Sunday, March 30, 2014

            In a show like Breaking Bad, you cant really like any of the characters. At first glance, everyone is a villain. They deal drugs, commit murders, and do whatever is necessary for their own selfish personal gain. But what about the qualities that lie deeper than just what is on the surface?
            Jesse Pinkman is the typical portrayal of a washed upped, drugged out guy with little remorse for his actions. Basically, he’s everything you’d think a villain would be. But the one quality that doesn’t allow him to be a villain is his conscience, a trait his downright evil counterpart, Walt, lacks. Jessie’s moral compass allows him to be the legitimate hero amongst villains. He illustrates his morality constantly throughout the program. On numerous occasions, Jessie is forced to make tremendously difficult decisions, and every single tough choice he makes is founded on selflessness, loyalty, and ethics. Essentially, Jessie is “a junkie, thief and pusher, mostly trying to do the right thing” (the guardian). For instance, in Breaking Bad season 4, episode 11 “Crawl Space” (originally aired September 25, 2011) Gus Fring tells Jessie he can run the lab and Jessie responds that if anything were to happen to Walt, he would never cook again. This is significant because at this point in the series Jessie has every reason and motive fathomable to want Walt dead, yet his loyalty and heart will not succumb to the treachery that his peers value. And this, in a nutshell, is why Jessie is a Hero.
            Jessie’s just and honorable intentions are again proven in season 3 episode 12 “Half Measures” (originally aired June 6, 2010). In this episode Jessie attempts to kill the two drug dealers who murdered Andrea’s brother. In sum, her brother’s death was an indirect result of Jessie and his blue meth. Though Jessie played a role in Andrea’s brother’s fate, he does what he can to make up for it. Many may assume that this is not a moral portrayal of good-conscience, considering his decision concerns retaliation and murder, but his intentions remain pure and just, which further proves his heroic demeanor.
            In essence, Jessie’s heroism is created through his acknowledgment of the mistakes he’s made and the danger he’s in, while consistently choosing to do the right thing, regardless of the repercussions that may impact him personally. Though he is truly both the creator and distributor within a massive meth empire and is directly involved in numerous heinous acts, he strives to be a better person, which is difficult to do when considering his rough environment and tough social circle. 
            Creating a hero in Breaking Bad helps make sense of the program as whole because it forces viewers to understand that a character can be both a villain and a hero, which upsets the typical television series norms. In retrospect, Jessie Pinkman is a murderer, a drug dealer, and a downright criminal. The spectator has all the reasons in the world to hate him, yet he is unanimously beloved by the masses. It could be argued that Jessie’s popularity is due to the fact that anyone can relate to him. Mathew Jacobs, a editor for the Huffington post puts it best in his article titled “why I’ve struggled to reconcile the fate of Jessie Pinkman on ‘Breaking Bad” when he asserts, “on a personal level . . . Jessie is the one who truly exists inside of us”.

            In sum, Jessie’s heroic characteristics are a result of his dangerous environment. His disgust for the lengths Walter will go to in order to achieve his financial agenda shaped the moral person he has become. All things considered, Jessie Pinkman is undoubtedly a Hero in his own right. 

Works Cited
Breaking Bad season 4, episode 11 “Crawl Space” (originally aired September 25, 2011)
 Breaking Bad season  3, episode 12 “Half Measures” (originally aired June 6, 2010)
 Jacobs, Matthew. "Why I've struggled To Reconcile The Fate Of Jesse        
Pinkman On 'Breaking Bad'" The Huffington Post., 29 Sept. 2013. Web. 28 Mar. 2014. <>.
 Whitehouse, David. "Breaking Bad: Aaron Paul Plays a Drug-dealing
Killer and Viewers Can't Get Enough of Him." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 13 Oct. 2012. Web. 30 Mar. 2014. <>.


  1. I think 'Walt' could definitely be considered as an anti-christ throughout the series, especially with Jessie. While reading your post I was thinking about how Walt constantly manipulated Jessie into working with him/staying on track, but I immediately thought of the scene where Walt lets Jane overdose on heroin instead of saving her. It's almost like Walt's mindset and plan cast him as this sort of puppeteer, and like you said, dragging Jessie with him along the way, which does make Jessie look like a villain as well. I think that was one of the beauties of the way the show set up Walt as a manipulative mastermind. After reading your post I can definitely see how loyal and selfless Jessie was as an inevitable "villain," especially when you consider that everyone Walt manipulated either died beneath him or exiled him completely, but then we see Jessie, freed from Todd&Co's lab, enter a car and while it seems like he was going to drive straight through Walt, they don't exchange any words and Jessie just keeps going. Maybe he got away but it seems like taking on the role as a villain with a conscience, morals, etc (like you said) ultimately doesn't work well for most characters.

    I loved Breaking Bad though Jessie was not one of my favorite characters so I didn't pay much attention to his development/see him as complex. After reading your post I think I have a more clear cut understanding towards his role as a villain with a conscience/morals. I think you should've included the Jane OD'd on heroin moment, but I think it's fucking awesome that you threw in the picture of a liberated Jessie at the end.

  2. I really enjoyed the approach you took in focused solely on Jesse's character and how we relate to him as a character. I think people usually like to focus primarily on Walt's character and his demise and the way he manipulated everyone around him. I like how you also focused on how he's constantly doing whatever Walt tells him to do while he continues to use and manipulate Jesse throughout the series. Like you mentioned, I also think many viewers feel they relate more to Jesse because of his acceptance of his mistakes and his acknowledgement that he is not the best son or friend.
    PS: I also love the picture of liberated Jesse at the end of your blog. Definitely my favorite part of the series finale!

  3. Very interesting piece, I agree with you that Jesse is in a sense the hero of Breaking Bad. I think in earlier seasons they played up how he was a wanna-be-thug and tough guy to juxtapose it with early Walt to make Walt seem smarter and actually more moral and Jesse more selfish and idiotic. As the series went on they had them do an extreme role reversal with Walt becoming the cold-hearted thug/psychopath that Jesse originally wanted to be while Jesse became the warm caring person that Walt thought that he was. Jesse is petty much the only person in the show that showed any kind of remorse for killing. Walt on the other hand went from barely being able to kill one thug to shooting and killing dozens.
    Something else I always thought was interesting about the Jesse's character that ties in with what you said about him being loyal is that even when he was ratting to Hank about him and Walt's operations Jesse only ever referred to Walt and Mr. White.

  4. This was a very interesting read. At the start and still the end (for me) I was rooting for Walt and Jesse. The audience becomes to attached to both that it is hard not too. Yes, Jesse does many loyal things throughout the show, but Walt does much the same. Walt is the smarter one and always thinking ahead, but in the end I thought Walt saw Jesse as a son. Jesse truly did do a 180 from where the series started, which is one of the reason he became so loved by the audience. This was an interesting take on Jesse in Breaking Bad. Good Read, Good work.


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