The 15 Best Jesse Pinkman Moments In The Breaking Bad Franchise

"Breaking Bad" was a true phenomenon. It is one of the rare modern television shows that maintained a consistent level of quality throughout. The show was nearly perfect from its captivating pilot to the devastating series finale, "Felina." Although the ending of the series was extremely satisfying, the "Breaking Bad" universe has expanded in recent years. The critically-acclaimed prequel series "Better Call Saul" tells the origin story of the shifty lawyer Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk), and is edging closer to its own final episode. 

"Better Call Saul" is a much different show, but it has steadily included characters from "Breaking Bad" in a logical way. Fan favorite characters, including Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks), Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito), Hank Schrader (Dean Norris), and Tuco Salamanca (Raymond Cruz) have all appeared in "Better Call Saul." However, the final season of the prequel series will feature the return of the two most beloved characters from the original series: Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul). Jesse is the heart of "Breaking Bad," growing into a more responsible man by the end of the series, after suffering the consequences of Walt's cruelty and selfishness. Here are the 15 best Jesse Pinkman moments in the "Breaking Bad" franchise.

Jesse escapes the DEA raid (Pilot)

Although Jesse's story would ultimately go in a more dramatic direction, his introduction in the "Breaking Bad" pilot is rather comedic. Jesse comes in at just the right time during the story. Up until his introduction, the first episode of "Breaking Bad" is extremely dark and upsetting. Walter faces a future without hope and feels discouraged and embarrassed at every turn. Although Bryan Cranston's heartbreaking performance is fantastic, the series premiere risked being too dark. Jesse doesn't detract from the realism of the story when his character enters the plot, but he helps balance out the tone, while also helping to turn "Breaking Bad" into the unique, offbeat series that it eventually became.

Walter agrees to go on a ride-along with his brother-in-law, Hank, a DEA agent who is raiding a meth lab with his partner, Steven Gomez (Steven Michael Quezada). As Hank and Steven enter the building, Walt recognizes a familiar face. He catches Jesse, his former student, sneaking out of the house. After seeing that Jesse has criminal experience, Walt decides to blackmail Jesse — who still refers to his former teacher as Mr. White — into producing crystal meth with him. This catches Jesse off guard, and their initial distrust of each other creates some genuinely funny moments. It's easy to forget how different Walt and Jesse's relationship was in the beginning, compared to what it becomes by the end of the show.

Jesse helps a child (Peekaboo)

"Breaking Bad" has strong paternal themes. Walter would argue that he commits many of his most egregious actions out of love for his son, Walt Jr. (RJ Mitte). Jesse has a complex relationship with his own father, Adam (Michael Bofshever). Adam looks down upon his son for his involvement with drugs. This creates a unique thematic parallel between Walter and Jesse: Walter is forced to lie to his son, and Jesse is unable to open up to his father. In a way, Walter becomes a father-like figure to Jesse.

Jesse considers the possibilities of fatherhood towards the end of the series. However, his love for children was established in the second season. In the episode "Peekaboo," Jesse breaks into Spooge's (David Ury) house. After an awkward conversation with the local mail woman, Jesse realizes that Spooge's young son (Dylan and Brandon Carr) is still in the building. Jesse is forced to take care of the child. Although he is initially annoyed that he has to deal with this, Jesse realizes that the boy has been neglected in the same way that he was. "Peekaboo" showed a more tender side to Jesse than we had seen before. The boy's fate is not revealed, though it is implied that when Jesse called the police, the boy was taken in by child services.

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

Jesse and Walt get stuck in the desert (4 Days Out)

"4 Days Out" is one of the show's most experimental episodes. Over the course of a marathon meth cooking session, Walt and Jesse get to spend time together as they are isolated from the rest of the world. In real life, Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul became very close friends during the filming of "Breaking Bad." That is evident from how authentic their relationship feels in "4 Days Out."

After Walter informs him that they need to cook a large quantity of crystal meth, Jesse reluctantly cancels his plans to go on vacation to Santa Fe with his girlfriend, Jane (Krysten Ritter). What Walter doesn't tell Jesse is that he's waiting to hear back about the test results from his PET/CT scan; Walt thinks that he is dying. While he would feel guilty staying at home, spending time with Jesse allows Walter to get his mind off of the impending news. "4 Days Out" has a lot of humorous moments, as Walter grows irritated after Jesse forgets to turn off the ignition switch to their RV. They are stuck in the middle of the desert with a drained battery. However, the moment when Jesse and Walter enjoy the nighttime air is one of the most poignant scenes in the entire series.

Jesse thinks he killed Jane (ABQ)

Jesse's doomed relationship with Jane is one of the most heartbreaking subplots in "Breaking Bad." When he is first introduced, Jesse has no hope for his future. Even though he does not have cancer like Walter, Jesse feels just as helpless. However, things change when he meets Jane. Jesse finally feels like he has formed a real connection with someone. He also finds someone who can relate to what he is going through, as Jane has also struggled with drug addiction issues.

However, Jane meets her fate in the episode "Phoenix." Walter visits Jane's apartment and sees her starting to vomit in her sleep. Although Walter's first instinct is to help save her, he realizes that if Jane is dead, then she will not take Jesse away from him. Walter's decision to let Jane die signified his descent into true villainy. After learning about his girlfriend's demise, Jesse blames himself. He thinks that he caused Jane to have a relapse, which resulted in her death. Jesse's breakdown in front of Walter is absolutely heartbreaking and shows the manipulative power that Walter has over Jesse.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Jesse confronts Walt (One Minute)

Jesse goes through an emotional rollercoaster in the episode "One Minute." Hank confronts Jesse at his house, believing that he has been tricked into thinking that his wife, Marie (Betsy Brandt), has been hospitalized. Hank brutally assaults Jesse before realizing that he has crossed the line. This creates tension between Jesse and Walter. Walter wants Jesse to come back, and start cooking meth with him again.

When Walter visits Jesse in the hospital, Jesse breaks down emotionally. He rants about all the ways in which Walter has ruined his life. Walter attempts to pacify Jesse by claiming that they will be working as equal partners, but Jesse tells him that he doesn't care about the money. This shows the fundamental difference between the two characters. Walter can't see past his own greed. However, Jesse still clings to some sort of moral code. Walter is only able to convince Jesse to join him through manipulation. He admits that Jesse's skills at cooking meth rival his own. Thinking that Walter finally considers him to be his equal, Jesse reluctantly returns to restart their partnership.

Jesse deals with Walt's madness (Fly)

"Breaking Bad" employed the talents of many great directors, including Rian Johnson. After working on "Breaking Bad," Johnson went on to create such critically-acclaimed films as "Looper," "Star Wars: The Last Jedi," and "Knives Out." All of Johnson's creativity and originality are on display in the experimental episode "Fly." The episode takes place over the course of a meth cooking session, where Walter slips into madness.

Walter has been suffering from insomnia. After Jesse leaves the lab after the end of their day of cooking, Walter notices a fly. He becomes convinced that the fly will disrupt the delicate cooking process, and ruin everything that he has been working on. Walter becomes obsessed with killing the fly. He goes to increasingly ridiculous lengths to find it. Jesse is forced to pacify Walter's agitation and obsession as he tries to get his job done. While the episode mostly functions as a showcase for Bryan Cranston's range, Aaron Paul gets many standout moments as well. He speaks for the entire audience when he tells Walter, "Dude, you scared the s— out of me."

Jesse kills Gale (Full Measure)

Although "Breaking Bad" is ultimately the story of Walter's fall from grace, Jesse also becomes a darker person as he's drawn into the world of drug smuggling. While Jesse often acts in a way that is selfish, he is rarely cruel or malevolent. This makes Jesse's murder of Gale Boetticher (David Costabile) particularly shocking. Gale is a chemist for Gus that is assigned to help Walter. Despite his ties to the crime syndicate, Gale isn't an unlikeable character. The peculiar details about Gale's interest in Italian culture make him feel like a character from a Coen Brothers movie.

Initially, Jesse claims that he is not a murderer. He refuses to kill Gale but agrees to send his address to Walter. Later on, Walter realizes that Jesse's life is in danger, and explains to him that there is no other option. Gale's murder isn't actually seen on-screen. The last scene focuses entirely on Jesse's tearful face as he works up the courage to fire the gun.

Jesse goes to therapy (Problem Dog)

Jesse isn't given much time to heal in "Breaking Bad." A majority of Jesse's healing process is shown in the spin-off film, "El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie." Clearly, Jesse has a long road to recovery ahead of him. However, he does begin to talk about everything that has happened to him in the episode "Problem Dog." He attends a 12-step program to start his recovery process.

Jesse has to lie during the group therapy session to hide his crimes. Although he is not able to admit that he killed Gale, Jesse creates a story about killing a "problem dog." Jesse gets angry when the group therapy leader (Jere Burns) tries to forgive him for his actions. He wants someone to force him to take responsibility. Jesse reveals to the group that the only reason that he attended the meeting was to sell everyone crystal meth.

Jesse holds Walt at gunpoint (End Times)

Jesse's relationship with Walter nearly breaks down in the episode "End Times." Gus tries to convince Jesse that Walter's death is necessary for their operation, but Jesse maintains his loyalty to his old friend. However, this changes when Jesse gets a frantic phone call from his love interest, Andrea Cantillo (Emily Rios). Andrea's son, Brock (Ian Posada), has been poisoned. Jesse discovers that the ricin cigarette that he planned to use to kill Gus is missing. Jesse is forced to ask himself a terrifying question: would Walter really kill a child?

Aaron Paul shows off his range as an actor in this episode. Jesse contemplates whether his former mentor is capable of such an unspeakable act of evil. He confronts Walter and bluntly asks him if he is responsible for poisoning Brock. Once again, Walter is able to use his power of manipulation to convince Jesse that Gus is the one that is responsible. However, this moment creates a major rift in Jesse and Walters' relationship that reverberates into the final season.

Jesse and Walt escape Gus (Face Off)

The fourth season of "Breaking Bad" concludes in spectacular fashion with the death of Gus. Gus is one of the greatest television villains of all time, so in some ways, it was sad to see him die before the final season. However, it is clear that Walter is the true villain of "Breaking Bad." While Gus may be one of the most dangerous characters in the "Breaking Bad" universe, he emerges in the story because of Walter's actions. Walter's greed and desire for power ends up hurting everyone that he cares about, particularly Jesse.

After their intense confrontation in "End Times," Walter comes to Jesse's rescue in "Face Off." Jesse has been kidnapped by thugs and is being forced to cook meth at gunpoint. Walter manages to free him by killing the guards. Walter and Jesse temporarily find peace with each other. Jesse also reveals that Brock had been poisoned by eating berries from the lily of the valley and that neither Walter nor Gus was responsible.

The flashback to Jesse and Walt cooking meth (Ozymandias)

Following his excellent work on "Fly," Rian Johnson returned to the "Breaking Bad" universe for the episode "Ozymandias." Johnson used this episode to explore the legacy of Walter's actions, and how they affect every character in the series. Jesse enters the most traumatizing stage of his character arc: He is captured by skinheads, and Todd Alquist (Jesse Plemons) suggests that they keep him alive. Before leaving him, Walter reveals to Jesse that he is responsible for Jane's death.

Despite these dark events, the opening scene of "Ozymandias" flashes back to a lighter moment within the show's timeline. Johnson shows a scene where Walter and Jesse begin cooking meth for the first time together. It's amusing to see Jesse make simple mistakes in the cooking process and to watch Walter scolding him. It's a haunting way to start an episode that ends on such a dour note.

Jesse strangles Todd to death (Felina)

Although none of the villains in the fifth season of "Breaking Bad" are quite as dangerous as Gus, Todd Alquist certainly gives him a run for his money. Unlike Gus, who is very methodical, Todd is completely unpredictable. There are moments where he appears to be charming, and even silly. However, Todd can quickly turn into a violent killing machine. Jesse has been plotting his revenge on Todd ever since he was captured by the skinheads.

In the series finale, "Felina," Jesse finally gets his vengeance. Jesse's escape takes place amidst the most exciting action sequence in the show's history. Walter tackles Jesse in order to protect him from the automatic machine gun that he has triggered. As Walter confronts Jack Welker (Michael Bowen), Jesse squares off against Todd. In a fan-pleasing moment, Jesse uses his shackles to strangle Todd to death, literally using his chains to set himself free.

Jesse screams as he escapes (Felina)

The events of "Felina" are still hotly debated by "Breaking Bad" fans. Did Walter deserve to die? Was he always an evil man, or did his greed simply lead him down a dark path? Who should have to pay the consequences for Walter's actions, and who should benefit from them? While many of these questions are up to the viewer's interpretation, one thing is clear: Jesse is a victim in this situation. After killing Todd, Jesse and Walter share their last moment together. At this point, the totality of their relationship cannot be summed up by a few simple words.

Aaron Paul's finest moment of acting on the show is when Jesse finally drives away from the compound in Todd's car. Jesse has always been the audience's avatar in the story. Like the "Breaking Bad" fans, Jesse isn't sure how to react to what he has just witnessed. In a confused emotional state, he laughs, yells, and sobs simultaneously.

Jesse's standoff with Casey (El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie)

"Breaking Bad" concluded in a very satisfying way, so any attempt to continue the story was automatically risky. However, Vince Gilligan thought that there were some elements of Jesse's story that were still worth showing. Gilligan made his feature film directorial debut in 2019 with "El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie." The Netflix film (which also played in select movie theaters) takes place immediately after the events of "Felina." It follows Jesse as he tries to piece his life back together.

Gilligan has made it no secret that he is a massive fan of classic westerns. One of the most exciting moments in "El Camino" feels like a call back to classic spaghetti westerns like "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" and "Once Upon a Time in the West." After his spirit was broken in "Felina," Jesse gains a new sense of confidence in "El Camino." He enters a shop in order to confront the thugs, Neil Kandy (Scott MacArthur) and Casey (Scott Shepherd). Neil challenges Jesse to a duel, and Jesse emerges victorious. Casey attempts to stop him, but Jesse kills him as well.

Jesse drives away into an unknown future (El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie)

One of the risks of making "El Camino" in the first place was that it could potentially ruin the ambiguous nature of "Felina." While "Felina" revealed that Jesse had temporarily escaped from captivity, it did not promise that his future would automatically become more hopeful. Jesse's screams as he drove off into the unknown were haunting. Interestingly, "El Camino" chooses to leave Jesse in a similar place. Once again, he is seen driving away into an unknown future. However, the difference is clear. In "Felina," Jesse was in a raw state of anguish. In "El Camino," he has seemingly made peace with what has happened to him and is determined to forge a new life for himself.

While Jesse is not the villain that Walter is, he committed his fair share of evil actions throughout "Breaking Bad," and Vince Gilligan was smart to acknowledge this in "El Camino." Jesse will never be able to have the life that he once had. However, Gilligan did show that Jesse was able to make peace with some of the people that he had wronged.