The Walking Dead wouldn’t be one of the most watched shows on television if didn’t have a great many entertaining episodes. Starting with the superbly made series premiere, this AMC show has turned out hours upon hours of some of the best binge watching that’s available today. But with a rocky season seven nearing its end, we’ll be looking at the other end of the spectrum by counting down the most flawed episodes of the series.
While some of these episodes are indisputable misfires, other episodes may have seemed entertaining upon their first viewing, but in retrospect they have failed to offer up anything to advance the story. Plot holes, inconsistent character development, and slow storylines plague the entries below. While most episodes of The Walking Dead have at least one thrilling or thoroughly interesting sequence, these episodes are the ones we’ll likely skip past upon rewatching the series.
Here are the 15 Worst Episodes Of The Walking Dead.
15. Start to Finish (6X08)
Before audiences were up in arms over the season six finale, they were just as divided over the season’s mid-season finale as well. “Start to Finish” picks up after the walls of Alexandria have been breached following the collapse of a church tower. Walkers swarm into the safe haven and Rick’s group becomes separated, seeking shelter wherever they can in the overrun town.
Amidst the chaos, Deanna gets bitten. Before the elected leader dies she decides to pass the torch onto Rick — the one person who divided her community in the first place. Of course, Rick wasn’t responsible for everything that when wrong in Alexandria, but for Deanna to put her trust in him while lying on her death bed feels like a stretch, even for the level-headed leader.
“Start to Finish” does little to further the story, and it certainly doesn’t tie up any loose ends before the three month hiatus. By the end of the episode, it ultimately felt like we had just sat through an hour of unorganized action.
14. Say Yes (7X12)
Audiences complained that the first half of season seven was miserably bleak, and since then the showrunners have promised to bring back the fighting spirit for the back eight episodes. But now, it almost seems like they’ve shot a little too far in the other direction, with characters acting overly optimistic while their circumstances remain largely unchanged.
In the episode “Say Yes” we watched Rick and Michonne turn a scavenging trip into a makeshift honeymoon. Even before the couple drop into a warehouse stockpiled with food, the couple is grinning ear-to-ear despite the uphill battle before them. At one point, Rick even seems like he would rather stay out in the wilderness with Michonne forever rather than return to help his followers in Alexandria.
The fearless leader even makes an amateur mistake while trying to fight off a herd of undead, deciding that killing a deer to repay Michonne should take priority over his safety — ironically demonstrating that the things you love are often the things that get you killed.
13. Infected (4X02)
Upon initial viewing, “Infected” was a fairly entertaining episode with an interesting perspective: the survivors must battle the flu in a post-apocalyptic world. In retrospect, the episode kicked off one of the season four arcs that would eventually wear out its welcome.
The first hints of the flu are show at the end of the season premiere, when Patrick, a young survivor within the prison, stumbles into the shower and succumbs to the flu before turning into a walker. Many others end up being killed by the flu before it finally passes through the prison, making us wonder just how weak everyone’s immune system could possibly be that the strain kills nearly everyone that it infects? Even the zombies seem to be affected by the virus.
When the episode debuted, there was a swine flu scare going around the world which made the episode seem all the more terrifying. But the flu storyline ends up consuming almost the entire first half of season eight, while miraculously leaving the main characters largely untouched. The only thing it ultimately succeeded in doing was taking out a lot of unnecessary side characters.
12. Prey (3X14)
In this season three episode, Andrea discovers that the Governor is preparing for battle with the prison and she decides to abandon Woodbury once and for all. However, the Governor isn’t willing to let her go without a fight.
“Prey” is largely focused on Andrea trying to outrun the Governor, but the thrill of the chase quickly wears off as it drags on throughout the episode. The scene where the two end up tip-toeing around one another in an abandoned warehouse feels never-ending, and we can’t help but think that the sequence was stretched to pad the 44 minute runtime.
Another misfire is that the episode opens with a flashback of Andrea and Michonne back when the two were surviving in the wilderness. It’s an interesting flashback, which gives us the first hint that Michonne’s “pets” were part of her past life. However, the sequence fails to relate to the remainder of the episode, and it could have made a larger impact if it served as the prologue to the season finale, where Michonne comforts Andrea in her final moments.
11. I Ain’t a Judas (3X11)
In the comics, Andrea is far less indecisive than she is in the TV show (which may explain why the character is still alive in the source material). After an entire season of being unsure of the Governor’s intentions, this episode exhaustingly highlights Andrea’s inability to see the truth and does little to develop her character during her final episodes.
While she watches the Governor prepare for battle with the prison, she sneaks off to visit her old friends and finds them less than welcoming. Even after she sees the violence that the Governor has wrought, Andrea refuses to fully believe Rick’s group and ends up back at Woodbury by the end of the episode. That night, Andrea sleeps with the Governor and momentarily contemplates killing him in his sleep. Alone, Andrea could end the bloodshed; but again, she fails to act.
10. Live Bait (4X06)
This episode may be on the slow side, but that’s not what makes it bad. Every good show needs to slow things down once in a while to develop the characters. The real problem with “Live Bait” is how it inconsistently develops one of The Walking Dead’s primary villains: the Governor.
The Governor in the show is far more nuanced than the one in the comics. David Morrissey is no doubt playing a psychopath, but he manages to keep his sinister intentions hidden beneath the surface so he can continue to accumulate followers. However, this season four episode actually casts the Governor as the hero, garnering sympathy for the character and his struggles. The episode succeeds in adding depth to the character, only for the show to turn around in the next episode and turn him into a scheming madman once again.
We follow the Governor after the downfall of Woodbury, where he meets up with a family that’s struggling to survive. He aids the family in exchange for solace, and forms a connection with the youngest daughter. Then just two short episodes later, the Governor is chopping off Hershel’s head while leading an attack on the prison. “Live Bait” was an intriguing episode when it first aired, but it ultimately failed to fit into the overall character arc of the Governor.
9. Arrow on the Doorpost (3X13)
In “Arrow on the Doorstep” Andrea arranges for a sit-down between her old friends and her new ones, and Rick and the Governor are finally brought face-to-face for the first time to try and settle their differences. The only problem is the Governor is more interested in Rick’s surrender than in trying to establish a boundary between the two communities. Meanwhile, back in the prison, Merle plans to head out and assassinate the Governor while he has a chance, much to the disapproval of Glenn.
The episode certainly has its tense moments, with Rick and the Governor constantly trying to one up each other while also remaining civilized. However, nothing seems to come of the discussion, as both Rick and the Governor continue to prepare for battle as soon as they go their separate ways.
The Governor’s ultimatum is for Rick to hand over Michonne so he can enact his revenge. Though Rick seems like he’s struggling with the choice, the audience already knows that Rick would never sacrifice a member of his group, especially after Michonne saved the lives of his children. Thus, by the end of the episode we end up right back where we started: with the two communities on the verge of war.
8. Secrets (2X06)
Season two was notoriously repetitive and drawn out, and the episode “Secrets” definitely felt like filler that didn’t do much of anything except set up the mid-season finale.
Much like the title implies, the episode involves the members of Rick’s group traveling from one confidant to the next and spilling the beans about their fellow survivors. When Glenn finds out about the walkers in Hershel’s barn he goes to Dale for advice, despite Maggie asking him to keep it a secret. Meanwhile, Glenn also gets burdened by Lori, who asks him to go into town and bring her back some abortion pills for her secret pregnancy.
The episode is heavy on whispering and short on action, aside from the brief moment where Maggie is attacked by a walker and Glenn saves the day. The character development may have been necessary, but we can’t help but think that it could have been done with far less exposition.
7. Cherokee Rose (2X04)
This is another entry that seems worse in retrospect; it’s the first episode where Rick’s group settles in at Hershel’s idyllic (and mostly boring) farmhouse. At Hershel’s place, it seems as though the apocalypse never even occurred, and the emotional baggage of two of the more irksome characters (Lori and Shane) largely consumes this episode.
Shane is being haunted by the death of Otis, which is made worse when he’s asked to say a few words at Otis’s funeral. Meanwhile, Lori suspects that she may be pregnant by either Shane or Rick, and she secretly asks Glenn to go into town and pick her up a pregnancy test.
The only notable zombie in the episode is the one they discover in Hershel’s well. After the group fails to entice the zombie out of the well using a canned ham as bait, they decide to lower Glenn in. Of course, a problem with the lowering mechanism ensues and Glenn is just pulled out in the nick of time. The cliched scenario is also borderline idiotic in this instance, considering that if their plan failed Glenn would certainly be a goner.
6. Them (5X10)
Many of the best moments of The Walking Dead are when Rick’s group is on the road struggling to survive. However, “Them” finds the group wandering aimlessly through the woods for the entire episode — prompting many to joke that the show had finally earned its titled.
Though the group is still recovering from the deaths of Beth and Tyreese, the audience is subjected to one heartfelt monologue after another. Maggie, Sasha, and Daryl are the most despondent; but the group’s attempt to keep them moving forward feels redundant and largely uninspiring.
The group is offered a brief respite when they discover a barn during a violent rainstorm. Walkers try to storm the barn in the night, but they are taken out by a few tree branches that fall a little too conveniently. The episode gets significantly more interesting when a stranger wanders up, introduces himself, and asks to speak to Rick. But by that point, this episode it already over.
5. Now (6X05)
The beginning of season six chugs along at a breakneck pace, as Rick and the citizens of Alexandria are simultaneously forced to deal with a herd of walkers and an attack by the Wolves. The fourth episode, “Here’s Not Here”, is a welcome break from the action, explaining how Morgan arrived at his position in the present. However, when we get back into the action with “Now,” the writing feels just as indecisive as the citizens of Alexandria.
A shaken Deanna struggles with her position of leadership, but is unwilling to pass the mantle onto Rick and remains in a daze for the majority of the episode. Meanwhile, her son Spencer tries to keep order by stopping people from raiding the town’s pantry, only for it to be revealed later that he’s been hoarding the food for himself. Maggie and Aaron seem like they’re the two characters that will actually head out on a mission to save Glenn, but then they turn back at the last minute, deciding that they should remain in Alexandria instead.
4. Go Getters (7X05)
With season seven being so chopped up, it took us five weeks to see how Maggie and Sasha were holding up after the tragic deaths of Glenn and Abraham. Normally, an episode where the characters mourn would come at most an episode or two after the tragic event, but with such a big gap, audiences were already so weighed down by grief that “Go Getters” just seemed to drag on and on.
Admittedly, the Hilltop has been one of the least interesting new locations on the show, with Gregory’s ever-annoying presence, and Jesus’s character never being fully developed. And with the bodies of Glenn and Abraham buried nearby, the whole place seems draped in sorrow.
The only interesting part of the super-slow episode is when the Saviors roll in a locked car, blaring music and attracting walkers into the colony in the middle of the night. Gregory, of course, does nothing, and Maggie and Jesus are forced to save the day. Even after their display of heroism, the citizens of the Hilltop are somehow still okay with the cowardly Gregory leading their flock. This may be a result of the location still feeling a bit underdeveloped, since we barely know anyone else who lives at the Hilltop in the first place.
3. Slabtown (5X04)
Don’t get us wrong, sometimes bottle episodes are fantastic. For example, the episode “Here’s Not Here” solely focuses on Morgan’s journey from crazed zombie killer to post-apocalyptic pacifist, and the episode remains captivating from start to finish, despite its lengthy runtime.
“Here’s Not Here” is a bottle episode done right because it sets the stage on Morgan’s character for seasons to come, setting him up as an alternate perspective (and possible problem) to Ricks take-no-prisoners approach to survival. “Slabtown”, on the other hand, is an example of what not to do while solely focusing on just one character.
The premise of the episode is interesting enough: Beth wakes up in a hospital controlled by police officers who exploit the people they protect. The problem is how little this episode plays into the overall storyline of the show. Pretty much every character in this episode dies almost immediately afterward. Even Noah — who eventually manages to become part of Rick’s group — is killed before the season ends, making this episode one you can pretty much skip over while re-watching the series.
2. Last Day on Earth (6X16)
It’s no secret that The Walking Dead has been losing viewers, and the season six finale and season seven opener are largely responsible for the beginning of that decline.
“The Last Day on Earth” does a good job at upping the fear as Rick’s group watches the Saviors continue to grow in numbers. And Negan’s long-awaited debut is also satisfying in its own twisted way, with many finding the villain extremely entertaining despite his sadistic antics. The major problem with the episode, of course, came with the cliffhanger.
It’s one thing to leave a character’s fate up in the air during a season finale — to give viewers a glimmer of hope and a reason to tune back in for next season to make sure that their favorite character made it out alive. But in this instance, the character was certainly dead, we just had to tune back in and find out who it was. Many fans simply felt cheated that they would have to wait months to see which one of their favorite character’s was bashed to death by Lucille. And after seeing both Abraham and Glenn killed in a particularly gratuitous fashion, many felt that they had waited all that time just to be disturbed.
1. Swear (7X06)
Much of the disappointment with the first half of season seven is due to the increase in the number of bottle episodes. Of course, we don’t expect every episode to feature every character. But by giving only a couple characters the spotlight for 45 minutes, you certainly run the risk of alienating some viewers.
“Swear” gives the spotlight solely to Tara, who gets separated from Heath during a supply run and discovers an entirely new, all-female community called Oceanside. Don’t get us wrong, Tara is an enjoyable and unique character, but to focus an entire episode on her without featuring any other familiar faces turned out to be discouraging. Especially when the episode connects so little to the overall storyline in an already disjointed season.
Another downside of this episode is that we’re introduced to yet another community, after the Saviors, the Hilltop and the Kingdom are all still relatively new. The episode also felt like an obvious set up for something that would eventually help Rick in defeating the Saviors, and it seems like Oceanside will finally be making its way back into the series again shortly.
So what’s your least favorite episode of The Walking Dead? Let us know!