10 Best Action Scenes In Breaking Bad, Ranked
While not necessarily an action series, Breaking Bad's greatest action-heavy moments are not only fantastic but rank among TV's best ever.
Even though it’s all about the action-packed El Camino these days – the Jesse-centric film that follows the aftermath of Breaking Bad – the original show from which it was spawned has no shortage of thrilling, heart-pumping moments.
Being involved in something as dangerous as the meth trade naturally makes one a target for a myriad of shootouts, chases, and escapes, and these moments occur quite a bit on Breaking Bad. While this memorable show can certainly be described as a drama, there a plenty of awesome action-hero moments to keep viewers on the edge of their seats.
Let’s take a swift blast to the past as we take a look at the show’s 10 most well-crafted and exciting action scenes.
Gus Stands Up To A Cartel Shootout (Bug, Season 4, Episode 9)
Seasons 3 and 4 of Breaking Bad sees a partnership shift to a deadly rivalry between Walter White and Gus, though it also features a similar dynamic between Gus and the Mexican cartel. This is one of those intense scenes that remind viewers just how deadly this feud has become.
The scene kicks off with a startling bout of action as one of Gus’s employees gets shot by an unknown sniper. Things quite literally slow down as we see things through a flustered Jesse’s perspective. In a particularly badass move by Fring, he emerges and actually heads towards the gunfire as shots go off around him. It’s a pretty intense moment, and an effective way to show Fring’s gutsiness (to the point of being borderline wreckless). Though it also illustrates Gus’s importance to the cartel, as the man refuses to shoot him.
This moment is short and minimalistic, but effective.
Fullminated Mercury (Crazy Handful of Nothin’, Season 1, Episode 6)
For many viewers, this pivotal Season 1 showdown is the moment BB makes it abundantly clear that we’re in for a wild ride. Seeing Walter toss a deadly explosive into Tuco’s compound isn’t just fun to watch in terms of its visuals and epic explosions, but also shows just how daring and quick-witted Walter has already become in his slow transformation to Heisenberg.
Additionally, it makes for a fun, exciting twist, as a bag of what appears to be meth is actually the explosive material concocted by White, known as fulminated mercury “with a little tweak of chemistry.”
Walt Fleeing The Scene In The RV (Pilot, Season 1, Episode 1)
Another heart-pounding moment from Season 1 literally kicks off the entire show’s run, introducing an unidentifiable man sporting a gas mask and harboring people presumed to be dead in his RV. The man appears to be desperate, and – no pun intended – running on fumes, while seemingly making a mad dash away from the police or D.E.A.
The episode then comes back full-circle to this scene, showing the escalating details leading up to this climactic, frantic moment. We can all breath a sigh of relief with Walt, though, as the blaring sirens that seem to be chasing him are not cops at all but firefighters responding to an unrelated event.
Showdown With Tuco (Grilled, Season 2, Episode 2)
Given the drugged-up and jacked-up druggie that Tuco is, we know we’re about to witness a pretty intense and action-laced showdown as D.E.A. agent Hank Schrader readies for a firefight with the maniacal man. Lucky for Hank, Tuco seems to have little regard (or skill) for where his shots land, spraying a barrage of machine-gun fire all over the place.
The scene feels like a shootout you’d typically see during an epic action movie or an old-fashion Western, as the two trade shots and take cover behind their vehicles. It continues to build until Tuco is finally bested by Hank – this after he had already been marred by Walt and Jesse, mind you.
Destroying The Evidence (Live Free Or Die, Season 5, Episode 1)
Rather than resort to the more typical firefights, brawls, or car chases that typically make up Breaking Bad‘s action scenes, this unique, gripping escapade to remove evidence proves exciting in its own way.
After an elaborate plot to rig their van with what’s essentially a gigantic cluster of magnets, Walt and Jesse pull up to the APD compound and trigger the magnet to literally pull Gus’s old laptop toward them and wipe the data remotely. While doing this, they manage to bring down half the shelves full of various pieces of crime evidence, as well as tipping over their own truck.
Regardless of the lack of blood and death that typically comes from these action scenes, this moment from “Live Free or Die” is intense and fun to watch in its own way. We don’t know if Walt and Jesse will pull off this longshot of an idea, or worse – if they’ll get caught.
Mike Vs. The Cartel At The Warehouse (Full Measure, Season 3, Episode 13)
As if Mike Ehrmantraut couldn’t get any cooler, he has a straight-up action hero moment during this warehouse scene in late Season 3. As a handful of hitmen infiltrate a warehouse run by distributors of Fring, Ehrmantraut engages in a Metal Gear Solid-esque covert op and stealthfully sneaks his way through the facility, taking out each man one by one.
Partly because of the terrific cinematography, but also because of Mike’s slick silenced pistol, this intense romp tends to look more like a classic James Bond scene rather than a TV drama.
Shootout Between Hank & The Cousins (One Minute, Season 3, Episode 7)
It’s tough to find a more thrilling, impactful ending to close out an episode of a TV show then this adrenaline-fueled shootout between Hank and the cousins of Tuco Salamanca.
While the actual shootout only lasts a few minutes, it feels a lot longer thanks to the gritty way in which the scene is shot, the heart-pounding buildup, and the myriad of crazy events that go down. It’s an intense and deadly game of cat and mouse in a public parking lot, and it’s one which sees Hank just barely get the upper hand.
Cartel Poison & Escape Scene (Salud, Season 4, Episode 10)
Speaking of increasingly tense moments in Breaking Bad, how about this exhilarating scene that takes an already memorable Season 4 to awesome heights? Gus, Jesse, and Mike are meeting with the cartel, which appears to be merely a business arrangement, but Gus has other plans. To avenge the death of his original partner, he has come full circle to get even with the band of Cartel at their lavish property.
This seemingly harmless meeting ends up being a crafty bamboozling by the mastermind, Gus, as we see cartel bigwigs dropping like flies after drinking a poisonous beverage “gifted” by Fring. There is just so much going on here, as the health of both Gus and Mike are nearing a critical level, and Jesse must scramble as they deal with the remaining men and get out of dodge.
Even though Gus poses quite a threat to Walt, this makes for a satisfying “edge-of-your-seat” revenge plot.
Train Heist (Dead Freight, Season 5, Episode 5)
This elaborate series of events is so rich and full of dramatic, action-packed moments, that it could almost act as a stand-alone film.
In one of the most memorable episodes of Breaking Bad, Walt, Jesse, and a host of other conspirators plan to rob a train. It sounds about as cliche as it gets, but these scenes prove both distinct in style and hugely thrilling in execution. It’s a race against the clock as these antiheroes engage in this complicated heist to siphon what Lydia calls “an ocean of methylamine.” Just when they’ve barely managed to complete the heist and can seemingly breathe a sigh of relief, the scene ends with a gut-wrenching twist.
Shootout At Jack’s Clubhouse (Felina, Season 5, Episode 16)
Just like the RV scene kicked things off, this action-laced showdown at the compound of “Uncle Jack” and his band of Neo-Nazis stands as a clever, thrilling, and satisfying conclusion to the entire series of Breaking Bad. Despite Walter’s questionable (and occasionally reprehensible) acts, we tend to want to root for him, as we’ve followed him far to get to this point.
That’s why it’s all the more exhilarating when Walt executes his elaborate plan and finally reaches his goals, as he infiltrates the clubhouse through a series of sly maneuvers, and takes out the gang using his brilliant technical skills.
This scene is basically everything you’d expect to see in a great dramatic film – awesome action, intense buildups, and authentic effects.