The Walking Dead has certainly been a roller coaster ride of ups and downs through its seven seasons.
Each season of the series has offered stark contrast to those before and after it. Some episodes elect to put character development at the forefront, while others center around the always impending threat of zombies. A couple of seasons have elected to expand the world of The Walking Dead with others following the group as the scavenge for resources and survival in the woods.
With all of the variations through the years, The Walking Dead has had highs and lows for both the characters and the fans watching them brave the treacherous corners of the apocalypse.
On the following slides, we rank the seasons of The Walking Dead, starting with the worst, ending with the best.
The Governor's story should have been resolved in Season 3. Instead, his predictable return took up much of Season 4 for the inevitable destruction of the prison which put the group back on the road.
This is not to say the Governor's returning story was not interesting. His rallying of a new camp group was compelling but by the time he came back to The Walking Dead, fans knew just how volatile the character would be while newcomers like Tara and her family. Not to mention, the earlier half of the season suffered from the unexciting sickness storyline which was almost, but not quite, redeemed by Hershel's "risk your life" speech.
Luckily for the season, it wasn't a total loss. The groups scattered venture, seeking sanctuary at Terminus, made for some unforgettable moments. The top of the list sees Carol's "look at the flowers" line to Lizzie but Rick biting Joe's throat out to protect himself, his son, Daryl and Michonne, is a close second. Not to mention, we were introduced to Abraham, Eugene, and Rosita along the road to Terminus.prevnext
6. Season 7
The Walking Dead's seventh season came with a heavy batch of flaws: scattering characters across various episodes, humiliating the leader of the show, and killing fan-favorite faces.
Killing fan-favorite characters is what makes The Walking Dead what it is, though. Saying "goodbye" to Glenn, Abraham, Sasha, Olivia, Spencer, and Fat Joey was bitter sweet -- it showed us that the series is not shying away from its "no one is safe mantra" but also removed cast members from Sunday nights. Most importantly, it was sticking to Robert Kirkman's source material.
Season 7 explored the dynamic between Rick and Negan, Negan and his Saviors, Alexandria and its surrounding communities, and several characters within each group who hadn't previously interacted.
Characters such as Tara, Rosita and Sasha were developed more thoroughly than ever before, while Maggie continued to grow and emerge as a leader. Politics became a factor as Gregory's cowardice at the Hilltop built trust issues in his relationship with Rick, while King Ezekiel and his community (tiger included) opted to remain peaceful until pushed to a breaking point by Negan's vicious Saviors.
The content of Season 7 was actually some of the show's most compelling. Rick being broken like never before could have carried the show just fine if not for inconsistent pacing in its storytelling. Dedicating an hour - and, in turn, an entire week - to Tara' adventures at Oceanside turned folks off to the series as they were more interested in Daryl's captivity or Maggie and Jesus' role at the Hilltop.
The flaws, unfortunately, overshadowed the epic moments such as Rick and Michonne's tag-team zombie kill and Shiva devouring Saviors in the finale.prevnext
5. Season 6
The Walking Dead's sixth season felt like the safety season for the series. Major characters were largely spared deaths with the exception of Deanna Monroe but it was all building towards something larger -- a recurring theme in the later seasons of the AMC series.
Season 6 explored the Alexandrian world -- introducing characters who lived within the Safe-Zone and killing most of them, all in the same 16-episode run. The first half of the season dealt with the Wolves and their shocking attack on Alexandria in the midst of a massive herd redirection. The story took the entire batch of episodes in the fall, ending with a lackluster cliffhanger of Jessie Anderson's family, Rick Grimes' family, Michonne, and Father Gabriel covering themselves in zombie guts and making their way out of the not-so-Safe-Zone.
When the series came back in 2016, the Anderson's were brutally slain in true-to-the-comics fashion. Sam was eaten. Jessie was eaten. Rick cut her hand off. Carl was shot in the eye. It was brutal but it was epic. Zombies felt like a threat for the first time in a while, despite human stupidity being the actual cause of the death.
From there, the remaining episodes would spend their time introducing the Saviors and teasing the introduction to Negan. The lackluster midseason finale would be blown out of the water when Season 6 closed with the most talked about event of the year -- Negan's victim's identity remaining a mystery.prevnext
4. Season 5
Season 5 of The Walking Dead had the best opening since the series premiere.
With Rick's group being backs-against-the-wall to start the season, their escape from Terminus and the cannibals residing there was nowhere in sight. Then came Carol's return to The Walking Dead. Carol rocked Terminus, the place once thought to be a Sanctuary for those who arrive, and saved her friends from being hit with a baseball bat and drained of their blood to become meals for these horrible new enemies.
For a while, the group would hit the road, which is often the time when The Walking Dead is at its best.
Being pushed to the brink of survival, growing bears, eating dogs, and scavenging for resources with little luck, the group would finally stumble upon Aaron and his Alexandria Safe-Zone community.
Finally, the group arrived at Alexandria, the place they will likely call home until the series ends. Within the walls, Rick's group would be introduced to many cowardly new faces. To top it all off, Rick would draw parallels to Shane Walsh as he developed an interest in Jessie Anderson, a married woman being abused by her husband.
When the dispute came to a head in the streets of Alexandria, Rick was left looking like the crazy man in town but was determined to take over Alexandria with the community's survival as his primary interest.
Glenn's feud with Nicholas spawned here. Morgan returned for the season finale. The Wolves were teased for several weeks. And Noah was absolutely destroyed by walkers in a revolving door.prevnext
3. Season 3
Like the seasons before it, Season 3 of The Walking Dead managed to expand the apocalyptic world.
The third batch of episodes took us to the prison in the wake of Hershel's farm falling to zombies and fire. It also showed the remnants of the U.S. Army which remains an interesting topic for fans of the series.
Most importantly, Season 3 took us to Woodbury and introduced the world to David Morrissey's portrayal of the Governor. Andrea's interactions with the man who was quite clearly a manipulative villain were frustrating, as was Michonne's refusal to simply speak when joining the prison group, but the feud viewers were treated to was the first true group versus group battle of the series.
Rick standing off against the Governor, each representing different sides of the humanity spectrum -- Rick being morality and Governor being power-crazed -- was the first indication of how far the world had fallen.
Had the issue been resolved within the season, it may have earned a more prestigious rank. However, The Governor snapping on his people and going missing as a conclusion was a disappointing climax to an otherwise interesting season which brought Merle Dixon back from the Atlanta rooftop.
The death of Lori with Carl having to shoot her was something fans could hardly stomach. Lori's death had a lasting impact on the series as characters learned of her fate and others acted based on their emotional response. Not many have left such a mark on the series.prevnext
2. Season 2
The Walking Dead's second season expanded its world beyond Atlanta as the group looked to survive the aftermath of the CDC's explosion.
While the first half of the season's pacing was bogged down by the seemingly endless search for Sophia, the drama was carried by the growing tensions between Rick and Shane while Glenn sparked a relationship with farmer's daughter Maggie, Andrea struggled to fit in with the group, and Daryl Dixon emerged as a fan-favorite character in opening up to Carol.
The shocking twist of Sophia being housed in Hershel's barn solidified the zombie drama as a power house on cable.
Heading into the back half of the season, tensions between Rick and Shane came to a head as a final showdown finally saw the less sane link taken off of the series. To top it all off, the show did not shy away from having little boy Carl shoot the zombified version of the man who tried to play father to him for the longest time.
Instances such as Otis' death, Carl getting shot, Sophia's reveal, and the barn burning down made Season 2 of The Walking Dead one of the most unforgettable and important of the entire series.
And don't forget the well walker.prevnext
1. Season 1
The first season earns the first rank.
The premiere episodes of The Walking Dead introduced the world to a complex, terrifying world ruled by zombies and treachery. At first glance, the show appeared to be about the scary, undead monsters lurking around every corner. This was only the beginning.
Meeting Rick Grimes tossed the world aboard a roller coaster ride. Struggles of morality, trust, and survival were on display unlike any other series on television. First being introduced to Morgan Jones and his son Duane in the claustrophobic home outside of Atlanta, surrounded by zombies, fans were gripping their seats as a biter was never far enough away for comfort.0comments
The journey to find Rick's family was completed only to find his wife was sleeping with his police partner and best friend, having thought Rick a victim of the apocalypse. The unstable safety of the camp, ruthless zombie kills, adventures through a desolate Atlanta, and open-ended finale following the CDC's explosion built the firm foundation The Walking Dead would stand on for years to come.
The first season of The Walking Dead executed on pacing, scares, and character development unlike any season which has followed.prev