Breaking Bad 

Breaking Bad: 5 Times Jesse Was Actually Pretty Smart (& 5 Times He Was Pretty Stupid)

Jesse Pinkman's stupidity was the source of much of Breaking Bad's comic relief, but he was occasionally pretty smart too.

Despite Walter White being the protagonist of Breaking Bad, it was Jesse Pinkman who stole the show. Played to absolute perfection by Aaron Paul, Jesse stole viewers’ hearts through his general innocence and relatively kind heart. He was just a kid, and he often acted like one. He was also constantly manipulated by Walter, hated by his parents, and often the sufferer of many tragic occurrences, all of which lent him a degree of sympathy and pity.

It also helps that he was both very funny and very stupid. With that said, he did have a few moments of surprising brilliance.

Pretty Smart: Thinking Up The Magnet Plan

Jesse Pinkman screams with excitement after the magnet experiment works in Breaking Bad

It’s not often that Jesse gives Walt an idea. Season 5’s “Live Free or Die” proves the exception. Walt, Mike, and Jesse learn the horrifying realization that the meth lab’s security footage has been captured on Gus’s laptop, which has since been taken in as evidence.

Mike argues that they should flee Albuquerque and start a new life, but Jesse has the idea of using a magnet to destroy the laptop’s hard drive. Walt thinks it’s a good idea (for once), and the plan is successfully pulled off.

Pretty Stupid: “A Robot?”

Walt and Jesse watch the sunset

Season 2’s “4 Days Out” is a masterpiece of television, and it displays Walt and Jesse at their most lovable. The episode is credits-to-credits hilarious, with most of the humor being derived from Jesse’s stupid antics.

Stranded in the desert (after Jesse leaves the key in the ignition), Walt resigns himself to death while Jesse tells him to “think of something scientific” (like building a robot). Once Walt gets an idea, Jesse looks at him in excited shock, genuinely believing that he is going to build a robot.

Pretty Smart: Cooking His Own Batch

Jesse, Mike, and Gus stand among dead bodies

Jesse goes through some incredible character development throughout Breaking Bad. While he starts as a childish and immature drug addict, he eventually becomes a genuinely hard-working, ambitious, and talented manufacturer.

In season 4’s “Salud”, Gus takes Jesse to Mexico so he can cook a batch of blue crystal for the cartel. While very hesitant, Jesse is successful in cooking a quality batch, proving himself a good learner and capable chemist.

Pretty Stupid: “Ahhhh. Wire!”

Jesse thinks about the answer

“4 Days Out” features another quality Jesse quote. In fact, it’s arguably one of his most famous. Walt has the sudden idea to build a battery, and he channels his inner chemistry teacher by asking Jesse what they’ll use to conduct the current.

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As Jesse thinks, Walt helpfully waves a strip of copper in front of his face. Jesse smiles with pride and confidence, enthusiastically answering, “Ahhh, wire!” Unfortunately, “wire” is not the element that Walt had in mind, and he can only hang his head in disappointment.

Pretty Smart: Skilled Carpenter

Jesse smiles at his box

Season 3’s “Kafkaesque” features one of the most tragic speeches in Breaking Bad, and it concerns Jesse’s lack of ambition and wasted potential. While in counseling, Jesse tells the group about his time in woodworking class.

After making a crappy box to get out of class, Jesse actually applied himself and built a beautiful box “out of Peruvian walnut with inlaid zebrawood”. He also “rubbed all the wood with tung oil so it was rich and dark”. Unfortunately, Jesse then sold that box for marijuana, which is an utterly perfect encapsulation of his character.

Pretty Stupid: Dumping The Water Supply

Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman in El Camino

Walt and Jesse’s “4 Days Out” situation wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for Jesse’s unbelievable stupidity. Jesse accidentally sets the generator on fire, and Walt runs inside the RV to grab the fire extinguisher. Jesse, whether out of sheer stupidity or mindless panic, grabs the giant jug of water and dumps it over the generator.

Walt, emerging from the RV with the extinguisher, can’t believe what he just saw, and Jesse is left stewing with the knowledge that he just dumped their entire water supply all over the ground.

Pretty Smart: Figuring Out The Huell Ruse

Lavell Crawford as Huell in Better Call Saul

Jesse is pretty darned smart to figure out the entire Huell ruse by himself, considering its complexity. To recap: Huell once lifted the ricin cigarette from Jesse’s jacket in a ruse to help Walt frame Gus.

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When confronting Walt at his house, Jesse voices his suspicion that Huell had stolen it from his pocket, but Walt denies this. Later, when Jesse is leaving ABQ to start a new life in Alaska, he realizes that Huell has lifted his pot (as the disappearing guy won’t take drug users). Jesse then realizes that he was right all along and that Huell had, in fact, taken the ricin cigarette.

Pretty Stupid: Cow House

Walt asks what a cow house is

The pilot is very quick to portray Jesse as an idiot. For one thing, he wears a massive sweater into the desert. And while scoping out the surrounding area, Jesse sees a barn in the distance. Apparently not knowing the word “barn”, Jesse tells Walt that there is a “big cow house” nearby.

When Walt incredulously asks what a “cow house” is, Jesse patronizingly answers, “Where they live, the cows.” Duh.

Pretty Smart: Digging The Hole

Tucker digging a hole outside his house

In season 4’s “Cornered”, Mike takes Jesse on a little field trip. They scout the house of a drug dealer who is selling Walter’s blue meth, but the owner won’t come out. Mike is content to just sit in the car and wait, but an impatient Jesse takes matters into his own hands.

He grabs a shovel and begins digging in the yard, and his actions soon attract the attention of the homeowner. He rushes out, and with meth-induced paranoia and interest, begins digging alongside Jesse. With the homeowner distracted, Mike and Jesse simply waltz into his house.

Pretty Stupid: Melting A Body In His Bathtub

Walt and Jesse look through a hole in the floor

Following Emilio’s death, Jesse is given the nasty task of dissolving his corpse in acid. Walter instructs Jesse to buy a plastic tub, as the plastic wouldn’t dissolve under the acid. However, Jesse ignores this advice and decides to dissolve Emilio in his bathtub.

The acid quickly eats through the material and the weakened floor collapses under the weight of the bathtub, spilling both acid and liquid body parts all over Jesse’s hallway.

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