Breaking Bad redefined prestige TV. Walter’s journey from meek high school teacher to the kingpin of an illicit substance empire stole viewer attention over fifteen years ago and still hasn’t given it back.
With that in mind, let's reminisce about the most surprising, explosive, and heart-pumping Breaking Bad moments.
1. Walter Blows Up Tuco’s Office
At first, Walter only intended to work on the back end as the cook. But after Jesse returns broken and empty-handed from his deal with Tuco, Walter introduces the world to Heisenberg. He used his knowledge of chemistry to blow up Tuco’s office and prove he’s a dangerous man to mess with.
2. Walter Protects Jessie From Gus' Dealers
Walter’s loyalty to Jesse ebbs and flows, but he gives up everything for his former student in this scene. Jesse walked straight toward certain death to get revenge for Combo’s killing, but Walter drove in to put a surprise end to both of the adversaries.
3. Todd Takes Out Drew
It only took an instant for the tremendous highs of the gang’s successful train heist to come crashing down. When Todd saw that their operation had a witness, he eliminated the young boy before anyone could stop him.
4. Walter Shoots Mike
Mike stood as the most elite of all the tough guys in the show. Both in terms of combat and professionalism. That made it all the more shocking that he met his end at the hands of Walter in an immature fit of violent, petty impulse.
5. The Magnetic Truck
Jesse may not have done well in school, but he got an A+ for coming up with the magnet scheme to erase the data from Gus’ laptop. The custom super-magnetic truck made the police evidence room look like a tornado hit it.
6. Hank Defeats the Twins
Hank had his performance under pressure questioned multiple times over the series before this point. He showed everyone his true warrior side when the Salamanca twins tried to assassinate him. It may have temporarily cost him the use of his legs, but he brought them down all alone.
7. Jesse’s Duel
At the end of El Camino, the key to Jesse’s future lies in an old-fashioned pistol duel. Thanks to a second gun cleverly hidden in Jesse’s jacket pocket, the battle ends before it even starts. None of Jesse’s enemies ever played fair, so why should he?
8. Combo Gets Taken Out
Walter’s burgeoning empire lost its first soldier with the death of Jesse’s friend, Combo. Walter’s reckless push into rival territories led to the minor dealer getting executed in broad daylight by a young boy on a bicycle.
9. Walter’s Final Attack
Walter’s final stroke of genius put an end to both his enemies and himself. His homemade automatic turret did well, taking out Jack’s men and allowing him to save Jesse. Appropriately enough, a stray bullet ensured that Walter remained the author of his own destruction.
10. Gus Fires Victor
Underneath Gus’ image of a consummate professional lies a bloodthirsty monster. Victor’s sloppiness in getting witnessed at Gale’s apartment and his hubris at attempting to cook his own batch of product sealed his fate by Gus’ hands. Even Mike flinched at the sight of Gus’ boxcutter slaughter.
11. Ted Paralyzes Himself
Ted takes the gold for the most needlessly stupid decisions in Breaking Bad. He only needed to wait at home while the check to pay his taxes cleared, but he decided to run straight toward paralysis. Let his idiotic injury remind everyone not to run indoors.
12. Gus Explodes
No other villain in Breaking Bad has ever measured up to Gus. Once Walt and Jesse got on his wrong side, they knew their lives had an expiration date. Thankfully, Walter’s genius tactics maneuvered Gus into a position where Hector Salamanca could trigger an explosive device that would eliminate both underworld kingpins for good.
13. Walt Frees Himself
Jesse and Mike knew when to call it quits, but Walter never did. Cuffed to a radiator, Walter summoned his inner MacGyver. He gnawed open the power cord to a lamp with his bare teeth like a rat. Then, he used the newly created fire hazard to burn away his restraints to stop the deal that would have ended his career, in one of the most shocking Breaking Bad moments.
14. Walt Throws a Pizza on the Roof
In the episode “Caballo sin Nombre,” Walter learned that free pizza doesn’t always get a warm reception, even with dipping sticks included. Instead of taking his separated wife’s rejection with poise, he throws a tantrum and tosses the pie onto the roof.
15. Walter Finds His Money Stash Gone
After getting the pink slip from Gus, Walter knew his safety could no longer be guaranteed. In a panic, he decided to launch the nuclear option by calling Ed to make his family disappear. But when he gets the money meant to fund the emergency escape, he finds the crawlspace nearly empty because Skylar gave the cash to Ted to pay off his IRS debt. Bryan Cranston gives the show's most chaotic and emotional performance in this scene.
16. Walter and Jesse Steal the Precursor
All the chemistry knowledge in the world becomes useless without ingredients. To solve their supply issues, Walter and Jesse use thermite to burn through a door guarding a barrel of a crucial product component. But don’t give them too much credit because these two geniuses didn’t think ahead enough to bring a hand truck.
17. Walter Lets Jane Die
Jane might have seemed like a sweetheart at first, but her influence quickly put a wedge between Walt and Jesse. She had Walter beaten until she succumbed to substance abuse. Walter saw it all happen and deliberately let her expire instead of turning her on her side to save her life.
18. The Airplane Crash
The disaster foreshadowed throughout season 2 finally revealed itself following Jane’s death. Due to the grief of losing Jane, her father lost focus on his air traffic controller job, leading to a catastrophic collision between two airplanes. This scene shows the true consequences of Walter’s moral decay.
19. Hank's Final Mission
Hank spent most of the series trying to arrest Heisenberg. When the time finally comes, it doesn’t end well for Hank. Walter begs for Hank’s life, even offering his entire stashed fortune. But Jack shows no mercy to the DEA agent and shatters Walt’s world.
20. Jesse Punches Saul
After all the messes Saul has gotten his clients out of, one would expect him off-limits for violence. But professional courtesies get thrown in the trash when Jesse suspects Saul of helping Walter poison Brock with ricin. Jesse broke the sacred understanding between a criminal and his lawyer by storming into his office and assaulting Saul.
21. Mike’s Guys Get Assassinated in Prison
Walter left a lot of loose threads after he ruined Gus’ empire. Mike had a whole crew of men locked up in jail who would only keep their mouths shut if they kept getting their hush money. Walter couldn’t stand this, so he hired Jack to have his prison connections neutralize every one of the witnesses with extreme precision.
22. The Train Heist
Walt and Jesse sourced the main ingredient for their new formula through a bumbling theft. In season 5, the crew gets a lot more ambitious. They commit the heist of the century by stealing a thousand gallons of precursor from a train without getting caught. It’s easily one of the most adrenaline-pumping Breaking Bad moments.