In the final episodes of "Breaking Bad," Jesse had been collaborating with Hank and Gomez to "nail" Walt.

Though Hank and Gomez are now (after the shoot-out in the desert between Hank & Gomez and the Aryan Nation) dead and thus unable to corroborate any such claims Jesse might make in this regard, Hank's wife, Marie, could do so (she remained there while Jesse was living in their home as a "safe house").

In addition to Marie's direct testimony, there is also certainly a great deal of secondary and circumstantial evidence pointing to Jesse having "come clean" with Hank and even having risked his life to help Hank "nail" Walt. For example, a copy of Jesse's DVD confession - with Hank off-camera, posing questions to Jesse, etc. - might still exist. If, after being liberated by Walt, Jesse were to have run directly to the APD or DEA and turned himself in, he could have told a convincing and true story about how he had intended to burn down Walt's house, how Hank interrupted him, how Hank convinced him to become a police informant / collaborator, etc.

The scene where Hank and Gomez are murdered and Jesse is taken prisoner would also speak in Jesse's favor. His months of brutalization (evidenced by scars, etc.) while in captivity by the Aryan Nation, being forced to manufacture meth, would have likewise buttressed his claim to "victim" status and elicited the court's sympathy.

So why doesn't Jesse, upon being liberated by Walt at the beginning of "El Camino," immediately turn himself in to the authorities? At the very least, he could have claimed that Hank had promised him immunity (whether or not Hank had that authority is moot - the claim, alone, would have given Jesse the jury's sympathy). Forensic evidence (of the cage in which Jesse was housed for months) would have further supported Jesse's claim that he was an innocent party - and even a victim. In a "worst-case" scenario, he might have gotten a year of probation.

Additionally, some "insider" knowledge that Jesse possessed (the location of the buried housekeeper that Todd had murdered; the hidden money in Todd's apartment) would have further burnished Jesse's image.

And what, actually, were the charges that could have been levelled against Jesse? His only outstanding charge was throwing $500,000 out of his car window onto people's front lawns. As far as I recall, that was the only charge against him - and subsequent events (backed by hard, but also circumstantial, evidence) could place that in a very positive light for Jesse.

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    'In a "worst-case" scenario, he might have gotten a year of probation' — gonna slap a [citation needed] on you right there. As established in the show, when Walt and Jesse disappeared, the authorities put all their efforts into attempting to prosecute Skyler, single mother to a baby and a disabled son, because there was no-one else left to pursue. I'm also fairly sure juries don't get to make up whatever sentence they think is appropriate in American criminal trials. Sep 12, 2022 at 16:20

3 Answers 3


Jesse had just spent months in a cage and was in a near feral state. He suddenly found himself free but with the looming prospect of being immediately incarcerated again for all of the crimes he had committed in the course of the series, including murder. He absolutely, positively did not want to trade one concrete cell for a slightly better one. As the season's premiere alluded in its title: "Live Free or Die."


As far as Jesse knew, he was wanted. He had little trust in law enforcement and his one contact with law enforcement is killed in front of him. He was being treated as a wanted criminal so his instinct was to flee.

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    Sounds like you are basically saying that Jesse was a little dim and impulsive, didn't think it through, and/or allowed his emotions to "run away" with him. But this might, in fact, be the best answer. I suspect that the screenwriters simply didn't want us (the audience) to think too much about Jesse's motivations / reasoning.
    – Alex
    Jun 14, 2020 at 10:54
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    Actually I think it's sharp of Jesse to be suspicious of law enforcement. He may have worked under the Nazis against his will, but those skills suggest he was voluntarily involved in Heisenberg's drug trade. No matter how sympathetic Jesse is, law enforcement in Breaking Bad do not give lenience without getting bigger fish in return. Well, all the bigger fish are dead. Jesse knew he was their only prey.
    – BatWannaBe
    Jul 25, 2020 at 8:10
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    @Alex as you could see near the beginning of El Camino, Jesse is worried about the many police cars (probably running to Jack's place) passing in front of him. He has only one goal: get the money from Todd's place, meet Ed and... move on.
    – Déjà vu
    Aug 6, 2020 at 10:47
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    @Alex, Jesse had his face beaten to a bloody pulp by law enforcement. He doesn't have to be "a little dim" or "impulsive" to mistrust them. Dec 21, 2020 at 3:25
  • @Alex "I suspect that the screenwriters simply didn't want us (the audience) to think too much about Jesse's motivations / reasoning." Sure. The screenwriters are really just hammering this stuff out as fast as possible so they can get a nice long lunch. You've definitely out-thought them on this one. Sep 12, 2022 at 16:21

Jesse had two motivations by the end of Breaking Bad:

  1. He didn't want to bring Walt to justice as much as he wanted to just make him pay for poisoning Brock. Turning witness for the DEA was a means, not an end.
  2. He so sorely wanted to leave all this behind. Remember that were it not for the unfinished business with Walt, he was ready and willing to get a new identity. Seeing Andrea die just cuts his ties further from the Albuquerque community.

Seeing Walt die (or at least dying, with law enforcement on the way) satisfies the first one and so the character-consistent thing for him to do was to run away, that is, attempt his second motivation. He never really wanted to take responsibility for closing the loose ends of the Heisenberg case, nor did he want to return to his old life. He wanted a complete reset.

What I find really poetic in the end of Breaking Bad as well as El Camino is how, finally, Jesse is on the driver's seat! No Walt, nor Mike, nor Hank driving him to their idea of his responsibility. He chooses his own road (Camino in Spanish) and at that moment he decides his only responsibility is to have a fresh start for himself, getting that new identity.

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