Mike Ehrmantraut

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Michael "Mike" Ehrmantraut
Breaking Bad / Better Call Saul character
Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut.jpg
First appearance "ABQ"
Created by Vince Gilligan
Portrayed by Jonathan Banks
Occupation Private Investigator, former Philadelphia beat cop, former parking lot attendant, Head of Los Pollos Hermanos Corporate Security, hitman, cleaner
Children Matthew "Matty" Ehrmantraut (son)
  • Kaylee Ehrmantraut (granddaughter)
  • Stacey Ehrmantraut (daughter-in-law)

Michael "Mike" Ehrmantraut is a fictional character in the American television drama series Breaking Bad and the spin-off series Better Call Saul on AMC. He is portrayed by Jonathan Banks and was created by series creator Vince Gilligan. Mike Ehrmantraut is a former Philadelphia police officer who officially works as the Head of Corporate Security at Los Pollos Hermanos; in reality, he is an assassin and enforcer in Gus Fring's crystal meth operation. On occasion, he serves Saul Goodman as a private investigator, cleaner, and fixer. For his portrayal, Banks earned two Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series nominations; first for season 5 of Breaking Bad,[1] and second for season 1 of Better Call Saul.[2]

Fictional character biography[edit]


Mike's surname is an Americanized spelling of a German name, "Ehrmanntraut", coming from a distant German ancestor, though most of his recent ancestry is Irish. For over thirty years, Mike served in the Philadelphia Police Department as a beat cop. Every officer in Mike's precinct, including Mike himself, was involved in police corruption. His son, Matthew "Matty" Ehrmantraut, followed him onto the force, but was reluctant when his partner, Troy Hoffman, offered to cut him in on a bribe he accepted from a gang. When Matty sought his father for advice, Mike told him to "go along to get along" or else risk getting killed by other cops. Matty took the advice and accepted the bribes, but Hoffman and another corrupt cop, Jack Fenske, murdered Matty for fear that he would rat them out.

After feigning drunkenness and publicly accusing Hoffman and Fenske, Mike was taken to a remote parking lot to be executed. However, having previously stashed a gun in their car, Mike shot and killed Hoffman and Fenske. He then took a train to Albuquerque, New Mexico to live near Matty's widow Stacey and his daughter Kaylee. When Stacey asks questions about Matty's death, Mike confesses his role in the tragedy and laments that he corrupted his son for nothing. Between that time and the start of Better Call Saul, Mike finds a job as a parking lot attendant at an Albuquerque courthouse, where he first meets and repeatedly argues with a lawyer named Jimmy McGill - who would eventually become Saul Goodman - about parking validation. When Philadelphia detectives arrive in Albuquerque to question Mike about the murder of Hoffman and Fenske, Mike names Jimmy as his lawyer, correctly sensing that Jimmy would follow his illicit instructions on retrieving the detectives' notes. Mike later repays Jimmy by breaking into the home of the Kettlemans and taking their stolen money.

Wanting to provide for Stacey and Kaylee, Mike uses the connections of a shady veterinarian named Dr. Caldera for illegal work. His first job is acting as a bodyguard for a first-time criminal calling himself "Pryce", who sells prescription pills to Ignacio "Nacho" Varga; Mike's time in law enforcement gives him experience in how to prepare for such a deal and makes him a valuable asset in the exchange.

Breaking Bad[edit]

After Jesse Pinkman's girlfriend Jane Margolis overdoses on heroin, Walter White calls his lawyer Saul for advice; in response, Saul sends Mike to remove all evidence that could link Jane to Walt or Jesse. Mike instructs Jesse on what procedure to follow and what to tell the paramedics and police when they show up: "I woke up, I found her. That's all I know." Shortly thereafter, an emotionally devastated Jesse runs off to a crack house. Concerned about Jesse's well-being, Walt has Mike drive him to the drug den to retrieve Jesse.

A few weeks later, Saul hires Mike to spy on Walt's wife Skyler, who they fear may tell the authorities about Walt's involvement in the drug trade. While Mike is installing pinhole microphones outside the White residence, Walt shows up unexpectedly and breaks into his own home. Mike then observes drug cartel hitman Marco and Leonel Salamanca walk into the house. He phones an associate of drug kingpin Gus Fring, warning him that Walt is in danger. Later, Mike goes to the hospital and kills Marco after the failed assassination attempt on Walt's brother-in-law, DEA agent Hank Schrader.

After Walt kills two dealers working for Gus, Mike sets out to find Jesse. He intimidates Saul into giving him information on Jesse's whereabouts, but Saul deftly slips him a fake address. The next day, Mike is suddenly told that he and Victor, another of Gus' henchmen, must kill Walt. Walt pleads for his life and offers up Jesse in exchange, revealing that he knows his whereabouts. They unwittingly allow Walt to give Jesse a call, but he uses this opportunity to give Jesse an order to kill Gale Boetticher, the man being groomed to be Walt's replacement in Gus' superlab.

After Victor returns with Jesse and admits he was seen by witnesses, Gus brutally slashes Victor's throat in front of Mike, Walt and Jesse. Walt tails Mike to bar and attempts to persuade him to help murder Gus, but Mike punches him in the face and leaves. Later, Mike is dispatched by Gus to stow away in the back of a Los Pollos Hermanos truck that is transporting methamphetamine into Mexico. The truck is attacked by cartel gunmen, but Mike kills them, suffering only a grazed ear in the process. Mike catches a meth addict who has stolen money from Jesse, but is surprised when Jesse calls the play as a bluff.

At Gus' behest, Mike and Jesse drive around New Mexico retrieving buried bags of money. At their last pickup site, a man with a shotgun appears and seems intent on robbing them. Jesse, unaware the incident has been orchestrated by Gus, prevents the robbery, earning the kingpin's trust. Later, when Mike leads an operation to clean up the Los Pollos Hermanos farm before Hank can investigate it, one of Mike's men is gunned down by a cartel assassin. However, Mike manages to save Jesse's life.

Mike and Jesse accompany Gus to Mexico, where Jesse will supposedly teach the cartel chemist how to cook the "Blue Sky" meth that he and Walt have made their signature. At a party afterward, however, Gus poisons the entire cartel, and Mike garrotes cartel boss Don Eladio's right-hand man, Gaff. As the trio hobble to a car with Gus when attempting to escape, Mike is shot by one of the cartel members, Joaquin Salamanca. Jesse kills Joaquin and flees in a stolen car with Mike and Gus.

Mike tells Jesse to drive to a warehouse where there is a doctor waiting for them. At first the doctors only seem concerned about Gus, but eventually they get around to treating Mike. Mike is given ample blood transfusions and is stitched up, but has to stay in Mexico for at least a week to recuperate while Gus and Jesse return to the U.S. Gus indicates to Jesse that he will send for him when he is well enough to travel.

Season 5[edit]

Season five opens with Mike in Mexico, recuperating at the temporary medical facility. Gus' doctor informs him that Gus has been murdered; Mike deduces that Walt is responsible, and returns to New Mexico to murder him. Instead, Walt and Jesse convince him to help them destroy the video evidence from the superlab. Mike grudgingly agrees to help them break into Albuquerque PD's parking lot to use a giant magnet to destroy the laptop through the wall. However, a photograph of Gus that was also in the evidence room is damaged, revealing a hidden list of the bank accounts of his men, including Mike, who has his under his granddaughter's name.

Mike meets Lydia Rodarte-Quayle, an executive with Madrigal Electromotive, Los Pollos Hermanos' parent company, who secretly oversees the international distribution of Blue Sky meth. Lydia wants Mike to kill nine of his men, all of whom were involved in Gus Fring's meth operation in some way. Mike refuses, stating that his men won't rat as they will receive a hazard pay (through the recently discovered bank accounts) to keep them quiet. Mike is called in to the DEA headquarters to meet Hank and Gomez, who inform him of the discovery of the bank accounts, which have all been frozen. The two DEA agents try to intimidate Mike into revealing the identity of the elusive drug kingpin "Heisenberg" - Walt's criminal alias - and his role in Fring's operation, but Mike refuses. Mike is later called by Chow, one of his nine men, who was also called in to the DEA, and was offered a deal. He tells Mike to meet him at his house, however he is being held at gunpoint by Chris Mara, another former Fring employee. Mike arrives, but senses something is wrong. As he walks up to the door, Chris puts his gun to the peephole. Mike uses a children's toy to distract him through the peephole, while he sneaks in the back of the house. He holds Chris at gunpoint and questions him, Chow's dead body in the background. Chris tells him Lydia offered him $10,000 per person he killed on the list of nine men, $30,000 for Mike himself. Mike then shoots Chris multiple times and leaves. He later breaks into Lydia's home, planning to kill her for ordering the hit on him. Lydia is able to strike a deal with him to supply Mike, Walt, and Jesse with methylamine necessary to produce meth, as Mike realizes he must now somehow come up with his nine men's hazard pay. He calls Walt and lets him know he wants to take him up on his offer to join in their new meth venture.

Mike and Walt argue over Mike's taking of money from their profits to make up for the frozen hazard pay. Walt thinks it is ridiculous that they should pay nine men that are behind bars, and this is the start of many arguments between him and Mike. After Lydia spots a police bug on a barrel of methylamine in a Madrigal warehouse, all of the barrels in the warehouse are now unusable. Mike believes Lydia planted it to get out of her end of the deal, as she is paranoid of the DEA investigation. Mike, Walt and Jesse take Lydia prisoner in a warehouse in Houston, Texas, and force her to call Hank and ask about the police bug, to see if they really planted it. After the call, they listen in on Hank in his office, through a wire Walt had installed earlier. After a subordinate denies planting the bug, Mike prepares to kill Lydia, however as he is about to do so, Hank calls Houston PD and they confirm that they in fact planted the bug. Mike still wants to murder Lydia, citing the hit she put on him and her conniving and volatile behavior. Lydia however informs them of a train that is carrying the methylamine that they can rob. The heist is successful, however Todd, an employee of Vamanos Pest, the front for their meth operation and accomplice in the train robbery, shoots and kills a young boy named Drew Sharp, who witnessed the robbery. This is the last straw for Mike and Jesse, who then strike a deal to sell their share of the methylamine for $5 million to a meth distributor from Arizona named Declan. Walt is adamantly against this buyout, and refuses to sell his share, or even let Mike and Jesse sell theirs. Angered, Mike ties Walt to a radiator in Vamanos Pest, while he prepares for the deal. Walt escapes, however, and steals all of the methylamine. Mike barges into the Vamanos office and puts a 9mm Beretta 92FS Inox pistol to Walt's head. Jesse talks Mike out of killing Walt, however, reasoning that Walt has a way they can get their money while he keeps the methylamine.

Mike drives them all out to the desert to meet Declan, where Walt offers him a share in Walt's meth organization by distributing his superior product. Declan agrees to the deal, including giving Mike his $5 million buyout. Mike works with a lawyer to deliver his nine men's hazard pay through safety deposit boxes, but the transaction goes wrong when Hank's partner, Steve Gomez, catches the lawyer in the act and arrests him. The lawyer makes a deal and tells the police about the meth operation. Mike is informed of this through Walt, who hears about it when he visits Hank in his office to remove the wire he planted. Mike is forced to abandon his granddaughter at the park when police arrive to arrest him. Mike stashes his money and a .357 Taurus Model 66 revolver in the trunk of a car at the airport, and asks Saul to get it for him while he waits at a spot in the wilderness. Walt, who is at Saul's office with Jesse, offers to go instead. After arriving and giving Mike his bag, Walt demands that Mike give him the names of his nine men, who will now go un-paid, but Mike refuses. Returning to his car, Mike realizes his revolver is missing, just as Walt shoots him in a fit of rage through his car window. Tracking Mike to the bank of a river, Walt realizes too late that he could have procured the names from Lydia, and apologizes to Mike; in response, Mike tells him to let him die in peace. After a few moments, he succumbs to his wounds and dies.

Better Call Saul[edit]

Main article: Better Call Saul

In April 2013, it was announced that a spin-off series focusing on Saul Goodman was being developed by Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan and writer Peter Gould; the latter wrote the episode that introduced the character. Gilligan had considered it in a July 2012 interview: "I like the idea of a lawyer show in which the main lawyer will do anything it takes to stay out of a court of law. He'll settle on the courthouse steps, whatever it takes to stay out of the courtroom. That would be fun—I would like that."[3] In January 2014, it was announced that Jonathan Banks would reprise his Breaking Bad role as Mike Ehrmantraut and be a series regular.[4]

On September 11, 2013, it was announced that the series had been approved by AMC and given the confirmed title Better Call Saul, and is a prequel in a one-hour format.[5] The series premiered on February 8, 2015 and February 9, 2015.[6]

Season 1[edit]

Chronologically, the first time Mike Ehrmantraut is encountered in either series is during his last days in Philadelphia. We meet him first at a cop bar, shortly after his son, Matt--also an officer in the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD)--is killed by crooked cops who fear Matt will rat them out. Mike successfully carries out an elaborate plan to kill the two officers responsible. He immediately flees Philadelphia by train to Albuquerque, to live close to his widowed daughter-in-law Stacey, and grandchild Kaylee.

Mike first meets Saul Goodman (then named James Morgan "Jimmy" McGill) while working as a parking lot attendant and cashier for the Albuquerque courthouse. Mike's attitude towards Jimmy is dispassionate, usually not letting him pass through the parking lot's gate because he doesn't have enough validation stickers on his parking ticket. A brief hostile encounter at the parking gate lead the two to developing a closer--but still frigid on Mike's part--working relationship.

When officers from Philadelphia arrive in New Mexico to interview Mike, Mike hires Jimmy as his lawyer, primarily because he believes that Jimmy is dishonest enough to agree to help him steal evidence from the officers. Mike discovers that his location had been tipped off to PPD by his daughter-in-law Stacey. He confronts Stacey for talking to the police, and comes clean to her with the entire story, short of actually confessing to the murder of the two officers, merely saying to her, "You know what happened, the question is: Can you live with it?"


  1. ^ "Breaking Bad". Emmys.com. Retrieved July 19, 2013. 
  2. ^ Hipes, Patrick (July 16, 2015). "Emmy Nominations 2015 – Full List". Deadline.com. Retrieved July 16, 2015. 
  3. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (April 9, 2013). "AMC Eyes ‘Breaking Bad’ Spinoff Toplined By Bob Odenkirk". Deadline.com. Retrieved January 20, 2015. 
  4. ^ Kenneally, Tim (January 27, 2014). "‘Breaking Bad’ Prequel ‘Better Call Saul’ Enlists Jonathan Banks". The Wrap. Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  5. ^ O'Neal, Sean (2013-09-11). "Breaking Bad's prequel spinoff about Saul Goodman is basically a go at AMC". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2013-09-23. 
  6. ^ Roots, Kimberly (November 20, 2014). "Better Call Saul Gets Two-Night February Premiere on AMC". TVLine. Retrieved November 20, 2014. 

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