Regardless of its declining viewership, The Walking Dead is still a massive hit for AMC. It’s seen its ups and downs, but lately, there’s no denying Angela Kang’s talent. The show has clearly found its footing again, with better pacing and drama than recent seasons. So, it’s a shame that Rick and so many others are abandoning ship. Audiences seem to forget what it was like before anything like this was even available.
It’s hardly a barrel of laughs, focusing on horror and survival. After establishing deep investment early on, the many horror sequences are more affecting. So, here are 10 of the scenes that scared us the most. Naturally, there will be spoilers!
10 Carol’s Cookie Monologue
Let’s begin with something that is simultaneously amusing and terrifying. Sure, it doesn’t fit the latter in the traditional sense. However, you should recall that Carol is literally threatening to kill a child in this scene. The whole reason there are humorous cookies involved at all is in order to help that go down a little easier.
But given Melissa McBride’s incredible performance, as arguably the best character on the show, this scene is shocking. We know Carol’s reputation, and the child actor opposite her does a fantastic job of selling the fear. If you don’t think this scene is terrifying, you may have been desensitized by The Walking Dead.
9 Heads on Pikes
This is the culmination of a reinvigorating new season. With just half of a season to build up the Whisperers, they have already proven to be the perfect villains. They are directly, blatantly antithetical to the future Rick wanted—one built on reason and order. They are primal animals, although they uncharacteristically fail to care for their young. Either way, many viewers knew this iconic moment was coming. The show knew how to toy with these expectations, racking up dread throughout the entire episode.
The characters are all positioned in one way or another that could spell their doom. The inevitable reveal is delivered with effectively tragic music, and divergent choices. That scene is more sad than frightening, but the preceding suspense of those deaths was hugely unsettling.
8 Quarantine Attack
Established and then wrapped up tidily, it was very interesting to see the characters deal with a plausible issue. Illness seems likely in a world where dead people are walking around everywhere, rotting in the sun. After season three, wherein the group was more concerned with battling other humans, it was a refreshing change of pace.
To double down on the problem, Walkers infiltrate the prison when everyone is sick. Watching the quarantined struggle to fend for themselves, trapped and weakened, was truly horrifying. It also endangered fan-favorites like Glenn and Hershel.
7 Alexandria Herd
As if Carl getting shot once wasn’t enough, mistaken for a deer in season two. The introduction, Savior occupation, and revival of Alexandria has been a very interesting journey. The locals had lived surprisingly sheltered lives, naturally coming to odds with our group. Rick and crew had just faced off with Terminus cannibals. And although the show had found characters smothered in blood before, this was another level.
Jessie and her entire family end up eaten, and Carl ends up losing an eye. For a moment, you’re almost certain he’s been killed. Sneaking through an entire herd of Walkers is probably the worst thing imaginable.
6 Hershel’s Overrun Farm
Remember when season two was considered a slow season? The show ultimately ended up slicing our characters into isolated stories, distancing a lot of fans. Season two actually had some pretty interesting themes and character development. Shane played a large role in the ethical divide among the group. Hershel hadn’t yet transformed into such a wise ally, here a stubborn and secluded old man.
Without a great deal of action, and cornered into a single setting, this season could’ve used a shorter episode count. However, once the farm burns down, some of the best changes hit the show. Death ensues. Michonne is introduced, the Ricktatorship is established, Dr. Jenner’s secret is revealed. It was a new beginning.
Lizzie is a terrifying character by sheer concept. Seeing the apocalypse warp a child’s brain, and watching Carol’s heart-stopping response are very upsetting. Lizzie had begun to smother Judith at one point, and in this episode, she finally outright murders her sister. The scene where Carol has to talk her down from doing the same to Judith is absolutely horrifying. Especially because Carol has already lost a daughter, making this whole business about children resonate even more deeply. Although merchandising and even later episodes somewhat make light of Carol’s awful task, this episode took Lizzie’s death very seriously.
4 Noah’s Death
It feels like knowledge of Glenn’s inevitable death was a deliberate tool against the audience. We simply kept expecting him to die in some horrific way. So, when a cowardly Alexandria local leaves him to die with Noah, we can only assume the worst.
The ensuing situation with the rotating door is nightmarish, and it’s easy to imagine yourself in that position. That’s because the scene is so drawn out, milking every bit of tension. And the resulting death of Noah is both tragic and revoltingly graphic. Noah is literally torn apart at the mouth, and Glenn has no choice but to helplessly watch.
3 Unwelcome City
The Walking Dead probably has one of the best pilots of all time. It established major themes and characteristics that would sustain throughout the rest of the show. The rules and ethics regarding the zombies, the family drama as the spirit of the show, and more.
When Rick finally makes it to the city by horseback, he ends up wandering straight into a massive herd of Walkers. He’s quickly removed from the horse, and just when Rick is about to commit suicide, he finds an escape into a tank. He ends up trapped there, while Walkers tear the horse apart. It’s all very bleak, violent, and promising.
2 Negan’s Bat
At this point, we hadn’t quite learned to tire of Negan’s long-winded showboating yet. And many fans were justifiably frustrated with the cliffhanger from the preceding season. However, there wasn’t a single viewer that wasn’t glued to the screen, awaiting Glenn’s death. Abraham’s demise may have put you at ease, even if you were a fan. But then it comes, invariably, and all due to Daryl’s impulsive reaction. Negan’s kills are needlessly gruesome, to a degree that we’d never seen before.
It was actually quite controversial, and it also removed the truest moral center of the group. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that viewers became deterred. But the mystery of the group’s survival was harrowing, and the rest of the episode was equally upsetting.
1 Lori Gives Birth
Regardless of your opinion about Lori, there’s no question that this is one of the most disturbing concepts imaginable. Giving birth is an incredibly dangerous procedure as is. Surrounded by Walkers, Lori goes into labor at the prison, and the insurmountable horror is haunting.
First Maggie has to literally cut Lori open, killing her. Then, Carl has to shoot his own mother in the head to prevent her from turning. And although casual viewers may not have been impressed, fans were generally heartbroken by Rick’s emotional reaction to the news.