Like many of the decaying flesh-eaters populating the world of The Walking Dead, the title continues to rot.
In real time, The Walking Dead just turned seven years old with the arrival of season 8; in the show, Rick Grimes, Daryl Dixon and the rest of the survivors have been contending with the cannibalistic undead for just about 20 months. The decay of the logo continues, with the season 8 logo being the most decrepit yet. With episode 100 now released, here's a look back at how we got to this point.
In season 1, viewers were dropped into a zombie apocalypse that had already started with Sheriff Deputy Rick Grimes, who woke up from his coma in an abandoned hospital after the end of the world. That season saw a Rick Grimes who still clung to the rules and laws of society, one who believed there weren't sides — "it's just us and the dead." Despite running into some conflict early on with some Atlanta vatos — and some shit-stirring from Daryl's problematic older brother, Merle — the main theme of the season was Man versus Walkers, flesh-hungry corpses that could only be put down from a shot or stab to the head.
By season's end, Rick was still worthy of the "Officer Friendly" epithet, and following a close call at the CDC, the band of Atlanta survivors set out on the road towards an unknown future.
Disaster struck in the season 2 opener, where Sophia — young daughter of the recently-widowed Carol — was separated from the group following an influx of Walkers onto a congested freeway. With the search for Sophia driving the first half of season 2, the survivors took up camp on the Greene farm, adding Hershel, Maggie and Beth to their ranks. During their time on the farm, tensions rose between Rick and former police partner Shane, who wished to maintain his patriarchal role in the familial unit he carved out with Rick's wife and son, Lori and Carl, following Rick's supposed death in the hospital.
As Rick and Shane's relationship deteriorated over the season, the de facto leader of the group was forced to confront his "we don't kill the living" rule in a small town bar when Rick, Glenn and Hershel were met by some unscrupulous characters. Rick gunned down the two men, but Rick saving the life of one of the attackers, Randall, proved to be yet another point of contention in their quickly unraveling relationship.
By season's end, Sophia's loss was a demoralizing blow for the entire group, the Greene farm had been overrun by a massive horde of Walkers, and Rick was forced to kill Shane in self-defense. The farm was gone. The relationship between Rick and his wife was strained. And the Ricktatorship had begun.
Killing his best friend and former partner gave Rick Grimes his first edge. Rick and co. spent the winter going in circles and were nearing starvation when they found respite in the form of a prison that had been abandoned, but not unoccupied. Acting as a cohesive unit, Rick, Daryl, Glenn, Maggie, Carol, T-Dog and more cleared the prison yard of Walkers, claiming the prison as their own. Inside, the survivors came across a group of living prisoners and their self-proclaimed leader, Tomas, didn't believe in playing nicely — leaving Rick no choice but to dispatch him with a merciless machete blow to the head.
Another prisoner, Andrew, sprung an attack that lead to the deaths of T-Dog and Lori, who died in child birth and had to be put down by Carl. Season 3 also saw the rise of the group's first big bad, the Governor, whose seemingly idyllic Woodbury community proved to have an underlying darkness beneath its supposed suburbia wholesomeness. A mysterious warrior, Michonne, was added to the group's ranks, but they lost yet another of their own: Andrea. With the Governor seemingly defeated, Rick — leaning more into the good-natured side of his humanity — opened the gates of the prison to Woodbury's citizens, blending the two communities together.
Come season 4, Rick had helped establish a council that would participate in making big decisions. His famous Colt Python was buried in dirt, and so too was a part of Rick: he was a father and a farmer, and nothing more. But the return of the Governor disrupted Rick's peaceful way of life, and the group suffered their biggest blow yet when the one-eyed villain attacked the prison with a tank — decapitating Hershel in the process. With the prison destroyed, Team Family was forced to flee.
The group spent the back half of season 4 mostly separated: on the road, Rick and Carl would reconnect with Michonne, Daryl and Beth would journey together, Maggie would take off in search of Glenn with Sasha and Bob, and Tyreese and Carol would be entrusted with the care of baby Judith and sisters Lizzie and Mika — to disastrous results. Along the way, Team Family would add Tara, Abraham, Eugene and Rosita to their ranks, growing stronger with each new addition. Once the group was reunited — sans a kidnapped Beth — the survivors made their way towards Terminus, a supposed safe zone...
By season 5, the logo had become even more weathered, a perfect match for the survivors' journey over the course of the season: Terminus proved to be a slaughterhouse that aimed to make meals of Rick and co., leaving Rick no choice but to utterly annihilate the Termites. Soon after, the group finally caught up with the missing Beth, who perished after being shot in the head by the leader of a pay-your-way Atlanta hospital. Without a home and with no destination in mind, the future looked uncertain until Eugene dropped the revelation that he was on a mission to D.C. to "fight fire with fire" and cure the plague that had toppled the world.
As the group made their way towards D.C., they spent the season starved, wandering and worn down. In many ways, they had truly become "the walking dead." It was on the road that they met the clean cut Aaron, who told them of the Alexandria Safe Zone — a sounds-too-good-to-be-true community host to homes and families. The group assimilated into Alexandria, which proved to be the paradise it appeared, though they weren't without their struggles: Rick and Carol had concocted a plan that involved taking over Alexandria by force, if they had to, to ensure the safety of Alexandria and its residents. Though Deanna Monroe was the dignified leader of Alexandria, it was clear — with Rick Grimes in the house — it wouldn't be for long.
Season 6 began laying the groundwork for the group's biggest challenge yet: Negan and the Saviors. Over the first half of season 6, Rick and his original group of survivors helped the Alexandria community grow into a threat to be reckoned with as they dispatched an ever-increasing amount of crises: first there was a seemingly endless Walker horde that posed a massive risk to Alexandria, despite its reinforced walls. Then there was the Wolves, a roaming band of savages that breached Alexandria, forcing Carol to nearly single-handedly defend the safe zone and its citizens.
With both of these major threats dispatched, the world of The Walking Dead continued to expand: they learned of the neighboring Hilltop colony, which was leaned on by the Saviors — an army of extortionists and brutes working under the enigmatic Negan. Rick and co. mutually agreed to help defend the Hilltop and take out the Saviors in exchange for food — a deal that would lead Team Family down their darkest path yet...
By season 7, the logo is barely clinging to life — much like our survivors, who were firmly underneath the boot of the oppressive and all-ruling Negan. Following the attacks Rick and the survivors made on Savior compounds in season 6, the Saviors struck back, trapping Rick and co. with no way out. It was there Negan made his big reveal, introducing his new "workers" to the way of the world by mercilessly beating Abraham and Glenn to death with "Lucille," a barbwire-wrapped baseball bat. The message was clear: you work for me now. Rick's spirit was broken — and not everyone was on board with this new way of life.
It took an entire season, but by the season 7 finale, Rick Grimes was ready to fight back. Alexandria had guns, and they had the support of the Scavengers, a group of trash heap oddball opportunists, and it was time to land a major blow against Negan and the Saviors. The Scavengers betrayed Alexandria, having thrown in with the Saviors, and all looked lost when Negan was about to Lucille Carl and Rick to death — until Maggie, leading the Hilltop, and King Ezekiel, leading the Kingdom, charged into battle and turning the tides. Negan was scared off, and the Alexandria, Hilltop and the Kingdom communities were now united: it was time for war.
The newest iteration of the logo was revealed last night when The Walking Dead returned to AMC with the premiere of its eighth season (also the series' landmark 100th episode), showing a logo that is in much need of some TLC. Season 8 is adapting volume 20 of Robert Kirkman's comic books, "All Out War," which sees Rick leading the three allied communities against Negan and the Saviors, waging relentless war against their former oppressors.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.