Why exactly did Walter White quit his job at Gray Matter Technologies in Breaking Bad? The main character's previous career was mentioned multiple times through the show's five-season run. However, Breaking Bad's creator Vince Gilligan didn't reveal an explanation to why Walt left his job until years after the show ended.
Gray Matter Technologies was a company that Walt co-founded with Elliot Schwartz prior to the events of Breaking Bad. Both of the men's last names inspired the company's name: "Schwartz" means "black" in German and, when it's mixed with the color white (Walt's last name), it creates the color gray. While working for Gray Matter, Walt began dating his lab assistant Gretchen. He later broke up with her and sold his share of the company for a measly five thousand dollars. Elliot eventually married Gretchen and grew the company with a net worth of over two billion dollars.
But what motivated Walt to leave Gray Matter in the first place? It was clear in Breaking Bad season 1 when Walt and Skyler attended Elliot's birthday party that there was more to Walt's decision to depart than he let on. Walt hinted later in the season that he left the company due to personal reasons, but didn't expand any further. It wasn't until three years after the Breaking Bad series finale aired that Gilligan revealed the true story about why Walt left Gray Matter behind. In an interview with HuffPost, Gilligan shared insight that Walt left Gray Matter due to Gretchen's intimidating wealth:
“I think it was kind of situation where he didn’t realize the girl he was about to marry was so very wealthy and came from such a prominent family, and it kind of blew his mind and made him feel inferior and he overreacted. He just kind of checked out. I think there is that whole other side to the story, and it can be gleaned. This isn’t really the CliffsNotes version so much. These facts can be gleaned if you watch some of these scenes really closely enough, and you watch them without too much of an overriding bias toward Walt and against Gretchen and Elliott."
Walt broke up with Gretchen while on a 4th of July vacation with her family. He then quickly sold his share and went on to become a high school chemistry teacher. This isn't to say that a job as a teacher is less admirable, but Walt clearly had a hard time watching Elliot and Gretchen lead Gray Matter to great levels of success. He also felt as though Elliot stole his work since Gray Matter took off on the foundation of Walt's previous scientific research.
With the Gray Matter fiasco always in the back of his mind, it makes sense why Walt always had an internal power struggle. He later had trouble giving up his meth business as he held on to the threat of losing out on financial success. Walt's ego often got in the way with his decision making, especially when it involved doing the right thing or choosing the option that could grow his self-confidence. In the end, Walt chose notoriety as he put his illegal career over his family and friends. But if Walt never backed out of Gray Matter, there wouldn't have been a Breaking Bad.