Anyone who’s trying to find out what the greatest TV show ever made was will most probably land on Breaking Bad on more than one occasion, and they wouldn’t be wrong. Everything about this show was perfect, from its darkness and humor to its storyline and setting. Included in that long list of things that Breaking Bad does perfectly is definitely its characterization.
While the show has a long list of important people working to its advantage, Walter White and Jesse Pinkman are the focal point. Given how both are basically the faces of Breaking Bad, one would find it beyond difficult to determine who exactly was the best character. After all, both men had compelling and tragic stories that unfolded the longer they stayed in the drug trade. Here are five reasons why Walter White is Breaking Bad’s best character, and five reasons it’s actually Jesse Pinkman.
WALT WAS THE BEST: He Started Out With Good Intentions
When viewers were first introduced to Walter White at the very start of Breaking Bad, he was a sympathetic guy. He was middle-aged and living a mundane if stable life before everything was torn down by cancer, which is something that almost everyone can relate to in some way.
While he began work on a criminal career, it started out with nothing but genuinely good intentions to provide well for his family.
JESSE WAS THE BEST: He Remained Good-Hearted
Of course, fans know exactly what happened to Walter White and his personality as Breaking Bad continued. His good intentions and good nature mostly left him and he actually became rather monstrous.
While Jesse ended up in some harrowing, terrible situations, he never lost his morality. The torture in his face upon killing Gale and his inability to kill his captor Todd were stark contrasts to Walt’s stony-faced walk away from the choking Jane.
WALT WAS THE BEST: He Developed A Lot
There are very few characters in the history of TV that have developed further than Walter White. As mentioned above, he began life as a genuinely sympathetic character who was trying to provide for his family.
Good intentions, however, don’t change the fact that he ended his life having formed an expansive criminal empire with a trail of blood directly behind him and a family who hated everything he stood for.
JESSE WAS THE BEST: He Arguably Developed Better
Arguably the one character in TV who did develop more than Walter White was Jesse Pinkman. There’s a reason why even after the show ended, an entire movie was dedicated to Walter’s once bumbling apprentice.
For a few seasons, Jesse was a bouncy sidekick full of one-liners and comedy, but by the final season (and especially by the time of El Camino), he was dark and disheveled with basically every single element of his life having crumbled around him. Seeing him get back on his feet was emotional and cathartic, to say the least.
WALT WAS THE BEST: He Was Intense
The start of his journey showed Walter White as a timid, uneducated (in the criminal world, anyway) man. By the end, he had exploded into an intensity that went above and beyond even many of his most prominent enemies.
The conviction with which he demanded Declan “say my name” and told Skyler that “I am the one who knocks” is genuinely chilling, especially when you consider where he started out.
JESSE WAS THE BEST: He Was Funny
As mentioned above, Jesse Pinkman spent the first few seasons of Breaking Bad acting as a source of humor. His overuse of the word ‘bitch’ became a catchphrase, while everything said in his recognizable voice was instantly amusing.
Also, remember the time Walt called him a blowfish and he was genuinely delighted by it?
WALT WAS THE BEST: He Had An Interesting Family
Alongside Walter White came his family, who quickly became major characters. The consistent purple outfits of Marie, the non-stop cereal consumption of Walt Jr., the hearty chuckle and tragic end-point of Hank, and the ease with which every fan hated Skyler are all just as memorable and iconic as Walt ever was.
It’s a brilliant selection of characters fans would have never met without Walt.
JESSE WAS THE BEST: He Had Great Friends
Saying that, Jesse gave us access to some equally fantastic characters. His parents loved him but didn’t exactly want much to do with him, but his meth-loving friends Badger and Skinny Pete were consistent sources of humor and camaraderie.
Everything from Badger’s musing on shooting a baby in the face to Skinny Pete’s virtuoso piano playing would never have been seen without their connection to Jesse.
WALT WAS THE BEST: He Was A Genius
While he entered the drug game without much knowledge on how to move his produce around, Walt was capable of producing the best meth that even the most experienced of drug users and dealers had ever experienced.
Though this is overshadowed by its illegality, his gift for advanced chemistry is seriously impressive. Imagine if he’d remained at Gray Matter…
JESSE WAS THE BEST: He Had His Own Film
The one thing to completely distance Jesse from Walt is the fact that he is the one who has his own solo adventure in the form of El Camino.
Admittedly, Walt couldn’t do much about this as he was dead by the time the film came around, but it still gave fans a new, more detailed window into the life of Jesse Pinkman after the influence of Walt was no longer present in his life.