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ListsFebruary 2, 2015

Bad Week: Ranking the Gnarly Deaths of Breaking Bad

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Alex Casey sifts through the mighty body count of Breaking Bad to rank her top ten most memorable deaths on the show. //

The statistics of Breaking Bad are always impressive – it received 110 notable awards, had 10.3 million Americans tune in for the finale and over 33,000 articles written about it in the last weeks of the show. But the most impressive number to me is 269 – the amount of characters killed off throughout it’s five seasons.

The Breaking Bad journey is one that can be measured out in tombstones. But amongst all the explosions, stranglings, poisonings and stabbings, some deaths stuck out more than others. Using a rock solid scientific framework, I have attempted to rank the most memorably macabre moments of Breaking Bad. There will be blood. And spoilers.

10) Goodbye My Tuco, Goodbye My Friend 

Shock Factor: 2/5
The death itself wasn’t necessarily shocking, as it was pretty much all Jesse and Walt were working towards ever since silky ol’ Tookz slithered into their lives. The most shocking part was the unannounced arrival of Hank. It was of the first instances where the reality of their proximity hit home. If it hadn’t been for that distracting (and hilarious) bouncy car, Hank might have caught Walt right then and there and all of this mess could have been avoided.

Sadness Factor: 0/5
Tuco was a pain in the ass and quite clearly a psycho. He beat his lovable security guard to death.

X Factor: 3/5
Nice touch rolling him into an open grave, Walt. You would’ve got full marks IF HE HAD ACTUALLY BEEN DEAD.

Overall: 5/15

9) Drew Sharp Drew the Short Straw

Shock Factor: 3/5
This death was shocking as hell to me. Although this poor little kid was barely a part of the plot at all, for Todd to just immediately shoot him was out of control. Sure, the boy has just seen them pull off the biggest meth-based train heist in recorded history, but couldn’t they have just shot his tarantula instead?

Sad Factor: 3/5
I mean, a dead child is always a sad thing, no? But I didn’t know the kid so he can’t really get full marks. It wasn’t like if Brock had carked it. Oh man, I would have been a wreck farewelling young Brockie Boy.

X Factor: 1/5
Very callous and rude response to a simple wave. I guess he did it in one shot though, so he gets a point for precision. (I’m a monster.)

Overall: 7/15

7) Me Tarzan, You Dead

Shock Factor: 4/5
Although we’ve been taught to expect the worst from heroin junkie narratives, I was pretty disturbed by Jane’s death. It came way too early in her and Jesse’s blossoming romance (which, looking back, was one of my favourite things in the show), and was a sound example of Walt at his most villainous. To watch him stand over her whilst she choked to death in bed was harrowing as all holy hell.

Sad factor: 3/5
This might be a bit harsh, but Jane sort of needed to die. Otherwise Jesse wouldn’t have shaped up his life and got to the point where he had a Roomba and could go go-karting all the time. Clarification: when I say “shape up his life”, I mean “become a better meth cook”. I was still very sad for Jesse though, particularly when he kept listening to her voicemail again. A timely reminder to have a cool and funny voice mail in case you choke on your vomit in your sleep.

X Factor: 1/5
Zero finesse in choking on your vomit. Choking on someone else’s vomit? That would get you points (I watched Spinal Tap on the weekend). Walt doesn’t get any points for standing there watching, obviously. By the way, I think Walt killed Jimi Hendrix as well.

Overall: 8/15

6) Spooge Gets His Head Spooged

Shock Factor: 3/5
This would have rated higher had they not been meth-heads, but the defiant act against Spooge by his girlfriend was kind of gleefully enjoyable and obviously very disgusting. It sort of seemed like there was going to be no way out for Jesse from this bizarre hostage-cum-babysitting gig, so it was a bit of a relief. A shocking relief.

Sad Factor: 3/5
I didn’t care a great deal for Spooge, but I was deeply worried about the fate of his little cute-as-hell son. I can only hope that he got taken in by the police and given a lovely foster family far away from any loose ATM machines.

X Factor: 3/5
Above average score for the use of a non-violent object in the most violent way possible. I enjoyed the very intense and effective use of ‘head being squashed by ATM’ foley. Plus, it got Jesse a fleeting moment of street cred for being the ATM Krusher, which I think was good for his self-esteem.

Overall: 9/15

5) Flight 515 to Deathville

Shock Factor: 5/5
I rate this one very highly on the shock scale, possibly overdoing it due to my own stress dreams where a plane crashes into the Harbour Bridge. Does feel fair though, the collision of two planes in mid air and subsequent showering of fuselage across Walt’s neighbourhood is no walk in the park. It was an extra shocking reveal considering we had been teased with the aftermath detritus of the crash all season. To finally see the unfathomable cause play out was hard going for the ol’ ticker.

Sad Factor: 2/5
It’s sad that so many people died, but we are never given time to mourn for victims. It’s also sad to see the students at Walt’s school affected by the crash, although Walt does a terrible job of consoling them.

X Factor: 4/5
The spectacular elements of the crash obviously get a few points on their own, but the true pizzazz factor of this unfortunate event is that it was entirely Walt’s fault. If he hadn’t let Jane die, her father wouldn’t have been so frazzled when he was working at air traffic control.

Overall: 11/15

4) Victor vs Box Cutter

Shock Factor: 5/5
I screamed at this one. The first time we see ringleader Gus take matters into his own hands, and kill one of his loyal workers just for a bit of a peacock display. For a successful chicken merchant, Gus ain’t no chicken.

Sad Factor: 3/5
Although Victor was merely a disposable henchman – I liked him. He had a quiet knowingness about him that was never really explored until he suddenly boasted that he could cook the meth entirely alone, just based on observing them for so long. I like those fly-on-the-wall types. RIP Victor.

X Factor: 3/5
An excellent demonstration of Gus’ terrifying killing finesse. Refusing to say a word, he simply suits up in plastics and lets rip with the boxcutter. Patrick Bateman, eat your heart out.

Overall: 11/15

3) The Two Amigos Go Down

Shock Factor: 5/5
This is a bit of a hypothetical score because I found out that this happened before I watched the episode. Go to hell, Google image search. Despite this, I still have to give it full marks. We had come close a few times, but Hank had always managed to escape the constant danger that followed him despite his unknowing relation to Heisenberg. For it to finally get him and Gomez was the beginning of the end, the excruciating nail in the coffin that was Walt’s little meth gig.

Sad Factor: 5/5
It happens so fast and so unceremoniously, but was pretty awful to watch. I’m sad about Hank’s mineral collection, I’m sad because Gomez was friendly and jokey. It’s just so horrifically sad.

X Factor: 2/5
I hate to commend the Neo Nazis for the put-the-bodies-in-the-open-grave move because I gave Walt points for it earlier. I’m not happy about it either.

Overall: 12/15

2) The Ultimate Shoot out

Shock Factor: 4/5
The final massive shoot out was wildly outrageous, but also there was always going to be something crazy happen. The sheer length of the mechanised shooting was shocking in itself, it sure scared my dogs into high heaven. To see all of the nasty Neo Nazis get plowed down was incredibly satisfying, but of course they aren’t the only ones who got hit. In killing all his enemies, Walt also got himself hit. To be honest, I was never expecting Walt to not get shot or (at least maimed) in the last episode. We saw him making that special car-boot accessory earlier, and should have known it was an extreme killing machine and not a special window cleaning gadget. Above average shock factor, but not completely out of left field.

Sad Factor: 4/5
The death of all things. The enemies. Walt. The show itself. And yet, I still can’t give it full marks. As I said in my final binge-watch journal entry, I felt an enormous sense of relief rather than sadness. I’m mainly sad the show is over.

X Factor: 4/5
The special killing gizmo in the car boot seemed like the perfect way for Walt to bring down not only his final enemies, but also himself. The same smarts that built that magic bullet dispenser also created his entire meth empire, so it’s only fair that he be killed by his own cleverness. It was always going to get him in the end.

Overall: 12/15

2) The Tortoise Wins the Race


Shock Factor 5/5:
This was the first death that made my jaw drop. I mean, it’s not every day you encounter a chilled out tortoise with the severed head of a drug lord attached to its back. The event seemed to come out of nowhere, and was as shocking for Hank as it was for us. Really set the scene for the rough-as-guts crime climate of El Paso, and raised the bar for gross-out deaths and tortoise multi-functionality.

Sad Factor: 3/5
I felt deeply sorry for the turtle, was real worried about who was going to look after it. Oh wait, it died. Never mind.

X Factor: 5/5
Way to push the boundaries of conventional shell artistry to a whole new level. Full marks.

Overall: 13/15

1) Gus Gets Weak at the Knees

Shock Factor: 5/5
I had to rewatch this about three or four times, clutching one side of my face. This is by far the most shocking death reveal I have seen not only in Breaking Bad, but probably anywhere. The explosion itself was shocking enough, with Hector’s trusty bell building the tension immensely. But it’s the aftermath, the calmly dying strides of Gus and the futile adjustment of the tie that got me. I couldn’t believe it. I’m still blown away by it.

Sad Factor: 5/5
I was devastated to say goodbye to my all-time favourite villain. Sadder than when Hank died, if I’m being perfectly honest. Gus was so chilling to watch, the perfectly calculated soulmate of Walt. I honestly never thought they would be able to outsmart each other. Let’s be honest, he was a bit two-faced, eh?

X Factor: 5/5
Wow factor through the roof. Such a magnificent and disgusting sight to behold. Hell of a throwback. Hell of a face. Hell of a skull.

Overall score: 15/15

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I have agonised over this list, and am acutely aware that there are so many more that didn’t make it. Gale. Combo. Mike. Krazy 8. The Cousins. All of this action. It’s an endless rabbit hole of carnage.

If you have any more additions, put on your best suit and tie and make your way into the comments section. No boxcutters allowed.

Lightbox users: watch Breaking Bad by clicking here.

Everyone else: click here to start your free trial (12 months for Spark customers; 30 days for everyone else).

‘Bad Week’ is a weeklong celebration of Breaking Bad ahead of the launch of its spinoff Better Call Saul on Lightbox next week.

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