Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan originally planned to kill off Jesse Pinkman in the show’s first season, but thankfully he later changed his mind. Because of that, Aaron Paul’s character served as one of the primary characters for the show’s five-season run.
Jesse initially played the role of Walter White’s (Bryan Cranston) partner when the high school science teacher set out to cook meth as a side gig. As the pair got deeper and deeper into the drug trade, the competition became more dangerous. Jesse tried to remain loyal to Walt but it was clear that his former teacher was a master manipulator. The cash was a nice incentive but when those close to Jesse started to get hurt, he did what he had to do to get himself out of the mess he helped create. Unfortunately, Walt was one step ahead most of the time.
When Gilligan was still developing Breaking Bad, he planned to kill off Jesse by the season 1 finale. The move was meant to show that seemingly major characters weren’t completely safe on the series. The original story intended for Jesse to die from a botched drug deal. It would have served as a plot device, plaguing Walt with an immense amount of guilt leading into season 2 and beyond. Thankfully, Gilligan quickly threw out the idea after filming the show’s second episode.
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Why Jesse Pinkman Was Kept Alive In Breaking Bad
Many of Gilligan’s plans were changed, especially since the debut season was cut short due to the WGA writer’s strike. The decision to keep Jesse alive, however, was made well before the strike occurred. Following Paul’s performance on the Breaking Bad‘s second episode, the creative team knew that it would be a major mistake killing off the character who was viewed as such an asset according to an interview (via NY Mag). They were impressed with how well Paul presented such a flawed character who carried a unique sense of innocence.
Breaking Bad also didn’t want to ruin the chemistry between Walt and Jesse. Some of the show’s best moments came between those two characters. The actors worked very well together and that was displayed in the scenes featuring just those two figures. Walt and Jesse complemented each other in the early seasons, causing their journey to become absolutely tragic when they eventually turned on each other.
Gilligan obviously made the right decision by keeping Jesse around. The character remained an important piece of the story until the very end. Paul ended up winning a handful of major awards for his portrayal of the character. Jesse’s story was later expanded when he became the central figure of the sequel, El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie. This certainly wouldn’t have been an option if Jesse was killed in the early days of the crime drama. That said, Breaking Bad would have turned out much differently without Jesse’s presence, but not in a good way.