- "I chose a half measure, when I should have gone all the way... I'll never make that mistake again. No more half measures, Walter."
- ―Mike Ehrmantraut talking about his mistakes in the past
Michael "Mike" Ehrmantraut was a former corrupt police officer who, after being forced to leave the police department, used his connections in the criminal underworld to eventually become Gustavo Fring's right-hand man. Despite his responsibilities as the second-in-command of the mob, he occasionally carried out favours for his lawyer and old associate Saul Goodman as a private investigator, cleaner, and fixer, out of loyalty to Saul (they had known each other for six years). Prior to his involvement in Gus's operation, Mike worked as parking ticket booth operator at a local courthouse, where he met Saul, then known as Jimmy McGill.
As a former beat cop and true professional, he maintained an extensive, up-to-date knowledge of forensic evidence, surveillance equipment, and police procedure. Mike was also well trained and calm in all types of combat situations, once using science and long strategy to take down a large number of hostiles with ease. A rough and rocky relationship between the young drug dealer Jesse Pinkman and Mike began, and although initially being frustrated at Gus chosing to go into business with Jesse against his advice, he learned to like him after Jesse saved Mike's life at a drug deal that was ambushed. Mike became a mentor to Jesse. However, Mike did not like Walt in the least, considering him to be selfish, arrogant, and egotistical.
He later becomes a reluctant partner in Walt and Jesse's meth operation after key members of the Albuquerque Mafia were either killed or imprisoned (including mob boss Gustavo Fring), still despising Walt and feeling depression over Jesse's choices. Mike is a calm and calculating individual who efficiently performed his duties for Gus, and he was the glue that held the Albuquerque Mafia together. He had extensive knowledge of how to operate on both sides of the law without detection.
Like Walt, Mike is a family man. He was married once and had a son named Matt Ehrmantraut (who was also a cop and was killed by two of his coworkers), who with wife Stacey Ehrmantraut produced a daughter, Kaylee Ehrmantraut, whom Mike enjoys a strong bond with. Mike's spouse has neither appeared nor been mentioned. He had an offshore account for $2 million held in his granddaughter's name, set up by Gustavo Fring, with no activity in the account. Mike was incredibly loyal and true to his word.
Mike serves as the secondary antagonist of Season 4 and the main antagonist of the first half of Season 5. He appears as the deuteragonist of the prequel series Better Call Saul.
Mike was a Marine sniper in the Vietnam War. It is possible he has a history in Special Forces or intelligence agencies, as he has extensive knowledge of surveillance equipment and is well trained in stealth tactics. He also mentions that he specializes in tracking individuals down, no matter where they are in the world.
For thirty years, Mike was employed at the Philadelphia Police Department as a beat cop, frequently having to deal with situations such as break-ins and domestic disputes. His career was mired in corruption, with his fellow officers pressuring him into accepting bribes and participate in protection rackets. When his son Matt joined the force, and faced similar peer pressure, Mike was forced to persuade his son to go along with the corruption. Unfortunately, Matt's partner Troy Hoffman and their sergeant, Jack Fensky, distrusted Matt and murdered him by staging a gangland shooting.
Devastated by the loss of his son, Mike fell into alcoholism and depression until he decided to take action. He announced his retirement from the PPD, and staged another bout of binge drinking, during which he tricked Hoffman and Fensky into believing he had evidence on them. When the duo came after Mike, he allowed them to drive him to a deserted alleyway with the intent of staging his suicide. Brandishing a hidden pistol and throwing off the illusion of his drunken stupor, Mike gunned down Hoffman and Fensky, suffering a shoulder wound in the process. He departed for Albuquerque the following day, where he reestablished ties with his daughter-in-law Stacey, who had moved there several months earlier. ("Five-O")
Better Call Saul
Mike first meets Jimmy McGill while working as a parking lot attendant at the Albuquerque courthouse. Mike's attitude towards Jimmy is dispassionate, usually not letting him pass through the parking gate because he doesn't have enough validation stickers on his parking ticket ("Uno") ("Mijo"). A brief hostile encounter at the gate lead the two to developing a closer -- but still frigid on Mike's part -- working relationship ("Nacho").
When officers from Philadelphia arrive in Albuquerque to interview Mike, he hires Jimmy as his lawyer, primarily because he believes that Jimmy is dishonest enough to agree to help him steal evidence. Mike discovers that his location had been tipped off to the PPD by Stacey. He confronts her and comes clean to her with the entire story, short of actually confessing to the murder of the Hoffman and Fensky, merely saying to her, "You know what happened, the question is: Can you live with it?" ("Five-O") Mike later repays Jimmy by breaking into the home of the Craig and Betsy Kettleman to retrieve stolen money. ("Bingo").
Wanting to provide for Stacey and his granddaughter Kaylee, Mike uses the connections of a shady veterinarian named Dr. Caldera to moonlight as an enforcer. His first job is acting as a bodyguard for Daniel Warmolt, a first-time criminal who sells stolen 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.
Daniel lets his initial success go completely to his head and buys a bright yellow Hummer H2. Mike, knowing full well that Daniel's carelessness will eventually attract police attention, declines to go to a meeting in the Hummer and walks off when Daniel refuses to travel in Mike's 1988 Chrysler instead. A few days later, Daniel's house is burglarized by Nacho, who had found his address in the Hummer's glove compartment. Daniel calls the police, upset that his valuable baseball card collection has been stolen. The responding officers are suspicious of Daniel's Hummer. Investigating further, they find a hidden compartment in the wall behind Daniel's couch, apparently found and emptied by Nacho.
Mike finds himself having to intervene when the police invite Daniel to the station for questioning. Upon learning about the circumstances, Mike cautions Daniel about talking, knowing full well that the police suspect Daniel is engaged in illicit activities. Daniel, however, is adamant about getting his baseball cards back. In order to prevent Daniel from possibly implicating him in the drug deals, Mike offers to find the cards. To do so, he tracks down Nacho to his father's car restoration shop negotiates a deal where Daniel trades his Hummer to Nacho in exchange for the baseball cards and $10,000. Nacho subsequently destroys the Hummer at a chop shop and splits $60,000 with Mike from reselling the parts.
With the police still looking into Daniel, Mike hires Jimmy to be his lawyer. Jimmy accompanies Daniel to a police interview, where he gets the cops to drop the investigation by convincing them that the burglary was the result of a failed gay love affair and the stealing of the baseball cards was revenge. To provide Daniel with an alibi, Jimmy "explains" that the space behind the couch contained fetish videos of Daniel sitting in various types of pies and crying. The detectives, taken off guard by the outrageous story, believe Jimmy.
Stacey voices her concerns to Mike about gunshots she has heard outside her house late at night. Mike does overnight surveillance without Stacey's knowledge to investigate the gunshots, but he does not hear or witness anything suspect and decides to leave. At work the following morning, Mike is called back by Stacey, who still believes she heard gunfire, and points a hole in her siding that she tearfully insists is from a bullet. Despite knowing that there was no gunfire (and the hole in the siding is just wear and tear), Mike tells her what she wants to hear -- that he will help her get out of the neighborhood. Mike meets with Dr. Caldera in order to find more jobs, but he refuses to do any violent work. The vet then points out to Mike that if he wants "next level pay", he must be willing to do "next level work."
Sure enough, Mike finds himself doing just that when Nacho hires him to assassinate his boss, the erratic drug kingpin Tuco Salamanca. Mike ultimately decides against doing the hit, as he realizes that Tuco's death would draw the attention of the Mexican drug cartel. Instead, Mike makes an advanced call to the police from a payphone across the street from a restaurant where Tuco does accounting with his dealers. Then, Mike drives over and deliberately swipes Tuco's car, enraging him. Acting like a clueless fool, Mike goads Tuco to beat him senseless just as the police arrive. As a result, Tuco is arrested and is imprisoned for assault and robbery, putting him out of the picture for five years. Nacho asks Mike why he went through all that trouble to avoid killing Tuco for half the payoff, but Mike refuses to answer. ("Gloves Off")
Mike and Nacho's orchestrated takedown of Tuco does not come without consequences. Days later, Mike is approached by Hector "Tio" Salamanca, who offers Mike $5,000 to tell the police that Tuco's gun is actually his, thus getting Tuco off the hook for illegal gun possession and shortening his sentence. Mike refuses the offer. In response, Hector begins harassing Mike into reconsidering, first by having men break into his house to scare him. When this fails, Hector sends the twins Leonel and Marco Salamanca to threaten Kaylee while Mike is supervising her. Fed up, Mike confronts Hector, managing to get a better offer of $50,000 in exchange for taking the fall on the gun charge. After the meet, he splits the pay with Nacho, refunding him for the failure of their previous work on Tuco. ("Bali Ha'i")
Mike hires Jimmy again, this time to help him provide an amended statement (as Hector had requested) to the district attorney, though the DAs clearly realize that Mike has been paid off by the Salamancas. He later helps Stacey with purchasing a new house. ("Inflatable") Meanwhile, Mike discreetly begins plotting retaliation against Hector. He starts by secretly sitting on the ice cream parlor where he had the meeting with Hector, and later watches from his car as Hector's crew receives an ice cream truck transporting goods up from Mexico. He comes to the conclusion that the truck is carrying contraband, either as drugs or cash. ("Fifi")
A few days later, Mike attacks the truck on its way towards the El Paso border crossing. ("Nailed") He parks a getaway car behind a billboard on the side of the road. When the truck comes along, Mike deploys a homemade spike strip made from nails and a garden hose. The truck hits the strip, and goes off the road. Mike disarms the driver, then ties him up and blindfolds him, and using a saw, extracts $250,000 stuffed inside the rear tires. Mike then loads the money and his equipment into his getaway car and flees the scene. Mike then spends his new gains on drinks at a bar.
The heist puts Mike in a jovial mood, even getting somewhat flirty with a waitress at the diner. This is short-lived when Nacho calls him to a meeting and confronts him about the attack, having deduced that Mike was behind it. Nacho asks Mike why he pulled it off and Mike asks why the hit isn't in the newspapers. Nacho is offended realizing that Mike was trying to draw police attention to Hector's operation. So in turn, he reveals that Hector killed a passing motorist that happened to stumble upon the scene and freed the driver. This greatly unsettles Mike. ("Nailed")
Mike eventually procures a sniper rifle and follows Nacho into the Tohajiilee Indian Reservation, trying to get to Hector. He sets up on a hillside and watches as the Cousins kill the driver by shooting him in the head and burying him in an unmarked grave. However, his line of sight to Hector is blocked by Nacho. Mike is then drawn away from his position by the sound of his car horn going off. He finds a tree branch wedged into the driver's seat, and a handwritten note on the windshield reading "DON'T". ("Klick")
Realizing his cover has been blown, Mike jumps in his car and drives off at breakneck speed to clear the area. After stopping to review what happened, he figures out that someone must have bugged his car. Proceeding to a nearby junkyard, he disassembles the vehicle, searching the entire chassis for hours and coming up with nothing. With time running out, and the yard about to close, Mike sells the car to the owner, and calls himself a cab to return home, when his eyes light on a stack of replacement gas caps. Quickly returning to his junked car, he removes the gas cap and inspects it. Sure enough, he finds a tracking device hidden under the seal. Contacting Dr. Caldera, Mike purchases a device and tracker identical to the one he has discovered. After having found a second tracker hidden in the gas cap of his personal vehicle, Mike switches out the two devices, draining the foreign device of power in the hopes that whoever planted it will come back to claim it. As expected, a mysterious car arrives and takes the bait, swapping the gas cap containing Mike's tracker with a fresh one. ("Mabel")
Removing the newly-planted tracker, Mike follows the driver all around Albuquerque, stoppng when the driver abandons the vehicle at a Los Pollos Hermanos. After determining this is a nightly pattern of drops and pickups, Mike enlists the help of Jimmy McGill. Mike has Jimmy pose as a customer during the breakfast hours to observe what the driver does inside the building. However, no drop-off is made that Jimmy can see. Continuing his counter-surveillance of the driver, Mike tracks his vehicle to the middle of the desert, only to find the gas cap containing his tracker removed and set in the middle of the road, with a cell phone on top. Mike has been discovered. ("Witness")
Answering a call from the cell phone, Mike is immediately approached by Gustavo Fring and two of his bodyguards. When Mike holds up the note from his former car, Gus calmly explains that he has reasons for keeping Hector alive. When Gus hints that Mike's sabotage of Hector's smuggling line can continue, however, Mike deduces Gus is a rival of Hector. He agrees to continue with his sabotage, and a loose partnership is born. Mike immediately sets to his purpose, purchasing a small bag of cocaine from a front contact of Gus's, and waits to ambush a Regalo truck on its way to the border. Rather than shoot the drivers, however, Mike plants the cocaine in a pair of discarded sneakers which he hangs from an overhead power line. Firing several dummy shots in the air to mask himself as a random hunter, Mike waits until the drivers, who have stopped in response to the gunfire, dismiss the shots as a hunter. As the Regalo Helado truck drives away, Mike puts one final shot into the sneakers, spilling cocaine unnoticed onto the back of the vehicle, and ensuring that the drivers will be arrested at the border. ("Sunk Costs")
Mike continued his work for Gus, also expanding his activities to PI business, as well as hiring himself out as a hitman/henchman. Because of his brains, he is closer to Gus than any other criminal associate. He is trusted by Gus to be all alone in the Pollos office with the computer on at one point. Gus shaped his plans and strategies based on Mike's continual advisement. Gus once asked Mike to investigate Gus's own history, if possible, so he could gauge whether the DEA would be able to do the same; Mike reassured Gus that since he couldn't find anything on Gus, neither would the DEA. Mike is shown to have a comprehensive familiarity with the cartel, as he was able to identify Joaquin Salamanca at a glance. He, as well, has connections to several gun clubs throughout the area.
Saul manages to arrange a meeting with Gustavo Fring for Walter White and Jesse Pinkman to make a deal about selling Walt's Blue Sky. It's heavily implied that Mike is the middleman between Saul and Gus; as Saul says he "knows a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy [Gus]" ("Mandala").
After Jane overdoses on heroin, Walt calls Saul for advice; which in response, Saul sends Mike to remove all incriminating that could link to drug use. He instructs Jesse on what procedure to follow and what to tell the paramedics (or cops) when they show up: "I woke up, I found her. That's all I know." Shortly thereafter, Jesse runs off to a crack house known as the "shooting gallery" after being devastated by what happened to Jane. Concerned about his well-being, Walt has Mike drive him to the drug den to retrieve Jesse ("ABQ").
A few weeks later, Saul hires Mike to spy on Skyler, who they fear may tell the authorities what she knows about Walt's criminal activities. While Mike is installing pinhole microphones outside the White residence, Walt shows up unexpectedly and breaks into his own home. Mike easily avoids being seen by Walt, coolly making his way back to his car. Watching through the windshield, Mike observes The Cousins' entry into Walt's house. He phones an associate of Gus, warning him of Walt's imminent murder ("Caballo Sin Nombre").
After his surveillance reveals discord in the White household, Mike takes his recordings to Saul's office. Hearing on the tape that Walt plans to visit Ted Beneke at his office, Saul sends Mike to stop him. Finding Walt being escorted out of Beneke Fabricators by security, Mike twists Walt's arms, throws him into the back of his car, and takes him back to Saul's office. There, Saul tries to rationalize with Walt about his erratic behavior, but Walt is angered by a comment made about his wife and attacks Saul. Mike, though off the clock, eventually steps in to stop him. He then takes Walt home where Walt has demanded all recording equipment be removed from his home.
Mike obliges, then is escorted by Walt back to his car. Mike remarks "Y'know, Walter, sometimes it's not so bad to have someone watching your back," having noticed that the Cousins have left a scythe chalked on the pavement outside the house. He later provides Gus with information on Walt's health issues, suggesting that he use the threat of the Cousins to get Walt producing meth again, but Gus refuses, saying that fear should only be used for motivation as a final resource ("Green Light").
Later, on Gus's orders, the Cousins attack Hank, but the attack fails as Gus arranges for Hank to be tipped off one minute before the shooting, with it being implied that Mike was responsible for calling Hank. Despite being shot four times, Hank manages to kill Marco and severely injures Leonel. Gus later learns from Juan Bolsa that Leonel survived the attack, and furthermore learns that Bolsa is aware that Gus authorized the hit on Hank contrary to Bolsa's restrictions on the DEA. In response, Gus personally delivers chicken from Los Pollos Hermanos to the police standing vigil at the hospital, distracting them while Mike sneaks into Leonel's room and delivers him a lethal injection. Mike then disposes of the syringe in a nearby garbage can, unnoticed by Walt and Steven Gomez ("I See You").
A few days later, Mike pays Walt a visit at his home, calling it a "professional courtesy", as Walt wants to get Jesse arrested on a misdemeanor charge and temporarily placed in a very minimum security jail, so that Jesse won't go after the drug dealers who orchestrated Combo's murder. Mike refuses to help Walt with this scheme as Gus wouldn't approve of it. In an attempt to appeal to Walt's better sense, Mike retells a detailed story about his days as a beat cop. He relates that at one point, he had to deal with a domestic dispute issue between a husband and wife. The man would beat his wife continually and Mike would have to take the man away to the precinct jail for the night and then send him back home in the morning, since the woman wouldn't press charges. During one of these instances, Mike became particularly enraged by the man's abuse, so he took him out of the city, beat him, and held a gun to his head, threatening to kill him if he ever beat his wife again. However, weeks later, the man killed his wife by bludgeoning her with a blender base. It is implied that Mike eventually killed the abuser, but was never charged. Mike tells Walt that by warning the man instead of killing him, he used a "half measure" to resolve the problem, which proved ineffective and he should have instead taken the "full measure". Mike advises Walt not to take any half measures with Jesse and then leaves ("Half Measures").
Later on, after Walt kills two dealers working for Gus (who Jesse was gunning for because they killed the child they punked to do their dirty work for them), Mike sets out to find Jesse. He intimidates Saul into giving him information on Jesse's whereabouts, but a wisely retreating Saul deftly slips him a false address.
Around this same time, four cartel gunmen are sent up to New Mexico to kidnap Duane Chow, Gus's chemical supplier. Mike shows up and kills all four gunmen, then shoots Chow in the hand for not keeping Gus in the loop. Mike and Gus examine the gunmen's passports, and conclude that the cartel are probing for weaknesses in Gus's operation.
After the next cook, Mike is suddenly told that he and Victor must kill Walt. Walt begs 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, as Gus is grooming Gale to be Walt's replacement in the superlab. Mike, unaware that Walt is aware of Gale's address, holds Walt at gunpoint as Victor races in a panic to Gale's apartment to stop Jesse ("Full Measure").
Victor gets to Gale's apartment, minutes after Jesse kills Gale. Victor hauls Jesse back to the lab and rages to him about Gale's death, which deeply worries and frustrates Mike. The situation of both henchmen is made even worse when Mike asks Victor if he was seen by witnesses. Victor admitted that he was "just another looky-loo," which inspires Mike to remark "I guess I better get this over with." He then walks away from Victor and presumably calls Gus to alert him to the situation with Gale's murder. He, along with the other three, wait for Gus to arrive. They have all made mistakes and are uneasy about the boss showing up. When Gus finally does arrive, he executes Victor by slitting his throat with a boxcutter, holding him in a manner that will speed his blood loss and hasten death, all of which startles Mike who instinctively pulls his weapon. He is then compelled to oversee Walt and Jesse's disposal of Victor's corpse, which they liquefy using hydrofluoric acid ("Box Cutter").
The morning after Victor's death, he remains deeply unsettled by what had transpired earlier, having witnessed what Gus is capable of when his subordinates fail him. At night, he's tracked down by Walt at a bar and listens to an attempt to convince him to help bring Gus down. Instead of joining Walt, Mike squares up and gives him fair warning "are you done?" and sends him to the floor. He gives him a boot heel lesson in loyalty before he thanks Walt for the drink and departs via the front door ("Thirty-Eight Snub").
A few days later, Mike, anticipating trouble, is assigned to guard duty, riding in the back of a Los Pollos Hermanos refrigerator truck that is transporting meth. Two gunmen force the truck off the road. After killing the driver, they empty their submachine guns into the back of the prone truck, trying to kill Mike. Mike crouches down on the floor behind cover, avoiding the bullets. Although Mike survives, he finds that one bullet has taken off a bit of his right ear. Mike then shoots the gunmen when they climb into the truck.
Afterwards, Mike is notified by Tyrus Kitt of a sneaky thief stealing money from a rave at Jesse's house. The two catch the thief, then return to Jesse's house where they get rid of all the tweekers and awaken Jesse to the news. Mike warns Jesse that his behavior is unacceptable and he's on thin ice with Gus. Jesse surprises Mike by calling the play as a bluff. As a result, Mike reports this to Gus and gets the permission for some disciplinary actions. ("Bullet Points").
On Gus's orders, Mike has Jesse accompany him as he drives around to various drop sites where Gus's dealers have deposited their payments. At one point, Mike becomes suddenly overtly annoyed by Jesse's physical, audible expressions of boredom and impatience. After listening to Jesse demand he tell him what they're doing and why, Mike abruptly pulls the car over and angrily explains his mourning over Victor and his cluelessness about Gus's real motives (and to that extent, why Jesse was ordered to come along). He insist that in no way is Jesse "the guy" for this job, which Jesse buys because he's pissed off as well.
Mike makes the final pickup of the evening at another abandoned warehouse. Whilst he's inside, a second vehicle arrives, and Jesse, unaware that the men are Gus's, notices one of its occupants approaching Mike's car with a shotgun. After Jesse hits the other vehicle with Mike's Chrysler and peels away, Mike is seen wandering the streets calling someone on his cell for a ride. Not long after Jesse drives up in the Chrysler and tells him what went down while he was inside the warehouse. Mike, sufficiently impressed, finally allows Jesse to smoke inside his now dented car.
Later, Mike and Gus rendezvous outside Los Pollos Hermanos to discuss the "Robbery". Gus's objective has been to make Jesse believe he is a 'hero' and that Mike now owes Jesse (though Mike does seem puzzled about the logic of Gus's ultimate plan) ("Shotgun").
Some days later, another Los Pollos Hermanos truck is attacked by a different group of gunmen. ("Cornered") The gunmen kill the driver and the two guards, then steal a fry batter bucket packed with meth. Mike and Jesse track down the meth to a local drug den. After briefly arguing over how to get into the house, Jesse begins digging a hole in the front lawn, luring out one of the tweakers. With their guard down, Mike and Jesse enter the house and recover the bucket, which Mike notices has a message from the cartel asking for Gus to arrange a meeting.
Mike works security for a meetup between Gus and the Juárez Cartel, but only Gaff shows up to offer Gus an ultimatum ("Problem Dog"). Mike then leads an operation to clean up the Los Pollos Hermanos farm before Hank can investigate it. Gaff opens fire on them while they're moving evidence over to a truck, killing one of Mike's men, but Mike manages to save Jesse's life ("Bug").
Mike and Jesse accompany Gus to Mexico where Jesse will teach the cartel chemist how to cook Blue Sky. At a party afterward, Gus poisons many cartel members and Mike garrotes Gaff. Gus drank some of the poison himself and is severely weakened despite his effort to vomit it all out. 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 ("Salud").
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, frustrating Jesse, but eventually they get around to treating Mike after explaining, "This man pays my salary" (referring to Gus). Mike is given ample blood transfusions, stitched up, but has to stay in Mexico for at least a week to recuperate while Gus and Jesse return to the States. Gus indicates to Jesse that he will send for him when he is well enough to travel ("Crawl Space").
Mike is alive in Mexico, recuperating at the temporary medical facility. Upon learning of Gus's death, Mike realizes Walt is responsible, checks himself out, and returns to New Mexico to kill Walt. Walt and Jesse manage to convince him to help them destroy the video evidence from the superlab. Mike begrudgingly agrees to help them break into Albuquerque PD's parking lot to use a giant magnet to destroy the laptop through the wall. They get away in Mike's town car, but Mike isn't hasty to believe it worked to which Walt responds that it worked "because I said so" ("Live Free or Die").
When Walt and Jesse visit him at home to see if he will work with them, he tells them he plans not to. When Walt tries to convince him, he stills says no, insisting that Walt is a time bomb waiting to explode. Walt and Jesse agree to go with it.
Mike meanwhile, meets with Lydia Rodarte-Quayle, Gus's contact at Madrigal. She's worried that Gus's employees will turn on them, and suggests that Mike kill them before they talk. Mike refuses, insisting that he vetted his men with great care and Gus made sure they'd be taken care in the event he was killed.
Mike is later summoned to the DEA office to be interviewed by Hank and Gomez, who are now investigating Gus's death. Mike explains to Hank and Gomez that he worked for Los Pollos Hermanos as the head of corporate security. Hank doesn't buy his story, but admits he doesn't have enough evidence to arrest Mike. Mike prepares to leave, only for Hank to stop and ask about the money in Kaylee's name. Mike pauses, as Hank explains that Gus had about a dozen offshore bank accounts in the names of various employees on his payroll, including the manager of his laundry, various employees at the Los Pollos distribution center, the owner of a chemical warehouse, and many others, all of whom Hank believes were getting paid off the books. Because it's a bit hard to believe that a fifth-grade girl could be the muscle of Gus's operation, Hank believes the offshore account in Kaylee's name is actually for Mike. Mike, resistant to their pressure even with the knowledge that the DEA has seized his money, denies that the offshore account is his. The fact that he hasn't touched the account is in fact the sole reason he isn't being arrested.
Lydia, meanwhile, still wants all of Gus's employees killed. With Mike turning her down, she approaches Chris Mara, who agrees to do it for $10,000 per victim (triple for Mike). Chris goes to Chow's house, then at gunpoint, makes him call Mike and ask to meet with him, then proceeds to shoot Chow in the head. Mike realizes it's a trap, takes Chris by surprise and, after getting him to confess to Lydia's part, fatally shoots him four times through the chest. Mike then goes after Lydia for placing the hit out on him, threatening her at gunpoint, but stops when he realizes Walt is going to need more methylamine. He pulls himself away from shooting Lydia in the head, and asks if she can use her contacts to get access to it, as he now accepts Walt's offer. ("Madrigal")
Mike becomes the distributor to Walt's new operation, though only so that he can get hazard pay to his employees, as he promises on a prison visit to Dennis Markowski, the laundry manager. Walt, Jesse, and Mike decide they'll need a lawyer, so, they turn to Saul. It takes awhile for Mike and Saul to get used to each other again, but when they do, they really work. They find out where they're gonna cook, with the help of Walt's idea. Mike introduces them to Ira, Todd Alquist, and their team. He explains Ira steals things, and that Todd and the others will be helping them. Mike and Walt fight when Mike puts aside money to pay the nine men to keep quiet, and Mike puts in a good fight, but Walt does to. They end with Jesse trying to donate some extra money to Walt, only for Walt to hand it back over and to tell Mike it's fine, lying ("Hazard Pay").
Mike calls Lydia and warns her just moments before the DEA comes to Madrigal Electromotive GmbH. Mike tells them the DEA planted a GPS tracking device on a barrel of methylamine after hearing from Lydia, and gives in the fight to Walt that they kill Lydia ("Fifty-One").
Mike puts Lydia to gunpoint as she calls the DEA and gets the issue resolved. Mike decides to let Lydia go when she proves herself worthy by offering them a chance to rob methylamine from a freight train. Mike helps rob the train, standing far away and making sure all goes swiftly. When a little bit of trouble happens, he urges Walt, Jesse, and Todd to abort the mission, but, Walt being Walt, gives in a fight and denies giving up. They win over the methylamine and get away safely. Mike doesn't witness Todd killing the kid, but gets mad over it ("Dead Freight").
Mike and Walt vote that Todd continue working with them, and tells Jesse it's because they can't be paying him a large amount for him to keep quiet. Todd stays with the group, but Mike shoves him to the wall and threatens him. "If you ever bring a gun to a job again without telling me, I will stick it up your ass sideways." Mike says. Todd agrees, and Mike lets him go. When the DEA watch him, he writes a note and puts it under a garbage can. The DEA think that he is performing a 'dead drop', so when Mike leaves Gomez goes over to the garbage can only to to find a note 'Fuck you' written on it. Mike gets fed up with the DEA following him, and convinces Jesse to give in and have a buyout. At first, Walt is mad at only Jesse, but then tries to convince both. But neither listen. Mike tells Walt they're selling every last gallon to a man he knows. Walt goes to steal it, only to be caught. Mike pats him down and ties him to a radiator. Mike talks to Saul, and upon returning to find the methylamine gone, he goes into the room, sees Jesse and Walt, puts Walt at gunpoint, only listening to Jesse saying, "He's got a plan, it works for all of us." "Is that true Walter?" Mike asks, giving him a chance. Walt looks fearless as he says, "Everybody wins." ("Buyout")
Mike, Walt, and Jesse deal with Declan. Mike says goodbye to Jesse. Mike works with a crooked lawyer named Dan Wachsberger, but his final attempt to "quit" goes bad when Wachsberger is arrested by Gomez while depositing money into his nine former co-workers' boxes. His money is taken and as a last ditch effort Mike asks Saul to get his money he stashed in an airport car. Walt offers to make the delivery in exchange. Walt asks Mike for the names of the employees in exchange for the money. Mike, now truly pissed off at Walt, takes the opportunity to rant at Walt that all the disasters that have occurred since he killed Gus are his fault due his pride and ego; in a fit of rage, Walt shoots him. Mike manages to escape only a few yards down a river bank because of his bullet wound. Walt realizes he could have just asked Lydia for the names, tries to apologize to Mike, but Mike merely replies "Shut the fuck up, and let me die in peace." They stare at the river in silence as Mike fades into death ("Say My Name").
His corpse is briefly seen in Walter's trunk while Todd and Walt talk about what to do with it. Walt claims that Mike's death was necessary and had to be done ("Gliding Over All").
Personality and traits
- "Mike is a man who knows he's lost a good chunk of his soul, and seems sad and world-weary about it. But he goes on nonetheless because he knows his strengths as well as his weaknesses."
- ―Vince Gilligan
In his role as an ex-cop, private investigator, fixer, and assassin, Mike has often been of service to Saul, but his true loyalty was to Gus. Although Mike doesn't seem to feel even a bit conflicted about the crimes he commits, he also isn't terribly interested in gratuitous cruelty or shooting his way to the top of the meth lord food chain - he just does what's necessary to keep himself and his boss safe, with a minimum of ego-tripping and drama. However, when push comes to shove, he does not hesitate to use violence against those he feels has wronged him or his family, and much like Saul Goodman and Walter White, he evolves from a hesitant newcomer in the crime game to a fully capable professional in his chosen speciality. He also loved and cared very deeply about his grandchild.
Murders committed by Mike
- Officer Troy Hoffman: Shot once in the head. ("Five-O")
- Sergeant Jack Fensky: Shot twice in the chest, once in the neck and once in the head. ("Five-O")
- Leonel Salamanca: Poisoned with unknown substance. ("I See You")
- 4 Cartel Assassins: All shot to death. ("Full Measure")
- 2 Cartel Assassins: Both shot to death. ("Bullet Points")
- Gaff: Garroted to death. ("Salud")
- Chris Mara: Shot to death. ("Madrigal")
- "You know what a cop fears most? More than getting shot, more than anything? Prison. Getting locked up with everybody you put away. You threaten a cop with that, you make him dangerous, and that's what I told him. I talked sense. No one was getting hurt. But if you go to the I.A., if you even look like you're going. He had a wife, a kid, responsibilities. Take the money. Do something good with it. [chuckles wryly] Well I tried. I tried. But he wouldn't listen. My boy was stubborn. My boy was strong. And he was gonna get himself killed. So I told him... I told him I did it, too. That I was like Hoffman, getting by, and that's what you heard that night: me talking him down, him kicking and screaming until the fight went out of him. He put me up on a pedestal, and I had to show him that I was down in the gutter with the rest of 'em. [A beat. Tears fall down his face] Broke my boy. I broke my boy.""
- ―Mike confesses his sin to Stacey
- Sobchek: "So, what you packing?"
- Mike: "A pimento."
- Sobchek: "Sorry, what?"
- Mike: "Pimento sandwich."
- Sobchek: "That's funny. Pimento. No, I mean, what are you carrying? You know, the piece? What's the make?"
- —Sobcheck questions Mike over his choice of weapon(and lack thereof)[src]
- Mike: "The lesson is, if you're gonna be a criminal, do your homework."
- David: "Wait. I'm not a bad guy."
- Mike: "I didn't say you were a bad guy, I said you're a criminal."
- David: "What's the difference?"
- Mike: "I've known good criminals and bad cops. Bad priests. Honorable thieves. You can be on one side of the law or the other. But if you make a deal with somebody, you keep your word. You can go home today with your money and never do this again. But you took something that wasn't yours. And you sold it for a profit. You are now a criminal. Good one, bad one? That's up to you."
- —Mike lectures David on criminality[src]
- Mike: "This business requires restraint. Thatis the opposite of restraint."
- David: "But I like it.I mean, I'm proud of it."
- Mike: "Good. Then you be proud of it on your own time, but not with me."
- —Mike refusing to drive with David in the latter's new gaudy Humvee[src]
- Mike: "Now, you're gonna have to wear these if you're gonna handle the heavy machinery."
- Kaylee: "W-why don't you have to wear them?"
- Mike: "Because Pop-Pop's a grown-up, and grown-ups get to be stupid."
- —Mike, with his granddaughter[src]
- "You know, Walter, sometimes it doesn't hurt to have someone watching your back."
- ―Mike taking to Walter after removing the bugs from Walter's house
- "That guy Mike, that grunting dead-eyed cretin, sucker punching me in the face! I've got Gus wielding a box cutter! I mean...Western Union! Message received! Let me ask you, when did this stop being a business, hm? Why am I the only person capable of behaving in a professional manner?"
- ―Walter White talking about the empire's situation
- Mike: "Thanks, but no thanks."
- Walter: "Mike, I know you don't care for me. We've had our issues, you and I. But, I would suggest that you leave emotion out of this decision."
- Mike: "I am. You...are trouble. I'm sorry the kid doesn't see it, but I sure as hell do. You are a time bomb, tick-tick-ticking. And I have no intention of being around for the boom."
- —Mike refusing Walter's offer[src]
- "We had a good thing, you stupid son of a bitch! We had Fring, we had a lab, we had everything we needed, and it all ran like clockwork! You could have shut your mouth, cooked, and made as much money as you ever needed! It was perfect! But no! You just had to blow it up! You, and your pride and your ego! You just had to be the man! If you’d done your job and known your place, we’d all be fine right now!"
- ―Mike's angry rant at Walt
- "Shut the fuck up and let me die in peace."
- ―Mike's last words
- Mike's debut as Saul's "cleaner" was originally written for Saul himself, but a scheduling conflict prevented Bob Odenkirk from doing the scene. In addition to necessitating the creation of the character of Mike, this changed Saul's characterization going forward.
- Mike's surname "Ehrmantraut" was not revealed until episode 11 of Season 4, "Crawl Space". It was seen briefly on a shelf label in the medical tent, where bags of typed-and-matched blood for Gus, Mike, and Jesse were stored. It was never spoken until episode 2 of Season 5, "Madrigal". Mike is called in for an interview by the DEA, to be conducted by Hank and Steve Gomez, and just before it begins, Hank asks Mike if it is pronounced "Air-min-trout", and Mike tells him "Close enough." Later, though, Mike himself pronounces it as "Er-min-trout."
- The name "Ehrmantraut" has appeared before in Vince Gilligan's works. In the Gilligan-penned X-Files episode "Tithonus" (6x10), a Ms. Ehrmantraut is the subject of one of Mulder and Scully's many dull background checks. Mulder: "In the time that you worked with Ms. Ehrmantraut, did you find her to be a trustworthy person?" "Punctual, huh? Yeah uh, punctual is good." See references to The X-Files.
- Ehrmantraut is a rather unique and old-fashioned German name. The words "Ehr" and "man" can be translated as "man of honor", while the suffix "traut" comes from the Middle High German trûen, trûwen ("to believe", "to trust", "to hope") closely related to "Treue" ("loyalty", "fidelity").
- Mike's blood type is O- ("Salud").
- It is entirely possible that Mike may have at one point been in U.S special forces for example, in Season 4 Episode 6 "Cornered", Mike refers to men he wants hired as soldiers as "operators" which is what Tier 1 Special Forces soldiers are officially designated as. In the fourth episode of season 2 of Better Call Saul, Gloves Off, it's heavily implied that Mike was a Marine Scout Sniper during the Vietnam War.
- In an interview, Jonathan Banks stated that in his vision, Mike wouldn't have left Kaylee in the playground when the DEA found him. But he accepted the scene as it was, since he respects the writers.
- Mike owns several cars throughout both series:
- In Breaking Bad, Mike never meets Walter White Jr., Skyler White or Marie Schrader. He does, however, share a scene with Walter White Jr. and Skyler White in Caballo Sin Nombre.
- In Better Call Saul, Mike never meets Kim Wexler and Howard Hamlin. He shares a scene with Chuck McGill when he is sent by Jimmy to repair the front door of Chuck. ("Sabrosito")
- Mike seems to have at least a simple understanding of Spanish, as he was able to translate the message to Gus on the Pollos Hermanos container ("¿Estás listo para platicar?"), though it's possible he may have just had Tyrus translate it, who does speak Spanish ("Cornered").
- The location used for external shots of Mike's home was a private residence located at 204 Edith Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87102.