Top 10 best ‘The Walking Dead’ episodes of all time (2022)

After 11 seasons and 117 episodes, AMC’s zombie drama “The Walking Dead” is ready to shuffle off this mortal coil. The characters have traveled across several states, met and lost countless friends, and waged wars with walkers and humans alike. As we prepare to say goodbye in the series finale on Sunday, November 20, 2022 let’s take a look at the Top 10 best “The Walking Dead” episodes of all time.

10. “Here’s Negan” – Season 10, Episode 22

The six pandemic episodes of Season 10 vary wildly in style and in quality. But the final installment, “Here’s Negan,” provided an inspired backstory for Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s villain. Morgan’s real-life spouse Hilary Burton-Morgan steps in to play Negan’s wife Lucille, in what might just be the most emotionally raw performance from the actress to date. It’s devastating to watch the real-life pair play the emotional gut punch at the end of the episode. It’s not easy to wrench tears from viewers for a character who has beaten beloved characters to death with a baseball bat, but “Here’s Negan” successfully humanized one of the apocalypse’s biggest monsters.

9. “Clear” – Season 3, Episode 12

Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Carl (Chandler Riggs) take cover from a mysterious sniper, only to discover it is long lost friend Morgan (Lennie James). In his first appearance since the series premiere, Morgan is in a dire mental state. He has settled into a small town and is in the process of systematically “clearing” it of walkers. James has repeatedly turned in excellent performances in his time on the series (special shoutout to his gripping bottle episode “Here’s Not Here”), but the actor has never been better than in this appearance, depicting how the loss of his family during an apocalypse has totally untethered this man from reality.

8. “Beside the Dying Fire” – Season 2, Episode 13

This installment marks the first time a major catastrophe upends the status quo of the story and scatters the heroes in various directions. An enormous roaming horde of walkers descends on Hershel’s (Scott Wilson) farm, taking down several characters as everyone flees in a panic. It’s all filmed with maximum tension and some extremely close calls for favorite characters, further hammering home the theme that no one is safe on this show. The ending remains memorable as Rick reveals what he learned at the CDC in Season 1: everyone on earth is infected and will reanimate as a zombie when they die.

7. “JSS” – Season 6, Episode 2

The plot of “JSS” isn’t incredibly complex: The Wolves invade an unguarded Alexandria to cause mass killing and destruction, but Carol (Melissa McBride) almost single handedly eliminates the threat. But this battle is filmed with an intensity that easily earns the episode a place on the list. Carol proves yet again that she is the most dangerous woman alive, disguising herself as one of The Wolves in order to systematically and brutally take them down. Remind yourself to breathe as you watch this ruthless one woman army unleash hell.

6. “No Way Out” – Season 6, Episode 9
This mid-season premiere begins with Daryl (Norman Reedus) exploding a group of baddies with a rocket launcher, and it never lets up from there. At Alexandria, Rick employs the ol’ “cover-yourself-in-walker-guts” trick to help a group escape through a zombie horde which has invaded Alexandria. But wimpy Sam freaks out causing him and his Mom Jessie to be eaten alive by walkers, but not before Rick hacks off her hand because she wouldn’t let go of Carl. Talk about an epic breakup! Then Michonne impales Sam’s brother Ron with her katana, Ron shoots out Carl’s eye, Glenn (Steven Yeun) concocts a daring rescue of Maggie (Lauren Cohan), and Rick inspires the townsfolk to join him in an absolutely insane melee against hundreds of the undead. You can’t say this episode lacks variety.

5. “Pretty Much Dead Already” – Season 2, Episode 7

Team Family spent the first half of Season 2 in a desperate search for Carol’s missing daughter Sophia. In this episode, Rick learns that Hershel’s barn is kept full of walkers (Hershel still thinks they’re “people,” how cute). While Rick and Hershel argue over the situation, Shane (Jon Bernthal) takes the safety of the group into his own hands by opening the barn doors and starts firing away at the undead. Hershel and his family are gutted, but the true horror unveils itself when a zombified Sophia shambles into the light. It’s a shocking image that haunts Carol for the rest of her life, and haunts the gobsmacked viewers as well.

4. “Too Far Gone” – Season 4, Episode 8

The Governor (David Morrissey) was the original “maniac leader” villain on “The Walking Dead,” and this episode is his best hour. He arrives at the prison in a tank, flanked by an army of new Woodbury citizens who have been told that Rick and company are evil threats to their lives. When Rick sees Hershel and Michonne being held hostage, he begs for peace and even offers to let the people of Woodbury into the prison to live like one big happy family. But The Governor is unable to stop seeing red, and Morrissey utters one chilling word, “liar,” as he swiftly decapitates Hershel with Michonne’s katana. An epic battle ensues, but the more impactful takeaway is that Rick is punished for trying to do the right thing and learns that peace is impossible.

SEE Everything to know about ‘The Walking Dead’ spin-off with Daryl (but no longer Carol)

3. “No Sanctuary” – Season 5, Episode 1

There are plenty of action-oriented episodes on this list, but “No Sanctuary” sets the benchmark by which all of those episodes are judged. Everyone is being held hostage by the cannibals at Terminus, and several key players are seconds from being sliced and fileted. So leave it to Carol, who has recently been transformed into a woman with nothing to lose, to come to the rescue. She blows up their defenses, sends walkers pouring into the trainyard compound, and then storms into the fray picking off cannibals left and right. If Rambo and the Terminator had a baby, it would be Carol during “No Sanctuary.” This is a perfect climax in her sensational journey from domestic abuse victim to total badass.

2. “Days Gone By” – Season 1, Episode 1

As far as direct adaptations go, the series premiere is about as perfect as can be. This pilot episode expertly recreates nearly every image found in the first two issues of Robert Kirkman’s comic book series. There’s the “Don’t Open, Dead Inside” message scrawled on the hospital doors, the “bicycle girl” walker dragging her torso across the ground, the undead girl holding her teddy bear, and Rick’s horseback ride into a hellish Atlanta. Rewatching “Days Gone By” years later, it’s striking to see just how much this episode relies on imagery to tell the story and set the mood.

1. “The Grove” – Season 4, Episode 14

“Look at the flowers, Lizzie.” “The Grove” perfectly exemplifies why “The Walking Dead,” and genre television in general, should be taken just as seriously as prestige dramas. This bottle episode sees Carol and Tyreese (Chad Coleman) looking after sisters Lizzie and Mika Samuels and baby Judith following the attack at the prison. Tension rises as Lizzie’s grasp on reality becomes warped, and it explodes in horrifying fashion when Carol discovers that Lizzie has killed her sister in order to prove that walkers can be friends. Carol is forced to do the impossible: kill her adoptive daughter before she becomes a danger to everyone. This is by far the most devastating episode of the series and there is no excuse for Emmy voters snubbing Melissa McBride for her exquisite and excruciating performance. The script, which draws in elements from “Of Mice and Men” to great success, is also a masterpiece. “The Grove” is not just the finest hour of “The Walking Dead.” It’s one of the finest hours of television, period.

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