- For the actor, see Max Arciniega (actor).
Don Eladio, Gustavo didn't mean to offend. l know Gustavo like a brother. He's an honorable man. The most loyal man l have ever known. He rescued me from the Santiago slums. He made me the man l am today! Gustavo is a genius. He will make you millions! Just find it in your heart to forgive him for this one small mistake. Please, he's my partner. l need him! l swear to God!
|― Max's final words (In Spanish) before being murdered by Hector Salamanca for Gus' disrespectful actions towards Don Eladio.|
Maximino "Max" Arciniega was a close friend and associate of Gustavo Fring and co-founder of the Los Pollos Hermanos franchise. He held advanced degrees in biochemistry and chemical engineering. Max's education was financed by Gus after Gus rescued him from the slums of Santiago.
After attempting to establish a partnership with the Juárez Cartel, Max would be murdered by Hector Salamanca on the orders of Don Eladio as punishment for Gustavo's disrespectful actions of manipulating Eladio into a meeting by selling drugs to his men without consent.
Max was born in Chile and grew up in poverty in the "Santiago Slums". He at one point met Gustavo Fring and the two became extremely close to one another. Gus paid for Max's education in chemistry at the "Universidad de Santiago de Chile" (USACH, University of Santiago in Chile). Together the two founded Los Pollos Hermanos, themselves being the "Chicken Brothers". The pair eventually moved to Mexico and opened up a chain of Los Pollos Hermanos chicken restaurants as a front and cover to cook highly pure crystal meth secretly. The two wished to establish a partnership with the Juárez Cartel to help them distribute meth rather than cocaine and in order to gain the attention of the cartel's leader, Don Eladio Vuente, Gustavo began giving away free samples of Max's meth to cartel operatives without the Don's consent, greatly angering him.
Don Eladio eventually chose to meet the pair face to face and the two desperately attempted to convince him to take up their business proposal, promising to yield the cartel millions. Don Eladio however, was unimpressed by these upstarts and adverse to selling methamphetamine and was instead angered at Gustavo's disrespectful actions of selling meth to his men without consent and manipulating him into a meeting. As punishment, Eladio ordered Hector Salamanca to kill Max on the patio of his mansion while Juan Bolsa restrained Gus. Gus was forced to watch the blood from his friend's fatal head wound drip into the swimming pool, a vision that stayed with him. Eladio told him the only reason he wasn't killed alongside Max is because he was aware of his mysterious past in Chile ("").
It was following this that Gus vowed revenge on Hector, Bolsa, Don Eladio and the entire Cartel and would spend the next 20 years plotting a way to avenge Max's death.
Better Call Saul
After moving to the United States, Gus endowed the Max Arciniega Chemistry Scholarship at the Chemistry department at the University of New Mexico. Gale Boetticher was one of perhaps three dozen recipients; this paid for his education ("", "").
Gus saves Hector from being assassinated by Mike Ehrmantraut, later explaining that "a bullet to the head would have been far too humane," referring to his long-term plan to make Hector suffer and avenge Max's death ("", "").
Later on, Gus saves Hector's life yet again, this time from a poisoning attempt from Nacho. Hector suffers a stroke and loses most of his mobility, so Gus takes an opportunity to draw out Hector's suffering by intentionally hindering his recovery ("", "").
In 2004, Gus and Mike, while in a small village in Mexico, talk about the differences between Gus and the Salamancas. Gus tells Mike that they both share the need for revenge. Gus is of course referencing Max's death murder at the hands of Hector in 1989 ("").
As part of his long scheme of revenge against the cartel for the murder of his close friend, Fring torments Hector about the killing of Hector's nephews by Hank Schrader; Gus had told the Cousins of Hank's involvement in Tuco Salamanca's death, but then anonymously warned Hank that the Cousins were after him, giving him time to fight back. As part of this scheme, Gus turned the American and Mexican governments against the cartel, which resulted in the death of cartel drug lord Juan Bolsa (who was also involved in Max's murder). ("", "", "").
Using a bottle of poisoned tequila, Gus eventually kills Don Eladio himself along with the rest of his cartel capos at the same poolside where Max was murdered. This mass poisoning meant the end of the cartel's influence and nearly the fruition of Gus's revenge ("").
Ultimately however, Gustavo would be blinded too much by his desire to avenge Max's death, which would result in his own violent death as a result of Max's own killer, Hector who, with the aid of Walter White, suicide bombed Gus after luring him into a trap, derailing nearly 20 years of Gus' efforts to avenge his partner's murder ("").
- Max Arciniega is named after the actor who plays Krazy-8.
- Chronologically, Max is the first character to die on-screen, since his death occurred before both the of Breaking Bad and of Better Call Saul.
- It is implied that Gus and Max's relationship may have been a romantic one, which Vince Gilligan has acknowledged, and decided against confirming or denying. However, this was further hinted in "" of Better Call Saul, where Lalo Salamanca mockingly tells Juan Bolsa that Gus holds a grudge against the cartel after Hector murdered his "boyfriend."
- The fifth episode in season 5 of Better Call Saul is dedicated to Max, as it is entitled "". Furthermore, a fountain memorial in his honor has been established by Gus in a peaceful Mexican village that he secretly funds.