'The Walking Dead': Ranking All 99 Episodes

Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan in AMC's The Walking Dead.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan in AMC’s The Walking Dead. (Photo: Gene Page/AMC)

To celebrate the Oct. 22 Season 8 premiere of The Walking Dead — the series’ 100th episode — Yahoo TV will be posting a new TWD-related story every day through the season opener.

As we wait to find out where Episode 100 will land in the lineup, here’s our ranking of the first 99 episodes of The Walking Dead, starting at 99 and ending with the installment that gets our vote as the best, most memorable, most impactful episode of the first seven seasons. And while we think there’s a good chance you might agree with our pick for No. 1, we’re guessing a few other spots on our list might prove to be a bit more divisive. If so, feel free to sound off in the comments.

Andrea and Amy in AMC's The Walking Dead.
Andrea and Amy in AMC’s The Walking Dead. (Photo: Gene Page/AMC)

99. “Wildfire,” Season 1, Episode 5
Andrea shoots her reanimated sister, Amy, in the head, and the gang heads towards the CDC in this penultimate installment of the premiere season. The highlight: the first appearance of guest star Noah Emmerich’s Dr. Edwin Jenner, the CDC scientist who is considering suicide because he has no hope for a cure for the “wildfire” disease panic that was declared more than six months earlier.

98. “Secrets,” Season 2, Episode 6
Glenn is supposed to keep secrets about the walkers in Hershel’s barn and the baby in Lori’s belly, while Lori spills her big scoop — about her affair with Shane — to Rick, who promptly shares a secret of his own: “I know. Of course I know,” he says. “The world went to s**t, and you thought I was dead … right?”

97. “Slabtown,” Season 5, Episode 4
After the cannibals of Terminus, Dawn and Gorman and Dr. Edwards come off as run-of-the-mill creeps. Plus, we’re sorry, Beth fans, but while she is — er, was — fine as a supporting character, letting her be front and center for a whole episode makes for too much Beth.

96. “Something They Need,” Season 7, Episode 15
A prolonged return trip to the Oceanside wasn’t something anyone really needed, even though it did mean seeing those cool barnacle walkers. It’s the opening moments of the episode that provide the most memorable scenes, from Negan establishing without question where he stands on sexual assault (farewell, “Rapey Davey”), and how he admires (admired) Sasha’s fierceness and her “beach ball-sized lady nuts.”

95. “Crossed,” Season 5, Episode 7
It’s a necessary though forgettable episode, as the one that sets up Rick and company’s showdown with the Grady Hospital crew that would happen in the next episode. It also finds Father Gabriel still at his most cowardly, as he flees his own church and is immediately reminded how ill-equipped he is to survive on his own.

94. “I Ain’t a Judas,” Season 3, Episode 11
Beth sings, the Governor plots yet another attack on the prison, and Andrea refuses to help her friends infiltrate Woodbury or to kill the Governor when she has a chance. It’s Andrea at her most irritating, as she won’t commit to taking any real action towards stopping the Governor, but she’s aware enough of his machinations that she considers stabbing him as he slumbers.

93. “Swear,” Season 7, Episode 6
Being introduced to new communities is a fun aspect of the show, and the Oceanside women are an interesting bunch, with an interesting backstory. But if a group lacks a compelling personality as its leader — like a Negan or an Ezekiel — it’s best to introduce it via a series regular who’s able to carry an episode on her or his own. Unfortunately, neither Oceanside leader Natania, nor Alexandrian Tara, who brings the Oceansiders into the TWD universe, are captivating enough to integrate the new survivors into the storyline in an exciting way. The episode’s biggest problem, though, is where it falls in the season lineup: after Abe and Glenn’s deaths, after Daryl’s torture at the Sanctuary, after Negan’s first visit to rankle Rick in Alexandria, and before Rick’s group musters up hope that they can beat the Saviors. With the core group so scattered and disheartened, viewers simply weren’t open to embracing a lackluster new group or considering that its introduction would pay off down the road when the Alexandrians were in desperate need of weapons.

92. “Still,” Season 4, Episode 12
A vulnerable Daryl dishing up fresh details on his childhood with his abusive and neglectful family, and then getting the chance to let go of it by burning down a cabin that reminds him of home? Yay. But there is so much Beth in this bottle episode, and the character’s past seems even less compelling unpacked alongside tales of Daryl’s harsh history. Still, it is a more confident Daryl that flips off the burning house, along with Beth, at the end, and Ms. Greene plays a significant role in that evolution.

91. “Prey,” Season 3, Episode 14
As was inevitable, Andrea has to face up to who the Governor really is when she becomes his titular prey. Their cat-and-mouse play in an abandoned factory is suspenseful, especially when it appears she might have permanently dispatched his evildoing by leading him into a trap of walkers. But he lives to stalk another day, and the episode becomes another gateway to even more Governor-led heartbreak for the Grimes group, and, specifically, Andrea.

90. “Nebraska,” Season 2, Episode 8
Hershel’s trip to a local bar to drown his sorrows after being forced to face the truth about his now-destroyed zombie family members not only reveals his alcoholic past, but sets up what will be an ongoing theme of the series: that other humans are often far bigger threats to survivors than the walkers are. In this instance, that comes via Dave and Tony, two travelers who enter the bar and initially seem friendly enough. But when they insist Hershel — and Rick and Glenn, who’ve come to bring Hershel home — tell them where the Greene farm is, Rick refuses, Dave and Tony become hostile, guns are unholstered, and Rick shows his lawman instincts and reflexes by shooting the two threats before they have the chance to inflict real damage. Good Rick ep, but at this point, we had yet to get the kind of developments on the Hershel and Glenn fronts that would make us eventually fall in love with those characters.

89. “Now,” Season 6, Episode 5
Rick and Jessie kiss for the first time, as do Tara and Denise, but much of the episode is spent with Aaron and Maggie traversing a sewer to get outside the Alexandria walls and search for the missing Glenn. A walker herd ultimately prevents them from going on the hunt, but Deanna’s appointment of Rick as her proxy for the town’s leadership gives the installment some real significance in the scheme of things.

88. “Sing Me a Song,” Season 7, Episode 7
We know how Negan operates in general, but we get our first look at the inner workings of his home, the Sanctuary, when Carl sneaks in with the intention of killing Negan. We meet his harem, and, along with Carl, are introduced to one of Negan’s favorite rules-infraction punishments when he hot irons the face of a guy who reunited with his ex — now one of Negan’s “wives” — behind Negan’s back. Even more frightening: Negan takes Carl home and gets a more detailed look at the inner workings of Alexandria, including the discovery of Carl’s baby sister, Judith.

87. “Cherokee Rose,” Season 2, Episode 4
Low on action, the episode is packed with memorable moments: Rick’s group moves onto the Greene family farm; the beginning of Daryl and Carol bonding when he brings her the titular flower as a signal of hope that they’ll find Sophia; Glenn and Maggie have sex for the first time; the gang tries to move — then loses half of — the infamous well walker; and Lori gets confirmation she’s pregnant.

86. “The Other Side,” Season 7, Episode 14
Sasha and Rosita journey to the Sanctuary to kill Negan, setting up the highlight of the episode as the road trip provides them with the chance to get to know each other and bond, both despite and because of their love of Abraham. Rosita also reveals her secret to surviving thus far: she partnered up with various boyfriends, then learned — and mastered — skills they had. Elsewhere, Maggie and Daryl finally talk about Daryl’s role in Glenn’s death, with her telling him Glenn believed he was a good guy, and that she does not hold him responsible for her husband’s murder by Negan. In between all the emotional action, Sasha and Maggie teach the Hilltoppers how to defend themselves in the upcoming war against the Saviors, training that will pay off just a couple of episodes later, and will likely continue to pay off in Season 8’s continuing battles with Negan and company.

Steven Ogg as Simon and Xander Berkeley as Gregory in AMC's The Walking Dead.
Steven Ogg as Simon and Xander Berkeley as Gregory in AMC’s The Walking Dead. (Photo: Gene Page/AMC)

85. “The First Day of the Rest of Your Life,” Season 7, Episode 16
A cliffhanger-free season ender is a good call after Season 6’s divisive finale. Sasha sacrifices herself to give her friends a chance to survive another deadly attack by the Saviors, and the Alexandrians learn some of their new friends — Jadis and company — can’t be trusted, while some (Dwight) can. They’re shocked that their old buddy Eugene seems to be on #TeamNegan now, and Alexandria’s new cohorts at the Hilltop and the Kingdom save Rick and company’s bacon when they ride into town and stop Negan from fully carrying out his killer plot. Best of all: Shiva’s flying attack, confirmation that budget earmarked for the CGI tiger was money well spent.

84. “Tell It to the Frogs,” Season 1, Episode 3
Everyone’s happy to see Rick reunite with his family … well, everyone except for Rick’s cop partner and BFF, Shane, who thinks he’s established a family with Lori and Carl after the presumed death of Rick. It’s the setup for what will become an ongoing soap until near the end of the second season, and it will continue to reverberate into Season 7, when Rick reveals he’s always known that Judith was Shane’s daughter, not his.

83. “Bloodletting,” Season 2, Episode 2
The introduction of the Greene family farm gives us one of the most beloved characters ever in Hershel, and one of the show’s most important future leaders in Maggie.

82. “Twice As Far,” Season 6, Episode 14
The death of Alexandria doctor Denise is a big loss, and the return of Dwight, who kills her, establishes a character who seems destined to be an important one for seasons to come. Carol embarks on her self-imposed sabbatical just when the group is going to need her most, and in a much needed moment of levity, Eugene and Abraham make up — with Abe praising Eugene’s independence and the junk-biting skills that helped save lives during a battle with Dwight and the Saviors — after the two pals fought earlier on a recon trip to a potential bullet factory.



81. “Them,” Season 5, Episode 10
It’s a bleak time for Rick’s group, as they try to deal with the recent losses of Beth and Tyreese and maintain hope that there’s a reason they should continue to fight to survive. On top of that, they’re exhausted, they’re traveling on foot with no food or water because of a draught, and Rick’s assertion that they should pretend they’re already dead, “the walking dead” — which is how his grandfather survived fighting in World War II — freaks Daryl out. They also resort to killing and eating dogs they see along the road, and only a thunderstorm provides relief as they get water … until they meet Aaron, a stranger who offers bottled water and introduces himself as a friend. It’s a tough episode to watch, as the hardships continue to pile up, and the audience, like the characters, is afraid to trust this new person.

80. “The Suicide King,” Season 3, Episode 9
Rick and Maggie help Daryl and Merle escape from Woodbury, where the Governor had pitted them against each other in a fight to the death. But Merle’s past actions lead the group to refuse to let him live at the prison, so Daryl sticks with his kin and the brothers head off on their own in an episode also marked by Rick’s vision of dead wife Lori. The episodes takes one of our favorite characters — Daryl — away from the group and brings one not-so-favorite ghost, Lori, back.

79. “East,” Season 6, Episode 15
Any time any character separates from the rest of the pack, it could be the last time we ever see them, and that proves to be true for many in this outing. Too many Alexandrians leave home, leading to the season finale that will reunite most of them just to see Glenn and Abraham’s heads meet the business end of Lucille. Thank goodness we get to see Carol’s coat-sleeve gun takedown of some Saviors, because it’s the last win Rick’s group is going to get for a while.

78. “Vatos,” Season 1, Episode 4
The first episode of the series written by TWD creator Robert Kirkman opens with a bright spot in the apocalyptic aftermath: sisters Amy and Andrea finally have an opportunity and time to bond. That makes Amy’s death in a walker attack later in the episode even more crushing, while no one’s really too upset about another death at the survivors’ camp: Carol’s abusive husband, Ed, who becomes zombie chow while sulking in his tent.

77. “Coda,” Season 5, Episode 8
Not the best of midseason finales, but the death of Beth, and the fact that she dies just as she was about to be free from the Creepy Creepersons at Grady Memorial, is a memorable way to wrap up the season. It also brought an end to the hopes of Beth and Daryl shippers, whose final image of the romance that would never be is also memorable: Daryl carrying Beth’s dead body out of the hospital and into the sight of her sister, Maggie.

76. “Go Getters,” Season 7, Episode 5
Any time we get to hear Negan’s right-hand man, Simon, speak, it’s a good thing, and Maggie punching the cowardly Gregory as he dares to defend the Saviors as reasonable — to the two women whose beloveds have just been murdered in front of them by Negan — is delightful. But bringing that all to a crashing halt every time the scene switches to them: Carl and Enid and their rollerskating date to the Sanctuary. Individually, Carl and Enid are cool. But apocalyptic puppy love in the face of war against the Saviors? We ain’t got time for that, Coral!

75. “Knots Untie,” Season 6, Episode 11
We meet Gregory and are introduced to the Hilltop, where Rick and his group make a deal to kill Negan and the Saviors — which they believe to be a small group — in exchange for food, medicine, and a cow from Gregory. It’s the beginning of an uneasy alliance at best, but it’s also secondary to the real takeaway from the episode: Abraham’s “While you were pouring the Bisquick, were you trying to make pancakes?” query to Glenn about impending fatherhood. It not only inspired many a video clip and T-shirt, but Michael Cudlitz cleverly turned his character’s signature line into an ongoing fan event food drive that has helped collect literally tons of canned goods, boxed food, and, yes, Bisquick, for those in need.

74. “Service,” Season 7, Episode 4
Negan’s first visit to Alexandria doesn’t just reinforce how tight a rein he plans to keep on Rick and the community, it also reveals how shaken to the core Rick remains after the deaths of Glenn and Abraham. Rick confides in Michonne (revealing it to the audience too) that he knows Judith is the result of his dead wife’s affair with his best friend. He had to accept that in order to keep the baby alive, he says. That’s the situation they’re in with Negan, he tells Michonne. They have to accept living under his rule in order to stay alive, and Rick, at this point, is broken and willing to do that.

73. “Rock in the Road,” Season 7, Episode 9
Oh, but what a difference a few episodes can make. As miserable as most of the first half of Season 7 is, this episode kicks off the second half and finds Rick and his crew venturing to the Kingdom to meet with King Ezekiel and try to convince him to ally his community with Alexandria and the Hilltop and fight back against the Saviors. Ezekiel’s not ready to throw in just yet, but an ingenious Rick and Michonne stunt with some cars and wire that cuts down a horde of walkers and the introduction of yet another new group of potential partners in the war against Negan — Jadis and the Heapsters (also called “Scavengers” by some fans) — has Rick getting back to his old Ricktatorship self.

Khary Payton as Ezekiel and Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes in AMC&#39;s The Walking Dead.
Khary Payton as Ezekiel and Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes in AMC’s The Walking Dead. (Photo: Gene Page/AMC)

72. “Dead Weight,” Season 4, Episode 7
This episode, which followed the best midseason finale yet, sets up nicely how little the Governor’s attempts at redemption actually worked, something we fully realize when he makes his final attack on the prison in 408. Here, his insecurities about his leadership and guilt about the loss of his wife and daughter come back to haunt him, and prevent him from abandoning his cruel ways focusing on the new (and doomed) family he’s trying to build with Lilly, Meghan, and Tara.

71. “Alone,” Season 4, Episode 13
Beth is kidnapped, and Bob and Sasha begin a relationship, but it’s Bob’s backstory that informs the title and endears the character to us. He’s the last man standing from two previous groups, and after spending too much time on his own, he meets Glenn and Daryl and tells them it doesn’t matter who they are … he wants to join their camp. “I’m not alone,” he further explains to Sasha when she asks why he’s smiling. “You’d be smiling too.”

Steven Yeun as Glenn Rhee and Michael Cudlitz as Abraham Ford in AMC&#39;s The Walking Dead.
Steven Yeun as Glenn Rhee and Michael Cudlitz as Abraham Ford in AMC’s The Walking Dead. (Photo: Gene Page/AMC)

70. “Self Help,” Season 5, Episode 5
Michael Cudlitz does some of his finest work as Abraham’s backstory is revealed: his wife and children were so frightened by seeing the violence he was capable of to protect them that they fled from him. When he found them, they had been killed by walkers, and he felt like he had nothing to live for. Just as Abraham was about to shoot himself, a screaming Eugene came running towards him, with two hangry walkers in tow. Abe saved him, and when Eugene told him he needed to get to Washington, D.C., to help with the efforts to cure the zombie outbreak, Abraham had a new reason to live: get Eugene to D.C. and save the world. Abraham’s anger and violence towards Eugene is understandable, then, when in this episode Eugene confesses he is not a scientist and knows nothing about any cure. He concocted a lie to get himself to Washington, where he thought he’d have the best chance of surviving.

69. “Arrow on the Doorpost,” Season 3, Episode 13
Rick and the Governor meet face-to-face for the first time, and the Governor demands Rick turn over Michonne, lest he kill everyone at the prison. But it’s the other interactions between the Woodbury-ans and Rick’s group that are more enlightening. Daryl and Hershel provide guard for Rick outside, while Martinez and Milton protect the Governor’s interests. Though they initially butt heads and are hostile with each other, Martinez bonds with Daryl over walker kills and cigarettes, while men of science Milton and Hershel connect about documenting post-apocalyptic history. If the Governor had been removed from the equation, there’s a chance the Woodbury residents and the prison dwellers could have formed one big community, or, at the least, coexisted separately, but peacefully.

68. “Judge, Jury, Executioner,” Season 2, Episode 11
In the first episode directed by Greg Nicotero, moral center Dale desperately tries to convince the group not to murder Randall, who admits to Daryl that he lives with a group of sadistic men who once raped two girls in front of their dad. Rick and the majority of the group agree there’s no better way to deal with the threat Randall will pose if he’s freed, and when Dale can’t convince them otherwise, he angrily storms off. While calming down during a walk in a field, Dale finds a cow that has been attacked by a walker, and before he can get to safety, the walker — one that had been taunted, but not killed, by Carl earlier in the day — chomps on Dale. Dale’s too injured to save, so Daryl shoots him, to spare him further suffering.

67. “Chupacabra,” Season 2, Episode 5
Glenn discovers Lori’s pregnant and that Hershel is hiding walkers in the barn, and after fending off two walkers while he was injured during his search for Sophia, Daryl DIYs some jewelry that’s become an iconic TWD image: his walker ear necklace.

66. “Triggerfinger,” Season 2, Episode 9
Actions have immediate and far-reaching consequences, as the deaths of Dave and Tony in “Nebraska” bring out the rest of their group to look for them. When they learn Rick killed their friends, Rick’s assertion of self-defense doesn’t faze them, and the two groups begin shooting at each other. One of Dave and Tony’s pals, a young guy named Randall, impales his leg on a fence during the skirmish, and when his cohorts leave him, Rick and his friends save Randall and take him back to the farm to be treated by Hershel. Rick’s decision to bring Randall to the farm angers Hershel and Shane and ultimately factors into the death of … well, read number 68.

65. “Infected,” Season 4, Episode 2
Flu pre-apocalypse may mean a quick trip to the doctor for medicine, but like so many other things in zombieland, it could spell disaster: quick, widespread death for a whole group of people. That’s what happens here when the prison dwellers fall ill with an aggressive flu that kills them and reanimates them, before others can stop their post-reanimation snack time. RIP, young Patrick.

64. “The Cell,” Season 7, Episode 3
Life is anything but “Easy Street” for Daryl at the Sanctuary, where he’s kept in the dark in a concrete cell, wearing a grimy sweatsuit, eating dog-food sandwiches, and being tormented with repeated plays of the peppy “Easy Street” song. When that doesn’t break him and make him agree to become one of Negan’s lieutenants, Dwight gives him a Polaroid of Glenn’s bashed-in head and plays Roy Orbison’s haunting “Crying,” leaving Daryl unable to ignore his guilt over Glenn’s death. It’s a storyline that makes clear Glenn and Abraham’s deaths will continue to reverberate in many ways and illustrates how Daryl is a pretty self-aware guy who is not easily broken, or changed, by even the most punishing of circumstances.

63. “Hearts Still Beating,” Season 7, Episode 8
Negan guts Spencer for trying to go over Rick’s head, then has Arat execute Olivia as retribution for Rosita taking a shot at Negan, which she did as retribution for Negan killing Spencer. There’s a lot of vengeful behavior unfolding, and it all leads to Negan mullet-napping Eugene and taking him to the Sanctuary after he learns Eugene knows how to make bullets. But the midseason finale takes a happy turn later, as Rick has returned to his old self and agrees Alexandria should fight the Saviors no matter how many of them there are. Then, as many of Rick’s people reunite at the Hilltop, they get a huge surprise: Daryl has escaped from the Sanctuary, and he and Rick share the biggest hug of their bromance.

62. “Isolation,” Season 4, Episode 3
Rick Grimes has remained the leader of his group of survivors, but this is the best example at this point in the storyline that Carol Peletier has become a leader too, willing and able to make tough calls and carry them out when no one else does. It doesn’t take Rick long to suspect Carol might be the one who killed two of the flu-infected prison dwellers, in the name of shutting down the spread of the disease. When he confronts her with his suspicions, she doesn’t blink when she responds: “Yes.”

61. “Say the Word,” Season 3, Episode 5
Rick’s wife died giving birth to a child he knows was fathered by his best friend. So, yeah, he’s gonna have some anger issues, and he deals with it in what’s probably the most productive way he can in this situation: he takes his rage and an ax to the walkers of the prison for a one-man massacre. Meanwhile, in Woodbury, Andrea learns her charming new boyfriend the Governor is running his own version of the ultimate fighting championship: he pits Merle and Martinez against each other in a ring made of live walkers.

60. “Start to Finish,” Season 6, Episode 8
Only covering themselves in the blood and guts of two walkers helps Rick, Carl, Judith, Michonne, Father Gabriel, Jessie, Ron, and Sam maneuver out of Jessie’s house and through the throng of walkers that has flooded into Alexandria after the church tower takes down a section of the town’s walls. Too bad their escape may be thwarted by a terrified Sam, who breaks the illusion of the survivors as walkers when he screams for his mom … midseason finale cliffhanger! Unfortunately, there’s no question about what happens to Deanna: she’s a goner after being bitten, but not before walking straight into an oncoming parade of walkers with her gun firing right at them.

59. “Try,” Season 5, Episode 15
Rick loses his cool in mounting frustration with the Alexandrians’ lack of preparedness — and lack of awareness about how ill-prepared they are to deal with the realities of life outside their walls — after Noah is killed because of Nicholas’s cowardice, and he lies to Deanna and blames the death on Glenn. But Rick’s group also desperately needs to remain welcomed in the safe zone, so as a ranting Rick begins to frighten the townsfolk, Michonne takes control of the situation: she knocks Rick out, for everyone’s sake.

58. “Heads Up,” Season 6, Episode 7
Glenn’s alive!

57. “The Same Boat,” Season 6, Episode 13
Alicia Witt gives one of the all-time great TWD guest performances as Paula, a tough, smart Savior woman who shares a similar background with Carol: they’re mothers who followed men — Carol’s husband and Paula’s boss — only to emerge as much stronger and more capable than the men, as evidenced by their ongoing survival. Well, until it comes down to one or the other surviving; Carol does, by pretending to be weak and frightened, before freeing herself and Maggie from the slaughterhouse jail. And Carol doesn’t just take out Paula and company; she uses dead Paula’s walkie-talkie to draw more Saviors, who she burns to death in the slaughterhouse kill room. As steely as Carol is, though, all the killing takes a toll on her, and when Daryl arrives at the slaughterhouse at the end, he asks if she’s good. “No,” Carol answers.

56. “The Well,” Season 7, Episode 2
The theatrics, the pageantry, the charm … the introduction of King Ezekiel and the other good people of the Kingdom could not have come at a better time than on the heels of the Season 7 premiere, when Khary Payton’s grand performance as Ezekiel was such a welcome, and necessary, distraction from the heartbreaking, brutal murders of Glenn and Abraham.

55. “18 Miles Out,” Season 2, Episode 10
The rivalry between Rick and Shane is about to boil over, as Rick confronts Shane about his affair with Lori while the two are on a road trip to banish Randall from the farm. Rick seems to feel the matter is, if not resolved, tempered — but it’s pretty clear from the look on an ever-spiraling Shane’s face as he and Rick drive back to Hershel’s farm that the situation is likely to end in the death of Rick or Shane, or both.

54. “Welcome to the Tombs,” Season 3, Episode 16
Andrea and Milton threw their support behind the wrong guy, and they paid with their lives as the Governor saved some of his strongest hatred for those who turned against him. As for Rick and company, the Governor’s season finale attack on the prison wasn’t his first, or last, but it was the one that eventually ended his rule in Woodbury.

53. “Hostiles and Calamities,” Season 7, Episode 11
Dwight visits his pre-apocalypse home with Sherry and sheds light on their happy past as a couple, while Eugene gets comfortable in his new home at the Sanctuary. A fridge full of food, his own room, books, video games, “Easy Street” on the stereo, and an open account at the community marketplace are among the niceties he enjoys, and the self-proclaimed fraidy-cat is so relieved to be under Negan’s protection instead of facing him as an adversary that he replies, “I’m Negan” to the bat-wielding leader’s declaration that Eugene doesn’t need to be afraid anymore. Has Eugene really gone to the dark side, or is this Eugene being true to his cowardly self?

Melissa McBride as Carol in AMC&#39;s The Walking Dead.
Melissa McBride as Carol in AMC’s The Walking Dead. (Photo: Gene Page/AMC)

52. “Indifference,” Season 4, Episode 4
Who’s right: Carol, for being willing to kill Karen and David in an effort to stop the spread of the disease, or Rick, for being disturbed at what he sees as Carol’s indifference to death and banishing her from the group because he doesn’t think his family is safe around her? The episode continues the evolution of Carol and sparks a good debate … at least until her bravery saves the whole group in the Season 5 premiere.

51. “What Happened and What’s Going On,” Season 5, Episode 9
Tyreese tried, for longer than he really wanted to, but in the end, he was emotionally destroyed by the choices he made and actions he’d taken to keep himself and others alive. After being bitten while the group tries to reunite Noah with his family in honor of the recently deceased Beth, Tyreese dies, and Rick buries him and leaves his trademark hat on the grave marker.

50. “Hounded,” Season 3, Episode 6
Yep, Rick’s still so freaked out about Lori’s death — the way it happened, the way their relationship had never really been repaired after her affair with Shane — that he’s now talking to her and various other dead members of his group on a telephone in the prison boiler room. It’s a process, and given his circumstances, still among the healthiest ways he could be handling his loss. In the end, he pulls himself back together to return to his leadership position, and to see baby Judith — “Lil’ Asskicker” if you’re Daryl — for the first time.

49. “What Lies Ahead,” Season 2, Episode 1
As Rick tries to lead the group to Fort Benning after the destruction of the CDC, walkers trip them up. Sophia goes missing, and Carl is shot by a stranger in the woods, setting up the season’s adventures at Hershel Greene’s farm.

48. “Guts,” Season 1, Episode 2
Glenn meets Rick, the “dumba**” inside the tank, and helps Rick escape to safety. Action-packed, the second episode of the series also introduces us to T-Dog and Merle, whose hostility towards, well, everyone, leads Rick to handcuff him to a pipe, and Merle to be left behind when the group has to flee in a rush. But it also puts Rick on the path to a reunion with his son, wife, and BFF Shane.

47. “Not Tomorrow Yet,” Season 6, Episode 12
It starts with Cardigan Carol making beet cookies, and Abraham breaking up with Rosita, but domestic matters quickly take a backseat to the Alexandrians’ efforts to take out the Saviors’ outpost and make good on their deal with Gregory. In a bloody, action-packed battle, Rick and company do just that … only to quickly find out that the outpost was just one of the Saviors’ many lairs.

46. “Us,” Season 4, Episode 15
All paths, or railroad tracks, are leading to Terminus in this penultimate Season 4 episode. With the whole group likely to reunite for the first time since the Governor destroyed the prison, it’s a hopeful time, especially when half the gang makes it to Terminus, where they’re welcomed and offered “a plate.” Of what, they of course do not yet know…

Walkers in AMC&#39;s The Walking Dead.
Walkers in AMC’s The Walking Dead. (Photo: Gene Page/AMC)

45. “Consumed,” Season 5, Episode 6
A must for “Caryl” fans. Daryl and Carol’s search for Beth results in a slowed-down episode that gives the friends a chance to bond over their histories as abuse victims, and the chance to share with each other how much they’ve both changed in the apocalypse. Though a more reflective installment in general, the episode also features one of the series’ most memorable stunts: Daryl and Carol’s van drop over the side of an overpass to survive a swarm of walkers.

44. “Inmates,” Season 4, Episode 10
Judith’s alive, and Abraham, Eugene, and Rosita arrive.

43. “New Best Friends,” Season 7, Episode 10
The new best friends, Jadis and the Heapsters, make Rick prove his skills by pushing him off a heap of garbage to the bottom of a pit, where he’s forced to fight a spiky walker named Winslow. It earns his group new allies (so they think). The real highlight of the episode: the reunion of Daryl and Carol, as he arrives on her cabin doorstep. He also doesn’t burden her with the truth about Abraham and Glenn, but Carol knows something’s up when Daryl leaves, and it will soon lead to the end of her sabbatical, just when Rick and the rest of his anti-Negan faction are going to need Carol the most.

42. “Forget,” Season 5, Episode 13
RIP, Buttons the horse, but good times with Deanna’s welcome party, in which every member of Rick’s group tries to be comfortable and sociable with their new neighbors and isn’t exactly successful. The episode’s best scene is Carol’s storeroom chat with young Sam, the kid who has taken an instant liking to Carol and the cookies she bakes. Sam catches Carol swiping some guns and chocolate, and to keep him from telling his mom, she says she’ll make him cookies if stays mum … or she’ll tie him to a tree and let walkers eat him if he narcs. “I know what I think you should do,” she tells him in an exchange that makes you laugh and admire Carol anew, in spite of the fact that she’s threatening a tween boy.

41. “Always Accountable,” Season 6, Episode 6
Abe and Sasha click, and Daryl’s bike and crossbow are stolen by the people we’ll come to know as Saviors Dwight and Sherry, cleverly revealing their backstory before we officially know who they are.

Michael Traynor as Nicholas and Steven Yeun as Glenn Rhee in AMC&#39;s The Walking Dead.
Michael Traynor as Nicholas and Steven Yeun as Glenn Rhee in AMC’s The Walking Dead. (Photo: Gene Page/AMC)

40. “Thank You,” Season 6, Episode 3
Did Glenn, who everyone expected might die (as he does in the comics) when Negan arrived, actually die when Nicholas shot himself and propelled Glenn off a Dumpster and into a horde of walkers below? Nicholas, who Glenn helped find some redemption, was definitely gone. But we had to wait a month to find out Glenn’s fate, in a surprise cliffhanger that sparked lots of fun fan speculation, not to mention careful inspections of real-life Dumpsters and their potential as safe havens.

39. “Walk With Me,” Season 3, Episode 3
The Governor charms nearly everyone when he’s introduced as Woodbury’s friendly leader. And then we get to the final, horrifying scene, which still only hints at just how different a cat he is: he likes to sit alone in a recliner and stare at a wall of fish tanks filled with zombie heads.

38. “Home,” Season 3, Episode 10
It’s good to see the Dixon brothers off on an adventure together, especially when they find a family in need. Daryl saves the family members and wants to send them on their way, while Merle wants to rob them and questions why Daryl would risk his own life for theirs, highlighting that Daryl is not doomed to follow in his big brother’s footsteps. Merle also finds out Daryl was abused by their father when he sees scars on Daryl’s back, and he tells Daryl the reason he left him behind at home was because he was afraid he’d kill their old man if he stayed.

37. “The Distance,” Season 5, Episode 11
Despite how desperate Rick’s group has become with the harshness of their life on the road, Rick is still suspicious when he meets Aaron and is offered shelter, food, and a community in Alexandria. It isn’t until the group arrives outside the Alexandria gates and Rick hears children playing that he allows himself to trust Aaron is sincere.

36. “Claimed,” Season 4, Episode 11
In one of the most tense scenes of the series, Rick is alone in a house trying to recover from injuries he sustained during the final showdown with The Governor, but he’s interrupted by a group of rowdy men. He hides from them but has to kill one to avoid detection. When the men notice Michonne’s freshly washed clothing, they note the presence of a woman in a way that lets Rick know they’re dangerous. He tries to flee the house, just as he sees Carl and Michonne returning, and it’s only when the guy he killed inside turns into a walker and distracts the rest of the gang that he is able to sneak out and run away with Carl and Michonne. But the men we’ll come to know as the Claimers catch him.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan in AMC&#39;s The Walking Dead.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan in AMC’s The Walking Dead. (Photo: Gene Page/AMC)

35. “Last Day on Earth,” Season 6, Episode 16
We know, we know, the cliffhanger, they manipulated viewers, blah, blah, blah. We’re fans of the intense episode, as the Saviors toy with Rick’s group when they’re desperate to get Maggie to a doctor and overly confident after taking down a whole Saviors outpost. The extended episode length and multiple run-ins with the Saviors help build the dawning realization by Rick and company just how much trouble they’re in, until that final semicircle gathering and the introduction of Negan and Lucille have everyone literally shaking with fear. As for the death we knew was coming (deaths, as it turned out), the cliffhanger is a legit, when not overused, way to unfold a story, and revealing the tragic losses at the end of the season might have lessened their impact and aftermath in Season 7. Plus, the cliffhanger made for a frustrating but fun six months of shared theories and think pieces on who Negan’s victim would turn out to be.

34. “TS-19,” Season 1, Episode 6
CDC scientist Edwin Jenner tells the group the walker outbreak is global, and there’s no one left working on a cure, but that doesn’t deter Rick and the rest from fighting desperately to get back out into the real world when they find out the CDC building will self-destruct in 30 minutes. It’s a frantic, last-minute escape that sets them back on a quest for survival, for which Rick tells Jenner he’s grateful. “The day will come when you won’t be,” Jenner warns.

33. “Internment,” Season 4, Episode 5
The deadly virus has infected favorites like Glenn and Sasha, while Hershel is trying his best to treat them, and also fend off walkers. Hershel’s friend Dr. Subramanian succumbs to the illness, and outside the gates, a fence gives way to a pack of walkers, keeping Carl and Rick busy mowing them down so Hershel, Maggie, and Lizzie can keep everyone breathing inside. It’s a tense story, and as Daryl points out at the end, it’s largely because of Hershel’s skills and patience that so many of the prison dwellers survive. “You’re a tough son of a bitch,” Daryl tells Hershel. “I am,” Hershel agrees.

32. “Strangers,” Season 5, Episode 2
That ending! While Rick and the group celebrate their new temp home inside Father Gabriel’s church and the food and drink they share, Bob goes outside and is knocked unconscious. When he awakens, we see that it’s Terminus resident Gareth and some of his cohorts who knocked Bob out. Gareth tells Bob the Terminus crew used to be normal; now they’re hunters. And on that note: they cut off Bob’s leg and begin eating it. “If it makes you feel any better, you taste much better than we thought you would,” Gareth cracks, leading to way too many Bob-B-Q jokes on the Interwebs.

31. “Sick,” Season 3, Episode 2
Amputation and Lori’s quick acting with CPR save Hershel’s life, after he was bitten by a walker in the previous episode. It’s a much-needed win for the group, and for Lori, who’s feeling alienated from Rick and Carl, just as the birth of the baby she’s carrying is set to happen any moment.

30. “After,” Season 4, Episode 9
Everyone’s scattered after the Governor destroys the prison, and Michonne’s on her own. Dreams of her past and the boyfriend and child she lost are enough to convince her she doesn’t want to be alone anymore, which is why she laugh-sobs in relief when she follows tracks that lead her to the house Carl and an injured Rick are hiding in. In the single best quote, and the best episode ending, of the series so far, Michonne knocks on the front door, and Rick, seeing her through the peephole, turns around and says to Carl with a laugh, “It’s for you.”

29. “Bury Me Here,” Season 7, Episode 13
When Richard’s machinations to goad Ezekiel into fighting Negan go awry, Benjamin ends up dead and Morgan reverts to his “Clear” self. Seething because of the loss of Benjamin, with whom he had built a father-son relationship, Morgan kills Richard, and vows to take on every last Savior himself. He also tells Carol the truth about her friends: they’re been living under Negan’s control since he killed Abraham and Glenn. Carol tries to get Morgan to cool down, while she goes off to convince Ezekiel he has to join in Rick’s plans for war against the Saviors.

28. “Save the Last One,” Season 2, Episode 3
Shane takes one more giant leap towards the dark side, lying to everyone about how Otis died. It wasn’t because he sacrificed himself to get the medical supplies needed to operate on Carl. Nope, Otis died because Shane shot him and left him as walker bait so Shane could get away and return to Hershel’s farm with the supplies.

27. “Live Bait,” Season 4, Episode 6
After being abandoned by his surviving army and burning down Woodbury, the Governor wanders off alone. He sees Meghan, a little girl who reminds him of his daughter, and after connecting with Meghan’s family and beginning a relationship with her mother, “Brian Heriot,” as he calls himself now, burns his photo of his first family and intends to leave his wicked Governor ways behind him. It’s a noble effort, for a while.

26. “Remember,” Season 5, Episode 12
“Who’s Deanna?” Abraham memorably asks about the leader of Alexandria, a former Ohio congresswoman who, with her architect husband, Reg, has built the community into a thriving safe zone. She interviews Rick and his group one by one after they arrive, quickly discerning they have much to offer the town, as she plans to expand the place and make it even better. The videotaped interviews also illustrate how hesitant the group is to accept that they might be able to live peacefully, with Carol falsely painting herself as a “den mother” with few survival skills who’s lucky to be protected by Rick’s group as a way to get the townsfolk to underestimate her. Opportunities for a new life abound — Deanna even gives Rick and Michonne jobs as the town cops — but Rick and friends are too weary and leery to dive in without a heap of distrust. “We’ll make it work,” Rick says. “If [the Alexandrians] can’t make it, then we’ll just take this place.”

25. “When the Dead Come Knocking,” Season 3, Episode 7
Glenn was already a beloved character, but he became an action hero in this episode, in which Merle duct tapes him to a chair and locks him in a room with a walker. Glenn fends off the walker until he can smash the chair against a wall, freeing himself and then killing the walker with a shard of the chair.

24. “Better Angels,” Season 2, Episode 12
Shane wanted the ready-made family of Lori and Carl to be his, and he tries to kill Rick to make it happen. Instead, Rick stabs him, and Carl shoots him in the head when he reanimates and comes at Rick again, proving their father-son connection is one that will stick.

Jon Bernthal as Shane Walsh in AMC&#39;s The Walking Dead.
Jon Bernthal as Shane Walsh in AMC’s The Walking Dead. (Photo: Gene Page/AMC)

23. “Seed,” Season 3, Episode 1
We meet Michonne, the group finds the prison and plans to clear it of walkers to make it home, and Rick has to chop off Hershel’s leg when he gets bitten. So, an eventful hour.

22. “30 Days Without an Accident,” Season 4, Episode 1
Rick hands off leadership of the prison to a committee so he can farm and spend time with Carl, and hunter Daryl has become a hero to the combined Woodbury-prison group for the food he provides. But peace is always so short-lived in the apocalypse; the death of one of Rick’s pigs and young Patrick’s sudden illness portend something that threatens the whole prison, while a simple supply run to a well-stocked big box store turns deadly, with walkers and a helicopter crashing through the store roof, and Beth forced to change her “30 days without an accident” sign to zero.

21. “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be,” Season 7, Episode 1
It’s as violent an episode as we ever hope to see, but that violence is in line with the way the comic book counterpart story unfolds, and it’s effective in setting a new bar, one that would shake Rick Grimes and his people to the core. The title, a nod to what Dr. Jenner told Rick at the CDC, says it: the loss and violence and promise of ongoing murder and control by Negan and the Saviors is enough to shake the relatively safe world the group has built in Alexandria. Hope is lost. The day has come when Rick can’t be grateful for the chance to navigate the real world.

Michael Rooker as Merle Dixon and Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon in AMC&#39;s The Walking Dead.
Michael Rooker as Merle Dixon and Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon in AMC’s The Walking Dead. (Photo: Gene Page/AMC)

20. “This Sorrowful Life,” Season 3, Episode 15
Glenn proposes to Maggie and she says yes, but that’s the last happy moment of the episode. Merle, trying to redeem himself by taking out the Governor, is shot and killed by the Governor instead, and Daryl has to put an official end to his complicated relationship with his brother when he meets Walker Merle and stabs him in the head repeatedly while breaking down in tears.

19. “Conquer,” Season 5 Episode 16
Rick is looking like a ranting bad guy to the Alexandrians, but when abusive Pete bursts into a town meeting with Michonne’s katana and accidentally slices Reg’s neck open, rage-filled Deanna orders Rick to assassinate Pete on the spot. He shoots Pete in the head, and the whole town looks on, as does Rick’s old pal Morgan, who is reuniting with Rick after trying to find him since the Season 5 premiere.

18. “Say Yes,” Season 7, Episode 12
It’s Rick and Michonne’s working vacation. On a road trip to find weapons to take on Negan and supplies to help pay off Negan, #Richonne makes time to get frisky in the back of their van and plan for their future, which leads to a pivotal moment when he tells her he only wants to be the leader of the post-Saviors war world if she’s his co-leader. But there’s also a scary moment when Michonne thinks she’s lost Rick to a pile of noshing walkers at a carnival site, shaking her up so badly that she almost allows herself to become walker chow. And it prompts a serious talk later, when Rick tells a still-rattled Michonne, “You can lose me… I can lose you. We can lose our friends, people we love. It’s not about us anymore. It’s about a future. And if it’s me who doesn’t make it, you’re gonna have to lead the others forward, because you’re the one who can.”

17. “Spend,” Season 5, Episode 14
Nicholas’s cowardice gets Noah killed in a revolving door of walkers, while Tobin at least realizes he’s not the right man to keep the town construction crew safe and recommends to Deanna that Abraham take over. And if that isn’t enough Alexandria problems for Rick’s group to handle, Carol comes to Rick with this: he needs to kill Pete, who Carol suspects is abusing both Jessie and her cookie-lovin’ son, Sam.

16. “Made to Suffer,” Season 3, Episode 8
A showdown between Michonne and the Governor has been inevitable since she met him and almost immediately tagged him a psycho. So when she discovers his secret fish tank wall full of walker heads, not to mention his hidden zombie daughter, Penny, Michonne lets loose, smashing the tanks and killing Penny. He comes back at her, but she stabs his eye out with a shard of glass from the tanks, and only pitiful Governor defender Andrea’s arrival prevents Michonne from killing the Gov.

15. “Four Walls and a Roof,” Season 5, Episode 3
The arc with Gareth and his friends comes to an end, and they think they’ve won by eating Bob’s leg, but Bob laughs at them and points out he had earlier in the day been bitten by a walker: they’re eating tainted meat. Unfazed, Gareth promises to eat the rest of Rick’s group next, but Bob’s warning has Rick prepared, and he, Sasha, Michonne, and Abraham slaughter Gareth and his people inside Gabriel’s church. As for Father ‘Fraidy Cat, after admitting that he locked all his parishioners out of the church, dooming them to death by walkers, he says he’s horrified by what has transpired inside the Lord’s house. It’s just “four walls and a roof,” Maggie tells him.

14. “Beside the Dying Fire,” Season 2, Episode 13
Rick’s group, now minus Shane, but with the addition of the Greene family, hits the road again after a walker swarm overtakes the farm. Everyone’s demanding leadership and answers from Rick, who snaps and tells them he was forced to kill his best friend, Shane, for their good. He also reveals what Dr. Jenner whispered to him at the CDC: they all carry the walker virus, and if they die via any method, they will reanimate. Trying to keep them safe, Rick tells them not to stray from their camp, and when they question him, he lays down the law of the Ricktatorship: he didn’t ask to lead them, and if they don’t like his ways, they can leave. “If you’re staying, this isn’t a democracy anymore,” he says.

13. “The Next World,” Season 6, Episode 10
The most bromantic, and one of the funniest, episodes of the series finds Daryl and Rick getting all Butch and Sundance on a supply run. Michonne asks for spearmint toothpaste, Denise wants orange “pop” for Tara, and Eugene urges that finding a sorghum supply could “change the game with our food situation from scary to hunky dunky.” The old-school adventure that ensues is one of the rare times we get to see two of our favorite characters just having fun, even if they lose a whole truckload of supplies while getting acquainted with new, and important, ally Jesus. And then the episode also turns into one of the most romantic: upon returning home and downloading his day to his housemate, #Richonne is born when the two friends start kissing and end up naked in the bed upstairs.

12. “First Time Again,” Season 6, Episode 1
A quarry full of walkers, a combative Alexandrian named Carter, and an elaborate plan to deal with the zombie threat is what’s on Rick’s plate in this exciting season opener, along with a chance to catch up with the newest Alexandrian, his old friend Morgan. After thwarting Carter’s weak attempt to plot his assassination, Rick focuses on the quarry herd, which he and the group plan to usher away from town and on a path that will put them 20 miles outside Alexandria. The plan works very smoothly at first, but then the blare of a horn draws the quarry herd off course and out of the group’s control.

11. “No Way Out,” Season 6, Episode 9
The quarry walkers are still creating problems in this midseason premiere, as Rick, Michonne, Carl, Jessie, Ron, and Sam try to forge their way through a pack of them with their walker gut ponchos. But Sam freaks out and starts yelling for his mom, which draws walker teeth to him. Jessie gets eaten next, and because she won’t let go of Carl’s hand, Rick has to chop her arm off. Ron, hatin’ on both Grimes men, tries to shoot Rick. Michonne stabs him, but he fires, shooting Carl’s eye out. Denise is able to save Carl in the infirmary, while Rick and the others head outside to take on the walkers one at a time until Daryl, Abe, and Sasha show up with the RPG Abe found. That RPG lights up the town lake Daryl tops with gasoline, creating a walker BBQ that speeds up the long-time pests’ demise in an action-heavy episode that’s one of several we’d like to see on a movie screen.

10. “A,” Season 4, Episode 16
Once again: the living are way more dangerous than the walking dead, as evidenced by the fact that Rick is forced to bite out Claimer Joe’s jugular to saved his loved ones’ lives and prevent Michonne and Carl from being raped. Later, Rick, Daryl, Michonne, and Carl finally reach Terminus, the community that has promised “sanctuary for all,” only to find out they’ve run into another deceitful bunch, this one with plans to make Rick’s people their lunch. But at the end of a season in which they also managed to survive the Governor’s final attack, this latest threat only emboldens Rick, who tells his friends the Terminites are “gonna feel pretty stupid when they find out.” “Find out what?” Abraham asks him. Rick: “They’re screwing with the wrong people.”

9. “Here’s Not Here,” Season 6, Episode 4
What happened to Morgan Jones since the time Rick saw him obsessed with “Clear”-ing walkers in Season 3? He spiraled further into madness, until meeting another man — woods-dwelling Eastman — who had also dealt with the loss of his family to violence. Any episode that spotlights Morgan and Lennie James’s performance is a safe bet to be a good one, but this unfolding of what sparks Morgan’s new no-kill philosophy is not only compelling backstory, but sets up what will continue to be a struggle for Morgan personally and an ongoing conflict between him and those who’ve had to accept that killing is necessary to keep themselves and loved ones alive.

8. “JSS,” Season 6, Episode 2
“Just Survive Somehow” is the mantra Enid uses to keep herself going after both her parents are killed. And it pretty much sums up the path most of the survivors have followed, doing whatever they have to to remain alive … like Carol’s defense of Alexandria when the Wolves attack and threaten a community of people that has not yet learned to defend itself. Carol more than makes up for the old-school Alexandrians’ defenselessness, once again taking the burden of killing upon herself to save the lives of others. Her quick-thinking plan works, but it also puts her at odds with pacifist Morgan, setting up a contentious relationship between the two fan favorite characters that will span a couple of seasons.

7. “No Sanctuary,” Season 5, Episode 1
The legend that is Carol is solidified in this season premiere, in which she covers herself with blood and guts to move along with walkers and get to Terminus, where she quickly discovers her friends need to be saved from the cannibals who run the community. She launches a firework into a propane tank to facilitate her rescue mission, saving Rick after he had banished her earlier in the season. The episode also spills the Terminus residents’ own sympathetic backstory, and teases in a post-credits scene the return of Morgan.

6. “Killer Within,” Season 3, Episode 4
With the best episode title of the series, “Killer Within” finds Lori, who’s caused more than her share of drama, enduring a C-section without drugs, knowing the birth will kill her. It does, and Carl shoots her in the head before she reanimates. T-Dog also sacrifices himself to save Carol, a move that, unbeknownst to him, will save many lives in the future. Rick’s crumpling to the ground when he realizes Lori is dead at the end sums up that despair is the takeaway, even on a day when a new life is born in the new world.

5. “Pretty Much Dead Already,” Season 2, Episode 7
Carol finally is reunited with daughter Sophia, but it’s a zombified little girl who emerges from Hershel’s barn when Shane opens it up to kill the walkers Hershel and his family have stashed inside. Hershel was holding on to hope his zombified wife could be cured someday, but when Shane and other members of Rick’s group pick the barn walkers off one by one, all Hershel’s hope is lost. By the time zombie Sophia walks out, growling at the survivors, the whole group is so shocked and dejected that only Rick can pull himself together long enough to shoot Sophia.

4. “Too Far Gone,” Season 4, Episode 8
The series’s best midseason ender yet closes out the storyline arcs of the Governor as the ultimate pre-Negan baddie and the prison as the survivors’ longest pre-Alexandria home. The Governor’s final attack on the prison results in the heart-wrenching death of Hershel, who’s beheaded by the Governor, and the Governor himself, who’s stabbed by Michonne — before his girlfriend, Lilly, shoots him in the head. Rick’s group, meanwhile, scatters as the damaged prison is overrun with walkers.

3. “Days Gone Bye,” Season 1, Episode 1
Andrew Lincoln immediately establishes himself as a breakout star and The Walking Dead as a fresh exploration of post-apocalyptic life as Rick Grimes wakes up from a coma to find the world is dead, or undead. He faces some horrific images before meeting Morgan — whose friendship with Rick remains a central relationship going into the eighth season — and getting the specifics on what happened while he was sleeping. Armed with a bag of guns and the knowledge that the only way to stop walkers is to destroy their brains, Rick heads into Atlanta to find his wife and son. Instead, the camera pans out as Rick’s horse is clobbered by a pack of walkers, and he jumps into a tank, which is also swarmed by walkers, while Wang Chung’s “Space Junk” offers, “welcome to my world, welcome to my only world.”

Lennie James as Morgan in AMC&#39;s The Walking Dead.
Lennie James as Morgan in AMC’s The Walking Dead. (Photo: Gene Page/AMC)

2. “Clear,” Season 3, Episode 12
On a trip to his old hometown to look for weapons, Rick, along with Carl and Michonne, run into a sniper who has set traps to ensnare walkers throughout the area. When they tangle with the masked man, they learn it’s Morgan Jones, Rick’s pal from the pilot. Morgan has since lost his son, Duane, who was bitten by Morgan’s zombified wife, the one Morgan couldn’t bring himself to kill. Now, “clearing” the world of as many walkers as he can is Morgan’s only purpose for living, and he’s gone mad from that obsession, and his aversion to even the possibility of living among other humans, lest he see them die eventually too. It’s a sad tale that keeps the Morgan character with you until we meet him again in Season 5.

Carol disposes of another problem.
Image: AMC

1. “The Grove,” Season 4, Episode 14
They went there. After laying breadcrumbs throughout the season about young Lizzie Samuels’s desire to connect with the undead instead of the living, the series shows the full reality of her mental breakdown when she kills her little sister, Mika, preferring the reanimated version she knows Mika’s death will bring. It’s a harsh scene Carol and Tyreese stumble upon: Lizzie, both hands bloodied and a knife dripping with her sister’s blood in her hand, standing in front of Mika. But that’s not all: baby Judith is on a blanket on the ground beside Mika, and Lizzie tells Carol she was about to do the same to her. Melissa McBride was Emmy-worthy with Carol’s reaction in the scene, trying to remain calm, hold back tears, and get the gun Lizzie pulled out, as she explains to Lizzie that Judith can’t even walk yet. After discussing the situation later with Tyreese, Carol comes to the conclusion there’s only one way to deal with Lizzie that keeps everyone else safe. She takes her to “look at the flowers,” proving again — and not for the last time — that Carol will make the gut-wrenching call and carry it out for the good of others, even if it continues to chip away at her own humanity and peace of mind.

The Walking Dead Season 8 premieres Oct. 22 at 9 p.m. on AMC.

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