Widely praised as the greatest TV series ever made, Breaking Bad revolutionized the medium forever with the story of a character who changes drastically from the pilot episode to the series finale. Between “Pilot” and “Felina,” Walter White went from a milquetoast chemistry teacher to a ruthless drug kingpin. Or, as series creator Vince Gilligan put it, he turned from Mr. Chips into Scarface.
In the hands of some of the most talented writers in the history of television drama, Breaking Bad had a ton of iconic moments across its five seasons. Here are the most memorable scenes from IMDb’s 10 top-rated episodes of Breaking Bad.
Say My Name (9.6) – Walt Shoots Mike
Mike Ehrmantraut was one of the few characters to ever call out Walt’s ridiculous egotism. The duo’s final confrontation, as Walt delivers Mike’s go bag (minus the gun), exemplifies that brilliantly — right before Walt shoots Mike for not giving up the names of his guys behind bars.
Mike’s death in Breaking Bad is even more heartbreaking after Better Call Saul has filled in a ton of his backstory. After everything that Mike went through over the years, a momentary lapse in judgment is what finally brought him down.
Gliding Over All (9.6) – Hank Realizes Walt Is Heisenberg On The Toilet
In “Gliding Over All,” the mid-season finale of season 5, Walt is in a good place. He gets out of the meth business, he has all of Mike’s guys killed in prison in a two-minute window, and his family life is as stable as it’s been in months. And then, Hank takes a fateful trip to the Whites’ bathroom.
He looks around for something to read and finds Walt’s copy of Leaves of Grass. It’s inscribed with a message from Gale, and Hank is horrified to discover that the drug lord he’s been chasing for a year is his own brother-in-law.
Full Measure (9.7) – Jesse Shoots Gale
In the season 3 finale “Full Measure,” Walt figures out Gus’ plan to kill him and Jesse as soon as Gale is confident enough to cook Heisenberg’s signature blue meth on his own. So, Walt sends Jesse to Gale’s apartment to shoot him in the face.
Aaron Paul plays the scene brilliantly, with all the guilt and shame that goes along with a hit job (rarely seen in on-screen depictions of hit jobs) coming through in his emotionally charged performance.
Crawl Space (9.7) – Walt Starts Laughing
After Gus Fring threatens to murder Skyler, Walt, Jr., and even baby Holly in addition to Walt, Walt tells Saul to speak to the disappearer at the vacuum store and arrange for his family to be relocated. He rushes home to get the cash from the crawlspace, but finds that it’s mostly gone.
Skyler tells him she gave the money to Ted, and as she receives a phone call from a panicking Marie about a threat to Hank’s life, Walt begins laughing hysterically.
Dead Freight (9.7) – Todd Murders Drew Sharp
Breaking Bad has frequently been described as a contemporary western, and one of the episodes that really hammers that home is season 5’s “Dead Freight,” in which Walt and Jesse rob a train to get themselves a supply of methylamine. The heist goes off without a hitch. The robbery won’t even be detected.
But after Walt and Jesse briefly celebrate with Todd, they spot a young boy who saw the whole thing. Walt and Jesse freeze, but without a second thought, Todd draws his gun and shoots the kid dead.
Granite State (9.7) – Walt Turns Himself In (Then Changes His Mind)
In Breaking Bad’s final cliffhanger ending, Walt turns himself in to the cops after being told by his son to drop dead and realizing he has nothing left to live for.
However, he changes his mind at the last second after seeing Gretchen and Elliott Schwartz talking about him in an interview with Charlie Rose.
To’hajiilee (9.8) – Hank Arrests Walt
After Walt built a meth empire under Hank’s nose for five seasons, there was a sense of satisfaction in seeing Hank finally arrest the one they call “Heisenberg.”
Hank, Jesse, and Gomez lured Walt out into the desert by threatening his money, and then Hank promptly read Walt his Miranda rights. Of course, the arrest is cut short by the arrival of Uncle Jack and his band of neo-Nazis.
Face Off (9.9) – Gus Fring’s Death
The title of the season 4 finale, “Face Off,” initially seemed to refer to the face-off between Walt and Gus as their conflict came to a head and only one of them would come out of it alive. However, at the episode’s explosive climax, the title turned out to be quite literal.
Walt makes a deal with Hector Salamanca to lure Gus down to his nursing home, then blow him up with a bomb attached to Hector’s wheelchair. Gus loses half his face in the explosion, and calmly adjusts his tie before dropping dead.
Felina (9.9) – Walt And Jesse’s Final Confrontation
Walter White shared final moments with a bunch of different characters in Breaking Bad’s series finale, “Felina,” but the most poignant was his last conversation with Jesse Pinkman, the former student he manipulated into starting a meth empire and then abandoned into a life of slavery.
The fact that Walt’s final act was saving Jesse’s life proves that he did care about his protégé all along, but it’s not enough for Jesse to forgive him after everything he did. According to series creator Vince Gilligan, this scene was inspired by the ending of The Searchers.
Ozymandias (10.0) – Walt Kidnaps Holly
Although it wasn’t the last episode of Breaking Bad, “Ozymandias” is arguably the show’s climax. The penultimate episode, “Granite State,” had a more cerebral storyline after the explosive payoffs in this episode and “Felina” was a perfect ending, but “Ozymandias” was the series’ emotional peak.
After Skyler attacked him with a knife and the White family was irreparably destroyed, Walt grabbed Holly and took her out to his car. He later had a change of heart and dropped the baby off at a fire station, but for a brief moment, he kidnapped his own daughter.