Breaking Bad's Season 5 Magnet Heist Is Completely Inaccurate

While "Breaking Bad" is perhaps best remembered for its incredible character development and the explosive performances of Bryan Cranston as Walter White and Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman, it would be difficult to talk about the series without mentioning its commitment to feats of science-fueled mayhem. From Walter's use of mercury fulminate in Season 1 to the near-constant implementation of acid in order to dissolve dead bodies, "Breaking Bad" never shied away from showing its anti-hero's expertise when it came to chemistry.

This seemingly culminates in the fifth and final season of the series, when Walter finally gets rid of his competition and becomes the drug kingpin himself. However, he, Jesse, and Mike (Jonathan Banks) must first get rid of some evidence. This leads to a heist involving using a large super magnet in order to erase footage on a laptop that's in police custody (an idea, to give credit where credit is due, that Jesse first suggests). It's undeniably a thrilling moment in the show that reveals just how far Walter and company are willing to go, as their stunt destroys a mountain of unrelated criminal evidence. Unfortunately for fans hoping for realism in their fictional shows — or fortunately, if you're on the side of the justice system — it's also completely impossible to pull off in the real world.

Mythbusters Jr. proved the magnet heist was not exactly realistic

During an episode of "Mythbusters Jr." that actually featured "Breaking Bad" creator Vince Gilligan, the show put the magnet heist scene from Season 5 to the ultimate test, and the results weren't exactly a testament to the crime drama's sense of realism. The experiment involved creating a replica of the evidence room and introducing a magnetic device that equaled the strength of the one found in the episode. Unfortunately, the magnet was not actually able to move any metallic objects in the room, not even a small paperclip. Additionally, the test also proved that even a large magnet would be able to erase the contents of the hard drive on the laptop completely.

While this may be disappointing news for some fans, it's not exactly a new thing for a fictional show to operate outside the rules of the real world. Many pieces of fiction elect to set aside realism in favor of what will be entertaining, and the magnet heist sequence is definitely an example of that. It's also something that Gilligan is more than aware of. During an interview with The New York Times in 2012, the "Breaking Bad" showrunner admitted that he had to break from reality at times in order to make the series more thrilling for fans and to place his characters in situations that would be extremely difficult to get out of. Such is the nature of dramatic television, after all.