Jesse Pinkman
Breaking Bad's Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) plays games with child companion Brock (Ian Posada), revealing compassion he otherwise doesn't show. (Sony Pictures)

The story of Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul; pictured) in Breaking Bad was defined by his poor decision-making. It consistently led him to chains of adversity: one tragic failure after another. Did this make him a bad person?

Well, Jesse frequently showed semblances of good conscience. For example, he genuinely felt other people’s pain—a response which often wasn’t felt by criminals around him.

More revealingly, though, Jesse craved punishment. He wanted to take responsibility for his actions: it was his process of overcoming—of becoming someone good in the world. He found atonement, in particular, from granting good lives to young boys. You see, Jesse felt incapable of choosing a good life for himself. But he felt capable of choosing a good life for someone else: Brock (Ian Posada; pictured).

While his compassion was clearly a projection of his own life onto Brock’s (since he saw his own adversity in this young male), Jesse’s honest perspective allowed him to authentically care about someone in the world.

With humane decency and purpose, he salvaged a meaningful existence from helping children who otherwise lived without notions of escape.