There are plenty of television shows that do the cliff-hanger well, others that provide us with unexpected deaths, and still others that are capable of insane levels of tension. Breaking Bad, which begins its final season on Sunday, is the rare show that does all three superbly.
However, perhaps my favorite thing about Breaking Bad is that, even with all the foreshadowing layered in, or even when we suspect someone will die, the timing and manner always seem to come as a surprise. I have never watched a series where I have exclaimed audibly in my living room “OH SH*T” more often than I have in watching Breaking Bad. It is the Mother of “OH SH*T” shows, a series that hits us with more OH SH*T moments per episode than any other.
Ahead of the final eight episodes of Breaking Bad, which begin this Sunday, let’s take a moment to look back at the ten biggest OH SH*T moments of the first 54 episodes of the series.
10. The Cat’s in the Bag: Season 1, Episode 2 — In the pilot, Walt mixes chemicals to set off a small explosion to kill Emilio and Krazy 8. Soon thereafter, Jesse and Walt clean up their mess, and after celebrating because they finally got the RV started, Krazy 8 stirs into consciousness, eliciting a literal “Oh sh*t” from Walt.
9. Negro y Azul: Season 2, Episode 7 — After Hank sees the head of Tortuga on a turtle with the message, “HOLA DEA” inscribed on the turtle, Hank — who has already been experiencing massive on-the-job stress — goes into a panic attack. That, we think, is the big moment in the scene. The rest of the agents start laughing at Hank, with one saying “What’s the matter Hank, you act like you’ve never seen a severed head on a tortoise before.” The moment gets quieter then suddenly, OH SH*T! Tortuga’s head explodes.
One agent dead, several others injured.
8. The Cat’s in the Bag: Season 1, Episode 2 — In another moment in the second episode of the series, Jesse fails to line the bathtub with plastic before using hydrofluoric acid to dissolve the remains of Emilio. As Jesse and Walt are walking under the bathroom ceiling, it begins to drip and then, OH SH*T! It caves in, dropping pieces of the bathtub, as well as the bloody remains of Emilio.
7. Box Cutter: Season 4, Episode 1 — In the season four premiere, rather than kill Walter and Jesse and lose his meth operation, Gus impresses upon Walter his dominance by randomly, shockingly, and suddenly taking a box cutter and slashing an unsuspecting Victor’s throat. Even the normally unflappable Mike Ehrmentraut displays an OH SH*T expression and briefly draws his weapon out of pure shock.
6. Crazy Handful of Nothing: Season 1, Episode 6 — After stealing meth from Jesse and beating the sh*t out of him, Tuco is approached by Walter, who asks for a $50,000 settlement. Tuco scoffs at Walter White — who made his first appearance as Heisenberg in this scene — and when Walter picks up a meth crystal, says “This is not meth” and uses the mercury fulminate to blow up Tuco’s headquarters, EVERYONE — including the audience at home — yells, “OH SH*T!”
Tuco ended up agreeing to the settlement, as well as becoming Heisenberg’s distribution partner.
5. Half Measures: Season 3, Episode 12 — As a methed-up Jesse pulls his gun to take out two dealers who used kids to sell meth, the two dealers pull their own weapons and aim them at Jesse. Just as it appears Jesse is going to be filled full of holes, Walter makes a surprise “OH SH*T” appearance and plows over the dealers. He gets out of the car, walks over to a gasping dealer, picks up a gun, and blows a hole in the back of his head, eliciting another OH SH*T moment from Jesse.
4. Full Measures: Season 3, Episode 13 — In the very next episode, in what can be best described as more of an “OH GOD” moment than an “OH SH*T” moment, a nervous and shaking Jesse pulls a gun on Gale Boetticher, who insists that Jesse “doesn’t have to do this.” Jesse, on the verge of a nervous breakdown, reluctantly disagrees. He pulls the trigger, the screen fades to black, and the viewing audience at home lets out a collective, “Ohhhhhh Sh*******t.”
3. Dead Freight: Season 5, Episode 5 — After pulling off the successful heist of a tanker full of methylamine, in the throes of a celebration, Todd, Walter, and Jesse spot a little kid on his motor bike. The little kid waves, Todd waves back, then pulls out his gun, and OH SH*T, shoots him dead while Jesse is still screaming, “NO! NO! NO!”
2. Face Off: Season 4, Episode 13 — When Gus, who goes to Tio’s room to lethally inject him, realizes that Tio’s bell is rigged to a bomb, Gus Fring provides maybe the best OH SH*T face in the history of television.
Well all know what happens next.
1. Gliding Over all: Season 5, Episode 8 — In what can only be described as the most poetically literal OH SH*T moment in television history, Hank has the mother of all OH SH*T moments while he’s on the crapper, in making the connection between Walter White is Heisenberg.