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Across seven full seasons and countless characters, only five figures from the first season of the AMC zombie drama are still standing: Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs), Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride), Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) and Morgan Jones (Lennie James). That’s a whole lot of people we’ve lost along the way, heroes and villains alike, and all of the others who never quite fit comfortably on either side of the good-evil spectrum.
Based on the comics of the same name from Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard, The Walking Dead stands ready to surpass 100 episodes as soon as the season eight premiere, with no signs of stopping anytime soon. As a means of marking the occasion, let’s take a stroll through the history of the series, by walking through some of the most memorable kills across 100 episodes, presented chronologically.
1. Rick Kills Bicycle Girl (Season 1, Episode 1)
Not the first time we see Rick kill a zombie in The Walking Dead, but this one takes place before the little girl he puts down at the gas station. Bicycle Girl, the single most memorable walker by our account, gasps and grasps out for Rick’s flesh. Rather than fear the creature, Rick kneels by its side, expresses his regrets, and does what must be done. It’s among the most human moments of the entire series, and it comes our way almost immediately.
2. Daryl Kills Dale (Season 2, Episode 11)
In the first major swerve for Walking Dead comic book fans, Dale Horvath (Jeffrey DeMunn) was always slated for death, but not quite this early. His evisceration at a walker’s hands, followed by a bullet to the head courtesy of Daryl Dixon, was and still is one of the single most shocking developments across 100 episodes spent in the zombie apocalypse.
3. Rick Kills Shane (Season 2, Episode 12)
In contrast to Dale, Shane (Jon Bernthal) should have died much earlier than season two, if Walking Dead stayed true to the comic book letter. Instead, Shane survived right up until the penultimate hour of the second season, his death serving as a catalyst for Rick’s transformation into the big-bearded badass we now know and … well, take your pick: love, fear or both.
4. Carl Shoots Lori (Season 3, Episode 4)
It’s yet another huge shocker for the comic book crowd, considering how and when Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) dies in the source material. Lori’s fate on the show is made all the more devastating given that she dies giving birth to Judith, and is subsequently put down by her own son — a decision he makes all on his own, ensuring she won’t return from the dead.
5. Michonne Kills Merle’s Buddies (Season 3, Episode 6)
Danai Gurira’s sword-wielding badass makes her proper debut in season three, ditching Woodbury and forced to show what she’s made of when Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker) and his posse try to hunt her down. Michonne entered The Walking Dead with a lot of hype from her role in the comics, and her stand against Merle’s allies more than measures up.
6. Daryl Kills Merle (Season 3, Episode 14)
Technically, Merle was already dead, shot in the chest after trying to take down the Woodbury threat all on his lonesome. But Daryl delivers the final blow, tearfully bashing his zombified brother’s brains in, a cathartic moment after a life of abuse under Merle’s thumb.
7. The Governor Kills Hershel (Season 4, Episode 8)
Hershel (Scott Wilson) loses his head at the exact moment the Governor (David Morrissey) loses his own, throwing everything away because he can’t abide Rick Grimes’ existence any further. Hershel steps in for Tyreese (Chad Coleman) here, taking the younger man’s comic book death for the show’s version of events, signaling one of the single most memorable plot developments of the whole series: the fall of the prison.
8. Carol Kills Lizzie (Season 4, Episode 14)
It’s the climax of “The Grove,” one of the single best episodes in Walking Dead history: Carol (Melissa McBride) is forced to kill a child who refuses to accept the fact that zombies aren’t people anymore — a point she proved by killing her own sister in cold blood. Carol’s choice is absolutely devastating given her own history as a mother, let alone as a warm-blooded human being, but it’s also one of the show’s most successfully emotional moments across seven seasons and counting.
9. Rick Kills Joe (Season 4, Episode 16)
Rick bites a man’s throat out in order to protect Carl. Really, the act speaks for itself.
10. Carol Kills Everybody (Season 5, Episode 1)
Also known as the moment Carol stepped into Terminus and became the Terminator. Not to mix the metaphors too much, but this was Carol’s Sarah Connor moment, the sequence that solidified her status as the most brutally efficient killing machine on the show.
11. Rick Kills Gareth (Season 5, Episode 3)
The fact that Rick and friends resolve their cannibal crisis only three episodes into season five serves as a reminder of just how far these people have come since the start of the series — and really, how far they have fallen away from their own humanity. Rick buries a machete into Gareth’s (Andrew J. West) head without any hesitation, as strong a signal as any that the Southern gentleman who felt remorse over Bicycle Girl is long gone.
12. Walkers Kill Noah (Season 5, Episode 14)
It’s the single grossest main character death in seven seasons of The Walking Dead, and nothing really comes close: Noah (Tyler James Williams) getting ripped to pieces right in front of poor Glenn (Steven Yeun), helpless but to watch as walkers eat his friend alive. If you have somehow purged this memory from your mind, please post your secret in the comments. Seriously, it’s still nauseating to think about.
13. Saviors Go Boom (Season 6, Episode 9)
You know the phrase about bringing a knife to a gunfight? The Saviors foolishly brought guns to a rocket launcher fight, as Daryl Dixon blows these goons to smithereens at the midpoint of season six. No matter how bad things have gotten since then and no matter how bad things get in the future, never forget that it was Daryl and his bombastic firearm that got the first and biggest win.
14. Negan Crushes our Spirits (Season 6, Episode 16)
No matter how anyone feels about the fact that it was presented as a cliffhanger, or the actual outcome of the action, there’s no denying the fact that Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) arriving onto the Walking Dead scene via skull-crushing is straight-up iconic. It’s a milestone moment for the series, certainly given where we are in the current scheme of things, and deserves some measure of props accordingly.
15. Rick and Michonne Mow Down Walkers (Season 7, Episode 9)
With that said, the current reigning “best kill” belongs to lovers and fighters Rick and Michonne, who hopped in two separate vehicles, revved up their engines, and cut down an ocean of zombies with a tripwire tied between the cars. It’s an absolutely absurd moment for a show positively brimming with absurdity, and it’s oh-so welcome given the overwhelming darkness of the season up to that point. Wherever things go next, we can walk away from Walking Dead with this crazy Fast and Furious kill in the can. That’s a win all on its own.
Sound off with your favorite Walking Dead kills in the comments below. The Walking Dead returns for its eighth season Oct. 22. Follow THR.com/WalkingDead all season long for news, interviews, deep dives and more.
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