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Jesse Bruce Pinkman

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/pinkman_jesse_4738.jpg
"This is my own private domicile and I will not be harassed...bitch!"
Portrayed By: Aaron Paul

"For what it’s worth, getting the shit kicked out of you... not to say you get used to it, but... you do kinda get used to it."
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The deuteragonist of Breaking Bad, and the main protagonist of the sequel film El Camino. He's a small-time methamphetamine user, manufacturer, and dealer. In high school, he was an inattentive student in Walter White's chemistry class. Now in his mid-20s, Jesse is Walt's business partner in the meth trade. Jesse is impulsive, hedonistic, and uneducated, but personable and possesses street-smarts as well.

For the main page, see here.


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    A-F 
  • Addiction Displacement: Once he starts going to rehab in season 3, he actually leaves drugs behind but doubles down on regular cigarettes. He was already a smoker before the rehab, but his nicotine consumption grows noticeably afterwards.
  • Affably Evil: Despite his loud, abrasive, and sometimes obnoxious personality, Jesse actually tends to be rather amiable towards his friends and most (non-criminal) people he interacts with, with a big soft spot for children. And furthermore, despite being a drug-dealing gangster who has killed a few men (though not without the first murder taking a heavy toll on his conscience), he's overall a much more compassionate person than his partner-in-crime, Walter White.
  • The Aggressive Drug Dealer:
    • Played straight at one point when, flat broke, Jesse turns on the charm to pressure a hesitant gas station attendant (who has previously never done anything harder than pot) to accept meth in lieu of payment. Then he plans on selling Blue Sky to the addicts at his rehab group.
    • Otherwise subverted. Jesse will not sell meth to a mother who has a responsibility to look after a child.
  • Animal Motifs: Associated with dogs due to his loyalty and desire for approval and affection. In "Cancer Man", the sound of a snarling dog is played while he's running from a hallucination of biker hitmen. In "Problem Dog", he tells the recovery group about how he put down a dog and while he's referring to Gale it's clear the bad dog in question is him, and in "Rabid Dog" Saul outright compares him to Old Yeller — the most kind and loyal dog in the world who nonetheless had to be put down when he went mad. And it gets uncomfortably literal when Todd beats him, then chains him to a dog run in the Aryan gang's warehouse to force him to cook meth, starting in "Ozymandias".
  • Apathetic Student: At best.
  • The Atoner: Seems to have become this as of "Blood Money".
  • Beard of Sorrow: He grows one in the second half of season 5. He loses it at the beginning of El Camino after getting back to Skinny Pete's.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Jesse was a career criminal before he ever met Walt. At several points, he boasts about he'll make it big, stick it to the man, and live the life of a true outlaw. Cue his gradual breakdown when the toll of the life of a "successful" criminal is too much for his soul to handle. He can't even enjoy the millions he's earned, and everyone he loves suffers or has suffered because of his choices.
  • Being Evil Sucks: Even more so than Walt, Jesse gets very burdened by his intense guilt from the frequently negative consequences of their traumatizing misadventures in organized crime.
  • Beneath the Mask: He projects the image of a fully-intentioned, devil-may-care, hedonistic rebel without a cause using the drug, slacker, and street lifestyles as a fuck you to polite society in general. And, it's not entirely an act. Underneath all that, however, is a very conflicted, frustrated, self-loathing, escapist, highly sensitive, loving, and intelligent guy with major trust and rejection issues who really doesn't know if anything he wants he should let himself deserve having. Broken Bird and Sad Clown don't really do him justice, but they're certainly aspects of this.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Seeing children threatened or harmed drives Jesse into a near-homicidal rage.
    • To a less homicidal extent, Jesse gets pissed when he sees kids being neglected by junky parents, stemming from Spooge and his lady's neglect of their son and driving a small wedge in his relationship with Andrea.
    • He doesn't take kindly to being called "stupid", once getting into a fist fight with Walt over it.
  • Berserker Tears: When he assaults Saul and starts pouring gasoline in the Whites' house after realizing that Walter poisoned Brock. Then later when he kills Todd.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Seems to bring this out in people. Both Walt and Mike are very protective of their younger partner, even though Walt isn't above using and manipulating him for his own ends. He also has this for kids in general, most notably Spooge's unnamed son and Brock.
  • Big Brother Mentor: He tries (and fails) to be this to his younger brother Jake. Though he does take the rap for Jake's joint (and steps on the joint afterward).
  • Bleed 'em and Weep: When he kills Gale.
  • Book Dumb: Jesse did poorly in Walt's chemistry class and doesn't always know the scientific name for the chemicals and processes used in meth cooking (as when he can only identify a certain chemical by the honeybee label on the barrels he and Walt use), and in a flashback during El Camino, Walt is legitimately surprised to discover Jesse had actually managed to get his high school diploma note . Yet he's highly intelligent and seems to have a genuine talent for the knack-driven, practical side of chemistry. Notably, he's the only person other than Walt and Gale who can consistently produce meth at 90% or higher purity, even under very trying conditions, and he's the only other person who seems to understand Walt's cooking methods instead of just following the recipe by rote.
  • Breakout Character: Initially, Jesse was slated to be a Sacrificial Lion for Season 1. However, Vince Gilligan was so impressed with the character and Aaron Paul's performance that he eventually promoted Jesse to the Deuteragonist of the series.
  • Break the Cutie: Granted, Jesse was already a meth dealer at the start of the show and was never the most innocent person, but he wasn't anything more than a low-level street dealer whose rap sheet likely only extended to a few arrests. Ever since partnering up with Walt, however, his life has undeniably taken a turn for the worst.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Jesse is a skilled carpenter, but he'd rather cook crystal meth than put those skills to use as a tradesman. He also has a knack for chemistry, since he becomes able to recreate Walt's formula perfectly (something nobody else could do), but he failed at chemistry at high school, because he didn't apply himself.
  • Buffy Speak: Despite having been a high school washout, much of what he says would sound fairly intelligent if it weren't for his particular style of vernacular, yo.
  • Butt-Monkey: The first time we see Jesse, he falls out a window. At this point, it's safe to say that that particular misfortune has been among the least terrible things that has happened to him during the course of the show.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: In "Ozymandias", Todd talks the Nazis out of killing Jesse, so he can teach him how to cook Walt's formula.
  • The Caretaker: He was this to his aunt before she died of cancer.
  • Cartwright Curse: In the worst possible way. Both Andrea and Jane are dead because of their relationships with Jesse. As if that wasn't bad enough, they're also two of only three recurring female characters who die during the show's run (the third being Lydia Rodarte-Quayle) .
  • Chaotic Stupid: Prone to impulsive and self-destructive actions out of hurt or spite, though he becomes more responsible as time goes on.
  • Character Development: Becomes much more mature and intelligent over the course of the series.
  • The Chew Toy: Initially, some of Jesse's misfortune is Played for Laughs, such as his falling out a window or his high mishaps. As this goes along, this stops being so funny.
  • The Chick: Becomes this in Season 5's Walt/Mike/Jesse partnership. He's there to keep both of them together and in check, making sure they don't do anything unnecessarily drastic, and is the most morally conscious of the three at this point. Driven home in the episode Say My Name. The one time Mike has a disagreement with Walt when Jesse isn't present ends with Walt shooting Mike fatally.
  • Children Are Innocent: A firmly held belief of his. This leads to him plotting the deaths of two drug dealers who are the bosses of Tomás, an 11-year old who murdered Jesse's friend Combo. This situation ultimately leads to the collapse of Walt and Gus's business relationship. Later, when his and Walt's actions lead to a child being murdered, he decides to quit the meth business.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: By Todd in "Ozymandias."
  • Cradle of Loneliness: Does this after Jane's death, and again after killing Gale.
  • Deadpan Snarker: He has his moments.
    Jesse: Uh huh. Tell me, you wouldn't happen to have been... sampling... our product, would you?
  • Despair Event Horizon: Has three.
    • First and foremost, when Jane dies in her sleep. It affected him so much that Walt personally saved him from the crack den he went to be wasted, and sent him to rehab. Makes Walt confessing to Jesse in "Ozymandias" even more heart-wrenching.
    • Second, when he kills Gale personally. Walt did try to kill Gale, but he was captured by Mike and Victor, necessitating Jesse to kill Gale. As with Walt and Krazy-8, Gale's death left Jesse a sobbing mess, as he really went into depression, and left the rehab in a very cruel Kick the Dog moment.
    • Thirdly and finally, when Todd kills Andrea right in front of him. Jesse totally became Todd's underling after that, and went into such a deep Heroic BSoD that even Walt saving him and his killing of Todd didn't give him his peace.
  • Desperately Craves Affection: As a result of his strained relationship with his parents, Jesse has a tendency to remain incredibly attached to anyone who shows him the slightest amount of care or respect. As a result of this, Walt and later Gus are able to manipulate him into saving their lives on two different counts and earlier than that, Jane is able to convince him to blackmail Walt for his share of the money.
  • Deuteragonist: Serves this role to Walt's protagonist. The argument could be made that Jesse's arc throughout the story is just as important as Walt's is, at this point. See Foil below.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Over and over and over again, Jesse has a clever idea, but it backfires on him about halfway through the execution.
    • Spelled out when he tells Walt that he should just shoot Tuco the next time they meet, requiring Walt to remind him that Tuco always has back-up, and that Jesse's revolver has a limited number of bullets. Jesse is then unable to open his revolver to check how much ammo he has.
    • Jesse's attempted escape from Jack's gang falls under this. Despite knowing that Andrea and Brock are at risk if he doesn't cooperate, he still attempts to escape his prison. However, it's implied that Jesse's mental state has degraded to the point that he's trying to escape with the knowledge that he'll either get out in order to warn Andrea and Brock, or be put out of his misery by the Nazis (hence his daring them to shoot him). The biggest miscalculation that Jesse makes is his assumption that he's disposable to Todd.
    • He dumps the RV's water supply to put out a fire while stranded in the desert.
    • Another time he impulsively goes after the RV to hide it, and inadvertently leads Hank to it.
  • Dirty Business: Killing Gale. It was the only way to save himself and Walt from being killed by Gus.
  • Distressed Dude: Often needs saving by Walt throughout the series. Specifically from Krazy-8 and Emilio in the Pilot, from Gus' henchmen at the end of Season 4, and after being captured by Uncle Jack's Nazi gang.
  • The Dog Bites Back:
    • After being kicked out of his house and disowned by his parents in season 2, he blackmails them with his own methlab in the basement (which they did not disclose existed when attempting to sell) to buy it back at less than half the price, including the 400k they just spent renovating it for said sale.
    • He does it again in the second half of season 5, this time to Walt. In the finale, he does this to Todd.
  • The Dragon: Is this to Walt. It is only due to him that Walt expanded his cookery to ordinary streets to men like Tuco and Gus. Also he murdered Gale securing Walt and himself. His usefulness to Walt has gotten to the point where he is a crucial part of his meth operation. Such as when he comes up with an idea on how to erase the security footage of them burning down the lab with a magnet or when he figures out a way to rob the methylamine train without anyone knowing. This ends in "Confessions" for good.
  • Dramatic Irony: He left the meth business earlier than Walt and aides in his temporary capture. He technically becomes Heisenberg when he is the only person who can successfully cook Blue Sky, and he played a major role in the meth business after Walt being outed as Heisenberg.
  • Driven to Villainy: He was a low level street dealer at first, but he was only involved with Walt because Walt blackmailed him into working together.
  • Dumbass No More: At the beginning of the series, Jesse comes across as a man who is both poorly educated and prone to making really bad decisions, with Walt often considering him The Load. By the time of Season 5A, he's evolved enough that he operates as an equal partner to both Walt and Mike, offering two different clever plans that (at least on paper) provided solutions to pressing problems they were facing.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After all the crap he goes through, the series ends with him finally free from the meth business. Word of God states that after he left the compound, he managed to escape to Alaska, get clean, and open a wood shop.
  • Enemy Mine: With Hank as of "Rabid Dog". The two clearly struggle to get along, but their mutual hatred of Walter White manages to keep them working together.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • He is established as being book dumb, but even he is disappointed to see that Skinny Pete can't spell 'street' correctly.
    • He's disturbed when he sees how much Spooge and his wife neglect their son.
    • He refuses to sell meth to Andrea after finding out that she has a young son.
    • After Todd kills a kid in season 5, he decides he can't live with all the bodies he and Walt have left in their wake and desperately wants out of the business, eventually deciding that he doesn't even care if Walt gives him his fair share of the money.
  • Extreme Doormat: Despite the machismo Jesse attempts to project, this is ultimately his dynamic with Walt. It goes hand and hand with Jesse also suffering Desperately Craves Affection. Despite his life spiraling out of control frequently throughout the series, one way or another Jesse always finds his way continuing to work under Walt and finds himself struggling to resist getting out of the meth business. Mike even plainly tells him that Walt will drag him down with him if he doesn't finally call it quits.
    • Taken to extreme and disturbingly literal level when he was imprisoned and enslaved by the Neo-Nazi gang. His prison was a cage underground cover by a taff. He was literally walked over by them.
  • Face Realization: It pretty much speaks for itself that Jesse isn't the "bad guy" he thought he was because he breaks down over killing Gale, yet he is still being emotionally exploited into doing it.
  • Fatal Flaw: His impulsiveness is the most prominent one earlier on, and it leads to a lot of trouble for Walt and him. However, in later seasons, that quality was downplayed and replaced with his desire for approval and his perpetual self-loathing.
    • Back with a vengeance in "Granite State" when he tries to escape from Todd and the Aryans despite knowing what the consequences might be for Andrea and Brock. Granted, his situation was pretty dire and probably was taking a toll on his ability to reason.
  • Fate Worse than Death: As of "Ozymandias," he was sold into slavery by his former partner, with the knowledge that said partner let Jesse's girlfriend die, tortured and made to cook meth, with his current girlfriend and her son's lives hanging in the balance, depending on his cooperation, and his life may already be forfeit, even if he cooperates.
    • In fact, Aaron Paul explicitly calls it this trope name in the behind the scenes of "Ozymandias".
  • Foil:
    • To Walt. Their emotional arcs over the course of the series have run pretty much parallel, with Jesse starting out as a seemingly callous criminal to Walt's kindhearted milquetoast everyman. As Walt has sunk lower and lower into moral decay, Jesse has become more and more troubled by his criminal dealings and how they can affect those around him. Examine how Jesse breaks things off with Andrea instead of letting her know more about what he does for a living to protect her, right around the time Skyler becomes basically Walt's prisoner and the subject of many a Kick the Dog moment because he refuses to believe he is a danger to her or the kids.
    • In the last season of the show, they introduce Todd, who can basically be seen as the "Anti-Jesse." Whereas Jesse first looks like a hardened, back-stabbing thug, it's revealed slowly he has a soft heart and isn't as bad as anyone thought he was (including himself). Todd at first glance is a perfectly normal, boring guy but is quickly revealed to be a sociopath who in spite of his friendly, casual demeanor sees nothing wrong with murdering the people around him. Jesse's Berserk Button is kids being hurt or killed, but Todd's Establishing Character Moment was when he casually shot a little boy in the chest.
  • Friend to All Children: Jesse adores children, and harming one is a very good way to send him into a murderous rage.
  • Forced to Watch: While tied up in a car by Jack's men, he watches Todd murder Andrea on her doorstep.
  • Functional Addict: Complete with a downward spiral into heroin addiction, rehab, and then later getting back on the meth. He stops using again once he starts working with Mike, in part because Gus wants him to stay clean. However, he does snort meth in order to psyche himself up into trying to burn down Walt's house.
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    G-L 
  • Gaining the Will to Kill: Jesse learns firsthand how difficult it is to plan and execute a murder. He becomes very reckless attempting to kill the two drug dealers who murdered Tomas at the expense of the partnership with Gus and his own safety. Once he has to shoot Gale, for his and Walt's benefit, he has an emotional breakdown and spends much of the next season in a Heroic BSoD.
  • Getting High on Their Own Supply: Starting off, Jesse is shown being just as fond of smoking meth as he is of making money off of it. He eventually stops and gets himself clean around the end of Season 2 and the beginning of Season 3 after Jane's overdose on heroin.
  • Greed: Usually averted, but played straight in one instance, where he attempted to sell meth to recovering addicts with Badger and Skinny Pete because he felt like he wasn't making enough money, even though he was a millionaire.
  • Guilt Complex: Granted, a good amount of things are his fault, but Jesse has a self-destructive tendency to blame himself for practically everything, even if he isn't the one who deserves the majority of the blame. This tendency manifests itself in a big way on three separate occasions: He believes that Jane's death, along with the Wayfarer plane crash, is entirely his fault, and doesn't quite get over his guilt until meeting Brock. Later on, he breaks down in tears and berates himself over the fact that he nearly killed Walt after correctly suspecting him of poisoning Brock. And finally his reaction to the deaths of Drew Sharp and Mike are so extreme that he makes a naive attempt at giving away his money in order to gain a sense of absolution.
    • In a series littered with people willing to pull Never My Fault, that Jesse's default is "Always/Likely My Fault" is a notable inversion. However, if he can find instances where it wasn't his fault and can clearly see where else the fault lies... cue Roaring Rampage of Revenge as he turns that churning, well-oiled guilt complex into explosive anger instead.
  • Heel–Face Turn: His redemption over the course of the series is a direct contrast to Walt's gradual turn to the dark side.
  • Heel Realization: In the season 3 premiere. Subverted by the end of the season, it comes back in full force in season 5's "Say My Name".
    Jesse: I'm the bad guy.
  • Heroic BSoD: Poor Jesse. He's hit more than a few low points in his life:
    • He can barely talk in "ABQ" after waking up next to Jane's dead body.
    • In the season 4 premiere, he has one after killing Gale; he's so shocked at what he's done that he can't even seem to drive away from the apartment complex. Afterwards, he sits in stunned silence for most of the episode. This particular BSOD is so bad that Jesse essentially stops caring about what happens to himself, and Gus has to employ him in order to snap him out of it.
    • The opening of "Buried". After tossing money that he and Walt earned cooking meth to a poor neighborhood, Jesse crashed into a swingset, got out of the car, and just rested on the merry-go-round. He didn't say a word the entire episode.
    • In "Felina", Jesse's practically a walking BSOD until Walt shows up.
  • Hidden Depths: Is surprisingly kindhearted and smarter than most people give him credit for. He sounds like an idiot when he talks, but that's just vocabulary.
  • Honor Before Reason: A recurring problem, especially in later episodes, is that Jesse attempts to do the right thing without fully thinking it through. In "Blood Money", for example, he plans to leave half his five million to Mike's granddaughter, but Saul points out that with Mike being investigated, that much money would raise suspicion no matter how he tries to get it to her, and if Jesse just leaves a sack of millions on a doorstep, it will be even more suspicious.
  • Hope Spot:
    • In "Confessions", it looks like he's finally going to get a new life with a whole new identity... then he realizes that Walt was the one who poisoned Brock.
    • In "To'hajiilee", Jesse becomes increasingly elated when it seems Walt is about to be arrested and his ordeal is about to end. By the end of the next episode, "Ozymandias", Jesse is betrayed to Jack's crew by Walt, is told point blank by Walt about how he let Jane die, is chucked into a pit and tortured by Todd, and is Made a Slave in a superlab that looks like it came out of an Eli Roth movie.
  • Idiot Ball: While Jesse demonstrates enough competence and has some genuinely good plans to avoid being The Load, he is prone to making foolish, often hasty decisions, that have disastrous consequences. These include not listening to Walt about how to dispose of Emilio's body, stranding the RV in the desert by leaving the keys in the ignition, and protesting Gus's other dealers using kids to conduct business, almost causing his own death, then Walt's, with the fallout. In Season 5, his taunting phone call to Walt pushes Walt to finally order Jack to kill Jesse.
  • The Igor: Lab assistant, general errand-runner... and, Butt-Monkey. Yup: he's an Igor without a hunchback.
  • I Have No Son!:
    • His parents all but disown him after he gets into drugs, evicting him from his aunt's house in Season 2.
    • Walt's icily cruel rejection/condemnation of him in "Ozymandias" definitely has shades of this trope.
  • I Let Gwen Stacy Die: How he feels about Jane's death. It takes him the better part of season 3 to get over his guilt.
  • Imagine Spot: A heart-wrenching one near the end of season 5: Jesse imagined making and polishing a wooden box while being chained to a dog run and forced to cook Blue Sky. As making the box was his most precious memory in primary school, this showed how much he had regressed mentally and also provided a cruel Yank The Dog Chain when he was literally yanked back to reality.
  • Important Haircut: Crops his hair early on during season 4 after killing Gale.
  • Informed Attribute: Described as 180cm in "Crawl Space." Aaron Paul is around 172cm.
  • Innocent Blue Eyes: Jesse would definitely qualify as this, with his large, expressive, and puppy-like blue eyes. Given his woobie characteristics they're often front and center too.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Obviously him and Walt. Develops a bit of one with Mike in season 4, after Gus partners them up. Possibly him and Brock, too.
  • I Owe You My Life: Got his life saved at least a few times by Walt, who doesn't hesitate to use that fact to blackmail Jesse emotionally.
  • I Shall Taunt You: To Walt in "To'hajiilee" in order to uncover the location of his money.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Loud, abrasive, obnoxious at times, and also one of the most loyal and warm-hearted people in the series, although it takes time to be shown.
  • Kick the Dog: Not as frequently as Walt does, but he does more than his fair share of morally reprehensible things over the show's five seasons, the most notable being his attempt to peddle meth to a support group of recovering addicts. Granted, he doesn't get far in his attempt before he gives up on it, but the fact that he even attempted it qualifies as nothing less but this.
  • Last-Name Basis: Even though they go through a lot together, Jesse still calls Walt "Mr. White", as if Walt was still his teacher. Until the end of "To'hajiilee".
  • Love Interests: Jane in season 2, and Andrea in season 3 and after.

    M-R 
  • Made a Slave: Jesse is taken by Jack's crew to cook meth for their operation because of Todd in "Ozymandias".
  • Manchild: Jesse is a twenty-something slacker who still acts like a stereotypical teenage rebel; what with his irreverent attitude, poor history of educational performance, fondness of hip-hop culture, and the fact that he chooses to both sell and use drugs all day long (instead of getting a real job); all despite his background as being part of a suburban white upper-middle-class family. Jesse's immaturity was especially apparent early on in the show, though he matures significantly over the course of the series, ironically because he's forced to realize what becoming a criminal thug has done to his life. At any rate, despite being the younger one and less intelligent of the two, Jesse eventually ends up acting less immature than Walt does.
  • The Millstone: He was often this in the first three seasons, but he grows out of it in seasons 4 and 5.
    • He ignored Walt's advice about buying a plastic tub to dissolve Emilio's body in.
    • When trying to kill Tuco with the poisoned meth, he advertises it as having chili powder. Tuco hates chili powder, and because of Jesse, doesn't take the meth.
    • He leaves the keys in the ignition in "4 days out," and unknowingly leads Hank to the RV in "Sunset."
  • Minion with an F in Evil: To Walt's Villain Protagonist. He's far less ruthless than him, and he has far more of a conscience and empathy for other people. He's shown many times to be too soft and innocent for the criminal world.
  • Mirthless Laughter: Starts laughing hysterically and joyously out of relief, while also crying tears of joy, as he drives away at top speed out of the Neo-Nazi compound towards the end of "Felina".
  • Morality Pet: To Walt. For all the abuse and belittlement that Walt directs at Jesse, he does truly care for him, as evidenced by the face that Walt has saved Jesse's life on multiple occasions, sometimes against his own best interests. It gets to the point that he refuses to even consider killing him until Pinkman outright declares himself to be his enemy.
  • Mr. Fanservice: It's pretty undeniable, actually. This is especially telling since AMC and Vince himself were, at first, reluctant to hire Aaron Paul for the part since they found him too attractive.
  • Must Make Amends: In "Blood Money", he tries to give his money to the parents of Drew Sharp, the boy Todd killed, and to Mike's granddaughter. His attempts get shot down.
  • Never Hurt an Innocent: Jesse is all about this trope more so than any other criminal character is concerned. He decides to quit the meth business when a random boy named Drew Sharp is murdered during an operation, having had enough of the bloodshed.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: He goes against Hank's plan to meet Walt whilst wearing a wire and under DEA surveillance and instead opts to lure Walt by tricking him into believing that he found the money and is burning it. While Jesse's plan indeed works, it gives Walt enough time to call the Aryans to arrive and "save" the day — this ends up with Hank and Gomez dead, and Jesse as a prisoner.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: To Saul in "Confessions", once he finds out that Walt poisoned Brock and that Saul and Huell were complicit in the plot.
  • Odd Friendship: With Mike. Especially since Mike was the one pushing Walter to kill him in "Half Measures".
  • Parental Substitute: To Brock. Even after he breaks things off with Andrea, he still provides for them financially.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Justified when he strangles Todd after the gunfire stops.
  • Perma-Stubble: From season 4 onward. By Season 5B, it's grown into a full beard.
  • Pet the Dog: His soft spot for children is shown early on when he takes the heat after his parents find a joint that belonged to his kid brother. He then gets rid of the brother's joint, encouraging him not to follow in his footsteps.
  • Plot Device: He has shades of being one during the early seasons when his oftentimes moronic actions get him and Walter into completely unnecessary trouble, thus creating drama that keeps the plot going. Walt most definitely was in over his head at least as much as Jesse was when they started out together, but most of Walt's plans would've gone much smoother, possibly to the point of removing all suspense, if Jesse hadn't been around to screw it up one way or another.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: He provides a good deal of the comic relief early on... it doesn't last.
  • Poisonous Friend: Skyler initially confuses him as being a Toxic Friend Influence for Walter, with quite some cause. And, ordinarily, you'd agree that an impulsive drug dealer who constantly needs his bacon saved by "more reasonable" adults would count in most people's books. Nope, sorry, not that simple: predominantly, it's the other way around. Jesse may enable Walt, but Walt outright manipulates and uses him and his relationships with others in return. Repeatedly. However, it's played rather straighter (if unintentionally) with others, like Jane: he did influence her rather... negatively during one of his downward spirals and got her off the wagon she'd been successfully on (although Walt's insistence on expanding to foreign territory lead Jesse into depression, and by extension, drug use). Badger and Skinny Pete also found bumps put in their paths thanks to the same basic issue. Jesse doesn't go out to be a negative influence for others. It just kind of happens, thanks to his problems, lapses of concentration, and inability to fully think things through biting him and those around him in every way imaginable.
  • Pretty Fly for a White Guy: Most prevalent during the first two seasons, after that point his vernacular becomes more erudite, though he still makes liberal use of "yo" and "bitch".
  • A Real Man Is a Killer: A Subverted Trope. There are plenty of people that Jesse wants to kill throughout the first three seasons, and his reasons are at least noble in a macho, street honor sense. Nevertheless, he doesn't actually get to end a life until the very end of Season 3, when he kills Gale. Jesse does not issue a Pre-Mortem One-Liner and obviously doesn't want to pull the trigger, weeping uncontrollably right before he does. Not to mention that the event appears to completely shatter him, and for the entire episode afterward, Jesse barely speaks because he's still in shock.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: One wouldn't describe Jesse as being particularly feminine, but underneath his loud and tough exterior lie his two biggest passions: caring, familial relationships... and arts-and-crafts. Neither of which are typically considered "manly". In his childhood room he has lots of failed homework assignments covered in amazing drawings and doodles. Incidentally, he is also considered decidedly the unfavorite of the family; meanwhile, to throw this into relief, his younger brother is beloved by their parents for his interests in sports and academia. In Granite State, the neonazis laugh and mock him for crying while recounting all the horrible things he's witnessed. Both of Jesse's love interests in the show allowed him to channel his artistic or domestic side, which Walt repeatedly tries to stamp out to prevent him from wanting to leave the drug life.
  • Redemption Earns Life: He has his Heel Realization earlier than Walter, and has since wanted to get out of the meth business. He's the one who makes it out alive at the end of the series.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: He can be either depending on the relationship, as he acts as the blue to Badger and Skinny Pete's red and the red to Walt's blue.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: After he realizes that Walt actually did poison Brock, he completely loses it.

    S-Y 
  • Sad Clown: Becomes especially apparent in later seasons.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: He decides to leave the meth business despite Walter persistently trying to persuade him otherwise and refusing to give him his share of the money nearing 5 million dollars. Later, after Walter gave Jesse his money, Jesse decides he doesn't want his "blood money". He first tries to have it sent to Mike's granddaughter and Drew Sharp's parents, but Saul and Walt refuse to arrange this, so Jesse starts driving down a poor neighbourhood and tossing his money away.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Sensitive Guy to Walt's Manly Man. While Jesse isn't effeminate, he possesses significantly more compassion and empathy than the cold and calculating Walt, and has no problem showing his emotions and crying openly.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: All together now: Bitch!
  • Sole Survivor: After Walt's death, he becomes the only living person who knows how to cook blue meth, and one of the 2 survivors of Gus's empire, the other being Dr Barry Goodman.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: "It's messed up, yo. It's Kafkaesque."
  • Spiteful Spit: He gives a big one to Walt's face while Walt is being arrested by Hank and was just accused of being a coward. Walt pays him back, in a much worse way.
  • Spotting the Thread: Jesse might often want to blot the world out, but that doesn't mean he completely manages to. As he deliberately points out to Mike, once.
    Jesse: You ain't gonna smoke that dude in there. You know how I know? 'cause you went to the trouble of putting a blindfold on him.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Jesse's friends are dumb. Really dumb. Much of it seems to stem from their constant drug abuse, but that doesn't change the fact he has to explain even the simplest things to them, and even then they have a tendency to screw up big-time. That Jesse himself isn't the brightest bulb in the chandelier when it comes to making useful plans doesn't exactly help.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: His Tears of Remorse and Heroic BSoD afterwards make him just as tragic and sympathetic as Gale.
  • Tears of Joy: Sheds them once he finally escapes Jack's white supremacist gang's compound, and by extension, the meth business itself.
  • Tender Tears: Jesse probably cries more than any character in the series. Most of the time it's after a traumatic event, or out of self-loathing.
  • These Hands Have Killed: After he kills Gale, he spends his time alone in his car.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: As a Juggalo without the makeup who prefers the formal term for female dog, Jesse likes to adds "bitch" to the end of every insult.
    Jesse: This is my own private domicile and I will not be harassed... bitch!
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Played straight and subverted. He started as a common, immature street thug. Now he's a top-notch meth cook, who's killed two people. Neither of these things bring him anything but misery.
    • There's also the fact that he seems to have become a lot smarter since the start of the show. During the earlier seasons, his impulsiveness made him a liability to Walt. By season 5, however, he's become a vital part of Walt's operation, and even comes up with plans on how to cover their tracks and to steal methylamine. Later, he comes up with a plan to help Hank arrest Walt by finding his money.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: He is the one who drove Badger and Skinny Pete back to drugs.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Funyuns.
  • Tragic Villain: He's been forced to do things that have convinced him he'll never be able to leave the drug trade. Made worse by the fact that Walt blackmailed him into the heavier stuff.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Hoo Boy. Practically every character goes through their fair share of trauma, but since Jesse partnered up with Walt, his life seems to have been one misfortune after the other. Let's recap, shall we?
    1. Gets kidnapped, and held at gunpoint by Emilio and Krazy-8, and also sustains a pretty serious black eye in the process, courtesy of Emilio.
    2. After attempting to negotiate a deal with Tuco, at the behest of Walt, he's beaten severely.
    3. Not much later, Tuco kidnaps him and Walt, and makes them sit in the trunk of a small car for at least a few hours. Then he beats up Jesse again and very nearly shoots him in the head.
    4. After Tuco is killed by Hank, the D.E.A seizes Jesse's money.
    5. His family essentially disowns him and cuts off all communication with him. They also kick him out of his house after discovering a meth lab in the basement, leaving him temporarily homeless.
    6. He's later left at the mercy of two drug addicts after he attempted to reclaim the money that was stolen from his friend and distributor. During this time, he witnesses Spooge's wife crush her husband's head with an ATM. That had to give him nightmares for a while.
    7. Enters a hard drug bender after his friend Combo is killed. This leads Jesse to eventually become a heroin addict, and he ends up getting Jane to relapse as well.
    8. Falls into a state of total despair after Jane dies.
    9. Is screwed over by Walt when the latter steals his position as Gus's presumptive cook, simply because Walt's ego didn't like the fact that Jesse was able to reproduce his formula.
    10. When Walt and Jesse have Saul's secretary make a phone call to distract Hank while they get rid of the RV, Hank is so enraged that he beats Jesse senseless.
    11. Learns that his new girlfriend, Andrea, has a very young brother, Tomas, who killed Combo on orders, and concocts a scheme to kill the masterminds behind the shooting, only to have Tomas get killed.
    12. Goes through a period of completely shutting down after killing Gale, that he only gets out of once Gus starts trying to groom him into Walt's replacement. During this period, he also has a fairly major falling out with Walt.
    13. His girlfriend's son, Brock is poisoned, leading for him to correctly suspect Walt of the crime, and comes incredibly close to killing him. After the fact, he feels completely torn up by guilt over doing so (since Walt tricked him into thinking his suspicions were wrong).
    14. Is forced to break up with his girlfriend, because he feels that he's a danger to her.
    15. Sees Drew Sharp get killed by Todd.
    16. Gets shot down by Saul and Walt when he tries to make amends to Drew Sharp's parents and Kaylee Ehrmentraut because it would raise more questions than help them.
    17. Just when he's about to assume a new identity and start a new life, he finds out that it was Walt who poisoned Brock.
    18. Right before Jack's crew take him away, Walter delivers one final Kick the Dog by telling him that he saw and let Jane die.
    19. Kidnapped, tortured, and imprisoned by Todd so he can teach him to cook Walt's formula and tell him everything he told Hank, and it's probable that they'll shoot him after he's no longer needed. There's also the implicit threat that Andrea and Brock will be shot if he tries to resist.
    20. After his attempted escape from captivity fails, he is tied up and forced to watch as Andrea is shot. And Jack reminds him that they will shoot Brock if he escapes or disobeys the gang again.
    21. And as a result he proceeds to spend the next 5 months or so as their meth cooking slave with his hair grown out and his spirit, once again, broken.
  • Troubled, but Cute: He's had his fair share of problems and is rather attractive; he makes at least two girlfriends during the show who seem to have this opinion of him.
  • Undying Loyalty: Deconstructed and subverted by the end. Walt vouches for Jesse that he has this early in the show. Mike even lampshades this when he describes this as Jesse's best quality. As the series continues, Jesse's relationship with Walt evolves from a strained — having been forced to work with him — to a trusting one, believing they have survived by having each other's safety in mind while forming a cooperative business. In the 5th season, Jesse gives Walter a watch for his birthday and he shares personal feelings with him at that time. By the end of the first half of Season 5, it's finally subverted when Jesse becomes terrified of him learning he killed 10 witnesses in prison and most certainly, Mike. And when he figures out that Walt poisoned Brock, well... it's not pleasant to say the least. Jesse is taken in by Hank to help arrest Walt, and Jesse cooperates fully. After Walt saves Jesse from Jack and hands him a gun, Jesse isn't willing to do what he desires anymore and leaves.
  • The Unfavorite: His drug abuse and failing grades in high school have greatly strained the relationship between himself and his parents. As a result, Jesse believes that they love his younger brother more than they love him.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Especially when he assaults Saul's office.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: In Season 3, Jesse protests Gus's dealers using kids as fronts to conduct business safely. This directly and ultimately leads to Walt and Gus turning on each other, Walt killing Gus, the destruction of Gus's drug empire, and the rise of Heisenberg's empire in the power vacuum. In ways he couldn't possibly have foreseen, the entire second half of the series comes about as a result of Jesse's complaint.
  • Unwitting Pawn: As season 4 goes on, it's clear that Jesse's loyalty is the most important thing to earn for both Walt and Gus. Gus has Jesse accompany Mike on runs and sets up a Big Damn Heroes moment for Jesse in order to win his trust, the ultimate plan being for Jesse to help him take down the cartel and then take over the lab from Walt. Walt attempts to manipulate Jesse to murder Gus as Jesse gains more acceptance within Gus's organization. In the end, Walt is the one who is able to turn him against Gus by convincing him Gus poisoned Brock in an attempt to have Jesse murder Walter. When in fact Walter orchestrated everything in his plan to kill Gus. Jesse continued as an Unwitting Pawn in the next season, until he learns Walter actually poisoned Brock.
  • Vanity License Plate: The Capn. Jesse, ironically, spends much of the series being driven around by others with a hangdog look on his face. Until the end.
  • Verbal Tic: He tends to say "yo" and "bitch" a lot.
  • Villain Protagonist: Despite his softer side being shown more often as the series progresses, Jesse remains in the criminal world and continues to produce meth with Walt, along with eventually being forced to murder a relatively innocent person. Until "Say My Name", where Jesse's conscience can't take anymore with the death of Drew Sharpe and he finally leaves the business, even without his severance pay. By the time of "Blood Money", he's become The Atoner.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Throughout the series, it's clear that Jesse desperately wants Walt's approval:
    • Even after Walt's actions lead to Jesse getting hospitalized by Hank and even after Jesse emphatically tells Walt that his life has been ruined since partnering up with him, Walt is able to get Jesse to work with him again by simply complimenting his meth.
    • It's so bad that Walt is able to play him like a fiddle with simple words of approval in season 5.
    • Walt is able to win him over briefly yet again in "Confessions" by giving him a Cooldown Hug... but just for the brief period until he finally figures out exactly what happened to Brock, destroying whatever was left of their father-son relationship presumably forever.
  • Why Are You Not My Son?: Downplayed in that Jesse is clearly a waster in a lot of areas in his life, and he's not Flynn's friend, but a few incidents make it clear that Walt prefers Jesse and is closer to him. Especially when Walt calls Flynn "Jesse" in "Salud", breaking his heart.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Jesse has always had a general-purpose chip on his shoulder since the beginning of the show. So, it's no surprise that when he feels like it, he can pull this number, even if he doesn't have the grandest of worlds to destroy. It'd be a case of The Dog Bites Back, but... you really need to put him in the woobiest spot imaginable before he does attack. But, dear Lord... when he snaps, he snaps hard (and, a lot of it is inwards, just causing more pain to snap with, later)! And, it rarely bodes well for him or those around him, let alone the target of his rage. Anger him enough, and you can see his common sense and sense of self-preservation vacate the building as he goes berserker.
  • You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious:
    • The first time Jesse calls Walt on his first name is in "Breakage" (till then he'd always been "Mr. White") when he's telling Walt that Walt needs him more than he needs Walt. It's a clear message that the balance of power has shifted in their relationship.
    • He does it again in "To'hajiilee", showing that he has absolutely no respect for Walt anymore.

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