The Reason Jesse Pinkman Wasn’t Killed Off During Breaking Bad Season 1

The Reason Jesse Pinkman Wasn’t Killed Off During Breaking Bad Season 1


AMC’s Breaking Bad was a landmark television
drama… and not just because it was so brilliantly written, expertly plotted, and beautifully
photographed. From its charismatic leads to its supporting
cast, the show’s talented ensemble turned in some of the finest performances ever committed
to the small screen. And Aaron Paul was quite possibly the show’s
Most Valuable Player. As you probably know, he portrayed Jesse Pinkman,
the hapless accomplice to Bryan Cranston’s high school chemistry teacher-turned-drug-kingpin
Walter White. Paul created a character that was incredibly
easy to root for, despite having more than his fair share of faults. He was self-centered, endlessly self-pitying,
and always looking to make a quick buck. ‘This is your deal, man. You want to smoke it, smoke it up at your
house.” By the end of the series, he’d progressed
from a small-time drug dealer to a reluctant murderer. Of course, Jesse also had a remarkable capacity
for caring, loyalty, and trust qualities which unfortunately made him way too easy to manipulate
and exploit. Paul’s portrayal of Pinkman was so remarkable
that it’s virtually impossible to imagine anyone else stepping into the role. His nuanced, soulful performance is ultimately
what won fans over and what made Jesse a sympathetic character. Interestingly, Paul almost didn’t get a chance
to turn Jesse Pinkman into the character we all know and love today. Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan originally
intended for Jesse to die at the end of the first season. In fact, that death was supposed to raise
the stakes for Walter… and hasten his transformation into the ruthless, deadly drug lord known
as Heisenberg. Even before production on Breaking Bad began,
Gilligan reportedly pitched an idea to studio executives and they really didn’t like it:
Long story short, Jesse would be killed in a drug deal gone bad. Blinded by rage, Walter would subsequently
kidnap the person responsible and hold him captive in his basement, torturing him in
unspeakable ways. According to IndieWire, studio brass managed
to talk Gilligan off that particular ledge, but he evidently still intended to kill off
Jesse down the line. As it turns out, Jesse was originally supposed
to meet his maker in the ninth episode of Breaking Bad’s first season… but perhaps
you’ve noticed that Season One only has seven episodes. That’s because the 2007 Writers’ Guild of
America strike got underway in the middle of production, reportedly forcing the powers-that-be
to shorten the first season. And that was ultimately very good news for
Jesse Pinkman and Aaron Paul. As the AV Club reports, “In the intervening time between seasons,
Vince Gilligan changed his mind [about killing Jesse].” If that’s true, it might be the only time
in television history that a character was given a stay of execution simply because the
writers refused to do their jobs. But as Gilligan admits himself, the strike
wasn’t the only reason he decided to let Jesse live. Speaking at PaleyFest 2010 in Los Angeles,
Gilligan explained his thought process in a bit more detail. As the principal cast sat next to him including
Paul he revealed the real reason he spared Jesse… and it wasn’t because the young man
just had so much life left to live. At one point, Gilligan admits: “The original plan was to kill him off but
I have to say, the writer’s strike, in a sense, didn’t save him.” Gilligan then tells Paul: “I knew by episode 2 we all did, all of us
our wonderful directors and our wonderful producers everybody knew just how good you
are, and a pleasure to work with, and it became pretty clear early on that that would be a
huge, colossal mistake to kill off Jesse.” Truer words have never been spoken. Of course, Jesse even managed to outlive Heisenberg
in the end and he eventually came to find a modicum of peace in El Camino: A Breaking
Bad Movie, the Netflix film that serves as a follow-up to the main series. “Question they’re going to ask is, What am
I doing here trying to hand over a Hefty bag full of cash to a dude who runs a vacuum cleaner
store?” In the years since Breaking Bad ended, Paul
has continued to have an enviable acting career. He lent his voice to the acclaimed animated
series BoJack Horseman through the show’s entire run… and he’s set to co-star in Season
3 of Westworld. No wonder he’s in such high demand: He helped
create one of the greatest hour-long television dramas ever produced. Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Looper videos about your favorite
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