Breaking Bad 

15 Most Tragic Deaths In The Breaking Bad Universe, Ranked

From Chuck McGill's death in Better Call Saul to Walter White inadvertently killing Jane in Breaking Bad, the BrBa universe is full of sad deaths.

Both Breaking Bad and its prequel series Better Call Saul have high body counts. Centered around Walter White’s descent from a chemistry teacher to a drug kingpin and the criminal underground of drug cartels, many characters succumb to the deadly side of the drug industry. Many of these lovable characters had painfully sad deaths in the Breaking Bad universe.

Some viewers may have rewatched Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul and reflected on the most tragic deaths in the franchise. Across two shows and a movie, certain characters stood out for leaving viewers in tears as they made their final exit. That said, not everyone who died between Breaking Bad, El Camino, and Better Call Saul deserved to be mourned. Despite their lack of innocence, however, there is a fine line that even viewers hesitate to cross when it comes to doling out death and judgment.

Updated on January 9, 2024 by Jennifer Melzer: Between Breaking Bad, El Camino and Better Call Saul, the lives of many people were significantly affected by Walter White’s and Jimmy McGill’s actions. Some were even caught in the crossfire of their criminal activities or were criminals themselves. This list has been updated to meet CBR’s most recent formatting standards, as well as to expand on the information.

15. Victor Took Pleasure In the Suffering of Others, Making His Murder Bittersweet for Fans

Season 4, Episode 1, “Box Cutter”

Gus Fring with Victor shortly before he kills him in Breaking Bad
Series Appearances
Breaking Bad Seasons 2, 3, 4, 5
Better Call Saul Seasons 3, 4, 5

As one of Gustavo Fring’s henchman, Victor is definitely not one of the more relatable villains in Breaking Bad, but audiences still felt sorry as they watched Victor meet his gruesome fate at Gus’ hands. Victor might have been an extremely loyal minion, but he foolishly allows himself to be seen by witnesses after Gale Boetticher’s murder. Gus would have forgiven his indiscretions if they had to do with torturing or killing people — however, putting Los Pollos Hermanos at risk becomes unforgivable.

Gus seemingly threatens Jesse and Walt with a box cutter, a sight that Victor revels in. As such, almost everyone is stunned when Gus slits Victor’s throat and lets him bleed to death. Because of how much pleasure Victor seemed to take in the pain of others, his death definitely ranks on the list. The fact that it’s so hard to feel much sympathy for him puts it all the way at the bottom.

14. Tortuga’s Death Was One of Breaking Bad’s Most Brutal and Violent

Season 3, Episode 1, “Negro y Azul”

Danny Trejo's Tortuga gives information to the DEA in Breaking Bad.
Series Appearances
Breaking Bad Seasons 2, 3

Played by Danny Trejo, Tortuga appears very briefly during the early seasons of Breaking Bad. As a runner for the Cartel, Tortuga is one of Juan Bolsa’s many employees. At the same time, viewers learn that he’s been slyly working with the Texan branch of the DEA, making him a classic snitch. Tortuga’s impending death is all but certain, but the manner in which he’s executed is nothing less than tragic. Leonel and Marco Salamanca behead Tortuga using a machete before placing his decapitated head on an explosive-rigged tortoise crawling through the desert. The scene is so shocking that even Hank has a breakdown.

13. Krazy-8’s Murder Was a Major Turning Point for Walter White

Season 1, Episode 3, “…And the Bag’s In the River”

Walter about to free Krazy-8 and then deciding to strangle him instead
Series Appearances
Breaking Bad Seasons 1, 2, 5
Better Call Saul Seasons 2, 3, 4, 5

Krazy-8 initially survives a phosphine gas explosion after he attempts to ambush Walt and Jesse’s RV in Breaking Bad. Walt faces a moral dilemma when he realizes Krazy-8 is still alive and decides to keep him hostage in Jesse’s basement. After concluding that Krazy-8 is probably going to kill him with a broken plate, Walt strangles him with a bike lock and dissolves his body in acid to dispose of the evidence of his first murder.

Better Call Saul further explores Krazy-8’s storyline from Breaking Bad. The prequel series shows a more sympathetic and sadder narrative of a man trapped within the cartel and being used as leverage against the cops. Moreover, after killing Krazy-8, Walt begins to rationalize murdering others, something that his character had not contemplated so easily beforehand.

12. Lydia Rodarte-Quayle Wasn’t the Most Sympathetic Breaking Bad Character, but Her Young Daughter Suffered the Consequences of Lydia’s Crimes

Season 5, Episode 16

Skyler accosting Lydia at the car wash in Breaking Bad
Series Appearances
Breaking Bad Seasons 5
Better Call Saul Seasons 3, 4, 5

Viewers initially empathize with Lydia Rodart-Quayle because she comes off as easily agitated, but she’s just as violent and ruthless as the rest of the villains in the Breaking Bad Universe. She casually makes deals that benefit her, even if it means countless others have to die in the process. Lydia’s decision to team up with Jack Welker, however, leads to her undoing. As punishment for her various crimes, Walter White doses her tea with ricin. Lydia doesn’t realize her fate until she calls Todd for information about Walter, only for the latter to reveal his secret poison plan.

Although the audience despises Lydia at this point, they can’t help but feel sad for her now-orphan daughter, whom she obviously loved very much. Unfortunately, her actions resulted in her untimely demise, which was only confirmed in the El Camino movie.

11. Combo’s Death Struck Viewers Because He Was Shot By A Child

Season 2, Episode 11, “Mandala”

Combo looks shocked after getting shot by Tomas in Breaking Bad
Series Appearances
Breaking Bad Seasons 1, 2, 3, 5
Better Call Saul Season 5

Combo is best known for his friendship with Jesse Pinkman. He becomes part of the Blue Sky crew, helping Walter distribute his iconic blue meth around the city. Along with Badger and Skinny Pete, Combo is tasked with selling the drug in an area previously dominated by another gang. He might be a minor character with very few lines, but watching a young boy shoot Combo leaves the audience staggered by the sudden brutality of the crime. Combo has one of the saddest deaths in Breaking Bad. It also leaves a void in Jesse’s heart, one that almost makes him reconsider the gravity of his situation.

10. Gale Boetticher May Have Been a Criminal, But His Death Was a Protective Measure for Jesse and Walt

Season 3, Episode 13, “Full Measure”

Gale Boetticher makes the best coffee for Walter White
Series Appearances
Breaking Bad Seasons 3, 4, 5
Better Call Saul Season 4

Due to Jesse’s increasing defiance under Gus Fring’s rule, Gus tasks Gale with learning Walt’s exact meth recipe so he can replace Jesse and eventually Walt. Walt strikes a deal with Jesse to kill Gale to prevent Gus from murdering them. Jesse later shows up at Gale’s apartment and reluctantly shoots him in the head. Gale doesn’t hold any ill will toward Jesse or Walt, as he actually admires Walt’s chemistry genius. As Gale pleads with Jesse for his life, it’s an unbearably tense watch.

Gale’s death is one of the worst things that happens to Jesse, as his demise directly goes against Jesse’s strong code of ethics. That and the genius that contributed to an air of naivete on his part make his death one of the most tragic in the series, earning it a spot mid-list in the rankings.

9. Chuck McGill May Not Have Been a Fan Favorite Character, But His Death Hit Hard

Season 3, Episode 10, “Lantern”

Jimmy's brother Chuck McGill mulling something over
Series Appearances
Better Call Saul Seasons 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Jimmy humiliates Chuck in a court case that proves that his electromagnetic hypersensitivity was false. HHM’s malpractice insurance subsequently kicks in, and a defiant Chuck leaves the firm in protest. Spiraling, Chuck tears out all of his home’s electrical wiring and eventually kicks over the gas lantern, setting his house on fire with him inside. Even Better Call Saul fans who didn’t care for Chuck as a character thought his death was a horrific way to go. His departure sets Jimmy squarely on the path to becoming Saul Goodman, abandoning his more earnest qualities as a lawyer. As such, Chuck’s exit was one of the saddest deaths in the Breaking Bad universe.

8. Andrea Cantillo Offered Jesse a Chance At a Different Path, But She Got Caught In the Crossfire

Season 4, Episode 12, “End Times”

Andrea Cantillo interacts with Jesse Pinkman
Series Appearances
Breaking Bad Seasons 3, 4, 5

After realizing Walt had poisoned Andrea’s son Brock, Jesse breaks off his partnership with Walt. This split results in Jack imprisoning Jesse. When Jesse tries to escape, the Nazis take Jesse to Andrea’s house, shoot her in the face, and force Jesse to watch her die. Jesse’s relationship with Andrea is a turning point for him — he’s finally able to care for something greater than his drug enterprise with Walt and finds a second family in the Cantillos. Jesse even puts his life at risk numerous times to ensure the safety of Andrea’s young brother and son. Her execution, however, eradicates everything Jesse cared about.

7. Hank Schrader Was Flawed, But He Didn’t Deserve to Die Protecting His Family From Walter White

Season 5, Episode 14

Series Appearances
Breaking Bad Seasons 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Better Call Saul Season 5

Hank successfully arrests Walt after uncovering his drug empire. Before the arrest, Walt had arranged for the Nazis to take out Jesse, who was working with Hank. To Walt’s utter horror, Jack shoots both Hank and his partner Gomez. The neo-Nazi leader then buries Hank and Gomez in the desert where Walt stored his money. Hank is not one of the most kind-hearted characters in Breaking Bad. However, his mission to take down his brother-in-law is his most selfless act, as he tries to protect Skyler from Walt. This makes Hank’s death one of the saddest in Breaking Bad.

6. Jane Margolis’ Death Could Have Been Prevented, But Walter White Chose Not to Save Her

Season 2, Episode 12, “Phoenix”

Series Appearances
Breaking Bad Seasons 2, 3, 5

Jane’s relationship with Jesse reignites her drug addiction and worsens Jesse’s when she introduces him to heroin. The drug causes Jesse to be frequently incapacitated and unable to cooperate with Walt. Walt attempts to wake Jessie but accidentally knocks Jane onto her back, causing her to choke on her own vomit. Walt notices she’s dying but decides not to intervene. Bryan Cranston cited Jane’s death as the most difficult scene to shoot in Breaking Bad, as he pictured his own daughter while watching Jane die. Jane tragically succumbs to her struggle with addiction — and her death indirectly leads to two planes colliding in mid-air.

5. Mike Ehrmantraut Was One of the Breaking Bad Universe’s Most Abrasive but Beloved Characters

Season 5, Episode 7, “Say My Name”

Series Appearances
Breaking Bad Seasons 2, 3, 4, 5
Better Call Saul Seasons 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

The police seize Mike’s funds for his family after Walt exposes his connections to Gus Fring. In a confrontation with Mike, Walt demands the names of his prison associates. Mike states that he doesn’t owe Walt anything and that things were better under Gus, causing Walt to shoot Mike in a fit of rage. Mike’s death is perhaps the most prominent example of Walter White’s ego getting the better of him. This action permanently transforms Walter’s morally gray character into a villain.

In Better Call Saul, fans saw that Mike was motivated to work with cartels to provide money for his granddaughter after his son’s death. A former Marine and Philadelphia police officer, the things he’d seen and the death of his son were enough to turn him toward the criminal element. His unexplained disappearance is incredibly tragic, and the fact that he left behind family who loved him dearly earns his death a spot on the high end of the middle of the list.

4. Nacho Varga’s Redemption May Have Come With His Death, but it Was Difficult to Watch

Season 6, Episode 3, “Rock and Hard Place”

Michael Mando as Nacho Varga in Better Call Saul Season 6, Episode 3

Believing that Nacho had killed Lalo Salamanca, Nacho’s father becomes a target of retribution. To save his father, Nacho surrenders to Gus in one final stand-off with the Salamancas. Nacho gleefully reveals that Lalo’s death was all him and not Gus, and that he had caused Hector Salamanca’s stroke. Then, Nacho takes his own life. Although he managed to have the last laugh, fans were sad that he died so soon. Over the past few seasons, Nacho had worked hard to distance himself from the violence around him and save his father’s life. His arc is similar to Jesse’s in Breaking Bad, but Nacho’s journey of redemption ends with his death.

Series Appearances
Better Call Saul Seasons 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Breaking Bad Seasons 2, 4

3. Tomás Cantillo Was a Victim of Tragic Circumstances

Season 3, Episode 12, “Half Measures”

Tomás Cantillo rides up to Combo on his bicycle before shooting him
Series Appearances
Breaking Bad Seasons 2, 3

Tomás Cantillo is an eleven-year-old child hired by a drug gang who work for Gus’ meth empire. He’s the boy who shoots Combo and leaves him to die on a street corner, but viewers simply can’t find it in their hearts to blame him (for obvious reasons). When Jesse requests Gus to stop using children as drug dealers, Gus ostensibly agrees, effectively ordering his men to cease and desist. At the same time, some fans suspect that Gus was involved in Tomás eventual murder. The story later reveals that he’s Andrea’s younger brother, which makes Jesse feel extremely guilty because he blames himself for Tomás’ tragic death in Breaking Bad.

2. Steven Gomez’s Job With the DEA Put Him At Risk, But Fans Still Mourned Him Deeply

Season 5, Episode 12, “Rabid Dog”

Steven Gomez and Hank Schrader at Gus' secret meth lab
Series Appearances
Breaking Bad Seasons 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Better Call Saul Season 5

Steven Gomez was Hank Schrader’s partner at the DEA, who helped him track down and arrest Walt. However, Walt called Jack Welker and the Nazis to come to the shoot-out, and Jack refused to back down despite Walt’s pleas. Jack proceeded to shoot Hank and Gomez, burying them in the middle of the desert. Gomez was a more level-headed and less prejudiced agent than Hank. He was the first member of the DEA willing to take a chance on Hank’s theory that Gus Fring ran a drug empire, despite his close ties to Albuquerque’s police organizations. Gomez’s tragic death marked the end of a beloved Breaking Bad character.

1. Howard Hamlin Suffered a Great Deal at Jimmy McGill’s Hands Before His Death

Season 6, Episode 7, “Plan and Execution”

Series Appearances
Better Call Saul Seasons 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Howard showed up at Kim and Jimmy’s apartment after being framed as a cocaine addict so Jimmy could settle the Sandpiper case. As he confronted them, Lalo Salamanca turned up for a meeting with his lawyer and revealed his plan to get Jimmy to kill Gus Fring. However, Lalo proceeds to shoot Howard in the head for witnessing the meeting. Howard’s execution was as sudden and brutal as they come, especially as he had no idea about Saul’s ties to the cartel.

During his final day alive, Kim and Jimmy humiliated him thoroughly. This meant that not only did Howard die, but his peers’ memories of him as an honest, hardworking lawyer died with him. Many believed that he went off the deep end, committing suicide because of his shame and guilt. The fact that he was buried in the same hole as the man who murdered him marks Howard’s death as the most tragic death in the Breaking Bad universe.

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