Jesse Pinkman’s loss of innocence is one of Breaking Bad’s more heartbreaking stories. When we first meet him, he is plainly corrupt, but he also seems to be the most honest criminal ever. He reminds me of a young person who is cosplaying as an outlaw and discovers, to his own dismay, how expensive an outlaw’s life is.
However, unlike every other character from Breaking Bad, Jesse’s decisions did not involve his family even though they were always his. Jesse was one of the rare individuals who genuinely understood the damaging impact his lifestyle would have on the people he loved, which only serves to highlight how tragically his final outcome was. What specifically happened to his family, though?
Now, where are they? And is it possible that the Pinkmans’ story ended fairly happily? In this video, we will provide all the answers you need to know about what happened to the Pinkman family following Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul.
They were a relatively normal family – until Jesse broke bad
Despite the fact that the Pinkman family is not explicitly discussed in the show because they are not the main characters, the events that each member of the family has described as well as the show is use of visual storytelling give us the impression that the Pinkmans were not always as upset a family as they were when we first met them in Breaking Bad. After only a few years of marriage, Diane and Adam Pinkman welcomed Jesse as their first child in 1984. Although Jesse was not academically inclined, he was a bright, social, and street savvy young man.
In his own sketchbook, he frequently drew images that belonged in a comic book, but his parents would frequently pressure him to study because of his subpar grades. His father Adam in particular seems to have been harder on Jesse in his youth, because when he returns home in Season 1 episode 4, it is evident that the Pinkmans have had to handle Jesse high on more than one occasion.
When Jesse is about 10 years old, his parents welcome another child into the world. Jacob “Jake” Pinkman is born in 1994 and seems to have shared a decent enough relationship with his brother until the problems began. The family would even have picnics at a lake near the docks whenever they got the time to do so, and that is perhaps the only constructive activity that Jesse has done with something that doesn’t involve destroying himself.
Because in Breaking Bad, we learn that Jesse had started using drugs back in high school with his buddy Emilio Koyama. Emilio is the cousin of Domingo Molina, aka Krazy-8, who was most likely breaking in with the Salamanca family around the time Jesse was in high school; let’s say 1998/1999. We know that Nacho had already been working with Tuco by then- R.I.P Dog Paulson- so it makes sense that Jesse’s relationship with Emilio and a few other bad elements at school put him into contact with substances a bit more illicit than simple pot.
Jesse’s parents try to get him to go clean but when they fail, they are content with letting him spend his time with Diane’s estranged sister Ginny, who happens to suffer from cancer. Jesse takes care of his aunt by himself for years on end, to the point his official address in J.P. Wynne High School is her home address; which is how Walt tracks him down. So the cracks had started appearing in the family about 5 years before the events of Breaking Bad began.
They loathe him but can’t help themselves from loving him – The Pinkman Family in Breaking Bad
The first time we actually get to see the Pinkman family, it seems like Jesse is breaking into a nice, suburban home for no reason. Well, not no reason; when he used with Skinny Pete and Badger, the product made him paranoid enough to leave his own home and run for his life.
At first, it looked like Jesse had genuinely made a mistake and gotten the wrong house or something; turns out he did make a mistake, but that was breaking his mother’s patio furniture. After getting a meal and taking a shower, Jesse is told by his parents that if he wants to stay, he must play by their rules and he accepts. He speaks to his brother Jake and is genuinely impressed with his academic and musical accomplishments, but advises him that not all knowledge comes from books. When he asserts that Jake is the favourite son, he is surprised to find out that their parents even talk about him, let alone the fact that Jake was actually kind of jealous of Jesse.
The next morning, the Pinkmans’ maid finds a joint planted in a cactus near the bed where Jesse was sleeping the previous night, and his parents angrily kick him out. Jesse, quite visibly broken, does the right thing and leaves the house by calling a cab but when he’s waiting outside, we find out what actually happened. Turns out, the joint was Jake’s, who- much like Jesse- was getting into illicit substances at an early age. Jake thanks Jesse for not snitching on him, and asks for the joint but Jesse crushes it underneath his foot, telling Jake that it was “skunk weed anyway”. We learn a lot about Jesse’s personal maturity in this moment.
In the first season of Breaking Bad, Jesse Pinkman is 23, and even though Jake is around 10 years younger to him, the two brothers share similar characteristics. For one, they are both into music; Jesse started a rock band with his friend Badger called by a name we are pretty sure YouTube will demonetize us for if we say it out loud and Jake is a pro-level piccolo player. They are both smart as well, though their natural fields of excellence differ greatly- Jesse is a pure street hustler, whereas Jake is a bright academician and concert flutist in the making, both things that factor into the future of the Pinkmans so keep watching exactly how.
And they both get into drugs at an early age- with Jesse and Jake starting around ostensibly the same time. But Jesse crushing the joint underneath his foot after covering for his bro is the most brotherly thing he could have done, and it also serves as a warning to Jake; don’t go down the path Jesse is taking, because their parents won’t be able to take two failures in their lifetime.
So Jesse is a caring big brother in his own way, and if he had come clean about the pot, it is possible that his parents might have kept him around and straightened both Pinkman brothers out. But his choice to carry his burden himself is something that will continue to be a theme with the Pinkman family. The next time we see them is when Hank visits Diane while trying to track down Walt. He asks her about her son and if she knew his whereabouts, and while Diane did not, she did tell Hank her concern for her son’s life.
She told Hank about Jesse’s low-rider, which led Hank to Tuco, but you can find out all about that in our Tuco Salamanca video. This visit alerts Diane to the fact that her son is in some deep trouble if the DEA is looking for him, and she and Adam visit Ginny’s house, only to find a full-blown meth-lab in the basement. The Pinkmans lawyer up and kick their son out of the house he earned; when Jesse throws his caretaking duties for Diane’s sister in her face, she slaps him and asks him why he was the way he was.
Jesse leaves angered and broken yet again. The next time he would meet his family would be after getting out of rehab; he passes by Ginny’s house and sees his parents getting it renovated. He talks to his father who is still visibly disgusted with him but is doing his best to conceal it.
Jesse suggests coming over for dinner sometime but can see his parents don’t want it, so he lets it slide. What he doesn’t let slide is the house, which he buys with a little help from Saul Goodman. After completing the purchase, he moves in and presumably cuts all contact with his parents because we never see the Pinkman family again in Breaking Bad or Better Call Saul.
What happened to the Pinkman Family?
The last thing we hear of the Pinkman family before El Camino came out is the fact that the losses they incurred on getting the house renovated meant that Jake could no longer go to space camp. Now, while they might have been referring to a generic educational camp, given the fact that Jake was a mathlete at his school, our best guess is that they were actually talking about THE Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama, which is located near NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Centre.
This would imply that Jake had become skilled enough at the age of around 14-15 to be eligible to participate in an educational camp that has yielded several astronauts over the years for the United States. Had Jesse not messed with their deal on Ginny’s home, it is quite possible that Jake would be in that same facility as we speak, becoming one of those rare individuals who get to step on surfaces beyond our own tiny, blue planet.
But because that didn’t end up happening on time, it appears as though his parents pushed him in a different direction. In El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, we find out that after Walter White orchestrated the shootout at Jack’s Compound, Jesse had become a wanted man. So wanted, in fact, that local news channels were tracking his parents down for on-screen interviews. While he was rummaging through Todd’s apartment, looking for the money he had stashed before Jesse choked him out, he starts flipping through the channels on a TV and comes across his parents being interviewed on I6.
The reporter asks Adam what Jesse was like growing up, and he says he was a nice kid and that he was good at drawing, showing that his parents- no matter how much they hated his drug use- had love left in their heart for him. His father’s voice clearly breaks when he says the last time they saw him was more than a year ago and before “all of this”, referring to the breakdown of Heisenberg’s empire.
The reporter asks Jesse’s mom if she wants to say anything to her son, and she simply asks him to turn himself in, reminding him that too many people have been hurt by everything that has happened. Jesse knows she is right, of course, and cries after seeing his parents for the first time since buying the house from them, but he has chosen the outlaw’s path and is determined to see it through.
The last time we see the Pinkmans is when Jesse calls them towards the end of El Camino. As soon as he places the call, his mother rushes to the phone and the first thing his father asks him is if it really is him, visibly relieved that his son was alive. Jesse asks Adam how they were doing and he does him the courtesy of saying that they were doing better. He asks after Jake, and is told that his brother is at a music camp in London, so it’s impossible for him to talk to Jake.
Diane asks her son to turn himself in, clearly worried witless with his predicament, and Jesse acknowledges his parents’ worries by asking them to come pick him up from the same spot where they used to have picnics when he was still living with them. The Pinkmans immediately step out to collect their son, unaware he only called them to lure them out of the house and steal a gun and the location of Kandy’s construction site.
This is the last we hear of the Pinkman family officially, but we can make a few educated guesses as to how their story unfolded following Jesse’s departure. Adam and Diane turn up at the picnic spot but Jesse is obviously not there, as he has pulled off his own Heisenberg moment at Kandy’s and escaped to Alaska. Given the fact that they were entirely unaware of Jesse’s involvement with anything in relation to the drug business- especially Walt’s empire- it is improbable that the DEA questioned them intently.
What is possible is that they informed the cops about their son’s call to them in hopes of getting him the help they thought he deserved, but Jesse used a drop phone to call the house, so the chances of tracing his location were slim to begin with. What is more likely is that they find out- via the news- that Jesse has crossed over into Mexico and is still alive and on the run. We say this because we know from Better Call Saul that Skinny Pete’s impromptu idea of trading Todd’s El Camino for Badger’s car and his own worked out perfectly and the authorities bought their lie.
For the rest of their lives, the Pinkmans would live wondering whether their son was still alive, and whether he was doing okay, though they did get a degree of closure from Jesse earlier when he told them that they did the best they could with him and that all that had happened to him was on him and no one else. Perhaps they didn’t inform the cops, wanting to hedge their bets on the fact that Jesse would survive, and kept silent about the call to protect him but there is no clear way of knowing this.
What is clear is the fact that after the series gets over, the Pinkman family celebrates the only son left to them and he in turn makes them proud of their family name the right way. Because Diane mentioned Jake going to music camp in London, and we know that Jake is a piccolo guy. If we aren’t wrong in assuming that the Space Camp she was talking about in Breaking Bad was the NASA one, then it also isn’t a stretch to think that Jake’s Music Camp is actually taking place at the Royal Academy of Music- the most-prestigious musical institution arguably in the world.
If this assumption is correct, then it is very possible that Jake went on to become a concert flutist for real, and gained some degree of international fame and repute. Though Jesse doesn’t leave his parents a letter- like he does for Brock- he will be able to monitor their situation via the internet anytime he wanted to. And if Jake really did become famous, he’d learn of his brother’s success as well. Out of everyone in the Breaking Bad universe, the Pinkman Family are perhaps the only ones who were able to return to something resembling normal- and that is a win in a world as violent and unpredictable as the one Jesse stumbled into.
The Pinkman family, much like Jesse himself, get as much of a happy ending as is possible in a Vince Gilligan production. They are broken and dysfunctional and have their own set of issues when it comes to child-rearing, but their fates aren’t nearly as bad as they could have been, and that is thanks to Jesse Pinkman keeping his family out of the business.
The fact that out of every adult we met in the series- from Gus Fring to Hank Schrader to Jimmy McGill and even Walter White- tried to give this kid advice when they couldn’t help themselves from involving family in business is the mother of all ironies because Jesse, weirdly enough, played by the rules and got screwed for it. And he still managed to keep his own family in the clear, whether it was by reputation, deception or pure intimidation.
The Pinkman family is the only family that doesn’t lose anything when all things are considered- Jesse is still alive and living as Mr. Driscoll in Alaska and Adam, Diane & Jake have learnt how to live as a family of three ages before all this happened. And perhaps that is the only silver lining that the cynic within Vince Gilligan was okay with giving us. The Pinkmans remain at a status quo, technically, but their experiences and their trials and tribulations make them one of the most-empathetic Breaking Bad families; and yes, we are counting Irene Landry as well.