Take a trip down memory lane and relive the craziest and most emotional moments of "The Walking Dead's" seven seasons.
Major Spoiler Warning for all seven seasons of “The Walking Dead.”
On Halloween night in 2010, AMC debuted their zombie apocalypse drama that would go on to become one of the biggest shows on television, garnering critical acclaim and swarms of fans. The Season 7 Finale marked 99 episodes for the series and this October’s Season 8 Premiere will serve as the show’s 100th episode, something that very few dramas manage to reach in this day and age. Over the course of seven seasons, fans have been treated to romances, epic battles, powerful speeches and of course, heartbreaking character deaths. Take a trip down memory lane and relive the top 25 best moments of the series thus far.
25. Morgan’s path to peace (Season 6, Episode 4- “Here’s Not Here“)
Character-driven stories is one of the main reasons that “The Walking Dead” is so successful. After years of teasing, fan favorite character Morgan Jones finally stepped into a main role in Season 6 with viewers being treated to his story prior to arriving in Alexandria. Morgan was in a rough place after losing his son Duane, but after meeting the gentle giant Eastman, he was given a new purpose in life. Seeing Morgan evolve from a cold-blooded killer with the need to “clear” everyone from his path to a pacifist showcases the expert character development that the series boasts. Aikido training provided Morgan with a way back to a healthy mental state and allowed him to reconnect with Rick before making a new life for himself in Alexandria. This shift in his character also set in motion a truly gripping relationship between Morgan and Carol.
24. The Ricktatorship begins (Season 2, Episode 13- “Beside the Dying Fire”)
In the early days of the apocalypse, Rick’s leadership was almost constantly in question, mostly by his best friend Shane, but later by other members of the group like Carol and Glenn. After the death of Shane and the loss of the farm as a home, Rick realized that in order to keep his people safe, he would have to change the way he operated. With walkers everywhere and the growing threat of other humans becoming more prevalent, Rick chillingly proclaims to the group that “this isn’t a democracy anymore.” Not only is this a crazy way to end the season, but it also helped to set up the show’s new era, where Rick leads his people to their new home at the Prison. The so-called “Ricktatorship” is a term that fans use to highlight moments when the fearless leader shifts from a place of relative normalcy to absolute savagery.
23. Alexandria’s meeting takes a deadly turn (Season 5, Episode 16- “Conquer”)
The group’s transition from struggling on the road to life inside the picturesque Alexandria-Safe Zone is one of my favorite story arcs, mostly due to its growing tension and drastic change in the characters. Upon entry into the community, the viewers are introduced to a variety of new characters, with the Anderson and Monroe families being the standouts. It becomes clear that Alexandria isn’t the cheery place that it originally seemed as Carol manages to uncover the fact that Jessie and her sons are being abused by Pete. Rick tries to step in and intervene, but Deanna isn’t willing to accept killing as a form of punishment. That is until Deanna herself witnesses her kind husband Reg have his neck sliced open by Pete during a meeting to discuss banishing Rick. This moment serves as a major turning point for the community, as well as the original Alexandrian characters, who weren’t quite ready to face apocalyptic life; Deanna ordering Rick to execute Pete by simply saying “do it” will go down as the moment Alexandria’s leader accepted the new reality.
22. Deanna goes down fighting (Season 6, Episode 8- “Start to Finish“)
In her short time on the series, Tovah Feldshuh really delivered in her portrayal of Deanna Monroe. The leader of Alexandria welcomes Rick’s group into the community with open arms, immediately realizing that they would be an asset to her people’s long-term survival. While Deanna really didn’t get to see much action, she definitely got her hands dirty when the time came. With walkers flooding into Alexandria, Deanna doesn’t run and hide, but rather stands right beside Rick on the front lines. A lone walker manages to fatally bite her and she spends her final few hours imparting wisdom on Rick and Michonne, giving them motivation to carry Alexandria into the future. After realizing her time is almost up, Deanna prepares to prevent herself from turning, but instead uses her few bullets to kill a handful of walkers; this sacrifice may seem small, but it is Deanna’s own way of helping to save her beloved community and give her new family a chance at survival. Her death is even more tragic when she makes a return as a walker two episodes later, with her son Spencer being the one to put her down. She came to us as someone lucky to be alive and she left us as a badass in her own right.
21. Tyreese stands up for himself (Season 5, Episode 9- “What Happened and What’s Going On”)
“Ain’t nobody got to die today,” Tyreese defiantly states to his hallucination of The Governor. Season 5 of “The Walking Dead” packs a lot of punches when it comes to character deaths, with the mid-way point featuring the horrific deaths of Beth and Tyreese in back-to-back episodes. In his final moments, Tyreese gives a powerful speech that allows him to fully open up about the difficulties he faced thus far in the apocalypse; he doesn’t regret his decision to forgive Carol for killing his girlfriend Karen, nor does he believe that people must give up their humanity in order to survive. With hallucinations of some of his fallen family in the room, as well as two of his biggest foes, Tyreese makes it clear that good people can survive in the new world, even if he may not. Thanks to an outstanding performance from Chad L. Coleman, Tyreese’s exit from the series is especially memorable and his loss really manages to shake things up, especially for Sasha.
20. Morgan’s dilemma (Season 1, Episode 1- “Days Gone Bye”)
Killing walkers is almost second nature to the characters at this point, but it wasn’t always that way, especially when the walkers are family. In the first episode of the series, viewers are introduced to Morgan and his son Duane as they meet up with Rick shortly after he awakens from his coma. After they go their separate ways, Morgan is shown sniping several walkers from a window; his turned wife Jenny appears and Morgan is brought to tears at the idea of having to put down the love of his life. This was the moment that made me fully realize that “The Walking Dead” is not just a zombie show, but rather it is a story of human beings living their lives as the world crumbles around them. Watching Lennie James’ portrayal of a kind man facing a terrible struggle made the character of Morgan an instant favorite of mine. This rather brief scene has had a lasting effect as he was unable to go through with shooting Jenny, allowing her the opportunity to return later and attack Duane, setting Morgan down a truly dark path that he never really recovered from.
19. The Dixon brothers no more (Season 3, Episode 15- “This Sorrowful Life”)
When Daryl cries, we all cry. This is yet another powerful case of a character being placed in the situation where they must put down a loved one as a walker. Merle’s final episode gives him the chance to redeem himself completely after being an ally of The Governor for the first half and contributing to much of the conflict with Rick’s group. Merle goes down fighting, shooting several of The Governor’s soldiers before being shot by the man himself, who leaves him to turn. This sacrifice allows the Prison group to gain the upper hand and secure a win against Woodbury and The Governor later. The devastating reunion between Daryl and his walker brother serves as a major turning point for the sole surviving Dixon as he is forced to mourn, but also come to terms with the fact that he is now free from his brother’s shadow.
18. Daryl and Beth open up to each other (Season 4, Episode 12- “Still”)
Season 4’s Daryl and Beth-centric episode may be one of the most hated in the series, but I have always come to appreciate the simplicity of it, as well as the focus on the unique bond between two of the most starkly different characters on the show. Following Hershel’s death and the destruction of the Prison, Daryl really begins to close himself off and lose hope that anyone else in the group survived. Beth, on the other hand, keeps things together until this episode when she faces the full reality of losing her father. After an impassioned fight, where Beth proclaims that she is a true survivor, Daryl opens up to her about his guilt surrounding Hershel’s death. The two get drunk on moonshine together and Daryl tells Beth about his past, while she shares her vision of what life could have been had the altercation with The Governor not happened. This unification culminates into their symbolic burning of a cabin, signifying Daryl and Beth wiping away their past and moving forward to their new future.
17. Rick fulfills his promise to Gareth (Season 5, Episode 3- “Four Walls and a Roof”)
The conflict between our group of survivors and the cannibalistic residents of Terminus reaches its conclusion in Father Gabriel’s untouched church near the start of Season 5. Back in the Season Premiere, Rick makes a stern promise to the community’s leader Gareth that one day he would kill him. The day finally arrives in gruesome fashion as Rick, Michonne, Sasha and Abraham use their arsenal of weapons to slaughter the final few Terminians, leaving the serene church stained with blood. With Bob slowly slipping away after being bitten by a walker and having his leg eaten by Gareth’s gang, Sasha lets out all of her rage and emotions as she repeatedly stabs one of the cannibals. This is yet another case of Rick’s group of survivors being forced to commit a horrific atrocity to keep themselves alive.
16. Rick reunites with Lori and Carl (Season 1, Episode 3- “Tell it to the Frogs”)
The fact that Rick is a family man is pretty much the first thing that viewers learned about him. After waking up in the hospital and discovering that the world has ended, Rick makes it his mission to locate his son Carl and wife Lori. After being trapped in walker-infested Downtown Atlanta, Rick meets Glenn, who takes him to his camp just outside of the city. Shane, Carl and Lori are absolutely stunned when they see Rick walk up, mostly due to the fact that they truly believed that he was dead. Things are complicated ever further for Lori and Shane as they realize that their secret romance can no longer continue. The Grimes family reunion is pretty much the first heartwarming moment in the series, as the first two episodes are mostly focused on establishing just how grim and deadly the new world is.
15. Attack on the Savior outpost (Season 6, Episode 12- “Not Tomorrow Yet“)
Before the overwhelming scale of the Saviors was revealed to the characters and the viewers, Rick’s siege on the satellite station made it seem as though a threat had been extinguished for good. While the attack may have done more harm than good, it is truly a thrilling moment that allows every character to shine. Seeing Rick and the others stab sleeping Saviors in the head is unsettling, but showcases the actions that the characters must take in order to survive. A chaotic gunfight between our survivors and the Saviors erupts, made even more intense by the unique editing style which make it difficult to see exactly where the bullets are flying. Outside, Tara and Father Gabriel get their first human kills as they prevent anyone from escaping, while on the inside Glenn and Heath team up and gun down multiple Saviors, also their first human kills.
14. The farm is overrun (Season 2, Episode 13- “Beside the Dying Fire”)
Hershel’s family farm seemed as though it was a place of refuge for our survivors; in hindsight, the farm was not safe at all and this episode proves it. A massive herd of walkers is drawn to the farm by the sound of gunshots and absolute chaos erupts. Rick and Carl are forced into the barn, but soon find themselves trapped and decide to burn it down to create a distraction. Andrea, Glenn, Lori, Hershel and Daryl use their guns to kill as many walkers as they can, but quickly realize that they aren’t even making a dent. Everyone decides to abandon the farm, but in the mayhem, the group is separated and later reunite on the nearby highway. In terms of human losses, Beth’s boyfriend Jimmy and Hershel’s assistant Patricia are devoured by walkers, but the death of the farm is the real game-changer.
13. Spencer’s got guts (Season 7, Episode 8- “Hearts Still Beating“)
Spencer will go down as one of the most hated characters in “The Walking Dead” history and his brutal death at the hands of Negan is pretty much perfect. For more than a season, Spencer was shown making idiotic decisions and regularly questioning Rick’s leadership, even going so far as to blame the deaths of his brother and parents on him. When Negan pays a visit to Alexandria, Spencer takes it upon himself to attempt to get on his good side by bringing him liquor and playing pool with him. When Spencer brings up Rick’s “poor” leadership and his possible solution, Negan calls Spencer out for being cowardly and disloyal, both of which are qualities that Negan despises. Using his massive knife, Negan disembowels Spencer in front of the entire community, all the while joking about Spencer’s guts. What makes this moment more amazing is the complexity of it; Spencer was a douche bag, but he didn’t deserve to die, certainly not like this. Rick’s face upon seeing Spencer’s corpse says it all; he broke his promise to Deanna to keep Spencer safe.
12. A mother’s sacrifice (Season 3, Episode 4- “Killer Within”)
Whether you liked her or not, Lori’s death will forever be one of the most gut-wrenching moments in “The Walking Dead” history. Finding herself in conflict with Rick and Carl, Lori’s brief appearance in Season 3 is basically her redemption arc after spending much of the previous season causing strife between Rick and Shane. With a walker attack on the Prison, Lori is led through the darkened hallways by Maggie and Carl as she quickly figures out that she is in labor. Lori pretty much predicted that she would die during childbirth and with Hershel out of the picture, it’s up to Maggie to deliver the baby via emergency c-section. In this moment, Carl rapidly transitions from a child to an adult as he says farewell to his mother before helping Maggie deliver baby Judith; “goodnight love” Lori tearfully says as her final words. With Lori now dead, Carl must do the unthinkable and shoot his mother in the head to prevent her from turning; a flashback of a conversation that Rick had with Carl about death is shown. Moments later, Rick reunites with Carl, but is shocked to find Maggie holding his newborn daughter with Lori no where to be found. The emotionally powerful performances from Andrew Lincoln, Sarah Wayne Callies, Lauren Cohan and Chandler Riggs help to make this moment incredibly tragic and unforgettable.
11. Rick takes a bite out of Joe (Season 4, Episode 16- “A”)
The Claimers are pretty much my least favorite storyline and group of antagonists in “The Walking Dead.” That being said, the climactic showdown between the group and Rick is often cited as one of the most savage moments in the show’s run. While on the road to Terminus, Rick, Michonne and Carl stop on the side of the road for the night and are ambushed by the Claimers, led by Joe. Daryl was tagging along with the group and pleads for Joe to let his people go, but Joe wants revenge for Rick killing one of the Claimers. With Daryl being beaten up, a gun pointed at Michonne and Carl about to be raped, Rick takes it upon himself to get out of the situation by biting Joe in the neck. This completely unexpected move allows Daryl and Michonne to fight back and kill the other aggressors as Rick uses a knife to repeatedly stab the rapist Claimer. Rick has never been quite the same since this night, but who can really blame him for doing what he did?
10. Attack of the Wolves (Season 6, Episode 2- “JSS“)
Since its introduction, Alexandria has been attacked several times and the survivors have had to unite and defend their home, but the first siege on the community was the ultimate test for some of the more untrained survivors. Chaos strikes the tranquil neighborhood as the mysterious group launch a full-scale strike, brutally murdering some Alexandrians while taking others prisoner. Carol quickly shifts into warrior mode and disguises herself as a Wolf, complete with a “w” on her forehead, before shooting every attacker that she can find. With Rick, Michonne and some of the others away, residents such as Jessie get their moment to shine as they protect their home and family. There’s also Morgan’s inability to kill, which causes problems down the line as he allow several members of the Wolves to leave unharmed. This action-packed battle is thrilling from beginning to end, but also leaves a pile of bodies behind as numerous Alexandrians are slaughtered.
9. Rambo Carol (Season 5, Episode 1- “No Sanctuary”)
What is widely-regarded as her character’s defining moment, Carol’s solo assault on the Terminus compound made viewers realize that the meek housewife from Season 1 was completely gone. Sure, Carol had previously made some difficult choices and moves, but this just may be one of the most important moments in the whole series; had Carol not done this, the rest of Rick’s group would have likely been the next meal for the residents of Terminus. By using her cleverness, Carol sets off an explosion and utilizing a large walker herd to break down the compound’s defenses. She then disguises herself as a walker and infiltrates Terminus, sniping guards and providing a distraction to allow Rick and the others to escape. Carol’s impressive character development culminates into this moment when she solidifies herself as the group’s most hardened fighter.
8. Rick and Shane’s final standoff (Season 2, Episode 12- “Better Angels”)
Over the first two seasons of the series, viewers witness the slow deterioration of the friendship between Rick and Shane. Not only does Shane view Rick as being incapable of keeping the group safe, his unhealthy obsession with Lori and Carl make him lose sight of the ultimate goal of survival. With each passing episode, the gap between Rick and Shane increases until the fateful night when a betrayal shakes up the group forever. Shane manages to trick Rick and lead him out into a field on the farm, where he gives a gripping speech about why things will improve for everyone if Rick dies; “I’m a better father than you” Shane shouts, twisting the blade deeper and deeper until the situation crosses the point of no return. Rick inches closer to Shane, attempting to talk him down before shoving his knife directly into Shane’s chest. Rick is immediately affected by what he has done, letting out a series of guttural cries as Carl arrives, stunned by what has just unfolded; in a dramatic turn of events, Shane reanimates as a walker and Carl puts him down. While Shane may be one of my all time favorite characters, Rick’s decision here is completely justifiable.
7. Just look at the flowers (Season 4, Episode 14- “The Grove”)
In a show filled with disturbing moments and a constant stream of death, one episode stands out as the darkest of the entire series. Over the course of Season 4, viewers get to know young sisters Lizzie and Mika, who are orphaned by the apocalypse and adopted by Carol. It’s perfectly clear from her introduction that something isn’t quite right with Lizzie; she is suffering from some form of mental illness and she refuses to kill walkers out of fear that they are still living people. No one comes to terms with just how serious her situation is until Carol and Tyreese discover that Lizzie has fatally stabbed Mika in the stomach. Carol and Tyreese are left to question what they will do with Lizzie, but in the end, they decide to choose the humane option. Carol walks Lizzie out into a field and tells her to “look at the flowers” before she shoots her in the back of the head. This impossible decision made by Carol showcases more of the brutality of the world; in a normal society, Lizzie likely would have been able to receive help for her illness, but in the apocalypse, she is simply too big of a threat.
6. Richonne becomes real (Season 6, Episode 10- “The Next World“)
For much of the show’s run, Glenn and Maggie are the stand out relationship, but in Season 6, a new power couple enters the scene. Rick and Michonne did not get along when they first met, but slowly built a friendship as fate seemed to keep pushing them together. For years, viewers spotted hints of romance between the two, with Andrew Lincoln even expressing his desire for the characters to get together. This finally became reality in a simple moment of normalcy as Rick and Michonne sit together in their Alexandria home and discuss the difficult day they had. One thing leads to another and they end up making out before taking things to the the bedroom. Joy is rather rare in the zombie apocalypse, so moments such as this remind the viewers and characters that good can always come out of the bad. Two epic warriors finally conveying their love for each other adds yet another layer to “The Walking Dead’s” humanity.
5. Hershel meets his end (Season 4, Episode 8- “Too Far Gone”)
Serving as the show’s moral compass, Hershel will always be remembered as the glue that held the group together. The Governor reigned terror for all of Season 3, before disappearing and making an unrelenting return to stage a massive attack on the Prison. Capturing Hershel and Michonne, holding them as hostages and demanding that Rick’s group leave the area immediately makes for an intense episode that reaches its heart-shattering climax; The Governor uses Michonne’s katana to decapitate Hershel as his family watches in horror. This triggers a gigantic battle between the Prison team and The Governor’s people, but ultimately ends with countless survivors dead and the main group separated and scattered. The murder of Hershel affects all of the characters, but most notably his two daughters Maggie and Beth, as well as Rick, who viewed the Greene patriarch as a father figure. This loss is often cited as the most painful death in the whole series.
4. Negan’s reign of terror begins (Season 7, Episode 1- “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be“)
While Negan was technically introduced at the end of Season 6, his presence is felt fully in the Season 7 premiere when the six-month death cliffhanger is finally resolved. Following his terrifying monologue, Negan plays a sinister game of “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe” before selecting Abraham as his victim. Using his baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire, called Lucille, Negan bashes Abraham’s head in, laughing and joking all the while. As if one major death wasn’t enough, Negan responds to Daryl stepping out of line by murdering Glenn as Maggie and the others watch on in absolute shock. It isn’t until the sun comes up and Negan leaves that the broken group is able to deal with their losses. The gruesomeness of the deaths, the sudden exit of two long-term characters and the breathtaking performances from the entire cast establish this moment as quite possibly the most iconic and devastating of the entire series.
3. The Sophia reveal (Season 2, Episode 7- “Pretty Much Dead Already”)
A large portion of the first half of Season 2 shows the group searching for Carol’s missing daughter Sophia. After settling on the farm and becoming caught up in other bits of drama, it becomes more and more unlikely that Sophia will ever be found. That is until Shane becomes angered over Hershel’s rules and the fact that the Greene family is keeping walkers in the barn. He gathers everyone at the barn and gives a chilling speech about how everyone must fight if they wish to survive; he opens up the barn doors and several of the characters begin shooting at the walkers as they pour out. Everything calms down until a lone walker stumbles out of the barn, with the camera slowly revealing it to be Sophia. Everyone is traumatized by this loss, especially Carol who cries out as Rick steps forward and shoots walker Sophia in the head; it’s important to note that this loss put Carol on the path to where she is today. This reveal still stands as the most shocking scene that I have ever witnessed in a television series.
2. Alexandria fights back (Season 6, Episode 9- “No Way Out“)
The Sixth Mid-Season Premiere is an absolute masterpiece and is my pick for the best episode of the series. With Alexandria overrun with walkers, a chain of events is set off that alters the community and its inhabitants forever. Sam’s inability to stay quiet and keep moving while amongst the herd causes walkers to pounce and devour him, prompting his mother Jessie to scream out. She is then eaten, causing her other son Ron to release all of his pent up anger and shoot Carl in the eye. Seeing the entire Anderson family being taken out in a matter of minutes and the seemingly-fatal shooting of Carl aren’t entirely shocking, but do contribute to the episode’s climactic battle. Every single character links up to build a human wall in the streets of Alexandria to completely decimate all of the walkers. This unification signifies the end of the “us vs. them” mentality that Rick previously held; this is the moment that everyone became an Alexandrian.
1. The Great Battle of Alexandria (Season 7, Episode 16- “The First Day of the Rest of Your Life“)
Season 7 ends with an explosive clash between five different groups as the highly anticipated war finally begins. Deciding that life under Negan is unacceptable, Rick and company team up with other communities with the hope of bringing down the Saviors once and for all. Things don’t go exactly as planned as the junkyard Scavengers betray Alexandria, but Sasha’s final sacrifice allows them to regain control of their home; soldiers from the Kingdom and the Hilltop arrive and the epic battle plays out. Shiva the tiger mauls several Saviors to death as Ezekiel loudly and proudly proclaims that “Alexandria will not fall, not on this day.” Witnessing the three different communities and their respective leaders come together to fight off their oppressors is simply too incredible to put into words. All Out War has arrived and this battle is just a taste of what is to come.
What are your favorite moments from the series? Feel free to leave a comment and share them. Be sure to stay tuned to the Niner Times for continued coverage of “The Walking Dead” franchise, including Season 3 of “Fear the Walking Dead” this June and Season 8 of the original series when it returns this October.