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We can’t really ring in the final season of AMC’s The Walking Dead without a look back at the coolest and gnarliest zombie kills, now can we?
As the network gears up for the release of the next eight episodes, SYFY WIRE parsed through the first 10 seasons, looking for walker deaths that stood out as both singular and unique. As Thanos said to Thor in Avengers: Infinity War, “You should’ve gone for the head.” Let that be a reminder to all you survivors of the undead apocalypse: no matter what, always take out the brain!
***WARNING! The following contains major spoilers for the entire show!***
10. Rick's first kill (Season 1, Episode 1)
Not only was this Rick’s first kill (of what would soon be more than any of us could count), it was also the start of his character’s emotional journey.
Just go back and take a look at the pain and guilt on his face when he pulls the trigger. He knows full well that the bisected corpse inching its way across the grass was once a human being with hopes and dreams; friends and family. Still so naive to the horrors of this world, Rick is still holding onto his own humanity, something that will slowly erode as the seasons go on. In other words, Shane was right — you need to give up the old way of doing things if you’re going to survive this new world.
9. Walker in the well (Season 2, Episode 4)
While the whole farm setting in Season 2 eventually got a little stale, it still found ways to build out the world in interesting ways. The bloated walker in the well, for instance, is a great example of showing the audience how members of the undead can get even nastier when subjected to varying environmental conditions (in this case, water). Glenn being lowered into the dark chasm in an effort to bait the flesh-eating ghoul broke up the farm-based monotony quite nicely, even if the gang wasn’t successful in preventing the thing’s entrails from polluting the water. Frustrated after so much effort for zero reward, T-Dog dispatches the zombie without hesitation.
8. Glenn gets creative (Season 3, Episode 7)
This next kill showed just how far Glenn had come since acting as bait for the bloated well walker. While being held captive in Woodbury, he refuses to give up any information about his people or the prison. Always happy to indulge in a little bit of sadism, the Governor’s right-hand enforcer, Merle Dixon, brings a walker into the room where Glenn is tied to a chair.
This could’ve spelled the end of a character we knew from the very start, but Glenn ultimately proved his ingenuity by turning the tool of his imprisonment into a weapon.
7. Rick and Carl vs. a zombie horde (Season 4, Episode 5)
Out of options during the flu outbreak at the prison, Rick and Carl are forced to bring out the big guns when a group of walkers breach the prison gates. It’s a nice little victory amidst the larger backdrop of everything else going wrong, and it sure beats the hell out of poking sharp sticks through the gate, which was akin to putting a band-aid on eviscerated intestines.
6. Morgan to the rescue (Season 5, Episode 16)
After a few glimpses of Rick’s Day One ally in previous seasons — not counting the time he tried to kill Rick and Michonne that one time — Morgan finally made his triumphant return by getting Daryl and Aaron out of an undead pickle. Just when it seemed like the two (trapped in a car smothered by zombies) were about to make their last stand, Mr. Jones showed up to save the day…with a wooden stick, no less!
5. Alexandria's last stand (Season 6, Episode 9)
Rick’s frustrations with the naive complacency of the Alexandria community came to a head in this episode. With Deanna and so many others dead, the former Georgia police officer and his band of allies decide not to flee, but to go absolutely HAM on the swarm of walkers that breached the walls. Even the cowardly Eugene got in on the action, which brought the group together in one of its darkest hours and cemented Rick as the new leader of Alexandria.
4. Rick vs. gladiator walker (Season 7, Episode 10)
Rick’s gladiator battle with the armored walker in the Scavenger junkyard was another nifty bit of world-building. It showed how the agents of the apocalypse could be used by humans for specific purposes (a lot like Michonne keeping two walkers as “pets,” or the Saviors chaining up zombies on their outer fences). It’s also just really cool seeing a walker decked out in spikes and a helmet. Someone should really write a book on all the various uses for the undead.
3. Shiva saves the day (Season 8, Episode 4)
A legit tiger takes out a mob zombies. Need we say more?
We always knew Shiva’s days were numbered — her presence made our heroes a bit too powerful — and honestly, there was no better way for her to go out swinging than this. It would’ve been super lame if the Saviors took her out with a hail of bullets. Getting eaten alive so that her king might live another day is such a better exit.
2. Judith Grimes all grown up (Season 9, Episode 5)
In addition to introducing audiences to a new band of characters (Connie, Kelly, Luke, Magna, and Yumiko), the end of Season 9’s fifth episode also established the time jump following Rick’s exit from the series.
The newborn daughter he’s worked so hard to protect for the last seven seasons is all grown up now, and while she may not be Rick or Michonne’s child by blood, it’s clear that Judith still inherited all of their badass characteristics. As a child coming of age in the still-bloody aftermath of a zombie apocalypse, the only way of life Judith knows is one in a world full of the undead. The absence of nostalgic or emotional ties to the old world make her all the more dangerous and prone to survival.
1. Leading Alpha's horde off a cliff (Season 10, Episode 16)
The nightmare that began with Alpha beheading a number of beloved characters at the end of Season 9 came to an end in this episode. Here, the Whisperers' dreaded horde was led off a cliff by Carol and Alpha’s own daughter, Lydia. While not as thrilling or engaging as previous seasons, the Whisperer War story arc of Season 10 still wrapped up in a rather grand fashion with something we hadn't really seen before.
Seasons 1-10 of The Walking Dead are currently streaming on Netflix.
The first 10 episodes of the eleventh and final season are available to stream on AMC+. Subscribers to the service can watch new episodes a week before they air on television. A premiere date for the last batch of eight episodes has yet to be announced.