Breaking Bad Wiki
Breaking Bad Wiki

"Cancer Man" is the fourth episode of the first season of Breaking Bad and the fourth episode overall.



1x04 - Hank showing the mask

During a meeting at the DEA's Albuquerque field office, Hank puts his team on notice that "new players" are producing a super-pure type of methamphetamine, describing the criminals as possessing a high skill set. The scene then cuts to Walt, standing at his bathroom mirror in his underwear, brushing his teeth.

Act I[]

01-Ep4 02 BB 0003

Walt and his family discusses his situation.

Walt, Hank, Skyler, Marie, and Junior have a barbecue at the White residence. Walt reminisces about the first time he met Skyler, which causes her to burst into tears and run inside the house. When Marie asks Walt what is wrong, he tells the rest of the family about his cancer diagnosis. Junior, Hank, and Marie are shocked at the news. Skyler blames chemicals from Walt's past lab work for the cancer while Marie proposes an oncology treatment plan. Privately, Hank assures Walt that he will take care of his family if the worst comes to pass.

1x04 - Jesse's hallucination

Meanwhile, Jesse is at his house with two friends, Combo and Skinny Pete. Jesse brags about cooking a great batch of meth but only offers them marijuana, saying he's trying to lay off the meth because it's making him paranoid. When they get up to leave, Jesse says he is just joking and pulls a bag out of his pocket. The next morning, Jesse peers through parted curtains at the street outside and, under meth-induced hallucinations, mistakes two Mormon missionaries as a pair of threatening gang bikers. Jesse grabs the bag of meth and climbs over a wall to escape.

Act II[]

Walt locks himself in a bathroom to treat the wounds on his right leg caused by Krazy-8. Just as he gets dressed, he sees a blood stain on his pants and starts cleaning it. Skyler makes an appointment for Walt to visit a top-rated oncologist. Walt initially balks at paying a $5,000 deposit on the treatment but eventually relents, saying he'll borrow the money from his pension. Instead, he retrieves some drug money he has hidden in a heating duct inside his house. Walt pretends he's checking for mice when Junior interrupts him, confused by Walt acting as if nothing is going on.

Ken Wins

While Walt is visiting his credit union, a man in a BMW convertible, his license plate reading "KEN WINS," swipes his parking space while loudly talking into his Bluetooth earpiece. Inside the credit union, Walt presents a teller a wad of cash and asks for a cashier's check made out to the oncology partnership. While he waits in line, Ken loudly continues his conversation, replete with terminology that offends many in the bank.

That night, a mother, father, and a well-dressed preteen boy are eating dinner in their home when they hear a noise outside. The family, revealed to Jesse's parents and his little brother Jake, investigate and discover Jesse with one foot stuck in their patio furniture. They reluctantly allow Jesse to sleep at their house. When he awakes the next evening, Jesse's parents reluctantly decide to let Jesse stay with them on condition that he attend support group meetings concerning his drug use. However, Jesse's mother frets about Jesse's presence potentially affecting Jake. Jesse's father says they must lay down the law and be consistent about it this time. However, when they go to confront him, they see him setting the table for dinner and decide not to.

At the high school, Junior sits peering into a microscope in his father's empty chemistry classroom. After a long pause, Walt, who is grading papers, tells his son that things have a way of working themselves out. Junior doesn't reply.

1x04 - Jesse in Jake's room

Back at the Pinkman residence, Jesse visits Jake's bedroom and looks at his various educational awards. He congratulates Jake but advises that "not all learning comes out of books." After their mother checks in on them but leaves the door open, Jesse becomes upset at the notion that their mother thinks he would corrupt their their favorite son, although Jake tells him that it is Jesse who their parents always talk about.

Act III[]

Alone in his former bedroom, Jesse comes across a chemistry paper from high school that Walt had graded with an "F". On the back, he had drawn an obscene caricature mocking the teacher. As he sees this, Combo calls and says Jesse has got customers for his new meth product. After the sale, Jesse heads over to Walt's house the next day to tell him the news, but Walt is instead angry that Jesse has come to the house to talk business and accuses Jesse of wearing a wire. Walt orders him to leave. Before Jesse does, he leaves $4,000 that their customers have paid for the meth by throwing it into the air, many of which falls into the pool. As Jesse leaves, Walt uses a pool cleaner to scoop up the money out of the water.

Act IV[]

1x04 - Second opinions

Walt's new oncologist, Dr. Delcavoli, tells him and Skyler that his cancer is at Stage 3A, meaning it has spread from his lungs to his lymph nodes. Skyler asks if it's curable; Dr. Delcavoli prefers the word treatable. Walt asks about side effects, but zones out as the oncologist describes them.

Pinkman House

Jesse being kicked out of his parents' house again.

Meanwhile, a maid dusting Jesse's bedroom finds a marijuana joint hidden in a potted plant, resulting in his parents demanding that he leave the house. Jesse picks up the joint and walks away. As he waits for a taxi outside, Jake comes to say goodbye, thanking Jesse for taking the fall before asking for the joint back. Jesse instead crumples it, grinds it into the pavement, and kicks it away, telling Jake it's bad weed before getting into the taxi.

Skyler asks Walt if he can start his treatment the following week, but Walt expresses reluctance to commit to $90,000 worth of treatment that might not work and could leave them broke. Annoyed at his father giving up so easily, Junior tells him to just give up and die.

Danny's Auto Service

While driving around the city, Walt pulls into a gas station during a severe coughing fit, one where he hacks up blood. Walt sees Ken pull up in his car, honking at a pedestrian and talking loudly into his earpiece. While Ken is inside the gas station, Walt picks up a squeegee and lays the squeegee between the battery terminals of Ken's car, creating an electrical short. As he walks back to his own car, the BMW bursts into flames.

Official Photos[]


  • Uncensored on home video. Walter, Jr. says, "Then why don't you just fucking die already?"
  • This episode is the first to introduce two of Jesse's closest friends, Combo and Skinny Pete.
  • Walt Jr. is watching Earth vs. the Flying Saucers on TV.
  • Creator Vince Gilligan got his start in television with the series The X-Files, which featured a character who was occasionally referred to as "Cancer Man."
  • Gilligan said that this episode is a major turning point in the series. This might be because this is the episode where Walter tells his family that that he has cancer, or it might him blowing up Ken's car, his first willful and spiteful act of violence (the deaths of Emilio and Krazy-8 were largely forced on him). 
  • Hank compares Krazy-8 to The Jeffersons, “always moving up.”
  • Hank sarcastically calls Walt "Emeril" after Walt burns the chicken while zoning out.



  • In the scene when Jesse's family is having dinner, actor Michael Bofshever drops his fork along with food to the ground as they hear the commotion caused by Jesse in the backyard. In the next shot you can see the fork back on the plate.



  • Ben Petry as Jake Pinkman
  • David House as Dr. Delcavoli
  • Jon Kristian Moore as DEA Agent
  • Tish Miller as Bank Teller
  • Charles Baker as Skinny Pete
  • Rodney Rush as Chubby Stoner

  • Uncredited

  • Michael-David Aragon as DEA Agent #2
  • Robert Anthony Brass as Bank Customer
  • Tavia Schwartz as Home Buyer

  • Filming Locations[]

    Featured Music[]

    • "Étienne de Silhouette" by Black Feather (playing in Walt Jr.'s headphones)
    • "Fly" by The Pack (while Jesse, Combo, & Skinny Pete hang out)
    • "Walt Bandages His Leg" by Dave Porter (while Walt bandages his leg)
    • "Baby Girl, I'm A Blur" by Say Anything (playing in Ken's car as he steals Walt's parking space)
    • "Quartet No. 53 in D major, The Lark, Op. 64, No. 5, Second movement, Adagio cantabile by Joseph Haydn" by Amadeus Quartet (while the Pinkman family eat dinner)
    • "You're All They Talk About" by Dave Porter (while Jesse struggles to sleep at night)
    • "Didn't I" by Darondo (as Walt sabotages Ken's car)

    Memorable Quotes[]

    "So be on notice: We got new players in town. Now we don’t know who they are or where they came from, but they possess an extremely high skill set. Me personally, I think Albuquerque might just have a new kingpin."
    ―Hank talking to his DEA team about Heisenberg's arrival.

    "I have cancer. Lung cancer. It's bad."
    ―Walt confesses his illness to his family.

    Skyler: "What is there to discuss? You're going to get the best treatment and he's the best."
    Walter: "Well, there's the money discussion. $90,000 out of pocket. Maybe more."
    Skyler: "There's a way, Walt. There's financing, there's installment plans. I could always go back to work. Walt, there's always a way."
    Walter: "Alright. Skyler, say that there is a way, and we spend all that money, I supposed to leave you with all that debt? I just don't want emotions ruling us. Maybe treatment isn't the way to go."
    Walter Jr.: "Then why don't you just fucking die already? Just give up and die."
    ―The White family is arguing about Walt's cancer treatment.