found Jimmy's harassment of Howard amusing and claimed he is wrong and does not understand Jimmy. Howard however saw right through her and stood his ground and boldly told her Chuck best understood Jimmy.

Howard confronting Jimmy and Kim

Howard confronting Jimmy and Kim.

In Season 6, Howard's intelligence and awareness of Jimmy's antics was strongly exemplified as he was immediately aware that strange occurrences, such as drugs ending up in his locker, clients discrediting him and a prostitute being pushed out of his vehicle were Jimmy's doing and took steps to finally fight back and expose Jimmy for his actions. Ultimately however, Howard would fall into a meticulous trap set by Jimmy and Kim and would be utterly humiliated, defeated and forced to concede to an early settlement of the Sandpiper Crossing case; Kim and Jimmy's ultimate goal. In his final moments before being murdered, Howard displayed nothing but contempt for the pair; questioning what justifications they internalize for ruining his life, calling the pair "soulless" and a perfect match for each other for their shared despicable and sadistic nature. He again acknowledged that Chuck indeed saw his brother for the sadistic conman he is and expressed utter disgust at Kim, whom he praised as being one of the brightest people he ever knew, for choosing a life of criminality. Howard also vowed that he would devote the rest of his life to exposing the pair, exemplifying his utter hatred for Jimmy and Kim before his tragic murder at the hands of Lalo. Howard would ultimately be proven right that Jimmy and Kim are far from being okay, with the pair splitting up a day after his murder due to Kim's overwhelming guilt. In 2010, after the deaths of everyone involved in Howard's murder and the coverup aside from her and Jimmy, a remorseful Kim returns to Albuquerque and provides both Cheryl and the district attorney with an affidavit revealing the truth about the scam and Howard's murder in an effort to clear his name and save Howard's reputation. With Kim unaware of where Howard's body was buried, she doubts that it will ever be found or that she will ever face prosecution due to the lack of physical evidence and witnesses to the crime. Jimmy is later shown to feel sadness for Howard's fate during his sentencing trial, fighting back tears and having to quickly move on to keep his composure after mentioning Howard's murder.