Breaking Bad is popular for many reasons—the fantastic acting, the excellent pacing, the intriguing setting, etc. But one thing that doesn’t get mentioned nearly enough is all the Breaking Bad deaths. Because everybody always talks about how shocking the Red Wedding was on Game of Thrones. But besides Gus’s explosive send-off, I rarely hear anybody talking about how shocking and devastating many of the deaths were on Breaking Bad.
And I have a theory about why this is. Whereas Game of Thrones often had story lines with very slow build-up and then these MASSIVE EPISODES where the bodies just pile up, Breaking Bad was consistently surprising viewers, killing off important, mainline characters all the time as a way to further the story. Breaking Bad may not be the greatest show of all time, but while it was still airing, it was often the most surprising. Oh, and massive spoilers up ahead. Just giving you a head’s (riding a turtle shell) up.
Tuco Salamanca (Season 2)
Alberto “Tuco” Salamanca (played by Raymond Cruz) was the head of a drug empire in Albuquerque, and a member of the Juarez Cartel. Once he saw how great Walt’s blue meth was, he took it upon himself to sell it, making quite a profit. But after things go awry following a murder of his underling, No-Doze, Tuco kidnaps Jesse and Walt and brings them out to a cabin in the desert where an ostensibly out-of-it uncle of his is also residing.
Walt and Jesse manage to escape, with Jesse shooting Tuco in the stomach with Tuco’s own gun. But that’s when DEA agent, Hank Schrader, arrives. He was looking for Jesse’s car, connecting the murder of No-Doze to Tuco, and that’s when a shoot-out with an injured Tuco occurs. In the end, Hank shoots Tuco in the head, but the shoot-out gives Hank PTSD for several more episodes down the line.
Jane Margolis (Season 2)
Jane Margolis (Played by Krysten Ritter) was Jesse’s landlord at first, and then his lover. It was at a critical time in his life since he’d just been kicked out by his parents and needed something stable in his life. Unfortunately, Jane was anything but stable, since she was a recovering drug addict. And Jesse didn’t help the matter, since he gave her drugs and got her back off the wagon.
Together, the two of them got deep into heroin, and Walt saw Jesse’s quick decline. But instead of helping his partner, he let his addiction worsen. Walt, believing that Jane was the problem, went to their place one day, and witnessed Jane OD'ing and choking on her own vomit. Rather than helping her, he watched her die, which ultimately caused an airplane crash once her air traffic controller father found out about his daughter’s death, killing several in the process. Jesse was also massively messed up after her death, spiraling out of control.
Gale Boetticher (Season 3)
Gale Boetticher (Played by David Costabile) was a chemist who was on the verge of being just as good as Walt at cooking meth. He actually worked for Gus Fring before Walt, and was the reason that Walt was even hired full-time in the first place since Gale praised Walt’s meth to high heavens. Big mistake, though, because Walt was anything but dumb, and he knew that Gus was grooming Gale to be his replacement.
After Walt murdered two of Gus’s associates to save Jesse, Gus realized that Walt needed to go. Realizing he was being cornered, Walt makes it clear that Jesse has to kill Gale, or the two of them will be killed by Gus. Against every moral fiber in Jesse’s body, he kills Gale, sending himself into an even deeper depression spiral.
Gustavo “Gus” Fring (Season 4)
“The Chicken Man” himself (since he’s the owner of Los Pollos Hermanos), Gus Fring (played by Giancarlo Esposito) played a tense cat and mouse game with Walt through Seasons 3 and 4. After Walt killed Gus’s two associates to protect Jesse, and Jesse killed Gale to protect both of them, Gus had had enough of Walt, but also found that Walt was too profitable to kill now that Gale was dead. So he kept him on, but watched him closely, knowing that Walt was hatching schemes to kill him next.
In the end, Walt was smarter than Gus since he found out about Gus’s hatred for the cartel and the Salamanca family. He planted a bomb in Hector Salamanca’s wheelchair, and Hector blew up both himself and Gus in the process. Two birds with one bomb!
Mike Ehrmantraut (Season 5)
Mike Ehrmantraut (Played by Jonathan Banks) might have the saddest death on the show, besides Gale, since it was really over one man’s hurt pride. After Gus’s death, all hell broke loose and law enforcement was finding out about all of Gus’s associates’ connections—the ones who are incarcerated, anyway—and seizing their offshore accounts. In order to prevent them from squealing about Gus’s operations to law enforcement, Gus’s right hand man, Mike, ends up working with Walt and Jesse just to have the money to pay out to the families of the people who are in jail.
But Walt and Mike have bad blood between them, and Mike backs out of working with Walt because he can’t stand him. But after his lawyer, Saul Goodman, sells him down the river to the DEA, he actually dies by the river when Walt shoots him just because Mike talked smack to his face. And now, his family will never get any of the money he saved up for them. Poor Mike!
Hank Schrader (Season 5)
DEA Agent Hank Schrader (played by Dean Norris) met his end (alongside his partner, Gomez) after finally realizing that the “Heisenberg” he had been searching for for the past few seasons was actually his own brother-in-law, Walt.
But once he tracked Walt down, he managed to get himself in the middle of a Neo-Nazi gang shoot-out, eventually getting shot in the head by the leader of the gang, Jack Welker. It’s probably the most shocking death on the show.
Walter White (Season 5)
Former chemistry teacher cum meth kingpin, Walt, a.k.a. Heisenberg (played by Bryan Cranston) got what he deserved by the end of the show. His family hated his guts, and he was on the lam. He escaped to New Hampshire with the help of Ed, “the vacuum cleaner repairman,” but eventually returned to New Mexico.
There, he faced off against Jack Welker’s Neo-Nazi gang with a mounted machine gun, but also wound up getting shot in the process. He died in a meth lab, which is an apropos conclusion to his story.
There were several other minor deaths, but these were the major ones. Which one do you think was the most major death on the show? Sound off in the comments.