Tһe Best Episode From Eасһ Seаson of ‘Tһe Wаlkinɡ Deаd,’ Aссordinɡ to IMDb

With 11 seasons, The Walking Dead has had some great episodes.

Image via AMC

From the moment Rick Grimes awoke from a coma to a desolate, zombie-ridden world, audiences were hooked on The Walking Dead. For 11 seasons and 177 episodes, the series followed Rick and other survivors dealing with their new reality, before coming to an end in 2022 and spawning numerous spinoffs. It was based on the graphic novels of the same name by Robert Kirkman.

At its best, The Walking Dead was thrilling and shocking, as its survivors had to worry about threats both human and inhuman, with each new season often bringing a new villain with it, each one seemingly more cruel and menacing than the last. Some of the best episodes boast impressive scores on IMDb, and each season has its own standouts.

The Walking Dead Poster
The Walking Dead

11 “Days Gone Bye”

Season 1, Episode 1

The Walking Dead - Days Gone Bye

IMDb Score: 9.2/10

In “Days Gone Bye,” the very first episode of The Walking Dead, sheriff Rick Grimes is hospitalized after being injured in a shootout and awakes to find the world completely changed—the hospital is abandoned, and the only people he encounters are zombies, called walkers. When he makes it to his house, he finds that his wife and son are both gone, with no indication of where they might be or if they’re even still alive.

“Days Gone Bye,” established the show’s setting and tone, especially for the very brief first season. Just six episodes long, much of the focus was on Rick’s survival and search for his family, and from the moment he woke up to an empty, trashed hospital, things seemed pretty hopeless. It’s a tension-filled episode with great moments of horror, as the audience learns everything there is to know about walkers—so far—as Rick does.

10 “Pretty Much Dead Already”

Season 2, Episode 7

The Walking Dead Episode 0207,

IMDb Score: 9.2/10

In Season 2 mid-season finale “Pretty Much Dead Already,” Glenn informs the rest of the group that Hershel is keeping a hoard of zombies locked in a barn on his farm, in the hopes that they’ll be able to be cured in the future. Meanwhile, Hershel decides the others must leave the farm and find somewhere else to stay, leading him to clash with his daughter Maggie and Rick, and the group is still searching for Carol’s missing daughter, Sophia.

“Pretty Much Dead Already” is a shocking, tense episode—which makes it not only one of the best of the second season, but it also remains one of the best and most memorable of the entire series. The episode culminates in an emotional outburst from Shane and the release of the walkers in the barn, and in its final devastating moments, a turned Sophia is the last to emerge, and Rick is the one who kills her as the group watches, horrified.

9 “Killer Within”

Season 3, Episode 4


IMDb Score: 9.3/10

The group is separated and Lori goes into labor as walkers attack the prison in Season 3 episode “Killer Within.” When it becomes clear something is wrong, she urges Maggie to perform a C-section and is sure she won’t survive, leading her to give a parting speech to Carl. T-Dog is also bitten in the attack, but he sacrifices himself for Carol. Meanwhile, in Woodbury, Michonne and Andrea disagree over whether they should leave or stay, and Andra begins a romantic relationship with the Governor.

Pregnancy and childbirth were destined to present major challenges in the world of The Walking Dead, and “Killer Within” perfectly addresses why. Lori’s death is tragic and devastating, although not very surprising, especially considering she’d previously expressed her fears about that exact outcome. Sarah Wayne Callies’ and Chandler Riggs both deliver some of their best performances of the series, especially as Lori gives an emotional parting speech to Carl and later, he insists on being the one to kill her when she turns.

8 “Too Far Gone”

Season 4, Episode 8

The Walking Dead Episode 0408,

IMDb Score: 9.6/10

In Season 4 mid-season finale “Too Far Gone,” the Governor holds Hershel and Michonne captive in the hopes of using them as leverage to convince Rick and his group to leave the prison. Hoping to stop him, Hershel attempts to appeal to the Governor’s humanity and compares Maggie to the Governor’s own daughter, but he is unmoved. When Rick refuses to leave while still trying to find a peaceful solution, the Governor brutally kills Hershel, triggering a violent shootout between the two groups.

“Too Far Gone” is a solid episode showing the tension between the two groups which builds to an intense, violent showdown. The episode also shows the callousness of the Governor, as well as how far he was willing to go to take the prison. While it wasn’t a surprise that the Governor took someone out, the fact that it was Hershel was tragic—but also made it all the more satisfying when Rick landed a few punches to the Governor’s face.

7 “No Sanctuary”

Season 5, Episode 1

The Walking Dead Episode 0501,

IMDb Score: 9.6/10

Rick comes face-to-face with Terminus and learns their true intentions in Season 5 premiere “No Sanctuary.” In order to survive, the group has turned to cannibalism. Meanwhile, Carol and Tyreese continue their journey there with baby Judith, although Carol doesn’t intend to stay. Instead, she proves to be the saving grace for Rick and the others. The episode also marks the return of Morgan, first introduced in the pilot.

Each season of The Walking Dead seemed to bring villains more menacing and cruel than the last, but Terminus stands out as among the worst of the worst—and “No Sanctuary” kicks the season off to an intense, brutal start. In a post-apocalyptic world where resources are becoming increasingly scarce, it makes sense that some would resort to killing and eating other people, but that doesn’t make it any less horrifying.

6 “No Way Out”

Season 6, Episode 9

The Walking Dead Episode 0609,

IMDb Score: 9.6/10

In “No Way Out,” the Season 6 mid-season premiere, Daryl, Sasha and Abraham cross paths with a new enemy, the Saviors, and their offscreen leader, Negan. Meanwhile, walkers infiltrate Alexandria. As the group attempts to move through the hoard undetected, Sam is overwhelmed and freezes then is attacked and killed. His mother, Jessie’s, screams attract more walkers, leading to her death, as well, and finally, when his brother, Ron, points a gun at Rick, Michonne stabs him, causing the gun to go off and strike Carl in the eye.

A common theme in The Walking Dead is the things people are forced to do to survive, and “No Way Out” is yet another example of that. It’s a brutal episode overall, with not just three gruesome deaths but the loss of Carl’s eye, with tense, action-packed scenes as the group battles the walkers. In addition, the episode marked the first menacing introduction to the Saviors and Negan, although it was nothing compared to what was to come.

5 “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be”

Season 7, Episode 1

The Walking Dead - The Day Will Come When You Won't Be

IMDb Score:9.2/10

Season 7 premiere “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be” picks up right where the Season 6 finale left off, with Saviors leader Negan threatening Rick and the others with Lucille, his bat wrapped in barbed wire. After killing Abraham and Glenn while the others are forced to watch, Rick vows to kill Negan himself, and Negan drags him into an RV for a menacing ride, leading him to a hoard of walkers where he has to fend for himself and toying with him along the way.

“The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be” was a brutal, shocking episode, with heart-pounding tension culminating in the gruesome deaths of Abraham and Glenn. Negan is one of the most callous and deadly villains in The Walking Dead, showing just what can become of people in the new world they’re living in. The cast all deliver terrific performances, as they’re each individually threatened by Negan while he decides who to kill and responds with shock and grief.

4 “The Key” – 8

Season 8, Episode 12


IMDb Score: 8/10

In Season 8 episode “The Key,” Negan and the Saviors prepare for an attack on Hilltop, and Dwight’s allegiances are shifting from Negan to Rick and he’s struggling to hide it. Meanwhile, Rick and Negan battle it out, and Daryl and Rick make amends as Rick’s grieving in the aftermath of Carl’s death. Maggie and Michonne, with backup from Enid and Rosita, meet with a woman named Georgie, willing to trade for her knowledge.

After everything the survivors had been through, it was understandable that in “The Key,” they were suspicious and outright distrusting of Georgie. But Georgie was vastly different from so many others in The Walking Dead—she was fun to watch, well-dressed, and had an optimistic vision of life moving forward, but that didn’t mean she was stupid or naive about the state of the world. It was refreshing to see a new face who wasn’t threatening or violent but instead had ideas and a plan.

3 “The Calm Before”

Season 9, Episode 15

The Walking Dead - The Calm Before

IMDb Score: 9.3/10

In Season 9 episode “The Calm Before,” all the communities gather at the Kingdom to enjoy the fair, including Michonne and Judith. Michonne uses the occasion to call a meeting of the community leaders, who agree to grant Lydia, Whisperer leader Alpha’s daughter, asylum and put up a united front, vowing that an attack on one of them will be considered an attack on all and retaliated against accordingly. Ultimately, Alpha kills 10 people, most notably Tara, Enid and Henry.

The fair in “The Calm Before” is a delight to watch—in a show with so much violence and gore, it’s a refreshing change of pace to see its characters enjoy normal things like music, games and even a movie, something unfamiliar to the youngest of them. Of course, this being The Walking Dead, the peace and fun are short-lived, and the episode ends with a high body count.

2 “Here’s Negan”

Season 10, Episode 22

The Walking Dead Season 10 Here's Negan

IMDb Score: 9.2/10

“Here’s Negan,” the finale of Season 10, saw Carol accompanying Negan to a cabin in an attempt to ease the growing tension between Negan and Maggie, newly returned to Alexandria. Negan uses the time to look back on his life, and flashbacks show his life early in the outbreak with his wife, Lucille, who was in the middle of cancer treatments when it happened, which Negan desperately tried to continue to save her life. Lucille was played by Morgan’s real-life wife, Hillarie Burton-Morgan.

Negan as a loving, doting husband is drastically different from the Negan audiences have become familiar with. He was one of the baddest villains of The Walking Dead, but he also had one of the best character arcs, going from heartless murderer to a softer, calmer man. “Here’s Negan” is one of his best episodes—Morgan was always great to watch, from his over-the-top persona to his biting wit, and this episode sees him take on the Negan of the past and the Negan of the present. Negan as a loving, doting husband is drastically different from the Negan audiences have known up until this point.

1 “No Other Way”

Season 11, Episode 9


IMDb Score: 8.6/10

The survivors battle the Reapers—now led by Daryl’s former girlfriend, Leah—in “No Other Way,” while a rainstorm causes flooding and other problems at Alexandria. When they come face-to-face with Leah, she orders her sniper to take a shot, only to find out he’s been killed by Gabriel, who’s now manning the gun. Meanwhile, after realizing that Maggie will never be able to forgive him and will always be looking for an opportunity to kill him, Negan decides to leave.

“No Other Way” was a high point of The Walking Dead’s final season, with trouble on all fronts and high stakes for just about everyone. Maggie’s lingering animosity towards Negan was understandable, as was his decision to prioritize his safety by leaving—even though he’d made the opposite decision in the past. But some of the best moments came from Gabriel, most notably the surprise twist that he’d secretly taken out Leah’s sniper, leading to her defeat.

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