Breaking Bad is an excellent show, but one would be hard-pressed to call it “realistic.” The show often straddled the line between gritty, hard-hitting personal drama and outlandish scenarios, often gleefully veering into the latter. It was chock full of suspense and action, and that action was often depicted as somewhat cartoonish or unbelievable.
Many characters die throughout the course of Breaking Bad, and just as the show straddles between realism and over-the-top drama, so too do the depictions of these deaths. Some are more realistic and grounded and others are goofy and outlandish – meant for nothing more than to generate an intense audience reaction.
Everyone knew that Walter White was going to die. Things didn’t look good from the very beginning, with Walt being diagnosed with an advanced form of lung cancer. Luckily, Walt managed to pull off the improbable and entered remission.
Unfortunately, his cancer was later found to be terminal. Wanting to go out on his own terms, Walt rescued Jesse from the white supremacists and was struck by a stray bullet in the process. He dies in a meth lab with a smile on his face, succumbing to the bullet in his gut.
Not Believable: Gus
Gus experiences the most outlandish death in Breaking Bad history. Having made an uneasy alliance with Hector, Walt lures Gus to the nursing home and places a pipe bomb under Hector’s wheelchair. Hector then activates the bomb with his bell.
While the door to Hector’s room is blown off its hinges, Gus somehow manages to stumble out and adjust his tie. However, the camera then circles around Gus and reveals that half of his face has been blown off. How did he manage to walk out of the room and adjust his tie with those grisly injuries? It doesn’t really matter, but it sure is unbelievable.
Season two is when Breaking Bad started to go in a more dramatic direction. The first season was a stellar mix between comedy and drama, and most of the second season contained comedic elements.
However, it ends in a tragic fashion with Jane choking on her own vomit following a night of heroin use. It’s a very realistic death, and it makes for some uncomfortable viewing.
Not Believable: Lydia
Lydia was a late addition to the Breaking Bad universe, as she wasn’t introduced until the fifth and final season. In some ways, she serves as the “final boss,” as her death is the last one depicted in the show (aside from Walt himself). Walt manages to poison her morning tea, replacing her stevia sweetener with ricin.
The method behind Lydia’s poisoning is never revealed, aside from the fact that Walt swapped the stevia with ricin. How did he do that without her noticing? Did he somehow manage to put ricin inside a sealed packet of Stevia? And if so … how?
Most fans expected Mike to go out in a blaze of glory. He was always one of the toughest characters, and he didn’t take anything from anyone, but his demise was both ordinary and without bombast. After personally insulting Walt and blaming him for the organization’s downfall, a deranged and furious Walt takes a gun and shoots Mike through the car window.
Mike manages to drive off and sit by a river, but he pathetically dies with Walt blabbering in his ear and recognizing the pointlessness of his death.
Not Believable: Tortuga
The death of Tortuga shows Breaking Bad at its most horrifying. Being a cartel drug runner working with the DEA, Tortuga is brutally slaughtered by the cartel for his betrayal. While the death itself is not shown, Tortuga’s decapitated head is later seen traveling on a tortoise.
The tortoise is bearing a message for the DEA, as the cartel knew that they would be watching. As the DEA gathers around the tortoise to read the message, the turtle, Tortuga’s head, and various members of the DEA are blown up with a bomb.
Everyone expected Mike to go out like a boss, but that distinction went to Hank. After engaging in a brief gunfight with the white supremacists, Gomez is killed and Hank is wounded. Hank refuses to beg with his murderers, and he never shows an ounce of fear.
Hank is fully aware that his death is imminent, and he tells Walt as much after Walt tries begging for his life. He tells Jack to “do what [he’s] gotta do” before being shot and dying mid-sentence. It’s tragic, but it also depicts Hank as an unyielding hero.
Not Believable: Don Eladio’s Crew
There’s nothing inherently unrealistic about Don Eladio’s demise. Eladio himself is poisoned by Gus, and the rest of his crew are slaughtered by Gus’s henchmen. However, the scene comes across as more “Hollywood” than usual.
It’s clear that the scene is meant to depict Gus as some type of strategic mastermind, and it’s clearly meant to entice cheers and shocked guffaws from the audience. It’s certainly a great scene, and it does indeed elicit cheers and shocked guffaws, but it comes at the expense of realism.
Breaking Bad saw its fair share of deplorable villains, but none were as bad as Todd. Todd was a true psychopath, and his nature was shown in the episode Dead Freight when he shot and killed Drew Sharp.
He then tortured Jesse by keeping him as imprisoned as his meth-producing slave. Viewers were waiting in anticipation for Todd’s death and in the end, Jesse avenges both himself and Drew Sharp by strangling Todd to death with his handcuffs.
Not Believable: Jack’s Crew
Breaking Bad always saw Walt getting out of predicaments with crazy schemes and brilliant strategic ploys, and his last is certainly one of his best. To rescue Jesse from the compound, Walt rigs his car with a machine gun turret that shoots through the trunk.
The turret shoots through both the car and the compound walls, and Jack’s crew is decimated by the gunfire. MythBusters actually proved that this was possible, but in the grand scheme of Breaking Bad, it still remains one of the craziest and most outlandish things that viewers saw.