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Did Michael Desiato Go Back to Prison

Michael “Mike” Ehrmantraut is a fictional character in the Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul universe created by Vince Gilligan. Mike is a former police officer who works as a fixer and enforcer for drug kingpin Gus Fring.

In Better Call Saul, which is a prequel to Breaking Bad, Mike is shown having a morally ambiguous sense of justice and living a double life as both a parking lot attendant and freelance fixer/enforcer. Throughout the show he works for various criminal enterprises and gradually becomes more entrenched in Albuquerque’s criminal underworld.

By the end of Better Call Saul, Mike is a full-fledged member of Gus Fring’s drug empire. However, his fate after the events of Better Call Saul is unclear, as he is still free and alive when the show ends in 2004, a few years before the start of Breaking Bad in 2008.

This has led to much fan speculation about what happens to Mike in the intervening years between the two shows. Specifically, many have wondered if Mike ends up going back to prison at some point between Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad.

Did Mike Go Back to Prison Between Shows?

What We Know About Mike’s Background

To analyze whether Mike could have returned to prison in the years between Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad, it is useful to first review what we know about his background from the shows:

  • Mike is a former police officer in Philadelphia. He left the force after his son Matt, who was also a cop, was killed.
  • After leaving the police force, Mike relocated to Albuquerque.
  • In Better Call Saul, it is revealed Mike had served time in prison before the events of the show. The details of what he was convicted for are unclear.
  • Mike lives a double life working both his parking attendant job and assorted side jobs in the criminal underworld.
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So Mike is known to have a criminal history involving time spent in prison. It seems plausible he could have returned to prison if he were arrested for illegal activities during the gap between shows.

Mike’s Activities in Better Call Saul

Next, it’s important to consider Mike’s various criminal activities throughout Better Call Saul:

  • Acting as an enforcer/bodyguard for various drug dealers and criminals, including Nacho Varga and Hector Salamanca.
  • Getting involved with Gus Fring’s drug business, including overseeing distribution and security.
  • Money laundering and facilitating various schemes for Saul Goodman.
  • Killed multiple people, often in cold blood, as jobs for Gus or other criminals.
  • Assault, battery, breaking and entering, theft, and likely other offenses during his fixer activities.

Many of these actions Mike takes on behalf of Fring and others are quite illegal. In theory, if he were caught or his crimes exposed, he could have faced new charges and prison time.

Mike’s Situation at the End of Better Call Saul

Looking at where Mike’s character ends up in the final season of Better Call Saul also gives some clues about his risk of returning to prison:

  • Mike is now fully entrenched in Gus Fring’s drug empire with an important behind-the-scenes role.
  • He is wanted by the police and needs to lay low after his confrontation with the Salamancas.
  • Mike is also grieving his son’s death which could make him more prone to mistakes.
  • His activities are becoming increasingly cold-blooded, violent and likely to attract police attention.

So by the end of the show, Mike is in a relatively precarious position where one wrong move could land him back in prison. But he also seems to have stabilized his role in Gus’s operation.

Could Mike’s Past Come Back to Haunt Him?

Based on Mike’s criminal history and his activities during Better Call Saul, it seems quite plausible that law enforcement could have caught up with him at some point between the end of Better Call Saul and the start of Breaking Bad. Here are some ways Mike could have ended up arrested:

Prior Crimes Come to Light

Police looking into some of Mike’s past crimes from his time in Philadelphia or earlier days in Albuquerque finally uncover enough evidence to arrest and charge him. Even if the statutes of limitations have expired on some charges, prosecutors could potentially find ways to file charges related to more recent evidence.

Mistakes Draw Police Attention

Out of grief over his son’s death or feeling pressure from cartel wars, Mike makes some operational security mistakes that put him on the radar of law enforcement. Even a minor traffic stop could snowball into a bigger investigation into his background.

Betrayed by Criminal Associates

To save themselves, someone Mike works with in the drug trade turns informant and gives up information about his criminal activities. Certain associates like Nacho Varga or Saul Goodman were always wild cards who could potentially flip if given a deal by police.

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Targeted by a DEA Investigation

Mike’s close association with Gus Fring could have made him a target for a broader DEA investigation into Fring’s drug empire. Hank Schrader was obssessed with taking down Fring and could have leveraged surveillance, informants, or witnesses to build a case against Mike.

Reasons Mike May Have Avoided Prison

However, there are also several plausible reasons why Mike could have avoided arrest and imprisonment during the gap between shows:

Carefulness and Caution

Mike is an intelligent and careful operator who seems skilled at covering his tracks and minimizing his involvement in crimes that could be easily traced back to him. His background as a cop likely makes him more cautious about avoiding direct implication in major crimes.

Well-Insulated in Gus’s Operation

As part of Gus Fring’s extensive drug enterprise, Mike likely has significant resources and protection to prevent him from being directly connected to any crimes. Gus runs his operation with great care and likely would intervene to prevent a top lieutenant like Mike from facing arrest.

Slipped Through the Cracks

Law enforcement agencies like the DEA and Albuquerque PD simply may have missed opportunities to build solid cases against Mike, allowing him to keep operating with impunity. Proving crimes against a skilled fixer like Mike is challenging.

Cut a Deal to Avoid Prison

If Mike were finally caught, he could have cut a deal to serve as an informant or cooperate in other ways to avoid another prison sentence. Mike has many potential bits of information he could leverage for a deal.

Conclusion: Mike’s Prison Status Remains Uncertain

Looking at all the available information from Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, there is a plausible case to be made both for and against Mike returning to prison between the end of Better Call Saul in 2004 and the start of Breaking Bad in 2008.

Mike certainly led a dangerous criminal lifestyle that carried inherent risks of arrest and incarceration. But he was also a savvy operator who worked for a drug kingpin in Gus Fring who would have motivation and resources to keep Mike out of prison.

Ultimately Mike’s fate in those intervening years remains ambiguous and open to interpretation. The creators of the shows have not provided any definitive answers about what transpired during this period of Mike’s life. So while it seems quite possible Mike could have done another stint in prison based on his activities, it’s also reasonable to believe he may have successfully avoided further incarceration.

Mike’s potential return to prison joins the list of unresolved questions about his character’s destiny that keeps fans debating the blurred lines between right and wrong in the complex morality of the Breaking Bad universe.

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Related Questions

How much prison time did Mike serve originally?

Mike’s exact sentence for his original incarceration is not revealed in either show. In BCS, it’s shown he did time at a federal penitentiary, suggesting at least a year, but the details are unclear. His police career gone wrong seems to be the likely cause.

What ultimately happens to Mike in Breaking Bad?

In the fifth season of Breaking Bad, Mike is murdered by Walt on Gus Fring’s orders after leaving the drug business and attempting to flee. Walt fatally shoots Mike when he refuses to give up the names of Gus’s imprisoned henchmen.

Does Mike appear in the Breaking Bad flashforwards and movie El Camino?

No, since Mike is killed before the flashforwards at the end of Breaking Bad, he does not make any appearances in those scenes. Mike also does not appear in the El Camino movie which takes place after Breaking Bad, for the same reason.

What is known about Mike’s son Matt Ehrmantraut?

Matt Ehrmantraut was Mike’s son who worked as a police officer in Philadelphia like Mike. Matt was killed on duty which led to Mike leaving the police force and relocating. In Better Call Saul, Mike processes his grief over Matt’s death.

Could charges against Mike have been used as leverage by law enforcement?

It’s quite possible. Someone like Hank Schrader likely would have loved to find charges to use against Mike as leverage to get him to inform on Fring’s operation. However, it’s uncertain if officials found enough hard evidence for charges that would compel Mike to cooperate.

Does Mike have living family members besides Matt shown in the shows?

Not definitively. It’s implied Mike may have an estranged daughter-in-law and granddaughter still alive whom he provides money for in secret. But no other immediate family is ever shown, suggesting Matt may have been Mike’s only child.


In the end, Mike Ehrmantraut remains one of the most complex and intriguing characters in the Breaking Bad universe. The unanswered questions surrounding his fate both during and after Better Call Saul provide fascinating fodder for fans to speculate on for years to come. While it truly remains ambiguous, the possibility of Mike returning to prison at some point as his criminal activities further engulfed him is certainly a reasonable one to consider. Ultimately, the moral descent of his character in the years leading up to Breaking Bad leaves his destiny unclear and open to debate.

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