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The Most Heartbreaking Breaking Bad Scenes, According To Fans

Anyone who has experienced the AMC series Breaking Bad will tell you that it was a show that never pulled a single punch. The tale of Walter White (Bryan Cranston), the high school chemistry teacher who becomes the most feared meth kingpin in New Mexico after a terminal cancer diagnosis, was known for its tense drama, brutal action, and dark humor. However, Breaking Bad was also a series that was unafraid to mercilessly rip viewers' hearts out, which it did quite often. Walter left a lot of devastation in his wake. While he ostensibly entered the drug manufacturing business to make sure his family would be taken care of after he was gone, the audience always knew this was an excuse, which he even admitted to his wife, Skylar (Anna Gunn), in the series finale. Thus, it's no surprise that anyone in his orbit, even tangentially, risked a world of hurt — and more often than not, that pain was visited on his former student and partner in meth, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul).

Some years after the show concluded, one intrepid Redditor took to the platform to ask fellow Breaking Bad fans a tough question: What is the saddest scene in the entire series? There are quite a few potential candidates, to be sure. But a few in particular emerged as the moments which left viewers with their hearts on the floor, and not-so-surprisingly, every one of them involves Jesse.

Jane's father arrives to take her to rehab

The stage for the first big tragedy to befall Jesse is set in the episode "Breakage," wherein he meets Jane Margolis (Krysten Ritter), the manager of a duplex. She agrees to rent him one of the units, reluctantly at first. But soon after Jesse moves in, the pair begin a relationship, much to the dismay of Jane's father Donald (John de Lancie). Jane, as it turns out, has struggled with drugs in the past, and Donald, upon meeting Jesse, is immediately convinced that he's bad news.

Jesse slowly lets Jane in on his illegal activities with Walter, and the two begin using meth, and later heroin — Jane's drug of choice. After Jesse's drug use nearly derails a "business meeting" between Walter and Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito), Walter and Jesse have a huge fight. Soon afterward, in a bar, Walter happens to have a chance conversation about the importance of not giving up on family with Donald, whom he doesn't know is Jane's father. Returning to Jesse's place, to reconcile, Walter observes an overdosing Jane asphyxiating on her vomit. Largely in hopes of regaining control over Jesse, Walter allows her to die.

Jesse's reaction upon discovering Jane dead the next morning is excruciating, but the reaction of Donald as he arrives to take his daughter to rehab is gutting. De Lancie, a veteran actor perhaps best-known as Q on Star Trek: The Next Generation, had done excellent work in drawing Donald as a caring father, full of fear for Jane, so the look in his eyes as he realizes that his very worst fear has come to pass was enough to shatter even the hardest of hearts.

Walter's confession to Jesse

For the near-entirety of the rest of the series, Jesse was unaware of the role that Walter had played in Jane's death. That all changed in the gut-wrenching third-to-last episode of Breaking Bad, "Ozymandias," which is widely considered to be among the series' greatest episodes. 

By this point, Jesse has become furious with Walter, upon learning that he had non-lethally poisoned Brock, the young son of Jesse's new girlfriend, Andrea, and attempted to pin it on Fring. In the previous episode, Jesse had lured Walter out to the spot in the desert where all of the pair's meth money had been stashed. Walter, believing Jesse intended to kill him, had called for backup in the form of his latest partner, Todd (Jesse Plemons) and his neo-Nazi uncle Jack (Michael Bowen). But when Jesse subsequently arrives with Walter's DEA agent brother-in-law, Hank (Dean Norris) and his partner Gomez (Steven Michael Quezada), Walter attempts to call off said backup ... to no avail. Jack and his gang have arrived on the scene, a shootout occurs, and as "Ozymandias" opens, Jesse is hiding, Gomez is dead, and Hank is badly wounded.

In one of the show's more shocking moments, Jack murders Hank in front of Walter. Furious with his former partner, Walt points out Jesse's hiding place, who prepare to haul him off to interrogate and (presumably) kill him. Before they do, though, Walter utters the words that break Jesse once and for all: "I watched Jane die," he says. "I was there. I watched her overdose and choke to death. I could have saved her. But I didn't." All of the fight visibly drains from the young man, whom we have seen inflicted with unending traumas for the series' duration. 

Sadly, greater sadness awaited him. 

The fate of Andrea Cantillo

As it turns out, Jack's gang has plans for Jesse, other than the quick and merciful death Walter had wanted for him. In the series' penultimate episode "Granite State," the gang decide to keep him alive to cook more high-quality meth, chaining him up inside a literal pit in the ground. Jesse, though, has one dim hope for freedom: A paper clip which he has managed to squirrel away. At the moment that he feels he has his best chance to escape, he picks the lock on his chains, escapes from the pit, and runs — an action which he will quickly come to regret, forever.

Jack's men catch him, and to make sure he doesn't try to run again, Todd brings him to the home of Andrea and Brock. Todd knocks on Andrea's door, and Andrea — who has never seen the man before — answers, to her doom. As a bound and gagged Jesse watches from the car, Todd shoots Andrea in the head, killing her instantly. Upon returning to the car, he tells Jesse that the same fate awaits Brock, should Jesse try to run again.

It's the absolute most heartbreaking moment in the entire series. It looms large over the later events depicted in El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, which sees Jesse achieve some modicum of peace and happiness at last, escaping Albuquerque to start a new life in Alaska. In that movie's final moments, though, we see that before leaving his old life behind, Jesse wrote a letter to Brock, to be delivered after his departure. The audience is not privy to the letter's contents, which is probably for the best — like Jesse, everyone's poor, tired hearts have taken all the breaking they could handle, by this point.