The Walking Dead may be one of the most popular shows on television, but that doesn’t mean that fans will blindly watch the show no matter what. In fact, TWD has released some episodes that have truly tested even the most loyal viewers.
In a show like The Walking Dead, death happens. That comes with the package of watching a zombie show. That being said, there have still been a few character deaths that had fans claiming they were giving up on the show. In particular, the deaths of the choir girl and the pizza delivery boy really hit the audience hard. On top of the loss of characters, the absurd violence with which some of these characters met their fate was another reason that fans claimed they were giving up watching the show.
However, those who can take the death and violence may have found issue in the slower moving plots. Fans notoriously hate how slow the plot moved while on Hershel’s farm, which has been dubbed the farm where time stands still. There have also been some solo episodes that truly tested the audience. Since it is a show so deeply about community and the interworkings of a group, watching a singular character for an entire episode can be unsatisfying for an audience.
Fans have also threatened to give up due to the cliffhangers. Nobody enjoys a cliffhanger, especially when the fate of one of the main characters is left dangling in the air. That is just straight up mean to do to an audience. For any of these reasons and more, these 16 episodes really challenged the audience and made some of the most loyal The Walking Dead fans feel like giving up.
16 TS-19 (S1, E6)
This is the infamous CDC episode, which Robert Kirkman has stated is his biggest regret in terms of the show. Kirkman actually hates this particular episode much more than the fans do, but we had to include it for being the weakest of season one.
In a season that draws much from the comic books, the show went off script and brought the gang to the CDC in Atlanta. Rick does find out useful information, like the fact that anyone who dies will come back as a zombie. However, this episode sticks out like a sore thumb. It just does not fit in the tone and style of season one. Also, the fact that the CDC actually blows up is a little questionable. Is that really a safety measure? Because it seems a bit extreme.
It’s not an awful episode to sit through while watching the show for your first viewing, but upon rewatching the series, it becomes more and more apparent that this episode just does not fit in the world of The Walking Dead.
15 Chupacabra (S2, E5)
Fans notoriously hate the extended stay on Hershel’s farm. Due to budgetary concerns, the barn storyline was dragged out much longer than it was in the comics. There were some interesting things that the show explored that the comics didn’t, like Shane’s fall into insanity. However, there was also a whole lot of nothing happening on the farm.
This episode comes when just about nothing is happening. Sure, the first episode or so on Hershel’s farm was interesting because they were dealing with Carl being shot. The episode before this one featured that memorable scene of the walker in the well. Dragging the walker out of the well ultimately proved to be pointless, but at least the scene of Glenn being lowered in as bait was tense. Unfortunately, this particular episode features no gigantic well zombies.
In this episode, Daryl sets out looking for Sophia, during which he hallucinates and sees a vision of Merle. Shane thinks that they shouldn’t be looking for Sophia anymore. Glenn questions his feelings for Maggie. It’s honestly more like an episode of Grey’s Anatomy than The Walking Dead. It wouldn’t feel so awful if it wasn’t bookended by other episodes in which minimal action happens.
It was sad that the time on Hershel’s farm fell into such snoozefest territory, because there were many interesting things that also happened on the farm.
14 18 Miles Out (S2, E10)
As a whole, this episode wasn’t awful. Rick and Shane decide what to do with Randall, their hostage. They drive him out to the middle of nowhere, but still disagree about whether or not to kill him. This is when Shane and Rick’s ideologies finally come head to head. While arguing, zombies attack, leaving Shane stuck in a school bus and seemingly left for dead until Rick rescues him. The whole scene is both action packed and emotional, which is when The Walking Dead works best.
However, back at the farm, the scenes were not as action packed. Beth deals with the zombies that were in the barn by becoming suicidal. In fact, she tries to convince Maggie to join her in a suicide pact. The plot isn’t completely out of question in terms of psyches during a zombie apocalypse, but it unfortunately rang flat in a show that is normally so action driven. It also left fans with a sour taste in their mouths about Beth. Oh, and could we get out of the friggin' farm?
13 Hounded (S3, E6)
Killer Within (S3, E4) was one of the best episodes of The Walking Dead. Everything that makes The Walking Dead a great show happened in that episode. The zombie attack on the prison highlighted the evil of both zombies and humans. The group mentality was in full play as T-Dog sacrifices himself to save Carol. There was also the epic C-section scene, during which Carl puts down his mother so she won't turn. The episode ended with one of the most heartbreaking scenes, as Rick finds out about the fate of his wife. Overall, it was spectacularly done.
It’s unfortunate that the events of such an amazing episode inspired the events of an awful episode. Two episodes later, Rick mourns Lori by getting phone calls from heaven. Yep, you remember this storyline. The phone rings and he talks to everyone he knows who has died. Coupled with the fact that it showcased the growing relationship between The Governor and Andrea, two characters no one cared for, the episode was practically unbearable.
12 Arrow on the Doorpost (S3, E13)
Considering the fact that The Governor and Rick sat down face-to-face, you’d think that more would have happened in this episode, but nope. The Governor and Rick sit down for a tense meeting, during which The Governor tells Rick that they have to get out of the prison… or Rick can give him Michonne and they’ll be coolsies.
The scene was made even lamer by all the characters standing outside the meeting, looking bored as hell. In fact, the characters standing around looked about as bored as the audience members watching at home. Back at the prison, Merle tries to convince those who are there that they should attack The Governor, which wasn’t a horrible idea in retrospect.
Overall, the meeting fell flat and seeing how that was all that really happened in the episode, the episode fell flat too. It could have been cut into half an episode and saved us all the boredom.
11 Live Bait (S4, E6)
Solo episodes are usually hard to sit through, and they're even harder to sit through when it’s a solo episode about the antagonist. Nobody liked The Governor, so watching an episode about him was painful, especially an episode that tried to humanize him. This was the guy who wanted to rape Maggie and torture Michonne. At this point, humanizing him was in vain.
The one winning thing about this episode is that it introduced us to Tara, who would stick around for a while and become somewhat of a fan favorite. However, much of this episode is straight up boring and hard to watch. This episode was followed by another Governor-centric episode, which makes this one all the worse. Sitting through two Governor episodes is just testing the audience. Give us Daryl!
10 After (S4, E9)
Admittedly, there was a lot of good in this episode, but it was also slow. After the prison falls, the group is separated. This results in separate episodes. Some of these separate episodes work very well, while others do not.
In this episode, Michonne walks among the walkers and we are shown her backstory, in which she had a baby. Meanwhile, Carl and Rick find refuge in a nearby neighborhood. With Rick injured, Carl must secure the house himself. This results in some truly wonderful scenes for the development of Carl, but it was not enough to save this episode. Had we been shown more characters and their situations, the episode may not have dragged on like it did.
It didn’t help that it followed “Too Far Gone,” the episode in which the war with The Governor finally comes to a head. It’s always hard to follow an epic action-packed episode, especially when we are only shown the fate of three of our main characters.
9 Still (S4, E12)
This is yet another episode following the fall of the prison. The Walking Dead usually works best when it’s dealing with the group. That is where the heart of the show is, so when a solo episode pops up, it has to be outstanding for the audience to still be as entertained. There were certainly some good episodes following the fall of the prison, like when Rick hides from The Claimers or when Glenn and Tara meet Abraham, Rosita and Eugene. However, this episode faced criticism from the fans.
This was the solo Beth and Daryl episode, in which Beth is fed up with just surviving and wants to get drunk. Many people thought that both Beth and Daryl behaved out of character in this episode. Daryl usually had a head on his shoulders, but gives into Beth’s wishes to get drunk and jeopardizes them both in the process. Oh, and then they light a house on fire at the end. The fact that the other characters had seemingly more interesting things going on, like dealing with the Claimers or getting Eugene to DC, made this episode fall very flat.
8 Stabtown (S5, E4)
Speaking of Beth and solo episodes, welcome to Stabtown. This was the first episode in the Grady Memorial Hospital plot. While it was not the worst episode to ever air, the hype surrounding it made it feel like a let down. Beth’s whereabouts were very hyped since her disappearance, with producers telling us that we would find out what happened to the young blonde. We did find out, but it did not live up to the hype.
Beth was staying in a fortress of a hospital. It was inescapable and based on a system of taking and giving back. In terms of the group, they weren’t necessarily evil but not good either, and we were shown that right from the beginning. Instead of a cool reveal like Terminus, during which our expectations were flipped, we knew what Grady Memorial was almost from the beginning. Considering that many of the characters in this plot were forgettable, it made this solo episode disappointing, which was a letdown for fans of Beth.
7 Coda (S5, Ep8)
This is the final Beth episode on this list because it was, err, the final Beth episode.
In this episode, Rick and the gang attempt to rescue Beth from Grady Memorial Hospital, with an elaborate plan, which mostly works out for them. In fact, they manage to rescue Beth, but Officer Dawn insists that they give Noah back to the hospital. Noah complies, but Beth is furious. She walks up to Office Dawn and stabs her with a pair of hidden scissors. Officer Dawn reacts by shooting Beth in the head, killing Beth and breaking fans' hearts everywhere. At this point, Daryl pulls his gun and shoots Officer Dawn. Oh, and Daryl also does his Daryl crying face.
In the final scene, the group walks out of the hospital as Maggie arrives. She was told that they knew the location of her sister and was under the impression that she’d be reunited with her still living sister. When she sees Daryl walking out, carrying her sister’s dead body, Maggie falls to her knees and sobs. It was heartbreaking and many fans threatened to boycott the show, claiming that Beth’s death was senseless violence for shock value.
6 Them (S5, E10)
Following the death of Beth and Tyreese, the group as a whole was feeling pretty low. In fact, they were feeling so low that this episode was just everyone walking around and crying. No, I’m not joking. That’s more or less what it was. Oh, they are also so hungry that they shot and ate a pack of wild dogs. That's basically the gist of the episode.
It’s a brutal episode that showcases just how low it can actually be living through the zombie apocalypse. Usually fans watch the show and they are like, “Man, it could be so cool to live in a prison with Daryl Dixon and joke with Glenn Rhee.” This episode reminds us that living through a zombie apocalypse isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Also, it’s a throw back to Rick’s emo phase. We understand that characters have to deal with their loved ones passing, but it’s honestly so damn drawn out to watch.
5 Thank You (S6, E3)
This was one of the first major cliffhangers that the show tortured fans with, and fans were not amused.
In the final scene of this episode, Glenn and Nicholas are stranded on top of a dumpster with, like, 10,000 zombies surrounding them. The odds look slim, so Nicholas shoots himself in the head, taking Glenn down with him. We see Glenn screaming and zombies eating guts, then the screen goes black. What in the what?
Yes, that’s how they ended the episode, with the fate of Glenn dangling in the air. Of course, razor sharp audience members caught that the scene was cut in a way so that it may have been Nicholas’ guts being eaten and Glenn may be fine, which is exactly what happened.
The logic here is dicey, though. It’s been proven that zombie guts make you invisible to zombies, but no such thing has been proven with human guts. In fact, this would probably just make you all the tastier to zombies. It’s like frosting on top. So, Glenn being covered with Nicholas’ guts would not help him hide under the dumpster at all. The pay off for the cliffhanger lacked logic and therefore made the cliffhanger even more annoying.
4 Here’s Not Here (S6, E4)
If you really want to annoy your audience, have a cliffhanger episode in which Glenn may or may not be dead and follow it up with a solo Morgan episode. What is that? Honestly, the episode was a decent solo episode, but the timing of it was just cruel. It was so hard to care about anything other than Glenn.
As we were worrying about the father-to-be, we were introduced to a vegan with a pet goat. In any other situation, we could have gotten down with Eastman. I mean, he’s trying to create cheese in the zombie apocalypse. He’s really a man after our own hearts with that one. That fact along with the way this episode pulls at the heartstrings should have made it very enjoyable. It could have been very enjoyable, just not as we're all worrying about Glenn.
Note to the producers: making us wait to find out the fate of a main character is cruel and unusual torture and we do not like it.
3 Last Day On Earth (S6, E16)
Speaking of cliffhangers, this was the biggest cliffhanger in all of The Walking Dead. This was one of the best episodes of the show, but the cliffhanger felt torturous.
When the introduction of Negan finally arrives, he lives up to all of the hype, being both terrifying but also charismatic. Because the group took many of their men down at an outpost, Negan decides that they must be punished with Lucille, his barbed-wire wrapped bat. He can’t decide on a winner so he plays eenie meenie minie mo to choose the winner. At the point at which he decides on the winner, the camera switches to the POV of the winner. We then see Negan beat the shit out of someone, but don’t know who it is. And then the episode ends.
The episode ends! One of the main characters was killed and the audience didn't know who! It left fans guessing which character bit the bullet for a whole summer. Some fans were very annoyed with this tactic, as it seemed like a way to secure ratings for the season premiere.
2 The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be (S7, E1)
Of course, the followup episode made the list. After a summer of speculating, two characters seemed like clear candidates to be the winner of eenie meenie minie mo. These two characters were Glenn and Abraham. Abraham’s comic book death actually happened to a different character during season 6, so his television counterpart was essentially living on borrowed time. This isn’t uncommon, as Carol has also lived way past her comic book character counterpart. The other candidate was Glenn, who was Negan’s victim in the comic books. Well, they both ended up meeting Lucille... and it was horrifying.
Abraham "wins" the game and is beaten to death. Then, Daryl lashes out on Negan, due to his cruelty. This means Negan must punish someone, but was interested in grooming Daryl into becoming a Savior. Instead of punishing Daryl, Glenn pays the price for Daryl’s actions. These gruesome scenes broke audiences’ hearts. Glenn was such a lovable character and a father-to-be who suffered an awful death. It was the first time that a majority of fans of the show were turned off by the extreme violence.
1 Swear (S7, E6)
For whatever reason, much of season 7 played out much like season 4. While the separate episodes made sense following the fall of the prison, it didn’t seem like a necessary tactic for season 7. This left fans feeling very disjointed.
Yes, fans got to see the group in the first episode, but the season episode featured only Carol and Morgan at the Kingdom. The third episode was just Daryl at the Sanctuary. With all of these solo episodes, “Swear” was just too much to take.
For the record, this is no reflection on Tara, who could totally rock her own solo episode. She’s a likable character and has great comedic timing. She’s one of the truly funny characters in this world. However, after being so disjointed, following Tara as she happens upon a women-only group left us itching for a group episode.
This is unfortunate because a Tara driven episode and an episode about Oceanside would be enjoyable under different circumstances. Luckily for fans, the group seems back together as of the mid-season finale of season seven. Hopefully, the producers will learn that The Walking Dead works much better as a group effort than as a solo show. Oh, and hopefully they take our advice about cliffhangers. No more cliffhangers, y'all! Ain't no body got time for that.
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