With Breaking Bad, Vince Gilligan managed to turn the seemingly bizarre premise of a chemistry teacher cooking meth to pay for his cancer treatments into what is widely regarded to be the greatest TV series ever made. Few TV dramas, when all is said and done, feel like a complete work. But Breaking Bad’s five seasons hold up as the saga of Walter White, charting his fabled transformation from Mr. Chips into Scarface, told in its entirety like a televised novel.
There was never an episode of Breaking Bad that disappointed – although season 3’s “Fly” was certainly divisive among the fan base – but some installments have much higher ratings on IMDb than others.
10 Gliding Over All (9.6)
Splitting seasons of TV shows into two parts has become commonplace since AMC aired Breaking Bad’s final run in two eight-episode chunks. In the midseason finale “Gliding Over All,” Walt finally solves all his problems in the criminal underworld and things are looking up.
Then, in the episode’s fateful cliffhanger ending, Hank flicks through a book while he’s sitting on the Whites’ toilet, finds Gale’s incriminating inscription, and realizes the drug lord he’s been chasing has been his own seemingly mild-mannered brother-in-law this whole time.
9 Say My Name (9.6)
Jesse and Mike want to get out of the meth business after Todd murdered a little kid, but Walt’s ego won’t let him give it up when he’s at the top of his game, so he desperately tries to convince them to stick around.
In the episode’s shocking final moments, Walt impulsively shoots Mike. Then, he realizes that he could’ve let him live and apologizes to Mike, who simply says, “Shut the f*ck up and let me die in peace.”
8 Dead Freight (9.7)
Vince Gilligan conceived Breaking Bad to be a western set in modern times, among other things, and one of the clearest examples of this is “Dead Freight,” which is literally about a train robbery.
The methylamine heist goes off without a hitch and Walt and Jesse get to enjoy a celebration for a couple of brief moments before they spot 14-year-old Drew Sharp, who saw the whole thing. Without hesitation, Todd shoots the kid dead.
7 Granite State (9.7)
Between the explosive climactic revelations of “Ozymandias” and the cerebral closure of “Felina,” Breaking Bad’s penultimate episode “Granite State” saw Walt adopting a new identity and moving to an isolated cabin in New Hampshire, where he’s left alone for months on end.
It’s clear as day that all the terrible things Walt did were for nothing. He tries to prove this wrong by going to a local bar, calling Walt, Jr., and arranging to give him some money, but his son tells him to drop dead. When he’s about to turn himself in, he sees Gretchen and Elliot dragging him through the mud on TV and decides to settle some scores first. As the cops arrive at the bar, Heisenberg is gone.
6 Crawl Space (9.7)
Gus makes it very clear to Walt that he’s not messing around in season 4’s “Crawl Space.” He informs Walt that he’s going to have Hank killed and that if he tries to interfere, he’ll kill his wife and kids, too. Meanwhile, Skyler gives a ton of Walt’s money to Ted to help him pay off his debts.These two storylines converge in one of the show’s most iconic moments as Walt comes home in a panic and tells Skyler they have to leave immediately. He climbs into the crawlspace and finds that most of his cash is missing. When Skyler tells him she gave it to Ted, he starts laughing hysterically.
5 Full Measure (9.7)
In the season 3 finale, Walt realizes Gus is going to have himself and Jesse killed as soon as Gale is able to cook meth of the same quality as Heisenberg’s, so he sends Jesse to kill Gale.
Gale’s death was a significant turning point in Jesse’s character arc. He was filled with guilt for the rest of the series and it exemplified how Walt uses Jesse to do his dirty work.
4 To’hajiilee (9.8)
After Hank turns Jesse against Walt, the two know exactly how to get to him: by threatening his cash supply. They send him a doctored photo that looks like they’ve dug up his money and he races out to the desert to stop them.
He calls in Uncle Jack and his neo-Nazi gang, who arrive just as Walt is turning himself in. Then, a gunfight breaks out, setting the stage for “Ozymandias.”
3 Face Off (9.9)
Gus Fring is easily Breaking Bad’s greatest villain, because he’s a meth kingpin who’s even smarter and more ruthless than Walt. Walt can outsmart a near-sighted gangster like Tuco in his sleep, but he finally found his intellectual match in Gus.
In the season 4 finale “Face Off,” Walt finally manages to defeat Gus by teaming up with his arch rival, Hector Salamanca, to plant a bomb that will blow half his face off, hence the title.
2 Felina (9.9)
A lot of acclaimed TV dramas, like Game of Thrones and Dexter, have shot themselves in the foot with a terrible series finale that tarnishes the legacy of everything that came before. Breaking Bad didn’t suffer from this problem; its finale episode “Felina” is one of the most satisfying conclusions in TV history.
Gilligan and co. managed to wrap up all the story threads in a neat bow with the story of Walter White’s return to Albuquerque and his final stand against his old business partners.
1 Ozymandias (10.0)
While “Felina” provided the ending to the saga of Walter White, the third-to-last episode “Ozymandias” is when it all came to a head, as signified by its perfect 10 score on IMDb. Opening with the shootout that claims the lives of Hank and Gomez, “Ozymandias” marks the point of no return for Heisenberg.
After a knife fight with Skyler, Walt kidnaps Holly and takes her on the run with him. He has a change of heart, leaving Holly at a fire station and making a difficult phone call that will clear Skyler of her association in his meth business before relocating and taking on a new identity, completely alone.