With the release of El Camino, Jesse Pinkman’s (Aaron Paul) story has finally reached its end. Jesse Pinkman had a beautiful character arc that took him from an amoral, self-involved criminal to a conscientious man hoping to make a better life for himself. As Jesse went on this journey through Breaking Bad and El Camino, he had many friends who helped him along the way. At least some of these friends helped him, others proved to not really be as ride or die as Jesse originally thought.
Jesse Pinkman’s friends range from violent drug dealers to kindhearted love interests, so his life is certainly never dull. Each one helps to shape him into the rich and complex character that he is by the end of the series, but some had better influences on him than others. Though Jesse had many associates, there were relatively few that he could actually call a friend and fewer still that could be called good friends, as most people on the show had only their own interests at heart.
Emilio Koyama (John Koyama) was one of Jesse’s first friends to be shown in Breaking Bad. He was Jesse’s first partner in the meth business. The two of them were quite successful at selling meth, to the point where the DEA focused a lot of resources on catching “Captain Cook.” When Emilio got busted, he assumed that Jesse was the one who sold him out. After recognizing Walter (Bryan Cranston) from the original raid, Emilio tried to convince Krazy-8 (Max Arciniega) to kill the two of them. If not for Walt’s quick thinking, dosing the two with phosphine gas, both he and Jesse would have died in the first episode.
A former member of Jesse’s old band TwaüghtHammër, Paul Tyree (Drew Waters) is a Breaking Bad character who only appears in one episode and that’s because he isn’t a very loyal friend to Jesse, though it’s understandable why. Paul has a young son and his wife instantly disapproves of Jesse the second that she lays eyes on him. Jesse is in desperate need of a place to stay when he visits Paul but ultimately gets turned away. Considering how some of Jesse Pinkman’s friends end up due to their association with him, it’s hard to blame him too much, and he’s still a better friend than Emilio.
Jesse and his brother Jake (Ben Petry) share a special connection with one another, and Jesse even damages his rocky relationship with his parents further in an attempt to protect Jake and his innocence. When Jesse moved back home for a short time, his parents were very wary of his drug-filled past. When they found some marijuana in the house, it was immediate grounds for Jesse to get kicked out. It turns out that the joint was actually Jake’s. Though he keeps him at a distance for obvious reasons, Jake is clearly very important to Jesse.
Jesse and Jane’s (Krysten Ritter) relationship had a lot of faults, but they clearly loved one another and after a certain point seemed inseparable. However, it turned out that Jesse was a horrible influence on Jane, resulting in her relapsing, which eventually led to her death. After Jane died, Jesse was absolutely devastated. She truly meant the world to him and the guilt he felt over her death would define his character arc for the rest of the show, only finding out that Walt played a part in her death a few episodes before the end.
Walter White and Jesse Pinkman had a series of ups and downs throughout Breaking Bad. At times, the two meth cooks could not have been any closer. At other times, they literally wanted to kill one another. Walter saw a lot of potential in Jesse and did a lot to try and help him reach that potential. Although ultimately Walter’s self-interests were more important to him than his relationship with Jesse, the two had many great moments as friends throughout Breaking Bad. Their relationship was very complex, but Walt saved Jesse’s life numerous times.
One of Jesse’s few love interests in the series, Andrea (Emily Rios) gave Jesse a little bit of hope for the future. It appeared that Jesse loved both Andrea and her son, Brock (Ian Posada), very much, but it was this love that made Jesse leave her. When Walter made Jesse realize he would eventually have to reveal the truth of his meth career to Andrea, he knew things would never truly work out. So, in order to protect her, Jesse left Andrea. This made it especially tragic when Andrea was murdered in order to manipulate Jesse.
Andrea’s son, Brock, seemed to always hold a special place in Jesse’s heart. In fact, it seemed like whenever Jesse was around children in the show his whole demeanor absolutely changed. Brock’s innocence reminded Jesse of the kid he used to be, and he saw a world of potential within Brock. Jesse made quite an effort to become Brock’s friend. He genuinely cared about the kid. At the very end of El Camino, Brock is the only person that Jesse sends a final goodbye letter to. That shows how close the two really were.
When the two men first met, Mike (Jonathan Banks) was very open about his dislike for Jesse Pinkman. As he got to know Jesse better, however, Mike’s opinion softened, and he truly came to trust Jesse. Eventually, Mike even became a bit of a mentor to Jesse. Much of Mike’s advice was very helpful for Jesse after he decided to leave his criminal life behind. It was actually Mike that convinced Jesse to move to Alaska and make a better life for himself and even though it began as a ruse set up by Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) to manipulate him, Mike’s time working with Jesse produced a genuine friendship.
One of Jesse’s most trusted friends throughout the series is Christian Ortega, also known as Combo (Rodney Rush). When Jesse and Walter first decided to expand their operations, Combo was one of the few people Jesse trusted to start selling their product. While Badger (Matt Jones) and Skinny Pete (Charles Baker) are often shown as Jesse’s most trusted confidants, Combo was right up there as well until his murder. One of Combo’s most important contributions to Jesse’s journey was the RV as it’s revealed that the famed RV of Breaking Bad was actually originally owned by Combo’s mother.
It’s pretty clear throughout the series that Badger is one of Jesse’s best and oldest friends. Unlike many other characters in the series, Badger had no ulterior motives. He just wanted to be Jesse’s partner and friend. He sold meth with Jesse, played video games with him, and even helped Jesse escape after the events of Breaking Bad by giving Jesse his car and driving Skinny Pete’s car to the Mexican border as a diversion. He’s a goof, but he shows genuine loyalty to Jesse.
After the events of El Camino, it’s quite clear who Jesse Pinkman’s best friend is. Skinny Pete even tells Jesse that he’s his hero. In El Camino, Skinny Pete came up with a clever bait-and-switch plan involving his car, Badger’s, and the El Camino Jesse stole at the end of Breaking Bad. In the end, Pete knew he was going to be the one arrested, but he did it anyway in hopes of helping Jesse find a better life. That’s true selflessness, and it’s undeniable that Skinny Pete is the best of Jesse Pinkman’s friends.