“I’m gonna beat the holy hell out of one of you.” In just a few short weeks, we’ll know the name of that lucky someone when season 7 premiere drops the hammer on overly-invested viewers. Until that fateful day, we thought it’d be a good idea to remind you of all the pain and suffering The Walking Dead has caused in your life. Isn’t that nice?
You see, across six seasons of abject misery, The Walking Dead has proven itself to be a showcase for human decay in very literal and figurative ways. For every laugh in Friends, there are three times as many tears in the world of TWD. It’s a show about survival, primal instincts and the brutal fact that life is out of our control. As season seven of the smash hit nears, take a trip down memory lane and remember: no matter how brutal Negan is with his Louisville Slugger, it can’t be that much worse than what’s already happened. Or so we hope.
These are the 15 Times The Walking Dead Ruined Your Life:
15. Pig Slaughter
People aren’t the only casualties in post-apocalyptic America. Innocent little piggies meet horrifying ends, and unfortunately, they do so at the hand of Rick Grimes. While the squealing and screaming made this moment hard to stomach, the true horror arose from the symbolism of Rick squashing his hope of a civilized future. These pigs were a small part of his ambitious and hopeful plan, one that held the potential for societal rebirth and community amidst the death and destruction.
What Rick Grimes brought into the world, he is ultimately forced to take out. Rick primes the piggies with his knife then feeds them to the walking dead. It’s a brutal trade. The pigs are wrongly blamed for a viral outbreak, but Rick operates on a hunch and euthanizes the animals without hesitation. Unfortunately, he wasn’t the only one emotionally disturbed by the sacrifice. Countless viewers decried the depiction of animal cruelty with great fervor (and of course, with far more sympathy than any human who experienced a similar fate on the show). Go figure.
14. T-Dog’s Sacrifice
T-Dog died a hero. As the moral anchor of the survivor squad, it wasn’t all that surprising that Theodore would sacrifice himself for the gain of others. Still, that doesn’t make his grisly death any more tolerable. T-Dog, a quiet but resonant part of the show, had only just begun to establish his voice in the episodes leading up to his end. Sadly, The Walking Dead seemed to give more love to the zombies than the survivalist hero who spent much of the second season reacting to the choices of others rather than forging his own path.
Finally, the third season gave T-Dog a full-bodied character arc that won him many supporters, both in the world of the show and among viewers. The house of cards crumbled not long after his apotheosis, however, and T-Dog took a gruesome zombie chomp to the shoulder. It was a fatal blow that put a final countdown on Theodore’s game clock. He spent his final minutes surrendering himself to the zombie horde so a helpless Carol could live to see another day. That bloody neck bite may be hard to forget, but T-Dog’s character will easily be remembered.
13. The Truth About Duane
To kill your zombie wife or to let her live: that is the question. Morgan Jones has been a conflicted man since the moment we met him, but the full extent of his troubles comes to bear in season three. After months of watching his undead wife through the cold sights of a sniper rifle, Morgan was faced with a detestable ultimatum. Finding his poor son besieged by his own zombie mother, Morgan hesitates in the face of tragedy. Rather than taking the shot and putting his brainless wife to rest, Morgan wastes precious time and thus allows his young boy to be turned into the newest member of the walking dead.
As Morgan admitted in season one, “I should’ve put her down…I just didn’t have it in me.” The man would later come to regret his indecision to act, a fatal ambivalence that resulted in the death of his son, Duane. This tragedy culminated in Morgan’s gut-wrenching admission to Rick, where he pours his heart out and tells him of Duane’s horrific end. “I see red! Everything I see is red!” Most of us couldn’t see anything at all, thanks to out watery eyes.
12. The End of Noah
The Walking Dead often tiptoes the line between torture porn and the dramatic depiction of death. In the graphic murder of Noah, the show reached its apex of blood and guts. Plenty of major characters have been offed in the show, but this one was different. This Noah got doused in a blood flood as audiences were treated to the first person perspective of Glenn, who watched in horror as his dear friend got torn limb from limb. To top things off, the camera lingered as poor Noah’s face was effectively pulled off like wrapping paper on a present.
If you suffered from PTSD after this episode, you weren’t alone. Though Noah was quickly turned into a first-rate zombie dinner, it was his final words that left the most haunting impression. Like Jack in Titantic, Noah begs his buddy: “Don’t let go!” This is the stuff of nightmares, and remains one of the most disturbing moments in The Walking Dead.
11. Shane Betrays Otis
While far from the most brutal moment in the show, Shane’s murder of Otis proved to be a devastating reveal of character. Jon Bernthal’s angst-ridden cop had always been a man of dubious integrity, but the true corruption of his heart was on display early in the show’s sophomore season. While none can judge the desperation Shane experienced, we cannot sympathize with his cruel actions. With a horde of zombies on their heels, Shane and Otis found themselves with deteriorating ammo supplies, beaten down bodies, and dwindling hope.
In a fleeting moment, Shane moves from hero to villain when he preemptively apologizes to his cohort before shooting him in the leg. Otis quickly becomes a meaty diversion for the undead masses, but his will to live brings Shane down to the floor in a final fight. They duke it out in vicious ways, though it’s abundantly clear that Shane will prevail. Intercut with Shane’s new bathroom buzzcut, we watch Otis get torn to pieces as Shane hobbles back to civilization. Though this moment presented the death of a somewhat minor character, it also showed the corruption of a former protagonist.
10. Dale’s Death
When Rick slaughtered the pigs in season four, he obliterated a physical representation of his attempt at forging a new life. Long before then, however, Dale Horvath’s savage death showcased the first major failure between expectation and reality in Georgia. A man of sagacity, kindness, and patience, Dale may have frequently erred on the side of pacifism, but he meant it with all his heart. Whether he was simply too old to survive in the barren wasteland of the new zombie apocalypse, or he lacked the survivalist grit necessary to stay alive, Dale was perhaps the most tender human on the show.
His death was sudden, vicious, and deeply upsetting, a loss to both the audience and the show’s characters. Without Dale, there was little reason for others to retain their humanity amid such moral ambivalence. Daryl Dixon delivered the coup de grace for poor Dale, who lay disembowled and broken on the wide field. Rick proved unable to pull the trigger, but Daryl found the stamina to show the old man a final ounce of mercy. Dale has been sorely missed in the years since.
9. When Daryl Finds Merle
Say what you will about ol’ Merle Dixon, but The Walking Dead was more fun with its resident provocateur. However snarky, racially charged, and frequently repugnant he chose to be, Merle always had our attention. Despite their contemptuous relationship, the brothers Dixon were an essential part of The Walking Dead dynamic. After spending significant time apart, poor Daryl is faced with the ultimate nightmare: a reunion with his reanimated, cannibalistic brother. Even from a distance, and without seeing his face, Daryl recognizes the beast feasting on a nameless corpse’s abdomen. He knows it’s Merle, and as soon as the realization breaches his mind, he breaks down. For Daryl, the tightly-wound crossbow commando, tears are as rare as hope in this dystopian reality.
Merle chomps his teeth and charges at Daryl, who pushes the zombie back in denial. Merle approaches with increasing restlessness until Daryl finally succumbs to the emotional hurricane and perforates his brother’s head until he moves no more.
8. Glenn’s Dumpster “Death”
It was a fake-out death for the ages. Millions of fans wept at the sight of Glenn being reduced to pieces in the back alley of a run-down street. It was an unceremonious conclusion to the life of a lover and hero who finally found himself submerged beneath swathes of the undead. Unfortunately for fans, this was merely a sleight of hand that would eventually reveal Glenn out and about town — after nearly four weeks of thinking that he’d bit the dust. Three full episodes came and went in between the fan-favorite’s supposed death and subsequent resurrection, in a not completely unforeseen development that absolutely ruined the lives of a large chunk of TWD‘s fan base.
For those eager to see Glenn meet his much deserved fate, fans are anticipating the protagonist to serve as the grandslam to Negan’s barbed-wire baseball bat on October 23rd. After all, that’s how the Robert Kirkman comics told the story, and it seems a fitting end for the character who survived an army of zombies by simply crawling under a dumpster. He’s been the ultimate risk taker for the group since the early days of season one, and it would certainly appear that his days are finally numbered.
7. Carl Kills His Mom (and Rick Loses It)
It was a matricide of the first order. After spending countless episodes on the “most hated” lists of many fans, Carl showed some grit in the mercy killing of his mother. It’s something only Rick himself could find the courage to follow through with, but even in this moment, Carl proved the only individual capable of pulling the trigger. Though a certifiable coming-of-age moment for the young boy, the death of Lori brought Rick to new lows. Upon seeing the baby and Carl without their mother, he knew what had happened. Though weak in the knees and awash with disbelief, Rick wanders helplessly, asking, “Where is she? Where is she?” He knows, and he absolutely loses it.
This is Andrew Lincoln at his finest. Make no mistake, it’s a meme-worthy moment, one that’s so haunting in its realism and drama that it borders on absurdity, but it’s beautiful all the same. Rick collapses onto the ground and sobs himself into the fetal position, mourning the corruption of his (frighteningly unemotional) son and the loss of his beloved wife.
6. When Beth Died (And Maggie Cried)
The Walking Dead thrives on the unexpected, but few moments could top the sudden death of Beth Greene. An untrained trigger-finger propelled a bullet into her head and led to a momentary Mexican standoff. Beth fans, of which there were many, were none too pleased at this callous killing. A Change.org petition sprang up almost immediately with over 30,000 signatures calling for the return of Maggie’s deceased sister. Some fans acknowledged the irreversible nature of that head-shot, relying on television tactics to right the wrong: “Anything is possible. By signing this petition you can at least show your support for Beth. Let’s show Emily Kinney how much we love her and want her back.”
Somehow, Beth’s shooting was not quite the least palatable of the whole episode. As soon as Maggie laid eyes on her lifeless body, the tragedy hit new heights. With an almost Biblical level of pathos, the elder Greene daughter wails over the body of her baby sister, all while strumming the bitter heartstrings of countless fans.
5. Rick Kills Shane
In Suicide Squad, Katana’s weapon of choice is said to absorb the souls of those it slays. So, too, with Rick Grimes. Despite their years of history together, the man killed his best friend, and by virtue of his actions, took on a large part of Shane’s personality. This legendary scene is played to perfection, beginning with the murderous Shane preparing to blast away his friend. Years of unmediated jealousy and rage turned the former cop into a beast who commandeered his best pal’s wife and subverted his family. Under pale moonlight, Shane makes a run at the crown before Rick talks him down.
Drawing on the rare bond of their friendship, Grimes appears to be quieting Shane and defusing the situation until he rams him through with a lengthy blade. “Damn you for making me do this! This is you, not me!” Rick practically pleads for forgiveness from the very man he’s killing. As Shane’s blood covers the ground, Rick bids farewell to his former self and embraces a more vicious countenance.
4. The End of Andrea
For all of the series’ in-your-face action, The Walking Dead is also dominated by off-screen gunshots. These insidious moments of suicide are terrifying in their ritual nature, where the recently infected embrace their civic duty of removing themselves from the natural world. Andrea’s dirge-like death was particularly gut-wrenching, given all of the time she had spent with Rick Grimes and Co., and the battle of allegiances she waged throughout her post-apocalyptic career. However misguided the majority of her decisions may have been, Andrea accrued a lot of love from fans, affection that has been sustained well after her death.
For comic loyalists of The Walking Dead, however, Andrea’s death was bigger than the show. It meant that she would never evolve into the deadly sniper Robert Kirkman created her to be. Though there have been many more significant diversions from source material to screen, the death of Andrea spelled the end of an era and the demise of her marksman potential.
3. Finding Sophia
This was The Wizard of Oz moment of season two. In this gutting scene from The Walking Dead, the traveling band of misfits finally reach their destination, peak behind the curtain (or barn), and see that the precious child they were seeking has…become a zombie. Here, the Wizard (Sophia) isn’t just a fraudster with pyrotechnics, she’s a fully-dead, human-eating monster that has rendered Rick and Co.’s journey a complete waste of time. Sure, everyone’s reactions are painful to see, but that’s not even the most upsetting part of Sophia’s zombie-reveal.
This moment is the calm before The Walking Dead maelstrom. It’s the writing staff’s immaculate bait and switch that had viewers anticipating the return of Sophia for so many episodes, only to rediscover her as a shell of her former self. This stunning realization effectively declared war on TWD viewers, affirming that no cast member is safe from a sudden and brutal death.
2. The Execution of Lizzie
Adults lose their grip in the world of The Walking Dead, but children are just as vulnerable. For all of the negative attention Carl received in earlier seasons, no adolescent on the show is more deserving of ire than little Lizzie. Having lost her hold on reality, the young girl’s perception of humans and walkers grows distorted, and she finds herself siding with the zombies. Lizzie’s derangement goes beyond issues of mental understanding, however. The girl becomes violent and murders her sister, Mika, to prove to Carol that she’ll easily come back to life. In such a broken world as that of TWD, you can’t fault the girl for becoming so disturbed, but at the same time, you can’t blame Carol for literally taking her out to pasture and shooting her in the back of the head.
While adapting the “mercy kill” trope from Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, these scenes are expertly applied in the world of The Walking Dead. For all of the shock and awe of the series, the insanity and subsequent execution of Lizzie remains one of the most disturbing moments of the show.
1. Beheading of Hershel
The Governor knew that Hershel was the lifeblood of the group. To lose a man of such wisdom, grace, and leadership would devastate Rick beyond measure. The Governor was right. Taking a katana to the old man’s neck, the one-eyed villain sliced Hershel’s head (half) off before gunfire broke out. Rick and his crew looked on in horror as they unloaded countless rounds in retaliation.
The most horrifying part of these scenes was not the attempted beheading, but the quick cuts of Hershel suffering on the ground. Like Anne Boleyn on the chopping block, the old man survived the first cut, writhing in the dirt until the Governor tracked him down and finished what he started. Like a homicidal maniac, he swipes not once, nor twice, but three additional times to sever the head from the body. This is The Walking Dead at its most unrelenting, its most cruel, and to some, its most unforgivable.
Honorable Mention: Negan Plays Baseball
October 23rd is coming. On that day, Rick Grimes and his crew will downsize at least one member. In what may be the most hyped series return in recent memory, season seven of The Walking Dead will find its key cast members in the most precarious position of their already godforsaken lives. Major League Baseball playoffs are nearly underway, so it’s pretty fitting that late October is the time that Negan will step up to the plate with his thug bat and cruel attitude. The guy clearly likes to bring the pain. If the rest of this list isn’t evidence enough, expect something bad and prepare for even worse.
What moments from The Walking Dead ruined your life? Let us know in the comments!
Season 7 of The Walking Dead premieres on AMC on October 23rd, 2016.