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All of Jimmy McGill’s Personas, Ranked

In the Breaking Bad universe, there is one character who wears many hats. Okay, maybe not necessarily hats, but he has an extensive wardrobe full of paisley suits. We’re talking of course about Saul Goodman, or Slippin’ Jimmy, or Charlie Hustle, or… okay, you get it. Though we fell in love with Saul Goodman after he was introduced to us in Breaking Bad, it’s Better Call Saul that shows us not only the depth of Saul Goodman’s character, but also the depths of his neurosis and antisocial behaviors.

In other words, Saul Goodman, Gene Takovic, and Slippin’ Jimmy are all one and the same, but they are all up to varying degrees of tomfoolery, fraud, and deception. And we love him for it; as much as we want to see Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) do the right thing, we can’t help but be at the edge of our seats as we watch him conjure up elaborate scheme after elaborate scheme.

So we thought it would be a great idea to rank all of Jimmy McGill’s personas, not only to have a little bit of fun, but to also point out the idea that each separate persona serves a different purpose throughout the run of Better Call Saul. And you’re going to notice some overlap; at the end of the day, we’re talking about one person. Whether you consider him to be a “criminal lawyer,” or a “criminal lawyer” is up to you. But he’s our criminal lawyer, and one of the most complex characters we’ve seen in modern television, so we wanted to break it down to brass tacks for you.

Related: Bob Odenkirk Reveals How He Was Cast as Saul Goodman in Breaking Bad



6 Charlie Hustle

Sony Pictures Television

Charlie Hustle is the version of Jimmy McGill that would make his older brother, Charlie (or Chuck), proud. This nickname was given to Jimmy by Howard Hamlin, one of the acting partners at Hamlin, Hamlin, & McGill (HHM). The McGill on the marquee is Jimmy’s other brother, who has always resented Jimmy for his ability to coast through life, and his inability to feel remorse for his more questionable behaviors. After Jimmy gets arrested for performing a “Chicago Sunroof,” which is a nice way of saying “pooping into someone’s car,” Charlie bails him out of jail, and put him to work in the HHM mailroom.

It was during this time that Jimmy appeared to be on the straight and narrow. It was also during this time that Jimmy secretly put himself through law school, and passed the Bar. He earned the nickname “Charlie Hustle” because he reminded Howard Hamlin of Charlie, and it was an affectionate nickname in reference to all the hard work he was doing while working at HHM.

5 Gene Takovic

Better Call Saul Gene 1200 x 630
Sony Pictures Television

During the black-and-white scenes that took place after the Breaking Bad timeline, we see Jimmy managing a Cinnabon in Omaha, Nebraska under the alias of Gene Takovic. Like every other Jimmy McGill persona, he’s careful and calculating in his delivery and presentation. But in this case, he absolutely has to be. The events that took place in Breaking Bad forced Jimmy to assume a new identity by calling his “disappearing guy,” and getting the heck out of dodge.

It’s during this time that Jimmy is basically hiding in plain sight as Gene Takovic, mixing batter, spreading frosting, worrying about payroll and scheduling issues, and constantly looking over his shoulder for the DEA, or worse, any of Walter White’s accomplices who may have it out for him. But what makes this persona so important to the overall makeup of Jimmy McGill is that it shows us how much Jimmy is willing to commit to the bit. We often see Jimmy trying to flip a quick trick, but in this case, it’s a much longer con that his life depends on. But he can only keep up appearances for so long before needing to scratch the ever-growing itch that he has to go back to his old ways, which brings us to Viktor St. Claire.

4 Viktor St. Claire

Better Call Saul Viktor St Claire 1200 x 630
Sony Pictures Television

On Jimmy’s Gene Takovic timeline, we see his paranoia fully manifest when he knows he’s being followed by Jeff, a cab driver that recognized him as Saul Goodman despite his alias change, and relocation. Jimmy realizes that he can easily manipulate Jeff with the allure of introducing him to “the game,” but also realizes that he needs to get the heck out of dodge… again. First, we see Gene orchestrate an elaborate heist that involves Jeff stealing a ton of merchandise from a department store that’s located inside the same mall that Gene slings Cinnabon at. But it’s in Jimmy’s nature to get a taste for the thrill of the scam, and things escalate rather quickly.

It’s during this time that Gene Takovic’s persona morphs into the persona of Viktor St. Claire, and takes his show on the road in order to rip off affluent men by getting them drunk and robbing them blind. In a way, Viktor and Gene are one and the same, but there is one crucial difference: Gene is careful, and Viktor is reckless. They occupy the same territory, but with different intentions.

3 Saul Goodman

Better Call Saul Saul Goodman 1200 x 630
Sony Pictures Television

Of course, we all know who Saul Goodman is. He’s not only a criminal lawyer, but also a criminal lawyer. Saul Goodman is the anti-hero that Jimmy McGill turned into that was largely responsible for all the events that took place in the Breaking Bad universe. It’s Saul who gets Walter White and Jesse Pinkman involved with Mike Ehrmantraut and Gus Fring. It’s Saul who has the legal expertise to keep the DEA out of the mix. And it’s Saul Goodman who has those amazing late-night television commercials that boast the phrase “Better Call Saul!”

In other words, Jimmy McGill never felt more alive than when he was a larger than life caricature of his own intent and design. Saul is loud, arrogant, wealthy, sharp as a tack, and has a sense of fashion that’s unrivaled to this day. But it’s ultimately Saul’s hubris that puts a stop to the gravy train, and forces him into hiding.

At the end of the day, Saul Goodman is the titular character of the series, but it’s worth noting that Jimmy doesn’t fully make his transition until the end of season four, and even then it’s a slow burn before Saul’s true personality truly ignites.

2 Slippin’ Jimmy

Better Call Saul Slippin' Jimmy 1200 x 630
Sony Pictures Television

In the words of Chuck, “Slippin’ Jimmy with a law degree is like a chimp with a machine gun.” The reason Slippin’ Jimmy ranks so high on this list is because this persona is a very necessary stepping-stone to get into Saul Goodman Territory. Slippin’ Jimmy rips off barflies for a couple of hundred bucks. Saul Goodman hides money in the walls of his law firm. Slippin’ Jimmy can’t keep his hands out of the cash drawer. Saul Goodman commits a federal crime.

Though Better Call Saul shows Jimmy McGill turning heel from an aspiring lawyer to the ultimate conman, there’s a little bit of Slippin’ Jimmy operating beneath the exterior of every other persona that Jimmy creates. And though we see Jimmy McGill try time and time again to straighten up and fly right before fully transforming into Saul Goodman, Slippin’ Jimmy is both the angel and devil standing on Jimmy’s shoulder whispering in his ear, and urging him to act on his impulses, no matter how unethical.

Related: Bob Odenkirk Says Saul Goodman Was ‘Probably the Role of My Lifetime’

1 Jimmy McGill

Better Call Saul Jimmy McGill 1200 x 630
Sony Pictures Television

Coming in hot at number one is Jimmy McGill himself. And the reason for this is that no matter what persona he takes on, Jimmy is the man behind every single one of these personas, and you have to start somewhere. Jimmy in his purest form is a loyal brother, a sensible romantic partner, and a hard-working individual who just wants to make everybody happy; and he’s sharp as a tack despite his quirks and idiosyncrasies.

But when he realizes that he will always live in his brother’s shadow, Slippin’ Jimmy comes out, and we see him unravel. On a separate timeline, we could have seen Jimmy McGill make partner at HHM, continue to pursue elder law, and use his brilliant mind to do a lot of good in the world. But it’s ultimately his falling out with Chuck that causes him to transition to Saul Goodman, and the rest is history.

The logical stopping point is at Jimmy because he’s the guy behind the guy, behind the guy, behind the guy. Whether he takes on the persona of Saul Goodman, Gene Takovic, Slippin’ Jimmy, or Viktor St. Claire, at the end of the day, it’s Jimmy McGill who turns himself in to try to right all the wrongs he has committed throughout Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad.

This story originally appeared on Movieweb

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