As most people would probably agree, Breaking Bad is one of the greatest TV shows to have ever existed. From the most incredible characters to have ever existed on screen, to the most exciting dramatic storylines, to the most important factor: its persistent brilliance.
As you’ll see from this list, Breaking Bad is one of the only shows in existence that remained stunningly wonderful for its entire run. It’s an incredibly difficult thing to have achieved (think of the likes of Lost and Prison Break). We’ve used IMDb to average out the rating of each episode in the show and rank the seasons accordingly.
Honorable Mention: El Camino (7.4)
We have to get this one out of the way. El Camino isn’t a season of Breaking Bad, but it is still important to the storyline. We don’t need to include Better Call Saul because it doesn’t overlap that much with the storyline of the main show, but El Camino picks up exactly where the show ended. It was a risk to make it in the first place, and it averages out much lower than the rest of the show simply because it was rather unnecessary.
However, getting to look back on some of the characters we know and love, find out what truly happened to Jesse and get to see that Walt and Jesse pairing one last time was a rollercoaster of nostalgia. It didn’t disappoint by any stretch, but it certainly didn’t need to happen either.
Season One (8.7)
For the first season of a show to average out at 8.7, you must be in for a treat. Despite only being seven episodes long, season one of Breaking Bad set the tone of everything to follow. We were introduced to Walt’s fight against cancer and the decision to cook meth with his ex-student Jesse all the way back in ‘Pilot’. This pilot episode also had a different tone to the rest of the show.
It was slightly longer and included more dialogue and nudity than anything that followed, but upon realizing how brilliant it was, the creators likely toned it down to make it a little more accessible. We also got to see the drama as Walt made his first steps into the empire he would end up creating, the first taste of murder for the central pairing, and Walt’s dramatic revelation about his cancer to the rest of the family.
Season Two (8.8)
Season two opens by showing us the debris of a plane crash which we know nothing about. By the end of season two, it all slots together perfectly with some of the most incredible pre-planning and foreshadowing in the history of TV. This is the season that introduces Jesse’s relationship with Jane and its bitter end through one of the first true Heisenberg moments in the show.
The final episode ends with Jane’s father, the air traffic controller, causing a crash as he is so distracted by his daughter’s death. Along the way, Walt’s cancer improves but he doesn’t want to put an end to his empire, we see out the dramatic conclusion to Tuco’s storyline and Skyler finally walks out on Walt with their brand new daughter.
Season Three (8.8)
Season three is the only season in Breaking Bad to have a single episode dip below a rating of 8.0. That’s truly quite incredible. The episode in question is the notorious “Fly,” a random excursion into the lab that sees Walt and Jesse attempt to kill a fly. In the midst of so much gripping drama, it almost seems like filler. Of course, Breaking Bad doesn’t do filler, so Rian Johnson was obviously attempting something much deeper and more representative, but it really didn’t work.
Anyway, this was the season that began to focus on Gus Fring. We get some of the biggest reveals in the show, such as Skyler’s affair, the fully-fledged absorption of the Heisenberg personality, and the disappearance of Jesse. It’s arguably the season with the most dramatic development of character across the board, and the gripping season finale shows Gus attempting to oust Walt from his own business.
Season Four (9.1)
We learn a lot about the history of Gus Fring in season four, as the show reaches what was once intended to be its conclusion. The once humorous Jesse is on breaking point pretty much the whole way through this season, while Skyler has had a change of heart about the whole situation and is effectively teaming up with Walt, hiding his money in a car washing business.
Mike and Jesse make a formidable team as they take on a variety of missions for Gus, and Hank gets closer and closer to finding out about Walt’s involvement in the whole thing. The season ends with the 9.9 rated episode ‘Face Off’, in which Gus Fring finally meets his maker, and the title of the episode really does come true.
Season Five (9.4)
The conclusion to Breaking Bad came in 2012/2013, with a two-part, extended season. It kicks off with a series of revelations, including Ted emerging from his coma and Walt, Jesse, and Mike covering all of their highly illegal tracks. The 9.4 average for the season comes from its second half; a series of episodes so gripping and spectacular that it’s almost impossible not to watch them back-to-back.
First of all, we see Hank finally realize that Walt was Heisenberg all along. We see Walt embrace the Heisenberg personality fully, leading to the murder of Mike. We see Walt hire an assassin to kill his once faithful partner, and then to top it off, we see the greatest episode of anything in TV history: ‘Ozymandias’. For something to have over 100,000 votes on IMDb and still average out at a solid 10.0 is seriously astonishing, and nothing has ever deserved it more. The dramatic death of Hank leads directly into the explosive final two episodes as they jump between harrowing timelines and bring one of the best stories ever told to their conclusion.