It's been nine years since The Walking Dead season 1 premiered on AMC. Police officer Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) wakes from a coma after being shot to find the world as he knows it no longer exists. It now belongs to the dead: large armies of rotting flesh who are driven by only one desire -- hunger.
Rick, his wife Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) and their son Carl (Chandler Riggs) band together with other survivors to stay alive while fighting not just "walkers" but the worst impulses of the living. Their hardest fought battle is to remain hopeful they can find a safe place to rebuild a new civilization out of the rubble of the old. Here is a ranking of the 10 scariest scenes from The Walking Dead season 1.
10 Jim's Grave Digging ("Vatos")
A man on a mission can be a dangerous thing, depending on the mission. In the opening minutes of episode 4, "Vatos," Jim (Andrew Rothenberg), is steadily digging holes -- human-sized holes. During a time when everyone is pretty much out to get you, this kind of behavior sets off obvious alarm bells. Either this guy is a former boy scout and wants to be prepared, or he's flipped and plans on filling the graves himself.
9 Ed's Abusive Behavior ("Tell It to the Frogs")
It's evident from the outset that Ed (Adam Minarovich) is an angry man, and it's Carol's (Melissa McBride) responsibility to pacify him, even in a post-apocalyptic world. But Ed's abusive behavior isn't confined to his wife and child, leading to a tense standoff between him and some of the other women in camp.
Ed's actions lead to the series' most violent confrontation between two people with a pulse (the first of many to come) and this raises the question of who is worse: those who have control over their killer instincts and those who don't?
8 Shane Tries To Rape Lori ("TS-19")
Throughout season 1, the threat of walkers only slightly outweighs that of mankind. Shane's (Jon Bernthal) already coming unraveled, but when he's left alone with Lori, his behavior becomes even more aggressive and predatory.
There's a sense of entitlement that fuels Shane's actions, making it easy for him to justify them. Once again, Shane is on the cusp of doing something violent, and this time, it takes extreme measures on Lori's part to get him to back down. There's no longer any doubt Shane will completely lose control. The looming question is when?
7 Merle On The Loose ("Vatos")
Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker) without an ax to grind is bad enough but after being left to die, he promises to be an unstoppable force of evil. It's not surprising to see Merle's severed hand on the roof, and even though Rick and company aren't immediately convinced Merle is alive much less well, viewers know he'll be back, especially with walkers in the vicinity or Merle's body nearby. Merle's another scary dude in a world full of scary dudes who now has nobody to answer to but himself.
6 Shane Considers Taking Out Rick ("Wildfire")
In another life, Shane and Rick were best friends, in this one, they are adversaries. Shane is Claudius, he's a usurper who lies so he can take what isn't his. The loss of Lori's and Carl's affections and his role as leader of the group turns Shane's love for Rick into something dark.
Once Shane aims his rifle at Rick, the seed is planted for ongoing and escalating conflict. There's still a part of Shane that's unable to pull the trigger, but it won't be long before he finds the nerve. Every interaction between Rick and Shane moving forward is colored by this ominous threat.
5 The End Isn't Nigh, It's Now ("TS-19")
Season 1 trudges forward much like the dead, the only thing keeping the survivors going is hope. This is quickly snuffled out once they reach the CDC and learn from Jenner (Noah Emmerich) that nobody understands what caused this catastrophic event, and there isn't anyone left to figure it out or fix it.
It's one thing to tread water until help arrives, it's impossible to do it indefinitely. Jenner's revelation is tantamount to a death sentence for everyone in the room because the dead are never going to stop coming. Looking back, with a few exceptions, he was right.
4 Morgan's Wife Comes To The Door ("Days Gone By")
Rick takes refuge with father and son Morgan (Lennie James) and Duane (Adrian Kali Turner) after emerging from his coma to find an overabundance of walking corpses. The emotional toll the epidemic has on the survivors is difficult to comprehend, particularly when all signs point to Lori and Carl being alive.
Jenny (Keisha Tillis), Morgan's wife turned walker wanders around their safe haven. She may be an animated corpse with no emotions or memories, but she's drawn to the house where she died. Something is going on behind those eyes as she seems to stare back at Rick through the peephole, and Jenny is more ghost than a zombie. As she turns the doorknob trying to get inside, it's a reminder that the only thing standing between life and death is a door with a lock, and love is now a liability.+
3 Glenn And Rick's Long Walk ("Guts")
Covered in human remains, Rick and Glenn (Steven Yeun) make their way down a street covered with walkers. Almost everything that makes Glenn and Rick human is a liability. They're completely vulnerable: their only armor is human remains. Each step has the viewer ready to crawl out of their skins, and seconds seem like hours as it appears Glenn is going to crack and ring the dinner bell.
Even though what remains of mankind has a multitude of advantages, walkers have three that are unwavering: the numbers, no fear, and a common goal. It only takes one to alert the many that Glenn and Rick don't belong.
2 Amy's Return ("Wildfire")
Amy's (Emma Bell) death is particularly devastating because she's the first victim the viewers have an emotional attachment to, although she's still a red shirt in the grand scheme of things. Andrea's inability to let go becomes increasingly upsetting since death is no longer synonymous with finality. Andrea is grieving, waiting for Amy to open her eyes. It feels inevitable Andrea's grief will wind up killing her as she waits for some sign that her sister could be the exception to the rule.
1 Rick's Run-In With A Walker Mob ("Days Gone By")
Until Rick arrives in Atlanta looking for a refugee center that doesn't exist, he only encounters walkers individually or in small groups. When he comes across a mob of them in Atlanta, the entire landscape changes into a more threatening place. The scope of this mysterious illness grows more vast, but as Rick takes refuge in the tank, the immediate threat of thousands of undead close in. Seen from above, the walkers keep coming drawn by the scent of blood and fear, or just the sound of the hungry masses gathering and growling in hunger.