Please don't list this on a work's page as a trope. Examples can go on the work's YMMV tab.
Tearjerker: Breaking Bad
open/close all folders
Walt breaking down after strangling Krazy-8 to death.
"Grey Matter." Any interaction between Walt and Skyler, Elliot, Elliot's wife... ESPECIALLY Elliot's wife. Oh God.
When Walt begins to tear up during the meeting with his family as his son berates him for not wanting to deal with chemo when he's had to deal with Cerebral Palsy his entire life.
The string of unfortunate events that happen to Jesse in "Down", culminating with him being homeless, lying on the R.V, covered in filth, and sobbing.
The kid in "Peekaboo". He still maintains his blissful ignorance despite having two deadbeat parents that barely clothe and feed him to keep up their drug habits. It really gets to Jesse since he's been ordered to set an example by Walt because Skinny Pete was robbed of his meth by the mother in a previous episode.
Jane's death in "Phoenix". Walter accidentally knocks her on her back after she and Jesse did drugs and she chokes on her own vomit. Walter lets it happen, but sheds a tear over this, knowing that he'll have Jesse back but he'll be shattered when he wakes up to find her dead.
The entirety of "ABQ" is pretty depressing. But two things in particular stand out. The first is the scene where Walt finds Jesse in the drug den and Jesse breaks down in tears over Jane's death. The second is the utterly devastated look on Donald Margolis's face when he sees his daughter's corpse. The rest of his scenes in the episode are painful, but that one...whew.
During I.F.T. , Jesse repeatedly calls Jane's voice mail just so he can listen to her voice. The Tear Jerking moment happens when the voice mail is finally disconnected. The look on Jesse's face, knowing that he will never hear her voice again.
And for that matter, Jane's death.
When the lab camper needs to be euthanized. It had become quite the pop culture icon after all.
Jesse's diatribe against Walt in "One Minute" following getting an intense beating from Hank, during which Jesse tells Walt how bad his life has gotten and chews him out for his selfishness definitely qualifies.
Jesse: Ever since I met you, everything I ever cared about is gone! Ruined, turned to shit, dead, ever since I hooked up with the great Heisenberg! I have never been more alone! I HAVE NOTHING! NO ONE! ALRIGHT, IT'S ALL GONE, GET IT? No, no, no, why...why would you get it? What do you even care, as long as you get what you want, right? You don't give a shit about me! You said I was no good. I'm nothing! Why would you want me, huh? You said my meth is inferior, right? Right? Hey! You said my cook was GARBAGE! Hey, screw you, man! Screw you!
Bonus points go to the fact that Jesse breaks down in tears after delivering said speech.
Everything Hank goes through during "One Minute". He gets suspended from the DEA after beating Jesse senseless, and breaks down in tears after the fact. And just when things start to look up for him he's assaulted by the Cousins and ends up paralyzed for a lengthy period of time.
Jesse's speech to his rehab group about the wooden box he made in high school, and then gave away for some weed. The speech really drives home the fact that Jesse's self destructiveness prevents him from feeling better about himself.
Walt's Speech during "Fly". [He admits that he should have died, and at the end, he basically says that if he had died while listening to his wife and daughter on the baby monitor, then it would have been perfect. A tear falls from his eye when he finishes.
Mike: The moral of the story is... I chose a "Half Measure", when I should have gone all the way. I'll never make that mistake again. No more Half Measures, Walter.
Gale: You don't have to do this.
One in-story, too. Jesse breaks over this. This is quite the emotional revelation for Jesse because it confirms not only that at heart he isn't a murderer but also that his beliefs held earlier in the show that he accepted his role, in his words, as "the bad guy" were false.
There's also the fact that Jesse confesses to his support group that he was scheming to peddle meth at the meetings. At this point, Pinkman is so overwrought with guilt over killing Gale that he's actively trying to get others to punish him.
Walt crying to his son in "Salud" after his fight with Jesse. It's one of the few times Walt realizes how terrible his behavior has been and even apologizes to Jesse and calls Walt Jr by his name.
"Salud" has another, less obvious one in regards to the relationship between Walt and Walt Jr. After taking care of his dad and nursing him back to health, Walt tells his son about his childhood memory of his dying father. and than has this exchange with his son that demonstrates how disconnected Walt has become from his family and how his pride renders him unable to accept his moments of weakness.
Walt: I don’t want you to think of me the way I was last night. I don’t want that to be the memory you have of me when I’m gone.
Walt Jr: Remembering you that way…wouldn’t be so bad. The bad way to remember you would be the way – the way you’ve been this whole last year. At least last night, you were – you were real…you know?
At the beginning of Season 4, when Jesse, trying to cope with his murder of Gale invites dozens of people over and keeps a nonstop party going for days. When his increasingly insane attempts to keep people from leaving finally fail, he's left all alone with the sound system that he was bragging about in the opening scene of the episode, so he sits with his back to the speaker and blasts music as loudly as he can, desperately trying to drown out what's going on in his head.
The video of Gale singing "Major Tom", as it confirms that he was an innocent man killed because of Walt's ego.
Though Gus certainly ended up a monster, seeing the flashback of his utter despair at his partner/likely lover being shot in the head in front of him by Tio makes you want to give him a big hug. As long as he isn't within reach of a box cutter...
Near the end of the season finale, Gus is sitting in his car waiting for Tyrus to call and give him the clear to enter the nursing home and kill his long-time nemesis, Hector Salamanca. Gus is silent, but clearly looks very emotional as he stares at the building waiting. He is no doubt contemplating the arduous steps he had to take toward avenging his friend, Max's death, i.e., working his way up the Mexican cartel, building his own empire in America, gradually killing the rest of Hector's family and friends and eventually crushing the cartel itself, all to get to this moment where he kills his murderer. And made even more sad because we already know he is about to die with him. This, along with ambient western-style music "Goodbye" by Apparat and slow paced cinematography, creates an especially haunting effect.
The Walt we see in the cold open Flash Forward "Live Free or Die" is clearly a humbled, broken man with very little left to live for.
Jesse crying to Walt in "Madrigal", "I don't know what's wrong with me, Mr. White?"
Todd murdering the kid at the end of "Dead Freight". Jesse's reaction really drives it home.
"Buyout" has a nasty cold opening regarding the group disposing of the dead kid - in another of those awful barrels - and his dirtbike. The result hits Jesse especially hard.
The end of "Say My Name" with the ultimately unnecessary death of Mike. Especially after watching him with his granddaughter at the park after seemingly retiring for good.
The scene at the park itself definitely qualifies as well. Walter calls Mike to warn him about the cops coming for him, and Mike sees them coming and gets ready to escape. While there's the initial panic and fear from the authorities, Mike also hesitates. Given that he's about to have to flee for good and has to abandon his granddaughter at the park without even saying goodbye to her, the look on his face is appropriately heartbreaking.
Even Walt, who has opposed Mike ever since the Gus situation crumbled, reacted to shooting him with shock and horror , a reaction we haven't seen from Walt regarding anyone he killed since Krazy 8's death way back in Season 1. During his final talk with Mike he almost seems to feel remorse for it ending the way it did. This from the guy who was coldly indifferent to the murder and disposal of an innocent child.
Let's not forget that when the credits start to roll, you can hear Kaylee on the swing.
"Blood Money": Walt's cancer returns from remission.
Jesse's discussion of Mike's death. He knows that Walt lied and that he will never see his friend again. He humors Walter and says he believes him, but he's crying afterwards.
After he's prevented from giving his money to the parents of the boy Todd killed and Mike's granddaughter, Jesse desperately drives around in Albuquerque, and tosses $10,000 bundles out of his car to front lawns. The next time we see him, he's laying on the roundabout, completely silent and staring into the sky.
The entire episode is one for Hank. Realizing that one of his best, most trusted friends and brother-in-law is the murderous Heisenberg really has its effect.
Skyler and Marie's tug of war over Holly, after Marie learns the whole truth. On the "Talking Bad" after the episode, Anna Gunn got very emotional about how hard it was to shoot.
Skyler sitting by herself in a dark room and staring into the distance after destroying her relationship with her sister beyond any hope of repair.
When Walt suggests Jesse claim a new identity for a fresh start, Jesse starts to call him out on his true motivation — to save his own ass. Jesse is filled with emotions of fear that Walt may kill him like he did Mike and tears of sadness because Walt has manipulated him so much that he believes Jesse doesn't suspect his motives. Walt then gives Jesse an apologetic hug. This action may not even have any meaning to Walt and simply just another attempt to toy with Jesse's emotions.
The best and most touching part is when, after Walt feeds him a cock-and-bull story to try and manipulate him into leaving, Jesse begs Walt to just be honest and up front with him. It basically amounts to, "If you need me to leave town, just ask me, straight-up, to my face. Just treat me like an equal for once in my life, please!" He doesn't mind leaving to help Walt — he's just desperate for a tiny shred of respect.
What's even sadder about this scene is that, Walt doesn't give Jesse what he wants. Although he shows affection for him, he still refuses to be honest with him.
Jesse's revelation that his mentor and partner betrayed him, lied to him, and manipulated him with Brock's poisoning. It had to come sooner or later but it's heartbreaking to see how much it breaks Jesse.
Especially the end of the episode where he's pouring gasoline all over Walt's house in a fit of blind rage. It's downright heartbreaking when you realize just how broken this kid has become over the past 16 months.
Walt Jr. receiving the cancer bomb from Walt. It breaks the kid and it's blatantly clear that it's only another manipulation tactic.
Jesse's breakdown when Hank stops him from burning down Walt's house.
Jesse: He can't keep getting away with it! HE CAN'T KEEP GETTING AWAY WITH IT!
The look on Walt's face when Jesse calls him. His prodigal son is now his enemy who he has to get rid of, you can see his heart break. Plus, fans now know the great Walt/Jesse team which has been the dynamic of the entire show is now over.
Walt futilely pleading with Todd's uncle that he's calling off the hit on Jesse, after giving himself up.
Huell's breakdown when he believes that Walt killed Jesse. Despite his goofy tough guy demeanor, you can tell he's something of a sensitive soul.
Regardless of what side you're cheering for, it's hard not to see Walt and Jesse's entire interaction as Hank is arresting Walt as one of these. As Aaron Paul points out, it's clear that Jesse isn't feeling totally happy (he mentions Pinkman as being prideful, sad, and angry about Walt getting caught), and for his part, Walt is so upset about Jesse betraying him that he can only utter the word "coward" to his former protege. Jesse spitting on Walt, along with the ensuing scuffle between the two just drives the point home that the bond between our two protagonists has been totally and irrevocably destroyed.
Just about all of "Ozymandias". Parts that stand out include:
Hank's death. Walt tries desperately to get Jack to spare him... only for Hank to point out Jack made his decision "ten minutes ago".
Marie's reaction when she learns about his death and being told they will never find Hank's body. While she has the grace of knowing he's actually dead and not just missing, she doesn't even have the closure of having a body to bury.
The flashback of Walt's first lie to Skyler about his new life, showing a time before all we've seen so far, when she still trusted him and didn't despise him.
Walt Jr.'s breakdown when he learns that his father is Heisenberg.
Walt's response when his son realizes that Hank is dead, and accuses Walt point-blank of murdering him. Even after all the terrible things that Walt has done, the desperation in his voice is palpable, as he makes one last feeble attempt to defend himself—suddenly going from threatening his family to holding back tears.
Walt: I didn't kill Hank! (suddenly on the verge of tears) I tried to save him!
Skyler pulling a knife on Walt and the fight that ensues. Walt Jr. eventually calls the police on his father, and Walt realizes that his family is irrevocably broken.
Skyler's desperate run after the car after Walt kidnaps Holly. The way she sinks down to the ground when he drives off...
When Walt kidnaps Holly to "punish" Skyler. Plays into a normal Adult Fear, but what brings it over the edge is when we hear Holly's first word- Mama. At that point Walt realizesthat, through his own actions, his family has no attachment to him anymore and returns Holly.
Walt on the phone with Skyler playing up his Heisenberg persona to the maximum and lying about her being terrorized by him into complicity since the very beginning so she will have legal security. The most heartbreaking part is when you see Walt's intentions dawn on her and she decides to take part in one last lie with him. Her face says it all - full of sorrow, but also understanding. Moreover, Walt is visibly shaking and holding off tears throughout the entire call, especially when implicating himself as Hank's killer.
Walt finally telling Jesse that he watched Jane die and could have saved her, but didn't. Jesse looks absolutely broken when he hears it and looks like an abused puppy when the car drives away.
And for the one time he didn't accept his fate in the next episode, Todd kills Andrea. Jesse's reaction to this as he has no way to stop this is unbearable.
Steve Gomez's death doesn't even get shown on scene. We just see his body, brutally killed and then discarded, an abrupt end to one of the most prominent (and most good-hearted) supporting characters on the show.
From "Granite State":
Todd killing Andrea and Jesse's reaction.
Walt shelling out ten thousand dollars just so he can pretend to have a friend for an hour.
Walt burning his money to stay warm. This was his life's work, but now that he's staring death in the face it's just a bunch of worthless paper, and when he dies in a couple of months he won't even be able to get it to his family.
The scene where Walt starts wearing his wedding ring around his neck. By this point, the cancer has ravaged his body so badly, that he's become too emaciated to even wear the ring on his finger. That little "clink" when it falls off his hand for the first time...
Walt Jr's last conversation with Walt over the phone. The look of sadness on Walt, unbearable. Walt Jr blaming Walt for Hank's death, for everything that happened. Then ended with saying he should just die already. Walt's last words before the phone is hung up? Don't let what he did mean nothing. Walt's face looked like a man who truly had nothing left. A man whose son despises him, the world hates him for being a monster, and he hates himself for letting it get out of control.
Jesse's daydream. Oh, god.
Walt using his last meeting with Skyler to be truthful to her, admitting that he did everything, not for the family, but for himself.
Walt giving Skyler the note with GPS coordinates for where "Hank and Gomez' bodies are buried" and Skyler's reaction.
Walt asking to see Holly one last time.
Walt observing Flynn from a distance and not being able to say goodbye to him.
Walt's death. Set to Badfinger's "Baby Blue", no less.