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What's the point of being an outlaw when you got responsibilities?
~ Jesse Pinkman

Jesse Bruce Pinkman is the deuteragonist in the television series Breaking Bad as well as the main protagonist in the film El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie. He is a meth dealer and served as Walter White's partner.

He was portrayed by Aaron Paul. Paul has been widely praised for his performance, winning two Emmy awards. The character has been praised for the parallel development to Walter, where Walter gets more dangerous and violent, Jesse becomes more troubled and sympathetic.

Biography

Past

Jesse Bruce Pinkman was born in September 1984 into an upper middle-class family in Albuquerque, New Mexico. At the time the series starts, he has long been estranged from his parents due to his drug abuse and lifestyle. After being forced to leave his parents' residence, Jesse moved in with his Aunt Jenny, whom he cared for until her death from cancer; afterwards, he was allowed to stay in her home, whose ownership fell to Jesse's parents. Jesse was a poor student in high school, largely due to his inattention and apathy.

Walter White, who Jesse almost always calls "Mr. White," was his chemistry teacher, and flunked him in his class. Walt himself later tells Jesse that he "never thought much" of him, although his mother recalled that Walt "must have seen some potential in Jesse, he really tried to motivate him. He was one of the few teachers who cared". Pinkman would later deliver on that potential, producing a product on his own which Walt begrudgingly concedes is as good as what Walt himself produced and superior to that which was produced by Gale Boetticher who held an advanced degree in chemistry.

Season 1

On the day that Walter White accompanied his brother-in-law Hank Schrader from the DEA to bust down a meth lab, Walt noticed Jesse running away from the crime scene, realizing that he is the meth cook known as Captain Cook. Walt uses student records at his high school to track down Jesse and blackmailed him to helping him get into the meth business, as he needed a way to pay for his expensive lung cancer surgery, which his two jobs couldn't cover due to horrible wages. Walt would use his knowledge in chemistry to cook a potent form of crystal meth while Jesse would sell it across Albuquerque, but first they needed a place to cook it. Walt gave Jesse $7,000 to acquire a base where they would cook meth, but Jesse wasted most of the money at a strip club, but he was given an RV by Christian "Combo" Ortega for $1,400. On the first day of Walt being in the business, Jesse found himself impressed with the quality of the meth, calling it the purest he'd ever seen in his life. Realizing they needed a buyer, Jesse met with Krazy 8, a local dealer, to do business with him; however, Krazy 8 is actually a DEA informant who is confused at the prospect. When Krazy 8 and his partner Emilio meet the two in the New Mexico desert, Emilio recognizes Walt's face from the previous DEA bust. They attempt to kill Walt, but he produces phosphine gas that kills Emilio and renders Krazy 8 unable to stop Walt and the unconscious Jesse from escaping. Jesse is tasked with disposing of Emilio's body by dissolving it in into hydrofluoric acid, only for Jesse to perform the action in a non-acid-resistant bath tub, burning a hole through the bathroom and landing the remains of Emilio's body into the downstairs hallway.

After they cleaned up the mess and got rid of Krazy 8, Walt and Jesse are left with no choice but to sell their meth on their own. They eventually move the meth lab from the RV into Jesse's house's basement. Their business becomes a high-priority target for Hank, previously mentioned as a DEA agent. Jesse eventually feels that they aren't making enough money, so he gets help from fellow dealer Skinny Pete to negotiate with Tuco Salamanca, a big-time drug kingpin operating in the area; however, in the same way that the meeting with Krazy 8 went, Jesse ended up being beaten and put in the hospital, so Walt (now known as "Heisenberg") "talks" Tuco into distributing their meth and letting them share their profits and gets $50,000 as compensation for attempting to kill Jesse. To make their business easier to work, Walt and Jesse steal a truck full of methylamine, so now they are able to produce meth in larger quantities and at a greater speed.

Season 2

Walt and Jesse deliver a large amount of meth to Tuco, but get worried when they see him beat his henchman "No Doze" to death. After the DEA raid Tuco's operation, Tuco gets paranoid and believes that Walt and Jesse are about to sell him out to the DEA, so he kidnaps them both and put them in a remote house in the New Mexico desert with his paralyzed uncle Hector Salamanca. They are held there for several days until Tuco takes them to a "superlab" he owns in Mexico; as luck would have it, they manage to escape from Tuco in the nick of time. They watch Hank, who was searching for the missing Walt, arrive at the scene to ultimately kill Tuco, meaning that Walt and Jesse don't have to worry about him ever again. While walking through the desert to find a way back to civilization, Jesse's car and money is taken by the DEA. However, his luck had yet to run out; after moving the meth lab back to the RV, it is towed and Jesse pays $500 as part of a $1,000 recovery fine. Even worse, Jesse's parents discovered that he had been cooking meth in their basement and kick him out of his house and now, he had nowhere to go. The rest of his belongings AND his bike are stolen. This pushes Jesse to change his bad luck streak by breaking into the towing impound and steal back the RV, but passes out in the RV. Upon waking up, he buys a Toyota Tercel and rents an apartment, eventually starting a romantic relationship with landlord Jane Margolis, a part-time tattoo artist and recovering addict.

Skinny Pete is robbed by a group of married addicts, thus leading Jesse to get justice done. He confronts the addicts at their house and is traumatized when he sees the wife kill the husband-he later calls the cops so they can take care of their child. The husband's death also helps his business, as rumors spread claiming he killed the addict and got people of the drug world to fear him, changing his bad luck streak the other way around. He later assists Walt's corrupt lawyer Saul Goodman launder large amounts of money and stay away from getting busted. Assistant dealer Combo is killed by rival dealers, leading Jesse to stop his depression by doing heroin with Jane. This behavior almost cost Walter, still cooking meth without Jesse, $1,200,000 worth of meth that would later be sold to Gus Fring, a powerful kingpin and head of the Los Pollos chicken restaurant franchise. Walt refuses to give Jesse his share until he goes to rehab and fix himself; however, Jane found out about the money and blackmailed Walt into giving them Jesse's share early so they can escape to New Zealand. Walt, perceiving Jane to be an enemy, breaks into Jesse's apartment while he and Jane are getting high there and rolls Jane on her back, causing her to choke on her vomit in her sleep. To further show how evil Walt is becoming, he simply sits there, doing nothing to save Jane from her death. Jesse doesn't know what happened and is put into rehab after rescuing him from a crack house.

Season 3

While in rehab, Jesse learns about Jane's father being so depressed after her death that he, as an air traffic controller, accidentally drove two planes into each other while they were in the air, raining debris and bodies upon Albuquerque. He leaves rehab clean and sober and tells Walt that he knows himself to be the "bad guy". Jesse and Saul convince Jesse's parents to sell him his aunt's house at a drastically-reduced price; however, Hank was now onto them, as he has now deduced that Jesse's RV is a meth lab, so he tracks it down to a local junkyard. Walt and Saul fake an emergency phone call that claimed Hank's wife was in the hospital, giving Walt the time to destroy the RV and protect the operation. Upon finding out that he's been tricked, Hank beats Jesse until he loses consciousness, which leads to Hank being temporarily-suspended from the DEA. When Jesse wakes up in the hospital, Walt talks Jesse into helping him in the "superlab" that Gus has given him now that he works for him. He becomes romantically-involved with Andrea Cantillo, a single-mother who was in rehab at the same time he was, and discovers that his 11-year-old brother Tomas killed Combo on behalf of Gus, who is now Jesse and Walt's employer. Jesse plots revenge by killing the dealers Tomas met with ricin, but is forced to stop when he discovers that the dealers work for Gus.

Tomas is found dead, so Jesse decides to kill the same dealers. Walt intervenes at the last minute and kills the dealers, ordering Jesse to run. Jesse goes into hiding, thus forcing Gus to replace Jesse with his minion Gale, who is plotting to replicate Walt's meth recipe so that he is no longer needed. Walt discovered the plot and convinces Jesse to kill Gale, which he does after a moment's hesitation at Gale's apartment.

Season 4

Jesse and Walt return to Gus' superlab to keep on cooking their special product, where they witness Gus kill henchman Victor with a box cutter. Jesse sets up a perpetual rave at his house and also slips a large amount of money into Andrea's mailbox and urges her to leave town as quick as possible. He also starts stealing meth from the superlab, which he would disperse at his late-night parties. Gus' henchman Mike Ehrumantraut sends Jesse to collect drop money, which he does. At the last pickup location, Jesse sees a man approach the car with a shotgun in hand, so he rams the car into the other guy's and drives away, but is informed that the guy was also working for Gus and it was a test that Jesse passed with flying colors. Walt realizes that Gus is trying to damage his relationship with Jesse, but Jesse dismisses this claim. He accompanies Mike on another job to retrieve some stolen product from two addicts, fixating one of the addicts on digging a hole and easily-disarming the other, which Gus found impressive. Jesse then resumes his relationship with Andrea and becomes a father figure to her son Brock.

Walt tells Jesse of a plot to kill Gus with ricin, which Jesse hides in a cigarette. He goes to a meeting between Gus and some third-party dealers and thinks about putting the ricin into some coffee, but realizes that this would also kill the third-party dealers present. Walt pushes Jesse to meet Gus and kill him, but then discovers that Hank (now back on the DEA) is investigating Gus, which would also lead him to them; in response, Jesse lies about not meeting Gus via text message. Walt puts a tracking device on Jesse's car and discovers that he had dinner with Gus at his house; enraged, the two engage in a fight, with Jesse coming on top, and orders Walt to never show up at his house again. Gus and Mike take Jesse to a meth lab in Mexico, where they want Jesse to replicate Walt's recipe. Gus finds Jesse's cooking skill impressive, so he attempts to hire him as a permanent cook. Gus kills the rival drug cartel's leaders with a bottle of poisoned tequila, thus leaving Jesse without pay from the cartel. Jesse saves Mike and Gus at the party and is hired as a full-time cook, but Jesse says he'll only accept if he doesn't kill Walt. Walt's wife Skyler seeks safety from him via the DEA and Gus uses this knowledge to talk Jesse into believing that Walt is planning to sell them out to the DEA.

Brock eventually falls ill, which Jesse assumes to have been caused by Walt poisoning him with ricin. He shows up at Walt's house and holds him gunpoint, but Walt tells him that Brock was poisoned by Gus, reminding him that Gus is extremely-willing to kill children if he feels he has to. Jesse tells Saul that Gus frequently visits the local retirement home to see Hector, which Saul and Walt think of as a way to finally kill Gus; they put a pipe bomb under Hector's wheelchair, thus leading to Gus and Hector getting killed by the bomb. Walt goes to the superlab to save Jesse, where he reveals that Brock was poisoned by Lily of the Valley berries and that Gus didn't poison him. The final scene of the season shows a potted Lily of the Valley plant in Walt's backyard, revealing that he poisoned Brock so that Jesse would be motivated to want to kill Gus.

Season 5

Part 1

Jesse, torn up about Brock, begins a search for the ricin cigarette that he tried to use on Gus. Walt and Jesse search the latter's house for the ricin, leading to Walt placing a fake cigarette in Jesse's vacuum cleaner and Jesse agreeing to continue cooking meth. After some trouble with their methylamine supplier (Lydia Rodarte-Quayle), Walt, Jesse and their partner Todd Alquist go to rob a train in the area containing 1,000 gallons of methylamine, which they could easily use to make more money in the drug business. During this, Todd kills a child who was watching the robbery, disturbing Jesse and making him want to quit the meth business. Walt refuses to give Jesse his $5,000,000 buyout, so Jesse says he doesn't care about money anymore and leaves; however, when Walt quits the business, he appears at Jesse's house and gives him his reward

Meanwhile, Hank comes across Gale's copy of Leaves of Grass and finds a hand-written note in it from Walt to Gale; this reveals to Hank after a year of searching that Walter White, his own brother-in-law, is Heisenberg.

Part 2

Jesse tries giving his $5,000,000 fortune away with Saul to help, but when he "can't", he tosses it through the streets. The APD arrests him and Hank interrogates him, asking questions regarding Heisenberg. When Jesse refuses to tell anything, Saul manages to bail him out of the room so that Walt can make the suggestion that Jesse should perhaps "skip town"; though Jesse was on-board for it, he soon discovers that Saul's bodyguard found the ricin cigarette he made such a big deal over. He goes to Saul's office and attacks him, demanding to know why this happened; Saul confessed that Walt poisoned Brock and gave the order to steal the ricin. Jesse goes to Walt's house and pours gasoline everywhere, but before he lights the match, Hank arrives and talks him to helping him out; since they both have beef with Walt, the only way to defeat him is together. Hank then allows Jesse into his house and gives him a wire tap so he can record his talk with Walt. At this meeting of sorts, Hank listens with his partner in a van, then Jesse sees that there is a suspicious man next to Walt. He then reaches a payphone and calls Walt, telling him that he will get him. Jesse tells Hank of a better way to defeat Walt; by messing with the massive fortune he had amassed during his time as a meth dealer. After Hank interrogates Saul's bodyguard, he deduces that all of Walt's money is in the desert, buried, waiting to be found.

Jesse then calls Walt and tells him that he has found his money; he'll burn every last bill if he doesn't show up fast. Given that neither Jesse nor Hank knew where it really is, they decided to follow Walt to the location via cell phone surveillance. Walt arrives at the location and, realizing that he tricked him, tells Todd's uncle Jack to get his crew together and kill Jesse, but calls it off when Hank and Gomez are foretold to come along and accepts defeat before Hank as he is arrested. Jack's crew arrives, erupting the area into a gunfight where Hank and Gomez abruptly die. Jesse hides under Walt's car, but Walt gives him away and watches Jack's gang take him away; before he is taken away, Walt confesses to Jesse that he let Jane die. At Todd's hideout, Jesse is assaulted by the gang until he reveals all he knows and is locked in a cell. He is then escorted - in chains - to a meth lab where he sees a photo of Andrea and Brock before being told he must cook. Jesse tries, in vain, to escape the gang and is taken to Andrea's house; Todd executes Andrea right before Jesse's eyes and threatens Brock if Jesse tries to escape again.

Months of slavery later, Jesse is escorted to Jack's compound in shackles to be faced by Walt; Walt tackles Jesse just as the M60 machine gun in his car peppers the compound in bullets, killing most of the gang. Todd and Jack are killed by the two when Walt calls Lydia and reveals that he poisoned her with ricin. Jesse sees that Walt has been wounded by one of the shots fired at the compound and forces him to admit to wanting to die. With Walt dying there, Jesse drives away from the compound as the police arrive to find Walt's dead body.

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie

In an opening flashback, Jesse Pinkman meets with Mike Ehrmantraut on the bank of a river and tells him that he has decided to leave the drug business. They ask each other what they plan to do with the money they have collected. Mike says that if he were Jesse's age, he would move to Alaska and start his life anew. Jesse says that he would try to "set things right", but Mike regretfully tells him that changing his past is the one thing he cannot do.

In the present, immediately after escaping Jack Welker's compound, Jesse speeds away in  Todd's El Camino. He is forced to hide in a driveway when he sees a line of police cars heading in his direction. Jesse then drives to Skinny Pete's  house, where Skinny Pete and Badger are playing a video game. Skinny Pete initially doesn't recognize Jesse due to his haggard appearance. The duo help Jesse hide the El Camino and give him food and a place to sleep.

The following day, Skinny Pete and Badger are watching a news conference about the previous night's shooting when Jesse wakes and suffers a traumatic flashback to his captivity at the compound. In a panic, Jesse pulls his gun on Skinny Pete and Badger. The duo calm Jesse down and persuade him to take a shower and shave. Realizing that he has to leave Albuquerque, Jesse tears a page from Skinny Pete's phone book and contacts Old Joe, with the aim of getting rid of the El Camino.

Old Joe initially agrees to remove the El Camino, but the car's anti-theft device is activated, which law enforcement will trace. Old Joe flees. Thinking quickly, Skinny Pete comes up with a plan to distract the police by having Badger dump Pete's Ford Thunderbird near the Mexican border while Jesse is given Badger's Pontiac Fiero to escape. Skinny Pete further gives Jesse some cash and his hat to disguise himself. As Jesse drives away, he sees a massive police convoy driving in the opposite direction towards Skinny Pete's house.

In another flashback, Jesse sits in his cage at the compound when Todd Alquist enlists his help with an errand. The two drive to Todd's apartment], where Jesse helps Todd fit a truck canopy onto the El Camino. Inside, Jesse sees the body of Todd's cleaning lady, Sonia, who Todd murdered after she discovered drug money stashed inside one of his hollowed-out encyclopedias. Todd tells Jesse that he has an idea for a new hiding spot in the apartment for his money. The pair roll up Sonia's body in a carpet and bury it in a remote part of the desert. Jesse finds Todd's gun in his glove box and threatens him with it, but Todd manages to calmly talk him down from using it.

Back in the present, Jesse listens to a radio report about an unidentified woman (Lydia Rodarte-Quayle) whose fatal poisoning has been attributed to Walter White. Jesse drives to Todd's apartment, where he narrowly avoids being seen by a neighbor as he uses Todd's keys to enter. Jesse sees his mother and father being interviewed on television, urging him to turn himself in. He spends the entire night ransacking the apartment, but initially fails to find Todd's hiding spot. It is not until early the next morning that Jesse, by luck, discovers that Todd hid the money inside the door to his refrigerator.

Just as Jesse makes this discovery, two men in police jackets, Neil Kandy and  Casey, arrive at the apartment. Jesse hides beneath an overturned mattress and pulls his gun on Casey, leading to a standoff between himself and Neil with Casey as a hostage. Neil convinces Jesse to surrender, only for Jesse to quickly realize that the two men are not actual cops, but criminals who are also searching for Todd's money. Jesse divulges the location of the money, but is forced to take only a third of it by Neil. After walking out of the apartment with the cash in trash bags, Jesse sees the logo for Neil's welding business on the side of his truck and realizes that he has seen him before at Jack's compound.

Using the torn phone book page, Jesse searches for the "disappearer" who can secretly transport him out of the city. He comes across Best Quality Vacuum and sees the red minivan he saw in his previous encounter with the disappearer parked behind the store. Inside, Jesse offers $125,000 to the disappearer, Ed Galbraith, who agrees to help him again on the condition that he produce an additional $125,000 for the previous aborted transport. Unfortunately, Jesse comes up $1,800 short. When Ed turns him down, Jesse desperately threatens to stay inside the store until he changes his mind. Ed dials 9-1-1, which Jesse calls as a bluff until a police car pulls up outside. Jesse flees with his money while Ed gives a false description to the responding officers. Jesse phones Ed from his car and promises to get him the agreed-upon amount of money.

That night, at the Pinkman house, Jesse's parents are washing dishes when Jesse calls them on the phone. Jesse tells his parents that they "did their best" and are not at fault for the choices which have brought him to his present situation. He further asks them to pick him up, ostensibly to turn himself in. Once his parents and some plainclothes police are lured away from the house, Jesse sneaks in and steals two guns from a safe in their closet. Before he leaves, Jesse finds the address of Neil's welding business in his parents' phone book. Jesse infiltrates the property right before a group of strippers are driven in to entertain Neil, Casey, and three of their friends.

In another flashback, Neil performs welding work on Jack's meth lab while Jesse, Todd and Kenny look on. Kenny, concerned that Jesse will make another escape attempt, expresses doubt that the metal frame Neil has constructed for Jesse's harness will last. He and Neil make a $50 wager on whether Jesse can break the frame, with Kenny forcing Jesse to run from one end of the lab to the other while still attached to the harness.

In the present, Jesse waits for the strippers to leave before he enters Neil's office and confronts him. Seeing that Jesse is armed with a .22 handgun, Neil agrees to give up his third of Todd's money if Jesse beats him in a duel. However, Neil is unaware of the second gun hidden in Jesse's jacket pocket, and is killed just as he tries to draw. Casey grabs his own weapon and attempts to shoot Jesse, which results in a gun battle that leaves Casey dead. Jesse forces the three remaining men to hand over their drivers' licenses and allows them to flee. Before he leaves with Neil's share of the money, Jesse rigs a bunch of gas tanks to explode, destroying Neil's property.

In the penultimate flashback, Jesse talks to someone over the phone from a hotel room. He is revealed to be staying in the room next to Walter White's. The pair drive the RV to a  cafe and have lunch. Walt is despondent when Jesse tells him that their latest batch of meth will take six months to sell, but Jesse assures him that his family will receive all of the money that is coming to them from the duo's meth cooking. The conversation turns to Jesse's future, with Walt encouraging him to go to college and study business or marketing. Walt tells Jesse that he is lucky that he didn't have to wait his whole life to do "something special."

In the present, Ed drives a moving van to a rest stop in the Alaskan mountains where an SUV is waiting. He collects Jesse and his luggage from a hidden compartment in the back of the van. Before they part, Ed quizzes Jesse on the details of his new identity as "Mr. Driscoll", while Jesse gives Ed a letter addressed to Brock Cantillo. As he drives away, Jesse recalls an earlier conversation with Jane Margolis, in which she disavows her philosophy of "going where the universe takes you" and states that it's better to make decisions for yourself. The film ends with Jesse smiling as he heads toward his new life.

Trivia

  • Many critics have given the character's development over the series as simply extraordinary, giving great praise to many of Jesse's centric episodes.
  • Jesse's lack of intelligence often got in the way of Walter's plans coming into full fruition, leading to Walter repeatedly denigrating Jesse over and over. 

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