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The Most Devastating Deaths On Breaking Bad

Spoilers ahead!

Death is baked into the premise of AMC's hit series "Breaking Bad." Creator Vince Gilligan's oft-quoted goal to "turn Mr. Chips into Scarface" was always bound to leave bodies on the ground, as Albuquerque high school chemistry teacher Walter White (Bryan Cranston, in a multiple Emmy-award winning performance), alongside his former student Jesse Pinkman (fellow Emmy-winner Aaron Paul), wades into the violent world of crystal meth production and distribution, and eventually bends it to his will. But before Walt has even cooked his first batch, the specter of death already haunts him; his decision to break bad is rooted in providing money for his family after he receives a terminal cancer diagnosis.

Many of the show's most memorable moments are centered around death, whether its Walt's DEA agent brother-in-law Hank (Dean Norris) fighting off a pair of murderous Mexican cartel twins, or crystal meth and fried chicken magnate Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) getting half his face blown off. But just as in chemistry, and many of the show's most devastating deaths are not of violent criminals, but ordinary people who had the massive misfortune to cross paths with Walt and Jesse. And even some of those violent criminals receive a punishment that they do not necessarily deserve. Let's take a look at some of the most devastating deaths on "Breaking Bad." 

Domingo 'Krazy-8' Molina

Domingo "Krazy-8" Molina (Max Arciniega) and his cousin Emilio (John Koyama) just wanted to sell a little meth with Emilio's friend Jesse Pinkman. In the normal world, that is perhaps not the most sympathetic goal, but in the world of "Breaking Bad" that's as close to an honest living as we often get. But when a meeting with Jesse and Walter White goes sideways in the series' first episode, Emilio ends up dead and Krazy-8 is held prisoner in Jesse's basement.

Walt and Jesse's dilemma is clear. Krazy-8 is an extreme liability and needs to be dealt with in a more permanent fashion than being chained to a pole, but at this point neither men are killers. Walt's misgivings only grow as he and Domingo make a personal connection; Domingo's family owns the furniture store where Walt bought the crib for his now-teenage son (R.J. Mitte). It isn't until Walt realizes that Krazy-8 has armed himself with a shard of broken dinner plate that his survival instincts kick in. The ensuing fight and death scene is brutal and ugly, a tragedy not just for a young man with the bad luck to have crossed Walt's path, but for Walt himself, as he has now crossed a line he can never return from. The deaths of Emilio and Krazy-8 are in many ways the show's original sin, and its consequences reverberate all the way to the final episode and beyond.

Christian 'Combo' Ortega

Actions on "Breaking Bad" often have wide-ranging, often unintended consequences. Season 2 is perhaps the most explicit example of this, culminating in a series of small- and large-scale tragedies that happen as a result of Walt and Jesse's fledgling meth operation. After their disastrous encounter with Mexican drug cartel lieutenant Tuco Salamanca (Raymond Cruz), the two attempt to both produce and distribute on their own. Walt takes the street name "Heisenberg" and Jesse recruits his goofball stoner friends Badger (Matt Jones), Skinny Pete (Charles Baker), and Combo (Rodney Rush) to handle sales.

Of the three, Jesse is closest with Combo; in a Season 3 flashback scene, we even learn that the Winnebago van that he and Walt use to cook meth belonged to Combo's mother. One morning Combo is working a street corner when a black muscle car parks nearby with two men inside, watching him. A young boy bicycles around. Combo grows concerned and calls Skinny Pete for backup. The car honks twice and, before he knows what's happened, Combo has been shot by the young boy on the bicycle. Though we won't learn it until next season, that young boy's name is Tomas, and he has his own spot on this list.

Combo's death directly leads to Walt seeking out someone to handle distribution, which puts him in the sights of the show's greatest antagonist (besides Walt himself), Chilean chicken man Gus Fring. Jesse, meanwhile, devastated by Combo's death and hurt by Walt's all-business attitude, slips further into heroin addiction.

Jane Margolis

Artist and recovering drug addict Jane Margolis (Krysten Ritter) is trying to piece her life back together when she rents the other side of her duplex to Jesse in Season 2. As these things often go, a somewhat prickly business relationship warms into a friendship, and then to something more. But it is already a sad truth of the show that no one can know Walt or Jesse and get away unscathed; before long, their addictive personalities bring out the worst. Jane falls off the wagon and soon the two of them are shooting heroin together.

The stress of Combo's death causes a falling out between Walt and Jesse. He and Jane make pie-in-the-sky plans to get clean and move to New Zealand, but first, one more night of getting high. Walt returns later that night to make amends with Jesse and finds the two of them strung out. Jane, sleeping on her back, begins to throw up. Walt could roll her over, but he doesn't; instead, he watches Jane choke to death.

Jane was Jesse's last tether to a life outside of Walt, the cartels, and meth, and his guilt will linger for the remainder of the series. Walt, meanwhile, feels little to no guilt, and doesn't reveal his role in her death to Jesse until the end of the series. But Jesse was not the only person to love Jane, and her death will have tragic consequences on a massive scale.

Wayfarer 515 Passengers

Something terrible is going to happen at the end of Season 2, teased from its first episode by a series of cryptic flash-forwards shot in stark black and white. A mangled pink teddy bear floats in the White family pool. People in hazmat suits attend to dead bodies. Could it be that Walt blows up his own house, or perhaps the cartel takes its revenge on Walt's family? The truth, when finally revealed in the Season 2 finale, is something else, something unexpected yet at the same time unavoidable: A tragic accident set in motion by every decision Walt and Jesse ever made.

Jane's death hits Jesse understandably hard, but it also devastates her father Donald (John de Lancie). He takes a few weeks off from his job as an air traffic controller to recover from his grief. When he finally returns to work at the Albuquerque airport, he is shaky, but ready to get back to his routine. At his console, he guides Wayfarer flight 515, but his mind begins to wander. He says his daughter's name absent-mindedly. He then doesn't say anything at all. Suddenly, Wayfarer 515 collides with another aircraft high above ABQ, sending bodies and debris flying all over the city, including straight into Walt's backyard — a blunt but powerful metaphor for the destruction he has brought and will continue to bring upon his family.

Tomas Cantillo

Months after Jane's death, Jesse has kicked his heroin habit (but still enjoys a little weed and meth), and has found a new partner in young mom Andrea Cantillo (Emily Rios). Andrea looks after her young son Brock, as well as her younger brother Tomas (Angelo Martinez) who is mixed up in gang activity. But Albuquerque is a small town, and Jesse soon makes a terrible discovery: Tomas is the young boy who shot Combo to death in the street, and the gang he is running with is affiliated with Gus Fring, Walt and Jesse's ruthless distributor.

Jesse goes to Walt for help, wanting to kill the dealers using Tomas. Walt refuses to help and goes directly to Gus instead. Gus calls a meeting and declares that the gang is to no longer use children in their business. The dealers (Mike Seal, Antonio Leyba) agree and take Gus' directions literally by killing Tomas.

Now bent on revenge for both Andrea's brother and Combo, Jesse sets out to gun down the two dealers, and probably get himself killed in the process. As he is about to confront them, however, Walt plows his Pontiac Aztek into the two, and finishes one off with a bullet to the head. His one-word direction to Jesse: "Run."


Poor Gale Boetticher. Played by David Constabile, Gale is a gifted chemist, an all around sweet guy, a karaoke fan, and someone with the incredible misfortune to be caught between two of the coldest, most paranoid men alive, Walter White and Gus Fring. Brought on as Walt's assistant in the Fring-built superlab at the beginning of Season 3, Gale and Walt have a fruitful partnership at first. But Walt grows concerned that Gale may be there as his replacement rather than his assistant, and fabricates reasons to fire Gale and replace him with Jesse.

After the deaths of Tomas and Fring's two dealers, Jesse goes into hiding. Walt makes a deal to forget about Jesse and to continue cooking for Gus, with Gale reluctantly returning as his assistant. This time, Walt's paranoia is founded — Gus has indeed brought Gale back in order to take over the superlab once Walt and Jesse have been killed. Fring's fixers Mike (Jonathan Banks) and Victor (Jeremiah Bitsui) take Walt to the superlab to kill him — but not before Walt calls Jesse, who shows up at Gale's apartment with a gun. Walt, who was begging for his life not moments before, now has the upper hand. Jesse shoots Gale point blank, but in this moment, they are both Walter White's victims.


Gus Fring is a man of great passions raging underneath a stoic exterior. He cares deeply and holds grudges, as seen later on in Season 4 when he gets poisonous revenge on the cartel for the long-ago murder of his partner Max. At the end of the day, though, he is a businessman to a sociopathic degree. Anything that brings in money can be excused, and anything that costs money is intolerable. It is this attitude that leads Gus to spare Walt and Jesse's lives when he should have killed them several times over.

At the start of Season 4, in the aftermath of Gale's death, Gus is faced with a dilemma. Someone has to be punished for this, but at the same time, meth production must continue. The answer lies in a brutal intimidation move. Walt and Jesse are at the superlab, held there by Mike and Victor. Gus arrives and calmly dresses in protective gear as Walt talks a mile a minute trying to save himself and (to a lesser extent) Jesse. Gus grabs a box cutter ... and slashes Victor's throat. Victor, who had been spotted by witnesses at Gale's apartment, is ultimately expendable in a way that Walt and Jesse are not at this moment. As with Jane, the Wayfarer 515 passengers, and even Gale, someone else dies for their sins.

Drew Sharp

A young boy (Sam Webb) is out in the desert alone on his bicycle. He traps a tarantula in a glass jar. The opening credits roll on this Season 5 episode, and the boy won't be seen again for nearly another hour.

After the fiery death of Gus Fring at the end of Season 4, Walt, Jesse, and Mike are now their own bosses in the meth game, with all the responsibility that entails. They are dealing with Gus' former business partner (Laura Fraser) at a German conglomerate. They have hired a young new assistant, Todd (Jesse Plemons) who is eager to impress. They need an industrial amount of methylamine to continue production, and the only way to get it is to rob a freight train.

What follows is a marvelously suspenseful heist sequence, as Walt, Jesse, and Todd (with some assistance from a sometime-accomplice played by comedian Bill Burr) conspire to bring the train to a halt in the middle of the desert, drain the methylamine into an underground tank, replace it with water, and get out without getting killed or caught. It goes off without a hitch, and the three men are high off the exhilaration ... until Drew Sharp, that young boy with the tarantula, shows up again. He's seen them and what they did. Without a second thought, Todd pulls a pistol and shoots the boy dead.

Mike Ehrmentraut

Mike Ehrmentraut, the fan favorite played by Emmy-nominee Jonathan Banks, was introduced at the end of Season 2 as Saul Goodman's cleaner, arriving at Jesse's apartment to take care of Jane's body and to make sure nothing incriminating is in the house. Mike was soon brought back as a recurring character in Seasons 3 and 4, an enforcer and all around bag man for Gus Fring. By Season 5, he was a full-fledged lead. Even in the company of geniuses like Gus and Walt, Mike tends to be the smartest guy in the room, a Philly ex-cop whose seen-it-all attitude hides a deep moral code. That moral code is consistently offended by Walter White. The deaths of Victor, Gus, and Drew Sharp weigh on him, and he expresses an almost fatherly concern toward Jesse as he falls ever further into Walt's influence. The money is good, so Mike keeps working with him, but something's gotta give.

That "something" finally gives when the DEA catches Mike's non-Saul Goodman lawyer distributing money to Mike's associates who are in prison, paying for their continued silence. Mike decides to skip town, but needs his emergency getaway bag picked up from the airport. Walt delivers it to him at some faraway spot near a creek, and in their final conversation, Mike lashes out, blaming Walt for blowing up (literally) the good deal they all had under Gus Fring. In a rage, Walt shoots Mike in the gut. As he bleeds out by the creek, Mike delivers his last words: "Shut the f*** up and let me die in peace."

Hank Schrader

Alpha male DEA agent Hank Schrader loves his family, including his brother-in-law Walter White, even if he and White don't always understand each other. Introduced in Season 1 as a meathead jock gone to seed, Hank and actor Dean Norris bloomed over the course of the series, revealing hidden depths and turning into someone the audience could root for — especially as Walt slipped further and further into outright villainy. By the Season 5's mid-season finale in 2012, Hank has finally discovered that the drug kingpin Heisenberg, who he has been hunting for nearly two years, is in fact his brother-in-law. The rest of the season (which aired in 2013) concerns his fight to bring Walt to justice.

The fight reaches a terrible conclusion in the standout episode "Ozymandias," directed by Rian Johnson ("Knives Out"). Hank and Jesse have teamed up and lured Walt out to the remote spot on an Native reservation where he has buried barrels of cash. Hank slaps handcuffs on Walt, but his triumph is short-lived as Walt's new business partners, a gang of neo-Nazis led by Todd's uncle Jack (Michael Bowen), show up as well. A shootout ensues that leaves Hank injured. Walt, as is his way, tries to talk Jack out of killing Hank, but Hank shuts him down: "You're the smartest guy I ever met, but you're too stupid to see he made up his mind ten minutes ago." Jack shoots him, and Walt's world finally crumbles. There is no saving this situation, no going back or keeping his family safe anymore.

Andrea Cantillo

Of all of Walter White's victims, Jesse is arguably the one who suffers the most. He is put through the wringer in every season, whether it's getting beaten to a pulp, reeling with guilt over the deaths of Jane, Tomas, and Gale, or nearly dying from drug use. But every time he tries to get out, Walt's gravitational pull brings him right back around for more punishment.

The end of Season 5 has Jesse suffer to an almost absurd degree, as he is kidnapped by Todd and Uncle Jack after Hank's death and forced to cook meth. The Nazis chain him to their makeshift lab by day and imprison him in an underground cage by night. Walt, meanwhile, has fled to New Hampshire as the full, ugly truth of their drug empire comes to light. If there is a glimmer of hope in Jesse's life, it is the thought of seeing Andrea and Brock again.

Todd, who at this point has revealed himself as a full-bore psychopath, knows this, and in the series' penultimate episode "Granite State," he moves to snuff out that hope. He puts Jesse, bound and gagged, in the back of his truck and drives to Andrea's house. Todd knocks on the door, introduces himself to her as a friend of Jesse's. She asks if he's okay, and he tells her that Jesse is in the back of his truck. While she turns to look, Todd shoots her in the back of the head. Jesse screams in pain and rage, flailing, trying to escape his holds. Uncle Jack in the front seat, issues a chilling command: "Hey, settle down. Remember, there's still the kid."