Breaking Bad 

Breaking Bad: 5 Times We Felt Bad for Jesse (& 5 Times We Hated Him)

Jesse Pinkman was a complex character on Breaking Bad who could inspire many sympathetic moments as well a lot of times when the audience hates him.

When it comes to the memorable crime drama that is Breaking Bad, Walt’s partner-in-crime managed to be something of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, this likable and zany sidekick had plenty of heroic, supportive, and otherwise admirable moments. He’s gone through some hard times and emotional trauma – often as a direct result of Walt and the perils that came with running his meth empire. Still, Jesse’s also had his instances of being reckless, vindictive, and rather dimwitted at times, invoking some “face-palming” moments for viewers.

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With that said, let’s explore 5 times fans felt bad for this antihero with a heart of gold – and 5 of his more aggravating or detestable moments.

Felt Bad: Getting Disowned By His Parents

Jesse Pinkman's and his little brother at the dinner table in a scene from Breaking Bad.

It’s made clear early on that Jesse’s parents don’t exactly think highly of their son, and want little-to-nothing to do with him. Of course, this is at least partly justified, as he hasn’t exactly been a model citizen even before he gets roped into Walt’s meth operation. Still, Jesse does have a good side to him and a sense of morality, as his younger brother and late aunt can testify.

This makes it all the more brutal when his parents basically disown him and kick him out of his deceased aunt’s home – a cancer patient that he looked after. His parents essentially force him into homelessness, while simultaneously imploring him to get his life together. Makes sense, right?

Hated Him: His Handling Of Combo

Breaking Bad Combo's Death

When it comes to Jesse’s crew of friends and eventual drug pushers, Combo definitely gets the short end of the stick. His untimely death comes at the hands of a rival dealer – though Jesse’s certainly responsible for this tragedy at least on an indirect level. After all, it was his recklessness in selling his meth on another’s turf that got Combo gunned down.

To add insult to injury, Jesse then passes on attending Combo’s funeral. Even though he’s clearly pretty rattled and depressed, it wasn’t exactly a classy move, especially given Pinkman’s involvement in his death.

Felt Bad: Walt’s Belittlement And Abuse Of Him

Breaking Bad Confessions Walt Jesse

It’s true that Walt has his admirable moments of support and kindness; even serving as a borderline father figure to Pinkman – albeit a morally-questionable one. Still, Jesse also tends to be the whipping boy for Walt, who frequently calls him out on his naivety and various ill-advised moves. The show is wrought with countless examples of Walt’s belittlement of Jesse, which typically involve terms such as “idiot” and “junkie.”

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Not only this, but he frequently puts Pinkman in harm’s way, essentially blackmailing him into helping him cook from the getgo.

Hated Him: Nearly Setting Walt’s House On Fire

Breaking Bad Jesse pouring gasoline Walter House

It’s fair to illustrate the conditions that push Jesse into an uncontrollable rage and nearly burning down the household of Walt and his family. Moments earlier, Jesse has discovered that Walt had seemingly poisoned the son of his girlfriend in order to manipulate him into turning against Gus Fring.

Still, even though some fans might understand this visceral reaction from Pinkman, it’s hard to justify such a severe act considering there are other innocent people who occupy this house. It was tough for many fans – at least those on Walt’s side – not to hate Jesse for nearly making Walt’s family homeless; the very family he’s trying to protect and support.

Felt Bad: Being Forced To Kill Gale

Breaking Bad Gale Death

This one can obviously be slotted into the category of “feeling bad for Gale,” but that’s a different story…

While the point-blank murder of Gale is a pretty somber and disturbing moment, it’s certainly quite awful from the perspective of Jesse too. The poor guy is essentially being used as a pawn by Walt, who all-but forces his hand to execute their rival on his own property, or Heisenberg himself will be killed. This is really the ultimate example of Pinkman finding himself between a rock and a hard place, as he’s forced into this traumatic act.

Hated Him: Nearly Executing Gus’ Dealers On His Own

Walt kills in Breaking Bad Half Measures

As the spinoff movie El Camino illustrates, Jesse can be something of a renegade – and one that’s often driven by emotion. This trait rears its head at the conclusion of the episode “Half-Measures,” where a feud between Gus’ dealers almost turns into a shootout.

It’s the final straw for Pinkman, who’s discovered that Andrea’s little brother has been executed by these dealers. Again, it’s hard not to get Jesse’s rage-induced reaction to a degree, but it’s also pretty frustrating to witness him recklessly take matters into his own hands here. This is especially aggravating after Walt advised him to keep the peace – and is forced to swoop in and kill the dealers himself.

Felt Bad: Losing Jane

Breaking Bad Netflix and Chill Jane and Jesse Featured

Even if Jesse has his frustrating moments, it’s tough not to empathize with him somewhat considering all he goes through in the show. This makes his relationship with Jane quite the feel-good story for fans of Pinkman. It also makes it all the more heartbreaking when Jesse awakens to see his apparent soulmate overdose on Heroin in his bed.

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It’s really tough to see a distraught and panic-filled Pinkman trying to get it together and cope with what has happened.

Hated Him: Stealing Some Of Gus’ Meth To Sell To Recovering Addicts

Throughout the series, there’s a sort of subtle rivalry between Walt and Jesse that manages to crop up now and again, despite their comradery. A prime example of this is when Jesse pulls the rather underhanded move of skimming some meth off the top of Gus and Walt’s supply, turning it around himself at a higher value.

What’s even more reprehensible is that his customer base includes recovering drug addicts from his group therapy sessions. Stay classy, Jesse!

Felt Bad: Getting Kidnaped And Tortured By Jack’s Gang

Jesse tied up and screaming in Breaking Bad

Poor Pinkman just can’t seem to catch a break in Breaking Bad. His massive earnings aside, he’s had to power through one awful happening after the next. This really peaks in the latter portion of season 5, where Jack and his band of neo-Nazis capture him, literally restrain him, and force him to cook meth for them.

And just for one final kick in the nether regions, his attempt to escape yields the tragic murder of his girlfriend Andrea – this just months after his previous partner had met her end.

Hated Him: Turning Against Walt And Helping Hank

Most would likely agree that Jesse ratting out Walt and working with Hank certainly doesn’t warrant his kidnapping and torture, mentioned previously. Still, chances are that most who favor the great antihero that is Walt tended to despise Pinkman after he starts working to bring him down, at the expense of his family.

His maneuverings in luring Walt are pretty frustrating – as is his absolute refusal to even have a discussion with the guy.

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