Over the past nine seasons, there have been a total of 131 episodes of The Walking Dead. The series started off strong but went through a rough patch and lost viewers after that gruesome murder of Abraham and Glenn. But the apocalyptic series has managed to pick itself back up again thanks to compelling storylines involving the Whisperers, and in spite of the loss of its main character, Rick Grimes.
That said, after 131 episodes, there were bound to be a few less-than-fantastic ones that left viewers feeling disappointed. It might have been due to a lack of action–some episodes were more about story building than brutal battle scenes–or plots that were simply too slow-moving. Indeed, many of the episodes dubbed “the worst” are from season seven and eight when the series seemed to have lost its way.
Nonetheless, here are the 10 worst episodes of the long-running series, which is gearing up for its 10th season this Fall, according to IMDb ratings.
10 'Mercy' (2017)
The fight against Negan and the Saviors seemed to press on forever. So when it picked back up in the first episode of season eight, viewers were rightfully just wishing it would finally be over. In the episode, Rick and his group band together with other survivors from the Kingdom and Hilltop in hopes of finally taking the ultimate villains down.
As the series’ 100th episode, viewers were hoping for more. The episode was chocked full of action, so it’s surprising it made the worst list. But perhaps there was too much rallying and confusing flash forwards of a white-bearded Rick that viewers were ready to move on.
9 'Some Guy' (2017)
Another from season eight, Ezekiel is injured and captured by the Saviors, and Carol saves the day (as usual). But perhaps the reason viewers disliked this episode so much is that it’s the last for Shiva the tiger, which gets mauled by Walkers while saving Ezekiel, Jerry, and Carol from otherwise certain death.
Ezekiel’s once inspiring self is fading away, as he feels completely defeated at having lost all of their men, and his precious feline sidekick. He becomes a shell of himself, while viewers were enraged right along with him at not only the loss of Shiva, but how it went down in less-than-spectacular fashion.
8 'How It’s Gotta Be' (2017)
It’s not surprising that this episode, which served as the mid-season finale for season eight, was not highly rated. It’s the one where Carl reveals he has bitten and is facing certain death, much to the shock of viewers who felt he would play an integral role in the series going forward, as he does in the comics.
But before Carl reveals the truth, he tries to reason with Negan, offering up his life in exchange for the Saviors not attacking Alexandria. He navigates various explosions (Negan wasn’t up for negotiating) to eventual safety in the sewers. Meanwhile, Ezekiel remains in his funk, while Eugene is drowning his sorrows in wine. It was a depressing episode all around.
7 'The Damned' (2017)
Another from the lackluster eighth season, the fight continues between the groups and the Saviors as the former orchestrates a highly elaborate plan to take down the villains once and for all. Rick and Daryl discover a baby in an office building, and Morales pops up, a character from the first season that no one remembers.
It was supposed to be a cliffhanger episode, with Rick discovering that Morales, who was part of his group after the initial outbreak alongside his wife and son, has gone to the dark side. But considering most viewers had to Google Morales to recall who he even was, it fell short.
6 'The Other Side' (2017)
From season seven, this episode sees Maggie finally emerge as a leader of the Hilltop community, though Gregory is still technically in charge. There’s a lot of low-key talk between Maggie, Jesus, and Daryl, and awkward conversations between Rosita and Sasha, the latter of whom had captured Abraham’s heart before his death, stealing it away from Rosita.
The episode left viewers just wanting to see some action, already! And when Sasha retreats into the sanctuary alone to try and kill Negan herself, we knew it would likely be the end of her.
5 'Time for After' (2017)
This episode, from season eight, introduced the super-cool Walker with the armored head who Rick is forced to fend off while being held by Jadis and her Scavengers. Jadis using Rick as her plaything simply wasn’t as compelling for viewers to see as the showrunners might have hoped.
Gabriel’s condition is worsening, and Eugene is struggling with guilt and where his loyalties should lie. Angering audiences, however, he sets a makeshift drone out to help the Saviors. D’oh! Rick, meanwhile, inks a deal with Jadis in hopes that she will keep her promise this time around and help them take down Negan.
4 'Last Day on Earth' (2016)
This is the episode that led up to the one that caused the biggest outcry among viewers, leaving many to even abandon the series altogether. Negan plays his eenie, meenie, miny, moe game while deciding who to kill as the group members crouch on their knees in a circle around him. What viewers despised most about this episode, which was the finale to season six, was that the decision was left as a cliffhanger — we had to wait months for season seven to find out who he actually killed.
That said, the cruel nature of the kill, which you can hear through a darkened screen at the end of the episode, was enough to turn viewers off. We hear Negan beating down the person with his barbed wire bat, taunting them that they are “taking it like a champ.” It was too much for even this series.
3 'Monsters' (2017)
Yet another from season eight, in this episode, the battle is still ongoing with the Saviors as the leaders of Alexandria, the Hilltop, and the Kingdom continue to rally and devise an elaborate plan to finally take them down. It takes place after Rick meets with Morales, who holds him at gunpoint in this episode until Daryl kills him. So that storyline came and went with little value.
This is also the episode where Aaron leaves an injured Eric by a tree where he eventually passes away, and where Morgan suffers yet another mental breakdown and crisis of conscience, declaring that he can’t be part of this war anymore. It was all more of the same that should have been wrapped up in an episode or two.
2 'The King, the Widow, and Rick' (2017)
One of the few episodes from season six on the “worst” list, it’s another that follows the group’s big plans to take down the Saviors. Jesus has spared the lives of some of them, bringing them back to Hilltop to be prisoners, much to Gregory’s and Maggie’s displeasure.
Carl officially meets Siddiq, where he secretly gets the bite that eventually kills him. Alden shows himself as possibly being someone Hilltop can trust, while Jared continues to cause trouble.
While it’s necessary to have episodes that focus on some of the more mundane aspects of the communities and their strategies, it’s another one with too much plotting and not enough of the action that viewers had come to expect.
1 'Swear' (2016)
Tara is discovered by Cyndie, who drags the injured woman to her community, Oceanside, where the members interrogate her. Cyndie eventually helps Tara escape and begs her not to tell anyone about their secret community, which she doesn’t (for a while, at least). Tara returns to Alexandria to find out that Denise, Abraham, and Glenn are all dead.
Considered to be the worst episode of the series to date, based on the IMDb rating, while it was interesting to see that another community existed, entirely of women, no less, Tara wasn’t really able to carry an entire episode herself. She just wasn’t a strong enough character. And viewers were angered they had to wait another week to get back to the real story.