AMC’s The Walking Dead can be summed up in one word: grueling. At times, it’s just as brutal for the viewer as it is for the show’s characters, who are forced to deal with the collapse of civilization, and the consequences of their decisions in writing the new rules of society. Death waits at every turn in the form of undead flesh-hungry hordes as well as the other human survivors.There’s only one rule in this god-forsaken place — nobody is safe!
The Walking Dead Season 5 kicked off on October 12th. We look back in reverence and horror at the most brutal, shocking, jaw-dropping moments of the first four seasons. Revisit your favorite Walking Dead moments with full episodes online from Television Fanatic.
The Walking Dead Walks Again: We Revisit The Lavish Brutality Seasons 1-4
Brutality Factor: 4
Here are some of the jaw-dropping highlights of this introductory Walking Dead season.
Police officer Rick Grimes awakes, entirely alone, in the midst of a full-blown zombie apocalypse. En route to find his family in an Atlanta safe haven, Rick is attacked by corpses who disembowel his horse and throw Rick off course.
Being slowly crushed by undead in his tank hideout, Rick hears the voice of Glenn on the radio, who welcomes him into their survivor posse. Rick breaks up a scuffle between T-Dog and infamous redneck antagonist Merle, cuffs Merle to a pipe, and promptly loses the key. Merle is left to face an impossible decision.
Rick is reunited with his wife and son and his partner, Shane – but it seems Shane has been more than a friend to his wife in Rick’s absence. So Rick stages a rescue to retrieve Merle and a bag of guns. Merle is gone – left in his wake, a severed hand and a bloody hacksaw.
The safe camp is attacked while the rescue party is in Atlanta. Casualties strike the survivor group, and after avoiding an abandoned attempt on his life by Shane, Rick leads the group to the CDC, where they are all tested. Dr. Jenner explains that the virus is untreatable – and he plans to initiate an emergency destruction of the CDC building with the survivors inside. In a daring escape sequence, the surviving survivors are left watching the CDC crumble and burn as they plan their next move.
Brutality Factor: 5
What’s so mind-blowing about Season 2? Well….For starters, the survivors regroup on a farm owned by a veterinarian, Hershel – but Shane and Rick seem to have unfinished business. Shane sacrifices a fellow survivor to an undead onslaught, and Rick’s wife reveals she’s pregnant again – but who is the father?
Survivors discover a walker wife and children locked in a barn on the property. Shane soon takes care of business, despite protests from Rick and the farm owner. Next thing you know, Sophia, the daughter of survivor Carol shockingly emerges, alive but undead, from the barn. Rick executes her mercilessly in front of her mother, and the survivors are kicked off the farm.
Pursued by a gang of strangers, Rick once again cleans up shop and leaves only one wounded enemy in their midst. Rick and Shane butt heads on the prisoner’s fate, and the survivors are divided on the final decision to execute the prisoner.
Survivor Dale is attacked and put down by Daryl. Shane executes the prisoner but lies to the group, and Shane reveals his plan to kill Rick – but Rick stabs him, just in time for his son, Carl, to bear witness. What happens next is brutal: young Carl executes the walker incarnation of Shane.
Walkers soon overwhelm the farm, and one survivor is saved by a mysterious character who fights with Japanese steel and keeps walkers as pets. Finally, the survivors can settle in – but there’s some overwhelming news from the CDC. Rick reveals that they are all already infected with the virus. They’ll all become undead, whether or not they are bitten by walkers. Rick takes the reins and refuses to let democratic votes get in the way of taking care of business.
Brutality Factor: 4
Season 3 took terror and bloodshed to a whole new level. First, the survivors make their way to a prison compound where they encounter another group of holdouts. A bloody standoff ensues, but Rick emerges on top.
Next thing, the mysterious character from season 2 is revealed to be Michonne, who has figured out that keeping two walkers with her renders her undetectable to other walkers. Michonne and her rescued survivor are discovered living off the land by a surprising blast from the past: Merle, who has replaced his severed arm with a bayonet.
Merle is now part of the Woodbury society run by a charming, but utterly insane, Governor. Michonne is suspicious – and rightly so, as she discovers the Governor’s walker daughter chained in his home, with other unsavory undead offerings.
Rick’s actions end up biting him in the butt: a cast-out survivor unleashes walker hell on the prison.
Rick’s wife goes into labor, but is forced to endure a C-section without medical preparations and Carl kills her before she becomes a walker. Rick is devastated and begins to lose his grip on his sanity.
Michonne destroys some of the Governor’s kept walkers, but rescued survivor Andrea stays behind and gets cozy with the madman. Wounded and pursued by Merle, Michonne makes it out alive, but two other survivors are taken hostage by Merle. Rick, Michonne, and the crew make it into Woodbury and bring back the stolen survivors. Michonne unchains the Governor’s walker daughter, despite his protests, and attacks him. What a stand-off! Just before she delivers the fatal blow, Andrea arrives to save her new lover, and Michonne is forced to flee.
A massive brawl ensues on the streets of Woodbury. The Governor regroups and targets Rick’s crew. Rick rescues Merle and younger brother Daryl before the Governor can take fatal action against them.
By now Rick is consumed by hallucinations and outbursts. The Governor attacks the prison with his army in tow, demanding to square off with Michonne. Merle grabs Michonne, but changes his mind and takes on the Governor instead, losing bitterly. The Governor’s assault on the prison is unsuccessful, so he mercilessly executes his retreating army. Rick finds Woodbury abandoned by the Governor. Andrea, restrained, faces no choice but suicide. Michonne waits by her side. The Woodbury survivors join forces with Rick at the prison, and we’re left on the edge of our seats as the season draws to a close.
Brutality Factor: 3
Season 4 starts out with politicking and a massive new development. A committee replaces Rick’s borderline-tyrannical rule. A flu virus turns the community upside down, and casualties are rampant.
One quarantined survivor is burned alive to prevent her infection’s spread to the rest of the society. Her boyfriend vows revenge, and the prison is soon overrun with walkers as the infected die and re-animate, but our hero veterinarian-turned-people-doctor persists and finds a cure to end the outbreak.
Guess who’s back? The madman Governor, with a tank and a full army behind him. He holds Hershel and Michonne hostage and demands to be allowed to occupy the prison. In a shocking and brutal turn of events, the beloved vet is decapitated. The Governor falls back as fighting intensifies, and Michonne restrains the Governor as one of his betrayed followers finishes the job.
What’s left to do but abandon the ruined prison and head for a well-stocked train yard?
The survivors face abductors, attacks, and violence as they plot a course. They meet up with other survivors, including a group heading to DC to share information to cure the zombie plague. One survivor becomes entirely unhinged, feeling remorse for the bloodthirsty walkers and executing her own sister. She is restrained and ultimately put down by her own surrogate mother. Yeesh.
Daryl stumbles into a marauding party who has vowed vengeance on Rick – Daryl, missing this key piece of information, agrees to help. The marauders soon vow not only to execute the party, but to rape Rick’s son and Michonne in the process. Rick explodes and tears out the leader’s throat without mercy.
In a stomach-churning twist, the arrival at the train terminal is tainted: the place is a trap, and amidst sniper fire, the survivors are herded into a boxcar cage. Rick vows revenge – and we believe him.
Catch full episodes of seasons 1 through 5 and relive the goriest, most shocking moments for free with Television Fanatic.
It’s Finally Here: Season 5, Episode 1
The hotly-anticipated first episode of Season 5 kicked off with the introduction of a nasty habit: flesh-munching. As the survivors crouch inside the Terminus boxcar, we see a revealing flashback. Gareth, the marauding ringleader, was once locked in the Terminus just as the survivors are now. Gareth and the crew were trying to do something decent by bringing people to a safe zone, but clearly that decision was the tipping point that sent the crew spiraling towards ruthlessness.
Rick’s band of survivors begins to prepare for battle using anything they can grab, from belt buckles and metal scraps to zippers. Rick and a few key companions (Glen, Daryl, and Bob) are taken from the boxcar and gagged. Next thing you know, the marauders start slitting throats – and slurping up human flesh.
Gareth is draining bodies and discussing shot counts when Bob dares to plead for mercy. Goodbye, Bob.
Just as the tide tips in the favor of the survivors, an explosion rocks the entire center. We see Carol and Tyreese making their way to Terminus with baby in tow. They reach a cabin, where a marauder is speaking to Michonne about using fireworks to delay walkers. Carol makes a badass move to restrain the marauder, and makes her way to Terminus with Tyreese and baby holed up in the cabin.
The marauder tries to get an edge by threatening the baby, but Tyreese doesn’t stand for his shenanigans. Not for a second.
Carol pops into some walker disguise gear (blood; intestines) and pops a firework into a fuel tank. So THAT’S why the place blew sky-high.
Carol, Rick, and crew are finally free – they head back to let out the rest of the survivors, but Glen (naturally) insists on freeing the survivors in the other cars. Too bad the others can’t keep it together long enough to avoid a swift bite and a slow death.
Rick blasts away marauders and walkers alike. Carol finds a host of supplies, including Daryl’s old crossbow, and squares off with Mary (guess who walks out of that one?)
The survivor who claims to have some cure insights says he worked on the Genome project with weaponized diseases. Turns out the ‘cure’ is basically a walker-proof weapon.
The crew reunites and gets the hell out of Terminus. Carol and baby Judith unite the whole crew in a tearful reunion. Where are these scrappy survivors off to next? How can you NOT want to find out?
While you kill time waiting for episode 2, relive some of the bloody glory of your favorite seasons with free full episodes from Television Fanatic.