7. Walter White - Breaking Bad
“I watched Jane die. I was there. And I watched her die. I watched her overdose and choke to death. I could have saved her. But I didn’t.”
While many of the great manipulative TV characters come to us as fully formed players, in Breaking Bad we are permitted to witness the birth and growth of a master manipulator. Prior to Walter White's terminal cancer diagnosis, he was never a player, because he had no involvement with the game.
White didn't play by the rules, he followed them. He was a man of routine, someone who merely existed, rather than living. But as we watch White take those first few steps "In satan's shoes" (as the show is known in Bulgaria), we see the first glimpses of the man he will become: someone who is totally consumed by the game.
White is transformed from morally upstanding citizen to someone who will stoop to any level if it suits his purpose. He watches, calmly, not intervening while Jane, a mere teenager, chokes to death. Why? Because it helps him better control Jesse. He expresses no regret, or remorse, for the indirect role he plays in the airplane crash that kills hundreds of innocent men, women, and children.
In the end, Walter White is utterly alone, not because he is incapable of forming human connections, but because he chooses to forgo them, for the sake of his meth empire.