- "Family is all."
- ―Tio giving his nephews a lesson
Don Héctor "Tio" Salamanca was a drug runner and the former right hand man and enforcer of Don Eladio Vuente. Hector was a high-ranking member of the Juárez Cartel, the patriach of the Salamanca family, and was feared among most in the South. He was the uncle of Tuco Salamanca and Tuco's cousins.
Hector was rendered invalid possibly from a stroke or some form of motor neuron disease; such as Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)/Lou Gehrig's disease. The reason why it is suspected that he suffered from a form of motor neuron disease is because in the flashback episodes featuring Hector Salamanca, it appears that he is beginning to show signs of muscular degeneration. He harbored a disgust for the DEA, and a specific dislike for Agent Hank Schrader. In his later life, he lived in a retirement home called Casa Tranquila, where he was visited frequently by Gustavo Fring. He was killed with Fring in the Casa Tranquilla explosion.
Hector Salamanca was a high-ranking member of the Juárez Cartel and was referred to, even in his infirmity, as "Don Salamanca" by contemporary cartel leaders like Juan Bolsa. He was and is the most feared of the Dons and was the patriarch of the Salamanca familia, being the uncle to Tuco Salamanca and Marco and Leonel. When his Marco and Leonel were children, Hector taught them brutal life lessons such as "family is all" by nearly drowning Marco until Leonel punched him in the face ("One Minute"). However, as his remaining male family members all predeceased him, it appears that the Salamanca name died along with him.
A flashback revealed that he was working for Don Eladio at the time Gustavo Fring made an overture toward the cartel. Shortly before he nearly drowned his nephew Marco, Tio was discussing on the phone how the cartel should deal with Gus, who he disparaged young Gus as the "Chicken Man," when he warned, "Never trust a South American."
Hector aged before his years and is always confined to his wheelchair and oxygen tank. He never speaks a syllable, using only a brass service bell taped onto his wheelchair armrest to communicate. Generally, one bell means 'yes', zero bells means 'no', but sometimes Hector is able to get his message across with a flurry of bell rings and the expression on his face. It is apparent, based on his facial ticks, that he has tardive dyskinesia, which can be a result of heavy or prolonged anti-psychotic use (sometimes used as a sedative); he has not yet developed this condition by the time he was introduced.
Hector is first seen when Tuco brings Walter White and Jesse Pinkman to a hideout in the desert, following a crackdown on Tuco's drug operation by the Albuquerque DEA. While Tio appears to be senile, fixated only on the television, he gradually reveals his mind is still sharp and he can ring his bell to communicate with his nephew. After he sees Walt put poison in Tuco's burrito, he rings the bell prompting Tuco to give it to him instead (thinking Tio wanted the bigger burrito), only for Tio to knock it to the floor and point murderously toward Walt.
He gets Tuco's attention again after the meal by continually ringing his bell. He communicates that he does not trust Walt and Jesse, and Tuco drags Jesse outside, beating him until Walt admits they tried to poison him. Tuco is then killed by Hank. Although Walt and Jesse escape, as a result of this encounter Hector learns Walt's name and what Jesse looks like; Tuco had read their names out loud to him off their driver's licenses, and showed Hector a picture of Walt's family ("Grilled").
As the investigation into Tuco's death continues, Hank and Steven Gomez bring in Hector to see if he can confirm that Jesse was present at the shooting since his car was discovered there. Tio proves he is still cognizant of his surroundings by ringing his bell to simple questions, but when asked if Jesse was there he simply voids his bowels. Afterwards, Gomez explains that Salamanca is an "old-school gangbang Mexican" who spent 17 years in prison without once cooperating with authorities, and they will get nothing from him even if it would incriminate Jesse ("Bit by a Dead Bee").
After crossing the border into New Mexico, the Cousins seek out their Tio in his Albuquerque-area nursing home. Familiar with the routine, the cousins procure a Ouija board from a pile of board games and Hector uses his bell to spell out the letters of the real name of the meth cook the cartel knows only as Heisenberg, the man that killed their cousin Tuco. The Cousins move to Walt's house to execute him immediately, but are called off by a last second text message: "Pollos" ("Caballo Sin Nombre").
Following this incident, Bolsa arranges a meeting between Gus, Hector, the Cousins and himself. Juan is clearly uncomfortable in the same room with Hector and his family, and it is only due to Hector's ill health that he agreed to mediate. He explains to Gus that Don Salamanca saw Tuco as a son and groomed him to take his place in the organization, and that Walt's betrayal of Tuco has earned him a death sentence sanctioned by the Salamanca family and the Cartel—an assertion Hector emphasizes with one ring of his bell. When Gus says that he needs Walt alive for the time being, Hector angrily rings his bell many times ("I.F.T.").
In Mexico, Gus murders all the major members of the cartel with poisoned tequila ("Salud"). After returning to New Mexico, Gus takes Jesse to meet Hector so they can tell him what has taken place: Don Eladio Vuente and all the others are dead. Gus also tells him that Jesse killed Joaquin Salamanca, Hector's grandson and the last remaining male member of the Salamanca family. Gus dangles Don Eladio's amulet necklace in Hector's face and says "look at me!" When Hector refuses, Gus places the necklace into the last Don's shirt pocket ("Crawl Space").
In the final episode, Walter convinces Hector to aid him in assassinating Gus. Hector demands to talk to the DEA, but provides them no info. However, the fact that Hector visited the DEA at all prompts a visit from Gus and his henchman, Tyrus Kitt, to Hector's room at the nursing home. Gus is about to inject Hector with a lethal medication when Hector finally looks at Gus and rings his bell repeatedly, triggering the explosion of the pipe bomb attached to his wheelchair, killing all in the room including himself. Gus steps out of the room, seemingly unharmed, and adjusts his tie. The camera pans, and it is revealed that Gus' face was blown in half, and he finally dies ("Face Off").
Murders commited by Tio
- Max Arciniega: Shot to death on orders from Don Eladio Vuente.
- Gustavo Fring: Blown up in revenge for killing all his family and members of the Juárez Cartel.
- Tyrus Kitt: Blown up.
- "Hello, Hector. All of them, Hector. Don Eladio, Don Paco, Cesar, Reynaldo, Ortuno, Cisco, and Luis. Escalara. All dead. As is your grandson, Joaquin. Do you know who killed Joaquin? Would you like to see? This young man. Do you remember him? That young man shot Joaquin to death while I made my escape. I believe you have met him before. It was just you and Joaquin. He was the only family you had left. Now the Salamanca name dies with you. Will you look at me now? Look at me, Hector. Look at me."
- ―Gustavo Fring
- He was originally supposed to be the main antagonist of Season 3.
- "Tio" is Spanish for "Uncle".
- Tio's bell sold for $26,750 at auction October 8th 2013