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What is Walter White's alignment?


Television


So, this is for people who watch the show. If you're interested, or are catching up, spoilers will abound. I'll try n' hide them, but be warned.

Hank Schrader: Lawful Good, a cop who's a stand-up good guy and follows the law. Borders on Lawful Stupid at times, but at other times he's pretty crafty.

Gustavo Fring: Lawful Evil, since he's the head of a major crime organization and seems to follow a certain code when dealing with the Cartel. Although...

SPOILER:
could he be considered NE or even CE for poisoning Cartel heads at an ostensibly peaceful meeting?

Jesse Pinkman: My thinking is Chaotic Neutral become Chaotic Good become Neutral Good. He's had quite an arc; at times he seems Evil, but this is just the pain talking, and he always comes back to a right way of thinking.

SPOILER:
Sure, he kills Gale in cold blood, but this was done out of extreme desperation, and he knows that it was an evil act and it sends him in a spiral of depression and masochistic self-deprecation for half a season. Buckets of remorse there, and he didn't repeat the act (killing Gus on Walt's say-so) when presented with numerous opportunities, which indicates that he learned and changed from the experience.

Saul Goodman: Lawful Neutral? Not evil enough to be evil, not noble enough to be good, but has significant loyalty to his associates. I hesitate to call a Lawyer who advises people how to break the law on a constant basis "Lawful", but this refers more to the "Law of the Street" instead of the United States.

Mike: Lawful Eeeevil. Fiercely loyal to both his boss and his soldiers, works to maintain order, ruthless bastard if you cross him. Kills in cold blood when ordered to without hesitation.

Walter White: ? When we first meet him, Lawful Good, I guess. This quickly shifts to Chaotic Good after his life-changing prognosis, when he turns away from the law completely but maintains loyalty toward his partner.

SPOILER:
By the time he lets Jesse's gf choke to death because she threatened to blackmail him, which is a decidedly evil act, I'm thinking he's shifted to Lawful Neutral, since he is, by this time, following the "law of the street" to some extent, but it begins a decline to Lawful Evil by the time we hit the end of Season 4. Poisoning a child as part of a plot to murder someone is so thoroughly evil that it's pretty far beyond justification, even if it was done to "protect his family". Nevertheless, he is "playing a game" with deadly stakes against his rival, acting out of self-preservation, and still shows some loyalty to Jesse.

On the other hand, he's hiding in shadows, manipulating other people into trapping his adversary in an explosion. Is this more along the lines of a Chaotic Evil character, no matter the justification? What set of rules is he following by Season's End? Certainly not U.S. Law. Not really the "code of the street", since he has no loyalty to his boss for most of the season and even his loyalty to his partner is questionable.

How would you rate Walter's alignment? Is it a case of the alignment framework simply failing when confronted with a moral environment too close to reality? Or maybe it's simpler than I'm making it seem?


i would disagree.

when we first meet walter, i think his alignment is neutral good at best. we know little of his life before the whole cooking meth business, but it seems to me he has no compunction in breaking the law as and when he sees fit - he'll do what he likes, as long as he can avoid getting caught - but his motivations are essentially, if selfishly, wholesome (provide for his family)

however, it doesnt take long for this to start changing.

using expediency and 'kill or be killed' as justification, his true nature begins to show itself. by the end of the fourth season, i think walter is chaotic neutral with evil tendencies. he is willing to manipulate anyone and do just about anything to preserve himself and those he loves.

season four spoilers inside:
poisoning the child, talking hector into bombing fring, and manipulating jesse, his only true friend in all of this business are all essentially evil acts, their only redeeming feature being a vague 'for the greater good' feeling to them.

one of the things i love about breaking bad is that the main character is basically an evil a@+#%+~ by the end of it, but you are still rooting for him - kinda reminds me of tony soprano.


I wouldn't think hank was good, i'd say LN as he doesn't want to help people as much as he does bust people. Jesse is dfinately chaotic, i doubt he would move up to NG as he is pretty crazy and doesn't really become more lawful as the series progresses.

Walter probably starts out as NG then downgrades to NE via TN, he's too thought out to be chaotic and too crazy to be lawful.

I think the over abundance of lawful alignments for characters in a show about making and selling drugs is probably more about character appearance rather than outlook. Just because someone has a personal code of ethics or behaviour doesn't shuffle them to a lawful alignment, if i play a CG ranger who fights against slavery but is extremely loyal to my allies and friends i'm still chaotic, if we move to a place where slavery is abolished i don't become lawful, i still value personal freedom and chafe under the yoke off oppression but my rebel in less striking ways.

Most of the crime figures you describe as lawful are actually chaotic or neutral, they care for personal freedom and gain over the laws of the land. While they follow a code it is a code of convinience which both protects and insulates them from the world at large and there friends and allies who follow a similar code, mostly out of vested self interest rather than any true sense of altruism.

I'd drop the lawyer to TN and the crime figures to CE, maybe CN, killing in cold blood is no doubt an evil act, a paladin couldn't do it but a CN crime figure? Would a truely evil crime figure survive for long in "organised" crime or would they become a liability that their CN bretheren would remove before they caused a problem for everyone who follows the loose "laws of the street".


st00ji wrote:

i would disagree.

when we first meet walter, i think his alignment is neutral good at best. we know little of his life before the whole cooking meth business, but it seems to me he has no compunction in breaking the law as and when he sees fit - he'll do what he likes, as long as he can avoid getting caught - but his motivations are essentially, if selfishly, wholesome (provide for his family)

Pride issues aside, before his diagnosis, Walter seems like a pretty straitlaced, law-abiding citizen, even if he does have some tension bubbling inside of him. It's not until the diagnosis that he goes off the "Chaotic" deep end; this was a life and alignment-altering piece of news.

As for Walt being CN by Season 4's end: nah. I disagree with Chaotic Neutral precisely because of the reasons you lay out in your spoiler. His evil is, by this point, more than "tendencies". With a brother-in-law in the DEA, you have to figure that he has more options available to him than the option he chose. That's full-on, premeditated cold-blooded evil. My tendency to lump him into the Lawful category has more to do with his methodology, his adherence to a plan and to "science"; he's hardly a mad-dog loose cannon that should share an alignment with people that rape and pillage on a whim with no empathy toward others. For this reason I hesitate to call him "chaotic".

He's also very loyal toward his family: I suppose the heart of this thread topic is "Can a Chaotic Evil character be Loyal?" Sure, a minion who fears the ramifications of his master might follow orders, but given the upper hand against the source of that fear, a true Chaotic Evil character will show their colors and act both in self-interest and revel in the suffering of others, probably due to some deep-seated emotional pain or general lack of empathy (most likely due to trauma or misfiring brain chemistry, although magical creatures like demons and outsiders may simply fundamentally lack empathy).

Walt, on the other hand, doesn't like to torture people, doesn't seem to revel in the pain and suffering of others. Whereas I would NOT call him anything but evil, doesn't loyalty to family at least grant a character the Lawful tag?


Walt does what he needs to do. Simple as that. Is he lawful? Heeeeeeeck no. No way. Not even close. But he's not necessarily chaotic. His actions all had reasons behind them, as crazy as they have seemed at the time. I'd say he's strongly in the Neutral Evil camp.


No, just because he loves his family he doesn't become lawful. Thats once again like a character who enjoys stamping on kittens in his off time being a druid because he likes to pet dogs.

Alignments aren't absolutes but its unlikely many people move from TN, we all break the law but tow the line, we all try to be nice and give to charity but still wouldn't piss of the guy we don't like to put the fire out.

Now applying dnd to real people or tv characters is hard, you only see them in snapshots, but its safe to assume everyone has a bit of neutral in them.

Walt doesn't care about the law, he doesn't do things on a whim, he looks after his own interests and that of his family. In my book on the law chaos axis that makes him neutral. He starts out nice and helpful and kind which in my book makes him good and he devolves into evil as the series progresses.

The problem is that law and chaos as abstract comcepts lend themselves to many different actions and those actions cannot really be used to determine an over arching theme of alignment, breaking the law is chaotic, breaking the law to protect a friend is lawful? Neutral at best, breaking a law to prevent a greater law from being broken is probably neutral again. Following a law that has no impact on you life, lawful? Really with no effort, probably neutral. Following a law that makes your life harder even if it means breaking your loyalty to a friend? Lawful i would think, some might say neutral.

Evil and good are a little clearer but where does getting the job done end and evil begin, where does being good and just not caring enough to de evil end? Arresting meth heads, good? Are you really helping anyone, are you rehebilitating them? Neutral. Killing an opposing trigger man, evil? Was it you or him? Was he a liability? Were you protecting someone else? Could be neutral. Did you murder a child in cold blood? Needlessly? Thats evil.


Egoish wrote:


The problem is that law and chaos as abstract comcepts lend themselves to many different actions and those actions cannot really be used to determine an over arching theme of alignment

This is one reason I advocate a change in how we view Lawful/Chaotic.

Lawful would be following societal norms and using the values and opinions of others to construct your own value system. It's not just about following the rules, but rather following the rules people expect to be followed (written or unwritten).

Chaotic is determining what is normal or ethical on your own. The proud barbarian who holds onto his own concept of honor, perhaps influenced by a small number of people (father, mentor, etc), but it doesn't matter what other people think now, he knows whats "right" and doesn't care if others disagree.

I think this version becomes much easier to judge and categorize people and behaviors.

Using that, I think Walt becomes NE or CE. He's completely willing to step outside what society considers normal and right to get what he wants (chaotic), he does try to maintain the veneer of civility though (neutral), and he's willing to do anything up to and including murder to do it (evil).


Walter White: Neutral Evil

All about Walt.

Jesse Pinkman: Chaotic Neutral

Party, money, and live life for fun and selfish pleasure.

Gus Fring: Lawful Evil

Power and wealth is the game. I'm the king and everyone else is a piece in my game.


Maddigan wrote:

Walter White: Neutral Evil

All about Walt.

Jesse Pinkman: Chaotic Neutral

Party, money, and live life for fun and selfish pleasure.

Gus Fring: Lawful Evil

Power and wealth is the game. I'm the king and everyone else is a piece in my game.

I agree with Maddigan. Walter White endangered and almost murdered a child in order to manipulate Pinkman. That's evil in my book. Jesse murdered an "innocent" chemist in cold blood. Due to the circumstances surrounding the incident, one could make the case that wasn't evil, but it certainly precludes him from being good. Gus is definitely lawful. He works the system and adheres closely to a code of law. And that isn't even a code he created himself. It's a code under which all the organized criminals operate...a code of "honor". I've seen Lawful Evil generally described in two different ways...as organized crime (which fits Gus to a T) or as an evil empire (totalitarian regime).

What makes this an interesting post is that it addresses what the entire show is about: the transformation of Walter White.

For a potentially even more complex exercise: what is the alignment of Dexter?


Yeah, Walt is most def Neutral Evil. Everything is about him, and when he had a chance to quit the game he stayed in because he enjoyed it.

Jesse...I see him more good than neutral. He's been put in circumstances in which he has to kill innocent people yes, but if let on his own, he'd rather just get away from it all with a girl he loves and live happily to make things right. He does some stuff out of self interest, but he isn't actively trying to hurt anyone.

He didn't have to give Andrea and Brock money, and he didn't have to avenge the guys who killed a child. He did it because he felt he had to, because it was the right thing to do. Hell, even after he had a fighter with walter, he was still protecting him from Gus.

Gus is lawful evil. Done.

Saul Goodman is a CRIMINAL lawyer as they said on the show, he's (un)lawful neutral imo. In other words, he's just as lawful as Gus is.

oh and

SgtHulka wrote:
For a potentially even more complex exercise: what is the alignment of Dexter?

How about instead we make Walter's and Jesee's Characters? Both Alchemists? lol


Zolthux wrote:

Yeah, Walt is most def Neutral Evil. Everything is about him, and when he had a chance to quit the game he stayed in because he enjoyed it.

Jesse...I see him more good than neutral. He's been put in circumstances in which he has to kill innocent people yes, but if let on his own, he'd rather just get away from it all with a girl he loves and live happily to make things right. He does some stuff out of self interest, but he isn't actively trying to hurt anyone.

He didn't have to give Andrea and Brock money, and he didn't have to avenge the guys who killed a child. He did it because he felt he had to, because it was the right thing to do. Hell, even after he had a fighter with walter, he was still protecting him from Gus.

Gus is lawful evil. Done.

Saul Goodman is a CRIMINAL lawyer as they said on the show, he's (un)lawful neutral imo. In other words, he's just as lawful as Gus is.

oh and

SgtHulka wrote:
For a potentially even more complex exercise: what is the alignment of Dexter?
How about instead we make Walter's and Jesee's Characters? Both Alchemists? lol

Walter I see as a high level Expert with lots of ranks in Craft: Alchemy and maybe one level of Alchemist (because of his terrible BAB until the very last episode). Jesse... Commoner? Maybe with fewer ranks in Alchemy. By show's end he's got one or two levels in fighter. Or maybe gunslinger.

Dexter is more like a multiclassed Investigator Rogue/Fighter (or Monk)/ Vivisectionist. You could probably even lose the Vivisectionist and just give him some ranks in Craft: Anatomy or some such. He's kind of like Batman in that he has no apparent dump stat. Probably Charisma is his lowest score, but on the other hand he's really good at Intimidating, Bluffing a homicide department for years, lying to his wife, etc. It can't be a straight-up dump stat.

And I would call Dexter Lawful Evil. He rarely ever strays far from a code that he himself did not design.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion Subscriber

Who is Walter White and why are we discussing his alignment in General Discussion? You're only tempting me to start a thread about Batman's alignment, and we all know how that will end up.


Lead character on Breaking Bad.


Gorbacz wrote:
Who is Walter White and why are we discussing his alignment in General Discussion? You're only tempting me to start a thread about Batman's alignment, and we all know how that will end up.

batmans true neutral, discuss.

/popcorn


Egoish wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:
Who is Walter White and why are we discussing his alignment in General Discussion? You're only tempting me to start a thread about Batman's alignment, and we all know how that will end up.

batmans true neutral, discuss.

/popcorn

Chaotic evil, with lawful good tendencies.


Chaotic Good is Chaotic Good.

He only targets criminals. He lives by his own code, which he'll break to accomplish what he thinks is the greater good. He doesn't mind tearing up city property to pursue the greater good. He'll sacrifice his life for innocents. Batman is a very clear example of Chaotic Good.


Breaking Bad is about crisis of identity. Trying to put an alignment on Walter White is like putting an alignment on the various personalities of a schizophrenic.

Walter White is meekly Neutral Good. Heisenberg is Lawful Evil. Walter swings between those two with all stops in between.

Andoran

Walter cooks meth. He'd be cleaner, alignment-wise, if he robbed banks and kicked puppies.

Sorry, I just really can't stand tweakers.

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