Like many of the most popular dramas on television today, The Walking Dead has had its share of shocking moments and deaths. From main characters to menacing threats to the group, supporting players, and others, no one is safe. But above and beyond the deaths, there have also been some seriously shocking moments throughout the series. Some we expected, and others we didn’t see coming at all.
Right from the first season, the series has thrown curve-balls at viewers every now and then to shake things up, many of which have marked significant character and/or series turning points. Which ones had us reeling the most? Here are some of the biggest twists. Beware of spoilers throughout, if you're not up to date with the show!
10 Carol Burning the Bodies
Carol has been at the centre of a number of shocking moments throughout the series. Perhaps the most shocking was when she decided to execute Lizzie while she made sure the young girl “looked at the flowers.” By that time, though, Carol had already gone through such a major transformation that her making this difficult call wasn’t all that surprising.
Earlier on, viewers discovered that it was the seemingly innocent Carol who killed and burned the bodies of two group members after they had been taken ill. Her intent was to save the group from potential infection, but the brutal nature of her decision, and the fact that she was able to make it with such ease, was a turning point for the character.
9 Shane Is Killed, Then Reanimates
We have to go way back to Season 2 for this one, but when Shane met face-to-face with Rick in the woods to kill his best friend, and ended up getting killed himself, it was a total twist. With Shane appearing to be the main antagonist of the series, despite being part of the group, it was expected that he and Rick would butt heads for many seasons to come.
The scene proved to be a critical one for the series, showing how Carl was emerging as a fighter after he shot Shane to protect his dad. It was also the episode when the group realized that not only would they have to deal with walkers, but any person who dies now reanimates, too.
8 Eugene Goes to the Dark Side
Viewers always knew that Eugene wasn’t exactly a fighter. He had his intellect, and that’s where his value was. But his group never seemed to utilize his smarts as much as they could (or should). Negan noticed this, swooped in, and found the perfect way to Eugene’s heart: by showing and telling him that he’s valued.
Still, no one really believed that Eugene would actually eat this up, turn on his friends, and join the dark side with the Saviors…until he did in Season 7. Sure, he redeemed himself in the end, but not before causing some serious damage.
7 Morgan’s Return A Second Time Around
Morgan, the first person Rick saw when he woke up bewildered at the onset of the apocalypse in Season 1, disappeared for awhile. Then he reappeared in Season 3, holed up in his own obstacle course-like compound just trying to survive. When Rick and Michonne left him there, we thought that was the last we’d see of the character.
So, when he popped up once again in Season 5, making it to Alexandria just as Rick brutally executed Pete, viewers were as shocked about his return as he was at the type of person Rick had apparently become.
6 Sophia Walking Out of the Barn
Not only a major twist, but it was one of the most heart-wrenching scenes of the series. After searching relentlessly for Sophia, Carol’s daughter, the group discovers that Hershel has been hoarding walkers in his barn in hopes that one day a cure might be found.
As Shane angrily breaks open the door to let them out, walker upon walker spills out, ready to attack. After the group has seemingly killed them all, a tall, lanky young reanimated girl comes slinking out and reveals herself to be none other than Sophia. It was yet another turning point for Carol, and an unexpected moment when viewers realized that, truly, no-one is safe.
5 Carl Getting Bitten
Carl plays a significant role in the comics. As one of the few remaining original cast members, and the youngest, representing the future of the group, it came as a total shock when he revealed in the mid-season finale of Season 8 that he had been bitten.
While his death episode didn’t come until the premiere of the season’s back half, it was clear that Carl was done for when he showed the bite on his torso. And just like that, “Cor-al” was gone, and his exit from the series became one of the most controversial moves of the series thus far.
4 Hershel’s Death
We knew the Governor was a formidable adversary and had a few screws loose. So, you’d think that nothing he could do could surprise viewers. Alas, when he had Hershel on his knees in Season 4, urging those in the prison to surrender, surely viewers thought that something would happen, someone would intervene and save him in the nick of time.
So, when the Governor swung his sword and we watched Hershel’s head roll to the ground like a bowling ball, it was a shocking twist when we expected for so long that the group would emerge victorious against the Governor. What's more, how could they go through with killing off such a beloved character?
3 Negan Killing Not One, But Two People With Lucille
The big cliffhanger between Seasons 6 and 7 was the group kneeling before the great Negan, who was taking his time taunting them before deciding which one he would introduce to his barbed wire bat Lucille. We all knew someone would die, and it would be a main character. So, there was no twist there. That was a fact.
But the twist came when, after Negan brutally bashed in Abraham’s head, declaring that he was “taking it like a champ” as viewers were teased in the season 6 finale, he shared some words with Daryl, then turned and smashed in Glenn’s noggin, too. Ouch. The visual and brutal nature of the kill turned a lot of fans off from the show.
2 Glenn Actually Being Alive
Hilariously dubbed “dumpstergate,” viewers were livid when The Walking Dead seemingly killed off fan favourite character Glenn in such lacklustre fashion, by falling under a cowardly Nicholas in Season 6. Then, we had to wait an excruciating month to realize that nope, Glenn got out just fine. All the blood and guts we saw belonged to Nicholas and his dead body captured the attention of the hungry walkers, just long enough for Glenn to scoot under a dumpster to safety.
It was a gut-wrenching twist that had viewers feeling relief followed immediately by anger at the fake-out. Yet, ironically, they were even more upset when Glenn actually did meet his end at the hand of Negan at the beginning of Season 7, in spectacularly gruesome fashion.
1 Rick Not Being Dead
Fans were fully expecting Rick Grimes to be killed off in the ninth season of the series. It was confirmed that actor Andrew Lincoln would be leaving the series, and the only way to logically explain this departure would, of course, be Rick's death. Viewers tuned in, curious to see just how the series’ main protagonist would meet his end.
But here’s the catch: he didn’t. Mouths were agape when, at the very end of the episode, Anne (Jadis) discovered a wounded Rick and saved him by bringing him with her on the mysterious helicopter she was about to get swooped away on. What happened next? We’ll find out in the upcoming film series.