It’s been more than five years since Vince Gilligan and company wrapped up the story of Walter White. Yet, while notable programs have come and gone in the interim, none have bested Breaking Bad’s grim yet uniquely beautiful ending. A gritty, raw noir set against the dusty backdrop of the American southwest, the story has no true heroes to cheer on, and that may be a part of why it’s so captivating. On top of that, the show seems to feature more dramatized death than a George R. R. Martin novel. With an upcoming movie adaptation abound, here’s every major death in Breaking Bad ranked according to impact and plot gravitas.
10 Gale Boetticher
Gale Boetticher’s product may have been too pure for this world, but so was the man himself. Embroiled in Gus’s illicit business, thanks to his libertarian principles, Gale seemed to be in way over his head and was ultimately used as a bargaining chip in Walter’s crusade to both save himself and bring down Fring.
Gale’s death also represents what was arguably Jesse Pinkman’s lowest moment. His confrontation with Boetticher was incredibly emotional and almost painful to watch, and it once again proved to viewers that Walter would be willing to do anything to save his own skin; there was no line he refused to cross.
9 Lydia Rodarte-Quayle
Lydia Rodarte-Quayle was a higher-up in the German logistics conglomerate Madrigal Electromotive GmBH, where she secretly helped to move Gustavo Fring’s illicit product and launder his ill-gotten funds.
Things go pear-shaped for her after Fring is eliminated in an explosion staged by Walter, and she later attempts to hire hitmen to take out several people who could connect her to Gus. In the end, Walt uses the ricin cigarette originally intended for Gus to poison Lydia, and, after answering a phone call intended for Todd Alquist, coldly tells her so and offers her nothing more than a steely “goodbye, Lydia.”
8 Tuco Salamanca
Tuco was the outburst-prone, unstable head of the Juarez Cartel in Albuquerque who briefly served as Walt and Jesse’s distributor in the first two seasons of Breaking Bad. After Walt’s attempt to poison the kingpin with ricin fails, Tuco takes the pair out to his cabin in the desert. There, a fight ensues, and Jesse non-fatally wounds the distributor with a shot to the stomach. Moments later, DEA agent Hank Schrader shows up in pursuit of Jesse and takes down Tuco in a shootout. Hank is heralded as a communal hero for his actions, and the scene shows exactly how far Walter’s brother-in-law is willing to go for personal glory.
7 Jack Welker
Jack Welker positions himself as the main antagonist of the show in the second half of the final season. After capturing Jesse and forcing him into total servitude alongside his cold execution of Hank, none could hold any sympathy for the character.
In "Felina," the show’s final episode, Walter returns to New Mexico following months in exile. In a bid to redeem himself and right his wrongdoings, he drives to Jack’s compound and dispatches his gang with the help of an automated machine gun hidden in the trunk of his car. Barely surviving the encounter, Jack tries to use the money he stole from Walt to bargain for his life, but Walt does nothing more than coldly pull the trigger.
6 Hector Salamanca
A high-ranking member of the Juarez Cartel, Hector Salamanca was the uncle of Tuco Salamanca and a secondary antagonist in seasons three and four. Though he resented Walter and blamed him for the death of his nephew, the two ultimately reach some sort of truce in the fight against their mutual enemy Gus Fring. Hector, after apparently revealing Gus’s implications in the Albuquerque criminal underworld to the DEA, is supplied with an explosive device by Walter White. Fring later visits Hector with the intent of disposing of him, but the two meet their end when Hector orchestrates his final revenge by detonating the device.
5 Jane Margolis
A recovering addict, Jane Margolis meets and later starts a relationship with Jesse Pinkman. The two share similar backgrounds, and Jane eventually relapses and dies of pulmonary aspiration induced by an overdose. Jesse’s reaction to her end was absolutely crushing, and it dramatically changed the character’s views of the world and overall outlook on life.
What was worse, however, was the fact that Walter White was in the same room as Jane when she passed away and could have prevented her death. The fact that he didn’t implies that he’s an entirely sinister person who would sacrifice both Jane's life and Jesse’s happiness to keep his illegal operation from falling apart.
4 Mike Ehrmantraut
Season five doesn’t end well for anyone implicated in the Albuquerque underworld (save for perhaps Jesse), and it was tough for many fans to see Mike Ehrmantraut meet his demise at the hands of the devious Heisenberg. The two had clashed since they were first introduced, and Walter was likely worried that Ehrmantraut’s actions would somehow lead to his death or imprisonment. Plus, after accosting Walter with one final insult before parting ways, the infamous cook snaps and shoots Mike before he can drive away. This scene is tragic in many ways, as it both shows how vicious and prideful Walter can be while once again reminding everyone that nobody can come away from this business clean.
3 Hank Schrader
Though he’s made out to be the hero early on in the show, Hank seems to be nearly as prideful as his arch-enemy and brother-in-law Walter White. Brought out into the desert to confront his ex-best friend as the result of a sting orchestrated by Jesse, Walt quickly calls Jack Welker in the hopes that his gang could get rid of Jesse and bail him out of the situation.
He tries to call the whole thing off once he finds out about Hank’s involvement in the affair, but the whole thing culminates in a gunfight which ends the lives of both Hank and his partner. In the end, Hank's single-minded, pride-driven quest to bring down Heisenberg led to his demise.
2 Walter White
The man himself, Walter White serves as a case study of how harmful festering feelings of vengeance and pride can be. Self-extricated from his own company because he felt inferior to his business partner, Walter eventually embarked on a path that would lead him to riches, notoriety, and infamy. In making money to treat his cancer, he became a societal cancer, and the show’s final moments strongly imply that he finally got what he deserved.
A terror blinded by personal ambition, Walter White may have been the show’s main character, but he certainly wasn’t the protagonist. Wounded by a piece of shrapnel during his attack on Jack’s compound, he is last seen fading away on the floor of a lab as police sirens wail in the background.
1 Gustavo Fring
The ultimate evil in the Albuquerque criminal underground, Gustavo Fring runs an illicit empire which fuels the entire southwestern United States. Though a mild-mannered restaurateur by day, he’s a cunning and ruthless kingpin who managed to undermine the DEA and circumvent his rivals in the cartel.
Walter White may have been an unlikable antagonist, but he didn’t quite match the nefarious levels of Fring. In the end, Gus is undone by his hubris as he rushes to get rid of Hector Salamanca after years of torment. In his haste, he allowed himself to be tricked by Walter, who finally ends him and frees himself from Fring’s entrapment.