11:00am PT by Josh Wigler
'The Walking Dead': The 100 Greatest Moments, Ranked
One hundred episodes. That's a whole lot of rotten flesh.
With its upcoming season eight premiere, AMC's The Walking Dead will have officially logged 100 episodes over the course of its existence — an impressive number by any measure, and especially noteworthy given there's no end to the zombie drama in sight. With so many days gone by in the world of Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his friends (and foes), it's virtually impossible to sit back and recall every single atrocity the survivors of this post-apocalyptic world have committed or otherwise endured. But whoever said being a Walking Dead viewer was easy?
With the Walking Dead milestone nearly upon us, The Hollywood Reporter is marking the occasion by rounding up 100 of our favorite memories, scenes and even wholesale episodes from seven full seasons spent in this graphic world based on Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard's graphic novels. Of course, your own list will most assuredly include moments we're missing, or a reprioritized ordering at the very least; feel free to sound off with some of your favorites in the comments below.
No need for any further setup. Without further ado, THR presents our selection of the 100 greatest moments in Walking Dead history, beginning with a few recent hits ...
100. Negan's First At-Bat (seasons six and seven)
It's iconic, and for that reason alone, deserves a spot on the list: Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) shows he means business by bashing in not one but two skulls, removing Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) and Glenn (Steven Yeun) from the field in a few deft swings of a baseball bat. It was served up as the cliffhanger bridging two seasons together, but instead played like an overly cruel act of self-congratulation. With that said, in terms of pure water-cooler factor, it has to at least register as a top 100 moment in Walking Dead lore — but no further.
99. Dumpster Gate (season six)
Again, another moment that ranks due to pure water-cooler worthiness: Glenn's supposed "death," thrown into an ocean of walkers, thanks to the cowardly Nicholas (Michael Traynor). It's a powerful moment in the moment, but an infuriating one in retrospect, coming across as little more than a misdirect to disarm the viewers who knew about Glenn's impending death at Negan's hands. But there's no denying it: Walking Dead fans spent weeks talking about "Dumpster Gate," for better and much more often for worse.
98. Welcome to the Heaps (season seven)
The jury's out on Jadis (Polly McIntosh), Queen of the Heapsters, the group of survivors who have sworn allegiance to Negan, but only after first negotiating some sort of truce with Rick and friends. Created specifically for the show, these characters remain somewhat ... let's go with "controversial," and leave it there. But points scored for Winslow, certainly.
97. Father Gabriel Snaps (season five)
At the time of the season five finale, Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) was right near the top of the most loathed characters on The Walking Dead, second perhaps only to Nicholas. Fans were understandably thrilled at the prospect of Gabriel intentionally walking into his own demise, as he briefly abandoned Alexandria in search of a walker to end his life. Instead, Gabriel's self-preservation instincts kicked in, a sign of the stronger man he would eventually become in future seasons.
96. Carol Goes Into Exile (season four)
The first and far-from-final Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride) moment on the board: her removal from the community midway into season four. Rick kicks Carol out of the group after learning that she was the person who killed and burned the bodies of two infected members of their close-knit world, a terrible decision at the time, but one that ultimately paved the way for Carol to return to the show in fuller force than ever before.
95. Sisterly Love (season one)
It's one of the first genuinely heartwarming moments on The Walking Dead, and deserves props for that reason alone: Andrea (Laurie Holden) and Amy (Emma Bell) sitting together on a boat in the middle of the quarry, reminiscing about their childhood fishing trips, a living reminder of the civilized world that neither sister will ever get back.
94. Sisterly Loss (season one)
It's one of the first genuinely heartbreaking moments on The Walking Dead, and deserves props for that reason alone: Andrea cradling the undead Amy in her hands, freshly turned after succumbing to a zombie bite, the first and definitely not last instance of a main character finding new afterlife as one of the dreaded walkers.
93. Andrea's Final Scene (season three)
As Andrea, Holden was tasked with playing one of the most iconic characters from the comics — someone who remained in the midst of the action for more than 100 issues of the Kirkman and Adlard source material. With that in mind, it was very painful to lose the character in season three of the show, far earlier than her expected expiration date. The mechanics behind the death are still murky at best ("Death by Milton" does not rank high in terms of ways to go), but a salute must be given to the erstwhile Andrea all the same.
92. Paging Dr. Greene (season four)
In season four's ill-conceived illness storyline, one man stood out as the MVP: Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson), putting his training as a veterinarian to good use as he tends to the flu-stricken men and women in the prison. His death scene aside, this is Hershel's last true storyline on The Walking Dead, and it's a great reminder why this one-legged fountain of wisdom was such a valuable character.
91. Spencer, Dispensed (season seven)
It's a death ripped straight from the comics, which always earns praise from our side of the aisle: Negan gutting Spencer (Austin Nichols) wide open for all of Alexandria to see, a testament to the King Savior's unrestricted power. And with that, the Monroe family shuffles off stage right.
90. Eugene's Magic Act (season seven)
In the back half of season seven, Eugene (Josh McDermitt) went Full Negan and joined the Saviors — against his will at first, but eventually a willing participant. His first act in that regard: putting some of his scientific know-how into practice, showing off for Negan's wives and providing a desperately needed moment of levity for the viewer in the midst of a very dark season.
89. Turtle Power (season six)
Few people were clamoring for the Enid (Katelyn Nacon) origin story, but the one we saw in season six was a quick and unexpected surprise: stranded on the road, helpless to watch as the people caring for her were killed in front of her eyes, forced to eat a raw turtle in order to just survive somehow.
88. Cat and Mouse (season three)
Toward the end of season three, the bizarre relationship between Andrea and the Governor (David Morrissey) took a turn for the horrific as the one-eyed dictator stalked through the land in order to find, capture and ultimately torture his erstwhile lover. It remains the best example of The Walking Dead as an outright slasher movie, a testament to the Governor's relentlessness.
87. A Clash of Kings (season three)
The Governor and Rick's meeting during "Arrow in the Doorpost" was a rare moment for the two titans to actually face each other, offering actors Lincoln and Morrissey a showcase for their talents and a sneak peek at what it would have looked like if both characters were allowed to stay in each other's universes for longer than a few episodes.
86. Welcome to Alexandria (season five)
The simple image of Rick and friends rolling up to the walled community earns a spot on this list, as it's such a long-awaited moment for fans of the comics, and such a massive turning point for the future of the show. Two seasons later, we're still in Alexandria, with no signs of turning around.
85. The Alexandria Sessions (season five)
Taking the Alexandria arrival a step further, the show very wisely articulated each character's current motivation and mental health through a series of video interviews between Deanna Monroe (Tovah Feldshuh) and the new residents.
84. Come to Jesus (season six)
Among the most awaited character entrances in all of The Walking Dead, certainly the recent seasons: Jesus, aka Paul, played by Tom Payne. The circumstances behind his arrival are a bit confusing (though who hasn't acted regrettably around orange soda?), but his appearance was nonetheless a welcome sight for fans of the comics.
83. The King Keeps it Real (season seven)
Khary Payton brings regal bravado to King Ezekiel, a larger-than-life character due to this royal posturing. But he's even more powerful in his final scene of his debut episode, in which he levels with Carol and drops the kingly act in order to keep her from running away.
82. "Rhetorical!" (season seven)
Xander Berkeley knows his way around the cowardly act, with plenty of experience playing at the Gregory type over the course of his career. There are plenty of great Gregory scenes to choose from in that regard, but the moment he shouts "Rhetorical!" at Rick and the party ranks right at the top of the list.
81. Last Day on Earth (season six)
Not the full episode, mind you, but the exchange from which the season six finale takes its title: Steven Ogg making his debut as Simon, taunting Rick and previewing the horrible fate awaiting at least one of the Alexandrians. In many ways, Simon is as compelling a villain as Negan, if not more compelling, and that's all thanks to Ogg's menacing turn as the Saviors' second-in-command.
80. Morgan Returns (season five)
The veritable stinger at the end of the season five premiere focuses on the return of Morgan Jones (Lennie James), one of the foundational characters of The Walking Dead. It's his first appearance since season three, and it served as a promise of a much loved figure becoming more important as the series wore on.
79. The Hunting Party (season one)
It's one of the first instances where we really get to see what Shane Walsh (Jon Bernthal) is all about, as he takes a quiet moment in the woods to aim his shotgun at best friend and romantic rival Rick Grimes — a potentially murderous act, witnessed solely by Dale Horvath (Jeffrey DeMunn).
78. Shane Fights Ed (season one)
Remember Ed (Adam Minarovich), Carol's abusive scumbag husband? Hopefully you at least recall the righteous beatdown he received from Shane outside the quarry, one of the most satisfying acts of violence in the show's seven-season history.
77. Zombie Bites Ed (season one)
Actually, the zombie biting and killing Ed is slightly more satisfying than Shane knocking the guy's lights out.
76. Carol Crushes Ed (season one)
Actually, Carol taking a pick-ax to Ed's rotting corpse takes the cake.
75. Rumble at the Hilltop (season six)
Rick and Abraham get into the thick of the fight from pretty much the moment they set foot inside of the Hilltop, slugging it out with Gregory's would-be assassin. It's a violent introduction to an important ally in the impending war against Negan, and a pretty unforgettable one at that.
74. Eugene Bites Dwight (season six)
The decision to kill off Denise (Merritt Wever) using Abraham's death from the comics will always go down as a dubious choice, but at least the immediate justice leveled against Dwight (Austin Amelio) is intact from the source material: Eugene taking a big bite out of Dwight's crotch, an act of violence neither man will likely ever forget.
73. Sword Misplay (season five)
An unfortunate series of events removes the Monroe family from the playing field, including a very unfortunate accident involving Pete Anderson (Corey Brill) drunkenly slashing Michonne's (Danai Gurira) sword into Reg Monroe's (Steve Coulter) throat.
72. Deanna's Final Scream (season six)
The Monroe matriarch's actual death goes unseen, but our final look at Deanna (at least pre-zombification) leaves us with an indelible impression: screaming wildly at the camera, looking just as monstrous as the monsters she's about to face.
71. Maggie's First Ride (season two)
Lauren Cohan's true debut on The Walking Dead often goes unmentioned, so it's worth a mention here: Maggie ripping through the forest and slaying a walker on horseback, to meet up with the Grimes gang and fill them in on what happened to Carl (Chandler Riggs). No wonder it's love at first sight, if only for Glenn.
70. Aaron's Arrival (season five)
Team Family's luck improves dramatically upon the arrival of Aaron (Ross Marquand), the friendly stranger with an offer to join the Alexandria Safe-Zone. Yet another iconic character and moment from the comics, the Aaron of it all landed perfectly and hasn't disappointed since.
69. Tata, Tomas (season three)
Shane is dead and gone by the time the group reaches the prison, but his spirit lives on within Rick, as the heavily bearded ex-cop buries a machete into Tomas' (Nick Gomez) skull after it's clear the man can no longer be trusted. A small step toward the Ricktatorship, but a crucial one as well.
68. Road Work (season two)
The first main sequence of season two remains one of the tensest scenes across seven seasons of The Walking Dead, as the survivors have to hide within a car graveyard as a small army of walkers pass through the highway — nearly resulting in the death of T-Dog (IronE Singleton), and very much resulting in the disappearance and eventual demise of Sophia (Madison Lintz).
67. 18 Miles Out (season two)
Rick and Shane take their act on the road, far away from the Greene family farm, where they debate exactly what to do about Randall (Michael Zegen). The debate escalates to full-blown fisticuffs between the two old friends, an early look ahead at their final violent confrontation just a few episodes later.
66. First Time Again (season six)
The opening act of season six sees Rick and his companions enacting a hair-brained scheme to resolve a looming problem with a whole mess of walkers — and, of course, it goes horribly wrong. The fact that the sequence plays out in black-and-white a la the comics makes it all the more impactful.
65. Glenn's First Kill (season six)
It took six seasons for it to finally happen, but with only a few episodes left on his clock, Glenn finally punched a human being's ticket: a slumbering Savior in the satellite station. It's a quietly devastating moment, especially as Glenn looks on and sees pictures on the wall of Lucille's wreckage — a glimpse into his own bloody future.
64. Daryl Dixon's Debut (season one)
Let's pause down for some Daryl Dixon appreciation, shall we? Norman Reedus' breakout character makes his first appearance on The Walking Dead having just shot a deer, only to find the animal has become tainted meat thanks to a walker. Thankfully, we're a long way from Daryl crying over spilled venison.
63. Daryl and Merle's Reunion (season three)
Outside of a hallucination, the Dixon brothers Daryl and Merle (Michael Rooker) were completely separate from one another until they finally met onscreen in Woodbury, set to battle each other to the death for the Governor's amusement — a moment that remains one of the best midseason cliffhangers of the bunch.
62. Daryl Finds a Rose (season two)
The Daryl and Carol friendship largely owes its roots to the way the crossbow-wielding warrior handled Sophia's disappearance — specifically, bringing the Cherokee rose to Carol as a way of showing his support. It's an early sign of the vulnerable Daryl we've come to know in the many seasons since.
61. Daryl Lends an Ear (season two)
Dirty Daryl Dixon is the best Daryl Dixon, and there's no dirtier Daryl than the one who's covered in mud, gunk and a necklace made from severed ears for good measure. OK, maybe the Daryl who was imprisoned by the Saviors was slightly dirtier, but the less we talk about that nasty sweatshirt, the better.
60. Daryl Blows off Steam (season six)
In the midseason six premiere, Daryl trades in his crossbow for a rocket launcher. Upgrade.
59. "Richonne" Becomes a Thing (season six)
After seasons of feeling like it would never be anything more than a Tumblr dream, Rick and Michonne finally consummated their relationship. It's a significant swerve from the two warriors' relationship in the comic books (though it's not impossible that we'll see Richonne in that capacity some day as well), a well-earned moment of romance after the horrific first half of season six.
58. The First Appearance of Shiva (season seven)
For those who have never read the comics on which The Walking Dead takes its cues, the sudden arrival of a tiger sidekick named Shiva must have been a hell of a shock. It's enough that there's a man calling himself a "king," but he has a ferocious tiger on his side as well? Simply spectacular.
57. Shiva Unchained (season seven)
The only thing cooler than having a tiger on a zombie show? Dropping said tiger into the middle of an action scene on a zombie show. The season seven finale's brightest moment by far was Shiva bursting onto the scene in Alexandria, signaling the beginning of "All-Out War," and hopefully not the end of incredibly epic tiger action.
56. The Farm Falls (season two)
After spending a full season locked down on Hershel's farm, the gang is finally forced back out onto the open road. Say what you will about season two spending too much time in this one location, but the story's resolution was Walking Dead at its propulsive best, a stunningly swift and brutal way to move the pieces to the next spot on the board.
55. The Greene Bar Blues (season two)
Several episodes before the farm buys the farm, as it were, Hershel ditches the place and heads to a local bar, where he plans to get drunk for the first time in years. It leads to a scene in which Rick is forced to kill two travelers (one of whom is played by Terriers and Once Upon a Time alum Michael Raymond-James) in an early display of the lawman's willingness to shoot first and ask questions never.
54. Everyone Gets Drunk (season one)
It's the earliest instance of the Grimes gang getting their drink on, and one of the many scenes from the CDC era of The Walking Dead that you'll see on this list. After Rick and friends arrive at the safest spot in Atlanta, they celebrate their new surroundings with copious amounts of wine and whiskey, leading to the best showers of their lives — as well as a deeply uncomfortable encounter between Shane and Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies).
53. You Follow Me? (season three)
Axel (Lew Temple) was the last survivor of the original group of prisoners, but that's not saying much. All it took was one stray bullet to end the poor guy, signaling the first time the Governor invaded the prison, killing off a beloved character from the comics well ahead of his time. The jarring nature of Axel's death is exactly why it's so unforgettable. You follow me?
52. All T-Dogs Go to Heaven (season three)
Speaking of shocking deaths at the prison, the biggest surprise surrounding the departure of T-Dog is that it didn't happen sooner. The character's death felt inevitable from the moment he arrived on screen, but after surviving the first two seasons of The Walking Dead, there was hope that he could make his way a little while longer. Not so fast. T-Dog's death came in the fourth episode of season three, effectively a sacrifice play in order to save Carol — a valuable and valiant way to go out, even if it was at the expense of someone who quietly became a favorite player within the Grimes group.
51. Everything is GREATM (season five)
Really, the entirety of "Self Help," the fifth hour of season five, deserves a shout-out on this list — Abraham slugging Eugene in the face, Eugene spraying a horde of walkers to pieces with a fire-hose, just as two examples — but we'll sum it all up with a single word: GREATM, the acronym built to represent Glenn, Rosita, Eugene, Abraham, Tara and Maggie when all combined together.
50. Inside the Barn (season two)
It took way too long to get there, but the reveal of Sophia's whereabouts in season two was still among the most emotionally impactful moments on The Walking Dead up until that point, and remains that way now. It's also an important scene historically, as it was written by Scott M. Gimple, the man who would go on to become the current and most enduring showrunner of the Walking Dead lot.
49. Welcome to Atlanta (season one)
Anyone who remembers the early marketing for The Walking Dead remembers the iconic image of a lonely rider strolling toward Atlanta on horseback, trotting down an empty stretch of highway toward the great Georgia city. It's a serene scene, especially compared to how violently the actual event plays out in the first episode of the series.
48. What's Going On (season five)
Tyreese (Chad Coleman) arrived on the Walking Dead scene much later on in the series than his first appearance in the source material, and by the same note, he exited the scene later than his original expiration date. His death was considerably calmer here, too, as Tyreese was afforded a relatively peaceful final episode, a rare moment that gave viewers plenty of time to mourn an outgoing character.
47. Jim Stays Behind (season one)
Admittedly, this is ranking rather high on the list, but it's a personal favorite: Jim (Andrew Rothenberg), one of the original members of the Atlanta group, slowly succumbing to the fever that comes with a zombie bite, opting to stay behind so he can zombify and find his deceased family members in his new state. It's a little-remembered moment from the first season, and a testament to the emotional strengths original showrunner Frank Darabont brought to the table in the earliest days of the series.
46. Little Girl (season one)
Another Darabont contribution on the list — indeed, the very first Darabont scene of the series, and therefore the moment that started it all: Rick Grimes rolling up to a gas station and encountering a little girl with a stuffed animal ... except she's not a little girl, at least not anymore. The very first moment in Walking Dead history plunges viewers right into the thick of the tone, a strong indicator of what we're in store for as the show moves forward.
45. Rick Rage (season five)
The Rick who polices the streets of Alexandria is a far cry from the Rick who used to police a small Southern town, as seen in the epic beatdown on Dr. Pete Anderson toward the end of season five. The bloody brawl sees the two men slugging it out on the streets of Alexandria for all of their neighbors to see, one of the most decisive examples of Rick's ability to go off the rails. Kudos to Michonne for knocking some sense into Rick, quite literally.
44. Goodbye to the Andersons (season six)
The three remaining members of Pete Anderson's family — Jessie (Alexandra Breckenridge) and her two children — are wiped out in a single instant, when Rick tries to lead them to safety during the attack on Alexandria. It's a stunningly brutal moment, resulting in Carl Grimes losing an eye, and eventually paving the way for all of the Alexandrians to stand together against the seemingly insurmountable sea of walkers.
43. The Trio Arrives (season four)
Abraham, Eugene and Rosita (Christian Serratos) are an iconic trio from the comics, bursting onto the scene after the fall of the prison. The circumstances of their arrival changed somewhat in the adaptation process, but compare the first image of these soldiers on the show with the comic book cover from their first issue. It's almost note-for-note, as close to a perfect translation as it gets.
42. The TV Guide (season three)
The first in a series of shout-outs to the Governor, the big bad wolf before both Negan and the Wolves came to town. We knew something was wrong with the Woodbury commander-in-chief the moment we were finally allowed to spend some time alone with the man, getting a glimpse into his home entertainment setup: a series of fish tanks with severed zombie heads trapped inside, the apocalyptic equivalent of television. That's one way to while away the hours.
41. The Governor Lets Loose (season three)
The last time we see him in season three, the Governor's rage has turned against his own people, as he mows several members of the Woodbury community down with automatic gunfire. It's bone-chilling, to say the least, and an expertly crafted monument to the rapid disintegration of sanity in a world where rules no longer apply.
40. Eye for an Eye (season three)
The Governor and Michonne's simmering feud reaches its boiling point when the two opponents finally slug it out, battling each other in the monster's home, resulting in the death of his zombified daughter, and the death of his own eye as well — an injury that pushes the Governor closer to the one-eyed maniac fans of the comics already knew him to be.
39. Life of Brian (season four)
The Governor's two-episode arc in season four, featuring flashbacks to his life on the road following the fall of Woodbury, adds new layers of humanity to someone who previously was nothing more than a monster. Of course, it's not long before he reverts to his true form — within the second episode, in fact, as he brutally murders one of his former subordinates to hide the evidence — but it's a great sojourn from the main narrative, and certainly a welcome distraction from season four's flu storyline.
38. The Camp Falls (season one)
Once again, an iconic moment from the comic comes to life in epic fashion, as we're forced to watch the true nature of the zombie apocalypse unfold within the only bastion of civilization we've come to know thus far, Vatos notwithstanding. (Spoiler alert: The Vatos will not appear again on this list. Sorry, Vatos!) The quarry campers find themselves under attack after walkers from the nearby area converge on their location, resulting in a few tragic deaths, including the aforementioned Amy.
37. Meet the Joneses (season one)
As Rick Grimes, Lincoln became our first set of eyes and ears in the zombie apocalypse. But an enormous amount of credit is due to Lennie James as Morgan Jones, the co-lead of the pilot, the man who helped shoulder the narrative load and inform both Rick and viewers alike about the rules of this terrible new world. Morgan staring at his zombified wife from a sniper scope, unable to pull the trigger, stands in sharp contrast with the Morgan we know today.
36. The Fast and the Furious (season seven)
So, this moment is absolutely ridiculous, which is exactly why it's so great: Rick and Michonne teaming together to clothesline a ton of walkers using a trip wire tethered across two cars. Nobody's accusing The Walking Dead of realism, but this one strains the limits of our imagination ... and honestly, it's kind of terrific as a result, a moment of incredible absurdity in light of the deeply dark first half of the season.
35. Wolf at the Door (season five)
Benedict Samuel didn't have much time to stalk The Walking Dead, but his limited run was a notable one, especially his first appearance in the season five finale, holding Morgan at gunpoint, laying out the all-or-nothing rules of the vicious Wolves.
34. Jenner's Last Stand (season one)
Likewise, Noah Emmerich was only part of the Walking Dead cast for a single episode and change, but his appearance had a massive impact on the first season of the series — not the least of which is because he destroyed himself as well as the CDC in a single act of explosive violence, a tense standoff sequence complete with a scorching resolution. Kirkman has gone so far as to note that Jenner informing Rick that everyone was already infected is his biggest regret of the AMC series.
33. Pausing for Pudding (season four)
Carl Grimes, on the rooftop, with the vat of chocolate pudding. Nothing further, your honor.
32. Sasha's Goodbye (season seven)
In her final Walking Dead act before beaming aboard the good ship Discovery, Sonequa Martin-Green's Sasha went rogue against the Sanctuary, aiming to sacrifice her own life in order to bring down Negan and the Saviors. Her goodbye came in a few different movements: parting ways with Rosita, entering the coffin that would serve as her final resting place of sorts and memories of Abraham on her way toward the other side.
31. Tainted Meat (season five)
Sasha's first zombie apocalypse boyfriend, the blue-sky Bob Stookey (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.), went out with one of the show's most memorable exits: his severed leg serving as the main course for a Terminus cannibal feast, mere hours after he sustained a walker bite. The howling laughter of "tainted meat, tainted meat!" still rings in the ears several seasons later.
30. Shane Breaks Bad (season two)
Shane was clearly losing his mind for a while, but his Walter White moment came early on in season two when he shot Otis (Pruitt Taylor Vince) and left him behind to serve as a distraction for a bunch of hungry walkers. Sure, he justified his actions as necessary for Carl's survival ... but take one look at the wide-eyed psycho staring at himself in the mirror, his head freshly shaved, and tell me that we're not looking at the Walking Dead equivalent of Heisenberg.
29. First Contact (season two)
"I'll have sex with you." Not the most romantic sentence in the world, but it's the sentence that started the most romantic relationship in Walking Dead lore all the same: Glenn and Maggie, the most hopeful pairing in the zombie apocalypse, sealing the deal with each other in the middle of an abandoned pharmacy.
28. The Three Questions (season four)
Rick's rules, introduced during a chance encounter in the woods with a wild stranger: "How many walkers have you killed? How many people have you killed? Why?" It's a litmus test for whether a person should be invited into the community, and one that still rears its head from time to time in the modern Walking Dead landscape.
27. The Cheesemonger Stands Alone (season six)
The Morgan episodes of The Walking Dead are often among the series' strongest efforts, and this season six outing is no exception. The 90-minute flashback details how Morgan transformed from crazed killer into an all-life-is-precious Zen master, thanks to a certain cheese-craving man named Eastman, played by the great John Carroll Lynch.
26. Stage 2 Badasses (seasons five and six)
A bit of a cheat, but there are two physical exchanges between Abraham and Eugene that are best served in contrast with one another: Abraham knocking Eugene unconscious after learning the truth about his scientist lie, and Abraham shaking Eugene's hand before his suicide mission ahead of the Negan bashing. Two completely opposite moments for two characters who entered and exited their Walking Dead relationship with one another as friends and contemporaries.
25. Abraham Stands Tall (season seven)
OK, one last Abraham tribute. Even though the Negan introduction didn't exactly land, at least by our account, the way Abraham carried himself in the face of all things ending was admirable and an incredibly worthy sendoff for someone who fully embodied the physical and mental toughness required to survive in the zombie apocalypse.
24. Down With Dale (season two)
Jeff DeMunn's Dale was the voice of reason for nearly two full seasons of The Walking Dead, and would have served that role for much longer if the show stayed true to the comic book script. Instead, the series threw that script against the wall and killed Dale off much earlier and more violently than expected, a powerful signal that fans of the source material shouldn't feel too confident about the road ahead. (The early exit came after DeMunn asked to be written off after his friend and frequent collaborator Darabont was fired from the show.)
23. Goodnight, Love (season three)
Much like Dale, Lori's death in the fourth episode of season three was another reminder that The Walking Dead the show has no problem veering away from The Walking Dead the comic. While Lori does indeed die in the books, her death occurs much further down the line than this early point in the prison storyline. The shock factor is trumped only by the heaviness of the moment, with Lori's death paving the way for Judith's life, with poor Carl forced to put his own mother down before she has a chance to turn.
22. The Prison Looms (season two)
The first sighting of the prison, which swiftly followed ...
21. The Samurai Appears (season two)
... the first sighting of Michonne in the season two finale, was a two-punch combination designed to get fans amped up for the third season of the series. Mission accomplished. The first appearances of the prison and Michonne, even if it was at a distance and in silhouette form, respectively, are among the finest introductions in Walking Dead history.
20. Just Survive Somehow (season six)
At this point in The Walking Dead's run, it's an open secret that Carol is the show's secret weapon. It should come as no shock to watch the veritable Sarah Connor of the series absolutely dominate the Wolves as they descend upon Alexandria. And yet, the way the action is choreographed, combined with the inventiveness surrounding Carol's methods for blending into the war, make "JSS" one of the strongest episode of Walking Dead, and easily the best hour of season six.
19. End of the Termites (season five)
Rick Grimes is a man of his word, for better and most certainly for worse in the case of Gareth (Andrew J. West) and the other cannibals who escaped from Terminus. It's the first true victory for Team Family in a good little while, the way in which they fully dispatch these newest monsters — but it's a hollow victory as well, as it reveals just how monstrous Rick and his allies have become over the years.
18. The First At-Bat (season five)
Returning to Terminus, and even returning to the first (100th?) item on this list: a baseball bat, hovering tragically close to Glenn Rhee's head. At the time, fans who knew what was coming for Glenn were deeply nervous at the visual of the erstwhile pizza delivery boy in such close proximity to the same weapon that would ultimately take his life. After all, as noted, The Walking Dead has already demonstrated its readiness to step away from the source material at this point. Even though Glenn survives, the same can't be said for many of the others on the line (rest in peace, Penguin), resulting in one of the show's most sickening and brilliantly written moments of tension.
17. Take a Bite (season four)
Before arriving at Terminus, Rick meets and dispatches with some other enemies: the Claimers. Indeed, he makes a claim of his own, taking a page out of the walker playbook by sinking his teeth into the throat of one of the scavengers. It's high on the list of Rick's best kills, no question about it.
16. Inside the Tank (season one)
"Hey, asshole." Famous first (and almost last!) words from Glenn Rhee, who helps Rick navigate his way out of the tank he crawls into at the end of the very first episode, "Days Gone Bye." Some issues with the mechanics of exactly how Rick gets inside the tank aside, the whole sequence is one of the most iconic images of the entire series, complete with a cameo from Alex "Crashdown" Quartararo himself, Battlestar Galactica vet Sam Witwer.
15. Inside the CDC (season one)
The first look inside the CDC in Atlanta opened up an entirely new world of possibilities ... possibilities the show doesn't seem especially interested in exploring, but possibilities all the same! Even though The Walking Dead never really picked up the torch of getting to the bottom of the apocalypse again after this moment (some fake-me-outs with Eugene notwithstanding), the brief exploration of Dr. Jenner's suicidal psyche, before the Grimes gang rolled into town, still stands out as some of the most memorable material from the earliest days of the series.
14. Merle's Last Stand (season three)
He wasn't a hero, but he went out like one. Merle Dixon tried to offer up Michonne in order to strike peace between the prison and Woodbury, but when he couldn't pull the proverbial trigger, he opted for a suicide mission instead. The result: a tragic death for Merle, both in human form at the hands of the Governor, and even more brutally in zombie form at the hands of his brother Daryl. For someone who entered the series as a disgusting and irredeemable goon, somehow Merle managed to exit the series with some measure of dignity.
13. Noah's Arc (season five)
If there's a better example of The Walking Dead dispatching a main character in an unflinching display of stomach-churning gore than Noah (Tyler James Williams), it's not coming to mind. It's not just Glenn who was traumatized at the sight of this young man's evisceration at the hands and jaws of so many walkers. Viewers aren't likely to forget the scene anytime soon either, as the revolving door death stands out as one of the single most graphic moments in seven seasons and counting.
12. The Middle-Finger Salute (season four)
It's the best Daryl Dixon moment on the board, and it's one he shares with Emily Kinney's Beth Greene: tossing up the middle-finger salute at the burning husk of a dilapidated shack, which serves as a monument to his own terrible past. Few scenes in the series combine levity and character growth quite as well as this crude signal.
11. Carl Kills Shane (season two)
Yet another one-two punch that comes close to closing out the season two finale: Carl shooting Shane, stumbling back from the dead shortly after ...
10. Rick Kills Shane First (season two)
... getting stabbed in the heart by his best friend and romantic rival. Shane's death at Rick's hands marked a huge turning point for the series, and certainly the end of the first major arc. Without Shane, Rick would not go on to become the man leading the Alexandrians to war against the Governor. What's more, it was the end of the line for Bernthal, an actor who infused The Walking Dead with a level of intensity that few others have matched since, and no one outside of James had matched before.
9. The Cookie Monster (season five)
Watching the first season of the series, could anyone have predicted Carol Peletier as the character who would produce the show's greatest moment of nightmare fuel? Perhaps it's because we saw how she dealt with the Lizzie and Mika situation in "The Grove," but Carol's threat to poor Sam Anderson — that she would effectively feed him to walkers if he told anyone about her acquisition of the Alexandria gun supply — still stands out as one of the funniest, scariest and downright greatest moments in the show's run.
8. The Well Walker (season two)
Among the very best walkers ever produced for The Walking Dead (second only to one other on this list), the well walker on the Greene family farm wasn't necessarily ... well, necessary from a plot standpoint, but who cares? It was gross, it was tense and it was fun. Sometimes, that's all you need for a successful Walking Dead moment, and this moment had all of those things in spades.
7. Don't Open, Dead Inside (season one)
Exactly as advertised: Rick wakes up into a world gone to hell in a hand basket, walking through a dim and decimated hospital corridor. At the end of the hall: a set of doors, with these unforgettable words of warning scrawled all over them. Fun fact: the "don't open, dead inside" door stands guard at the front of one of the main offices on the Walking Dead set outside of Atlanta. True story!
6. Going Clear (season three)
Through three seasons of the show, "Clear" ranked as the greatest episode of The Walking Dead. By most measures, it would still come close to the top of the heap today. It's the first appearance of Morgan since he and Rick parted ways in the pilot, and it's absolutely gutting to see just how far he's fallen in that time. The powerhouse performance from James made it clear (whoa!) why fans were so invested in his character, and why we've been rather lucky to have Morgan in the mix for two full seasons and change now.
5. Bicycle Girl (season one)
Greg Nicotero's work throughout The Walking Dead speaks for itself, and it practically bellows from a mountaintop in the form of Bicycle Girl, one of the very first walkers we ever see in the series. It's Tony Moore's incredible artwork come to life, sadly snapping its jaws at Rick, a human breakfast buffet she will never get a chance to eat. Haunting, nauseating and moving in equal measure, Bicycle Girl remains the earliest and best example of The Walking Dead's emotional potential.
4. The Prison Falls (season four)
Until Negan killed Glenn, there was no moment from the comics books more anticipated for the show than the Governor's assault against the prison. With so many changes between the way the story played in Kirkman's original run and the television show, we were never going to get a beat-for-beat adaptation of this conflict. With that said, the spirit and the energy of the final war between the prison and Woodbury remains very much intact, beginning with the ruthless way in which Hershel loses his life (and his head), and ending with the Governor finally rushing up to meet the demise he brought upon himself.
3. Look at the Flowers (season four)
There's a real argument that The Walking Dead reached its peak with "The Grove," essentially a stand-alone episode in which Carol and Tyreese do their best to make a good life for Lizzie, Mika and baby Judith. It does not go well for two of those three children, nor does it go well for Carol and Tyreese, even if they do reach some form of peace with one another. With that said, it goes very well indeed for Melissa McBride, who proves her status as one of the show's single most valuable players as Carol does her best to gently guide Lizzie toward the great floral arrangement in the sky.
2. Escape From Terminus (season five)
The best season premiere of the entire series (not counting the show's debut), and it's not close: "No Sanctuary," which not only features the aforementioned batter lineup, but also has a worthy subplot involving Tyreese waging philosophical war with a relentless cannibal, all while Rick, Carol and the rest wage actual war with the men and women of Terminus. There's no greater example of how The Walking Dead can work its way around an action set piece, launching the show's fifth season forward with an astounding burst of energy. Note to all future season premieres: This is how you do it.
1. It Takes Guts (season one)
Rick and Glenn, walking together in an ocean of walkers, covered in guts and gore in order to blend in. Does it get any more Walking Dead than this? It's the best moment of the series, a classic image from the earliest days, the first true instance of total strangers working hand-in-hand to survive in the face of impossible odds. It's vivid, visceral, funny in its own right, intense and ultimately ill-fated — with two excellent performers at the heart of the scene in Lincoln and Yeun, forging an immediate chemistry that served them both so well for so many years. In a decade from now, when The Walking Dead is approaching its inevitable 18th season, the image of these two friends-in-the-making walking among the dead will be the one that keeps us going.
What are your favorite moments? Sound off in the comments section, below. The Walking Dead returns with its season eight premiere and 100th episode overall on Sunday, Oct. 22, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on AMC. Follow THR.com/WalkingDead all season long for interviews, news, theories and more.