Comicbook: The Walking Dead
One of the most compelling aspects of The Walking Dead comic was watching Generic Good Guy Rick being slowly but completely ruined by a lawless world. He started off as a cliche small town sheriff, sure, but only because it was fun to explore exactly what it takes to break Andy Griffith's mind and make him eat the rest of Mayberry.The Walking Dead
is a zombie apocalypse comic book
, written by Robert Kirkman with art by Charlie Adlardnote
, featuring an ensemble cast
(which is constantly in flux
) of survivors struggling to survive
over the long-term duration of the zombie uprising. The de facto main character is Rick Grimes, a police officer
who was shot in the line of duty; when he wakes up from a convenient coma
, all hell has broken loose. Rick goes in search of his family and safety, both of which end up being more tenuous than not.
While most zombie apocalypse comic books focus on more dakka
and improbable skills at fighting in order to showcase big damn heroes
, The Walking Dead
focuses more of its action on survival horror
and the psychological and personal relationships
which result from the stress of being constantly on guard
. As one critic put it, the title is specifically not
referring to the zombies, but the survivors.
There is also a live action
television series that is based on, but also deviates a bit
from the comic; it has its own page
. There is also an episodic adventure game
series by Telltale Games
set in the same universe as the comic. It also has its own page.
Kirkman has also co-written a planned trilogy of prequel novels to the series, the first one being Rise of the Governor
. The second, The Road to Woodbury
, was released in October 2012 and the final novel The Fall of the Governor
There is a shout out
For characters page, see here
The comic contains the following tropes: [SPOILERS]
- Abandoned Hospital Awakening: The first issue starts with Rick getting shot, then awakening weeks later to find thing have changed.
- Absurdly Sharp Blade: Michonne's blade. Starts as an Aversion - it gets stuck in a skull once, when we first meet her - but then cuts through anything like a hot knife through butter. Rick's hatchet, on the other hand, is as sharp as the plot needs it to be at any given time.
- She knows to take blade sharpeners when they raid weapons shops. Presumably, she keeps her sword in top condition.
- Action Girl: Deconstructed in the case of Michonne. The Zombie Apocalypse has honed her into a stone-cold badass, but at the cost of most of her sanity and compassion. Instead of straight-up killing the Governor, she tortures him and leaves him alive, allowing him to mount an attack on the prison and kill the vast majority of the folks there. Following that, she leads Tyreese on a two-person counterattack that results in his beheading. Nice Job Breaking It, Hero.
- Affably Evil:
- The leader of the cannibal gang. There's really nothing personal about cutting off your leg. After all, a man's gotta eat.
- The Governor is also pretty charismatic and well-liked by his people.
- Negan is very straightforward, fair, and totally freakin' nuts in all the ways that're likeable. If only he didn't kill Rick's friends without any hint of hesitation.
- Alternate History: Downplayed, the world of The Walking Dead is similar to Real Life; pre-zombie apocalypse. The difference is that Night of the Living Dead was not released and thus, zombies never became a part of pop culture. This leaves the Zombie Apocalypse survivors Genre Blind at first.
- Anyone Can Die: The comic lives on this trope. Mauve Shirts are in high number, but in this series, main characters are no safer than supporting ones, and eventually, it's not a matter of if the characters will die—it's WHEN they'll die.
Days Gone Bye: Amy, Jim, and Shane.
Miles Behind Us: Donna, Arnold, and Lacey.
Safety Behind Bars: Julie, Chris, Susie, Rachel, and Thomas.
The Heart's Desire: Dexter, Andrew, and Allen.
This Sorrowful Life: Harold, Eugene, Dr. Stevens, Otis, and Martinez.
The Calm Before: Bruce, Sam, and Carol.
Made to Suffer: Tyreese, Axel, Patricia, Billy, Alice, Lori, Judith, Hershel, and The Governor.
- An Arm and a Leg: Rick has his right arm hacked off by the Governor. Then, The Governor himself loses an arm, among other things, when Michonne tortures and mutilates him.
- Artificial Limbs: Dale gets a makeshift wooden leg after a zombie bite forces them to amputate one of his real ones.
- Rick gets a modern prosthetic arm after the time skip.
- Ascended Extra:
- Lilly, who only appeared for a couple of pages during the end of Made to Suffer, is the protagonist of the novel The Walking Dead: The Road to Woodbury.
- Herschel's unseen son Shawn, who was mentioned as having died not long before the events of the comics, is present in the first episode of Telltale's adaption, and as a major character at that.
- Attack! Attack! Attack!: The Governor thinks his superior numbers and a salvaged tank will give him a quick victory; instead his mooks get slaughtered as they can't get past the prison fences (which they want to preserve so they can use the prison once it's emptied) and their marksmanship isn't as good as those holding the prison (Rick has made a point of training everyone). The prison only gets overrun when the tank is finally used to knock down the fences, but this also lets the zombies in.
- Ax-Crazy: Several people, both in the group and out.
- Badass: Surviving in this comic is largely dependant on being one, so most of the cast become this over time. The most notable examples are probably Rick, Michonne, Andrea, Abraham and Tyreese.
- Badass Boast: When Rick decides to go to Chris' group of cannibals:
Rick: They're fucking with the wrong people.
- Big Bad: Due to zombies being treated more as a force of nature than a central threat, humans take up the reigns as one temporary Big Bad or another. Two have shown up so far.
- "Governor" Philip Blake (a.k.a. Brian Blake) from Issue 27 to 48.
- Negan, leader of the Saviors, from Issue 96 to 126.
- The Big Guy: Shane, Tyreese, Abraham, and Jesus. Basically, Rick's current Lancer is usually the biggest dude in the current group.
- Boom, Headshot: The only way to kill a Walker permanently is to destroy the brain, leading to many instances of this.
- Break the Cutie: Any nice characters do not stay in good mental health for long.
- Driven to Suicide: Several of said cases result in this. Carol, Hershel, Maggie. Only Carol has eventually gone through with it by herself.
- Bring My Brown Pants: When the walls to the Alexandria Safe Zone break down in Volume 14 and the Andersons try to escape, Ron, the son who is about Carl's age, urinates down his leg. Hard to blame him, however.
- Celebrity Survivor: Subverted by Tyreese — he used to be a pro football player, but he was already washed up by the time of the Zombie Apocalypse.
- Children Forced To Kill: Carl does this to protect his own parents.
- Cold Sniper: Andrea can be this when she has to be.
- Comic-Book Time: Averted. Everybody ages.
- Cosy Catastrophe: The devastation isn't as complete as one might expect and the ecosystem seems generally intact. Also, the zombies are mostly opportunists - they usually don't actively hunt the humans.
- This trope is especially invoked after the two year time skip. After a pretty hard first year in the Zombie Apocalypse the main characters have banded together to create a network of settlements to begin rebuilding civilization. As such they now have farms to grow food, workers to make weapons, tools and ammunition, and even riders to draw away large hordes of walkers. The biggest threat to their safety at this point probably isn't even the zombies anymore, but other human survivors who have also established a permanent society in this new world, though time will tell how long this lasts...
- Covers Always Spoil: The first "Compendium" cover shows all the characters wearing prisoner uniforms, and Rick missing a hand.
- Crapsaccharine World: Woodbury.
- Crapsack World: Unusually so, even for the Zombie Apocalypse genre.
- Creepy Child: All children become this after growing up with everyone they know being murdered and eaten warps their moralities and sanities out of all recognition. Ben's the first to go irretrievably nuts.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: The battle between the Washington community and the raiders; the raiders are all killed moronically attacking the fortified community.
- Daylight Horror: Discussed in issue seven. Rick complains when it begins to get dark and cloudy. Glenn welcomes the clouds because he considered the previous bright, sunny weather to be "a contradiction" to the terror around them.
- Deuteragonist: The Walking Dead is as much Carl's storyline as it is Rick's. In fact Kirkman expects that Carl will be the one character most likely to reach the end of the series.
- Did I Mention It's Christmas?: At one point Dale tells Rick he's been counting the calendar days and believes it's Christmas Eve. Rick instructs him not to mention it to the others: "I don't want to have to explain to my son that on top of all this other shit, Santa can't find him."
- In issue 61, the group finds a van with mattresses in it, and Andrea comments on how it's like early Christmas time, then Carl asks nobody in particular if they skipped last Christmas... The question is ignored.
- Disaster Democracy
- Doorstopper: The first Compendium version of the comic is one of these, each one having 8 volumes (48 issues).
- Driven to Suicide: Quite a few characters, some even to the extent of letting themselves be eaten alive by zombies.
- Drop the Hammer: Tyreese.
- Early Installment Weirdness: It starts off as a fast-paced adventure about one man with a clear goal to get to his family and keep them safe until the zombie problem passes. After volume 2 it becomes a more long-term plan to establish a new society with the survivors they've found, becoming a soap opera of sorts and after volume 5 a small-scale war story on top of that. After volume 8 it becomes a far more dystopian story where there's genuine danger that people within the group are going to go nuts and kill each other.
- Rick actually has little trouble with the first human characters he meets (Morgan and Duane), which almost seems rather strange considering the running themes of the work. The TV Show reworked the scene to have Morgan panicking when Duane hits Rick with a shovel, but because he's afraid Rick might have been bitten.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Negan. When one of the people from Rick's town tries to convince Negan to kill him so he can become leader, Negan literally eviscerates him for being a traitor. Later, when one of his own men tries to rape a prisoner, Negan is adamant that his people don't rape and stabs him through the neck.
- Everybody's Dead, Dave
- Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: Philip,or rather, Brian, better known as "The Governor".
- Evil Counterpart: The Governor is arguably one of these for Rick. The Cannibals are this for the group in general.
- Eye Patch Of Power: Carl creates this effect with a pair of sunglasses with one of their lens removed.
- Eye Scream: Michonne scoops the Governor's eye out with a spoon while torturing him. When we next see him he's donning an Eyepatch of Power.
- Douglas tells the story of when he first realized the depths humanity could sink to, when he saw a news report about a man who got stoned and ate his four year old son's eyes.
- Carl gets shot in the eye by a lost bullet; the shot blows a part of his head. He survives, and becomes increasingly creepier, to the point where Rick thinks he lost his son.
- Failed a Spot Check: Inverted for some cases, as Michonne always makes her spot checks.
- Foreshadowing: "For all we knew, you guys could've been a pack of roving cannibals."
- Also, in Issue 12, while looking for food, Andrea jokingly says to Dale that she could "gnaw a piece off of him".
- Forgotten Fallen Friend: Averted constantly. Several survivors are still mentioned dozens of issues after their deaths and the many losses the remaining cast have suffered through has greatly affected their sanity. One major example would be in issue 134 with Carl mentioning Allen, a minor character who had died over 100 issues ago during the prison arc.
- From Bad to Worse: Pretty much the main point of the series.
- Hershel starts off with seven kids. By the time he dies, he's down to one. And as pointed out further below, two of the deaths are his fault.
- After issue 48 things get so much worse that it might very well count as a Retool. All pretence to safety goes out the window, several beloved characters are gone forever, and those that remain start to go insane. It's like the author heard someone say the comic was dystopian and replied "You thought THAT was dystopian?"
- Genre Blind: The characters aren't very familiar with zombie tropes, but they learn fast enough. This is because Kirkman says that Night of the Living Dead was never released in their universe.
- Genre Savvy: On the other hand, they manage to be reasonably good survivalists.
- Genuine Human Hide: The whispering walkers are actually people who have made suits out of walkers' skin, disguising their looks and scent. This allows them to pass by walkers as long as they walk slowly and speak quietly, and make survivors mistake them for comparitively harmless walkers.
- Get a Hold of Yourself Man: Many examples, but a standout would be Michonne bashing Rick on the head with a rock when he nearly kills Douglas Monroe in a rage after attacking Pete Anderson.
- Groin Attack: Reasonably common, and usually unreasonably horrible.
- Heroic BSOD: In high number, given the massive psychological stress the characters are under.
- He Who Fights Monsters: Issue 71 subtly paints the protagonists as this with a very creepy and disturbing final line spoken by Rick. Though this was hinted at as far back as the Prison story arc. The Fear the Hunters story arc really pushed the group into some serious dark territory as far as behavior... and sanity.
- Hide Your Children: Averted. Several of the principal characters are minors. Also several of the background zombies.
- His Story Repeats Itself: Gabriel tells Rick about how he kept a door to his original church closed when the dead came, keeping people locked out in fear. In Volume 14, Eugene yells for him to open the Alexandria Safe Zone church doors, and he does so, letting them in, then going out and helping in the fight against the hordes.
- Hope Spot: The potential cure for the plague waiting in DC? Eugene made up that story just so he could have a group protecting him. He's not even a scientist, but rather a high school science teacher.
- How Much More Can He Take: Rick vs Tyreese.
- Humans Are the Real Monsters:
- The inevitable Zombie Apocalypse "humans are the real threat" has been used a couple of times; the Governor does far more damage to the cast than the zombies have, Thomas decapitates two children, and then there's Abraham's back story.
- The residents of Woodbury, by and large, realize that the Governor is a monster but are willing to tolerate him because he keeps them "safe", and entertained.
- When Tyreese is first introduced, he tells Rick that a man he knew attempted to rape his daughter when his back was turned for a second.
- I Did What I Had to Do: Rick most commonly, but this applies to pretty much everyone.
- Rick runs over the most sympathetic citizen of Woodbury to stop him from reporting their position back to the evil Woodburians. Martinez claims he was sent as a spy but is really going to bring the good civilians to the supposedly safe shelter of a county jail. Rick doesn't believe him and strangles him.
- Another one from the "Fear the Hunters" arc; After the groups has been attacked by a group of cannibals, (who in their minds, were only doing what they had to do) Rick goes to parlay with them. When it becomes clear that the hunters aren't going to leave them alone, Rick reveals that he didn't come alone, and the others are all armed. They disarm the hunters, then hold them down over a picnic table and hack them apart one by one. Gunshots attract zombies, you see.
- Carl taking it upon himself to execute Ben when no one else was willing to.
- I Want Them Alive: After Michonne bites the Governor's ear off, one of his goons subdues her and offers to break her neck.
The Governor: No! Don't do a fucking thing to her! I don't want this girl to get a bruise that doesn't come from me. She'll suffer for what she's done—she'll wish she was dead.
- Infant Immortality: Averted. All the child characters besides Carl and Sophia have died so far. However, only one child death is seen in Issue 83.
- Interrupted Suicide: Maggie tries to hang herself after finding out about her father's death, but is saved by Glenn.
- Invincible Hero: Lampshaded with Michonne; after a while everyone just calls on her whenever they encounter a stray roamer. She finds it sort of annoying.
- It Never Gets Any Easier
- Jaw Breaker: Martinez is currently the page image.
- Justified Title: Either by the primary threat, the setting, or what said setting does to many people within it.
- Karmic Death: The Governor is killed by his own soldier, Lilly, after making her kill a baby.
- Katanas Are Just Better: Michonne. Somewhat inverted as she's shown to be skilled with them, but guns still win out.
- There have been several instances when the guns could not be used because the sound would attract more zombies. In those cases, melee weapons like axes, clubs, and Michonne's ever-present sword prevail.
- Kill 'em All: By the time the eighth arc was over, a large chunk of the cast had been killed off. Of the original group, the only ones left are Rick, Carl, Andrea, and Sophia.
- Knife Nut: The Skinwalkers are nearly wholly seen using kitchen knives in fights. This fits with their tactic of sneaking underneath the notice of the living and walkers, as guns would draw too much attention and create too much noise.
- This actually applies to most of the antagonistic characters who have shown up in the comic with Thomas Richards, Ben, Pete Anderson and Negan all shown using knives prominently alongside several minor characters. Hell, even Rick carves up a would-be rapist like a thanksgiving turkey for trying to harm Carl.
- Lantern Jaw of Justice: A few characters when drawn by Tony Moore. Rick had a pretty heroic jawline, while Shane sported a much beefier, Bruce Campbell-esque one. Rick's became a lot less pronounced when Charlie Adlard took over as artist, and, notably, Shane's has disappeared completely by the time he's dug up as a zombie and re-killed by Rick.
- Lethally Stupid: Patricia. Why the HELL did she free a child murderer, thinking he would be grateful?
- Loads and Loads of Characters: Its more of a revolving door of characters, usually a couple of characters dies or leaves, later the main group may discover some new survivors.
- Made of Plasticine: Selectively used. The combat is generally realistic, but zombie skulls occasionally get penetrated WAY easier than they ought to...the human skull is one of the hardest biological substances on earth. Rick's hatchet? Yes, that could do the job. Tyreese's hammer? Sure. Thinning out the zombies by the fence by driving kitchen knives through their skulls? Doubtful, but not impossible. Driving a pitchfork through a zombie's forehead? Less probable. That said, it's used more as a hammering chisel mechanism, making it easier to get.
- Mauve Shirt: It's hard to care for some of the characters when you know that they will inevitably pick up the Idiot Ball and get themselves eaten or shot somewhere down the line.
- May-December Romance: Dale and Andrea. Surprisingly non-squicky.
- A definitely squicky one between the Governor and his zombified daughter/niece. This is pretty much one sided as he had to pull out her teeth in order to kiss her.
- The Mole: Martinez, at least until he tries to return to Woodbury and Rick kills him.
- Moral Dissonance: It's never explained why exactly Rick felt the need to do the most disgusting things he could think of to the cannibals before killing them.
- Rick and everyone else in the entire world has mental issues by this point and there are no official authorities. Sometimes they get impulses to do bad things so they do them. Same explanation for the rapists and the Governor's idea of entertainment.
- A deliberately invoked example happened when the group first arrived at Alexandria and Rick asked Glenn to help him steal their weapons back, essentially refusing to disarm themselves while inside the walls... which was a rule Rick himself had when the group was still set up at the prison.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Rick verbatim when he attacks Pete Anderson and pulls a gun on Douglas Monroe before figuring out how far over the line he has gone.
- Namedar: Averted, every group encountered has a different name for the zombies. From Biters to Ghouls to just plain Zombies.
- Nice Hat: Rick's sheriff's hat, which he gives to Carl; Dale's fishing hat.
- Nominal Importance: Averted constantly.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Rick to Thomas Richards.
- Off Model: Several times, Rick's non-hand is shown as a real hand post-amputation.
- Off with His Head!: Done to quite a few of the zombies. Also to Rachel and Susie Greene by Thomas and to Tyreese by the Governor.
- The Governor also does this to Martinez after he's already dead, in order to impress the Woodbury people with a subsequent Decapitation Presentation.
- The Governor actually does this a lot and even keeps a stack of fish tanks in his house that he fills with the heads of all of his victims, such as Scott Moon.
- Oh, Crap:
- Rick seeing the ALL DEAD INSIDE sign outside the 'safe' gated community.
- After months of quiet the inhabitants of the prison look up to see the Governor advancing towards them on a Bradley IFV screaming for his soldiers to Kill 'em All.
- Driving over a hill straight into a 'herd' of hundreds of zombies.
- Finding that 'herd' of hundreds of zombies just outside the walls of the community.
- One Steve Limit: Averted, due to Kirkman finding it unrealistic that various random groups of people wouldn't feature anyone with the same names.
- Our Zombies Are Different: The zombies are intentionally identical to the George Romero style, with the one difference being that they simply rot over time, as opposed to gaining more and more intelligence.
- Papa Wolf: Rick goes absolutely berserk on a pair of bandits when one of them tries to rape Carl. He tears one's throat out with his teeth, then chases down the last of the three and brutally stabs him to death while he begs for mercy.
- Pyrrhic Victory: Woodbury as a whole suffers this, but especially the Governor himself. After knocking down the fences and ordering his men to shoot the fleeing survivors the Governor renders the prison useless as a stronghold and gets himself shot by his own minion for ordering the death of a baby. The last we see of the surviving members of the Woodbury militia is them being forced inside the main building to get away from the incoming hordes of walkers.
- Playing Drunk: Glenn does this at the Alexandria party so that he could help Rick steal the group's guns back from storage.
- Plot Armor: Infamously absent for a comic series. Kirkman has even admitted that Rick, the series' protagonist, is in no way safe. Kirkman has said that the character who is least likely to die is Carl.
- Pretty much all of the original surviving characters have suffered at least one major injury or disfigurement at this point. Rick and Carl are the most noticeable with a missing hand and eye, but even Maggie Greene suffered permanent damage to her throat and vocal cords after her suicide attempt, its just hard to notice because the comic doesn't have any sound. (If not for the other characters commenting on it readers would have never found this out.) At this point, the only one who hasn't suffered any serious physical scar or injury is Sophia.
- Poisoned Weapons: An extremely nasty example. Right before the final battle of the All Out War Negan orders the saviors to coat their weapons in zombie guts, making even minor injuries inflicted with them lethal. This leads to the deaths of several of the Hilltop soldiers, including Nicolas.
- Punch Clock Villain: The Woodbury citizens are either this or My Country, Right or Wrong at the raid on the prison, they are visibly disturbed with the attack at the prison and Lily eventually turns against the Governor when it all goes too far.
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Negan has no qualms about beating people's heads in with a baseball bat but refuses to let one of his men rape his prisoner.
- Reality Ensues: As it turns out, dragging a violent and mentally unstable person around with you and allowing him to walk about freely is not a good idea. Patricia learns this the hard way when she takes a little too much pity on the extremely dangerous Thomas.
- Zombies rot over time rather than just walking around forever. It would seem that shambling corpses that are barely sentient and just mindlessly wonder through the wilderness trying to eat people don't stay in good condition for long.
- Remember When You Blew Up a Sun?: A variation. Tyreese's Crowning Moment of Awesome from the "clearing out the prison" arc is still talked about by survivors to people who didn't know him in Volume 12, long after his death.
- Retirony: Averted so far, but they love to set the table for this every time Glenn kisses his family goodbye for one last supply run (including an extended period of covers that showed him in near death situations that did not appear in the books).
- Surprisingly, when Glenn does die, he's with his family.
- Retool: While the story had changed direction many times before, the "A Larger World" and "Something to Fear" storylines really turn the whole concept of the series on its head, introducing a massive and totalitarian pyramid of human society and placing the protagonists squarely at the bottom.
- Room Full of Zombies: Happens when Rick and the crew find a seemingly safe gated community.
- Rousing Speech: More than one attempted, none really come off very well. The Governor in particular immediately gets shot in the head from behind and kicked into a zombie swarm.
- Scars Are Forever: Upheld constantly.
- Schizo Tech: Later in the series, and particularly after the time skip, survivors have pragmatically developed older technology to fulfill their needs. Alexandria develops a wind-powered flour mill while using solar panels in their houses, and the Hilltop uses a medieval-style blacksmiths to make swords and spears to supplement their guns. The coalition's mounted soldiers use swords, horses, modern body armor and flares for their duties. In one panel in issue 129 anti-tank defences and a horse-drawn cart even appear together.
- Second Love: Rick and Andrea, for each other.
- He Cleans Up Nicely: Carl after the time-skip looks rather grungey until he cleans up for a quasi-date with Sophia.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Though not always related to a war, most of the characters suffer from PTSD in on way or another.
- Shoot the Dog: Lots of characters. Frequently. Another reason why cast keeps on changing.
- In A Coma During The Apocalypse: Rick
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: The characters frequently struggle with exactly where they should be on this scale.'
- Slowly Slipping Into Evil: Rick gets distressingly more amoral with each passing issue as he suffers more and more.
- The Sneaky Guy: Glenn.
- Start of Darkness: The Governor gets this in the novel The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor.
- Straight Gay: Aaron and Eric.
- Tempting Fate: The characters are all surprised about how smooth their escape from Woodbury is going and comment on it. After they get over the wall, Dr. Stevens exclaims how relieved he is that things are going so well, only to be bitten by a zombie a few seconds later.
- In the first issue, one of the characters tells another, "Oh, bite me." Guess what happens a few pages later?
- Time Skip: Between Issue 126 and Issue 127, there is a two year time skip.
- Title Drop: By Rick following his recovery from his fight with Tyreese.
Rick: "WE ARE THE WALKING DEAD!"
- This Is Gonna Suck: Their reaction when The Governor arrives with a small army at the prison.
- Token Shipping: An interestingly realistic case, where Michonne seems to primarily attracted to black men.
- Took a Level in Badass: Pretty much required by the circumstances - either you become a badass or you're a liability. Eugene is a notable case, going from a portly wimp lying about being a scientist for protection to being spurred to action against the Saviors after Abraham gets killed.
- To the Pain: What Michonne does to the Governor, who captured, imprisoned and viciously tortured and raped her. Provides the page image.
- Too Dumb to Live: As with Genre Blind, the characters fall victim to common mistakes of the genre which usually just serves to reinforce them.
- At the beginning of the second volume, when the group finds a fenced off housing development, they don't see any zombies in the streets, and immediately decide it's their new home. While they do check a few of the houses before going to bed, no one sees the obvious method of just driving the RV into the street and laying on the horn to see if any guests show up for dinner. The fact that only one of them gets killed that evening is a freaking miracle.
- Patricia deciding to help Thomas escape, believing that he was Not Evil, Just Misunderstood, even though he decapitated two little girls. As a result, the survivors hate her.
- Hershel keeping a barn full of walkers on his property. The reason was that he thought the walkers might still be alive, and that their condition could somehow be cured.
- Tragic Keepsake: Andrea starts wearing Dale's hat after he dies.
- Trophy Room: The Governor keeps a particularly ghoulish version in one of the rooms of his house. Specifically, he cuts off the heads of the people he kills and throws them into fish tanks.
- Undead Child: At least three parents, Hershel, The Governor and Morgan, keep their children around after they turn. See What Happened To Mommy below.
- Underestimating Badassery: The cannibals make this mistake when they follow their usual tactic of scaring their victims before they attack them. Unfortunately these victims include a Handicapped Badass, a katana-wielding schizophrenic, and a crack markswoman.
- The bandits who tried to intimidate their way into the Washington DC gated community really didn't consider the possibility that the residents were far better armed and skilled than they were.
- Unfriendly Fire: Has happened twice so far:
- The first time was way back during the prison arc when Rick shoots Dexter in the head under the cover of a large zombie attack to prevent him from kicking the entire group out of the prison.
- The second time was much later during the war arc when Dwight massacres his own men so he can give their grenades to Rick's group as a show of good faith that he is truly on their side.
- Unspecified Apocalypse: A smaller example. We know that the dead walking again caused the end, but why it started happening is never really discussed. Word of God has even said that he has no plans to explore the reasons either.
- Verbal Tic: Axel's "you follow me?"
- Villain Decay: Happens very sudden between episode 80 and 90. The Undead themselves make a sudden turn to "manageable threat", in Rick's words. Turns out all you really need to beat a herd of them is about twenty people with melee weapons and some self-confidence.
- Villain Protagonist: Rick is acutely aware that he's becoming this, and doesn't like it one bit.
- Vomit Indiscretion Shot: A few in the first volume. You'd lose your lunch too if faced down with a shambling pile of rotting flesh and muscle.
- Weapon of Choice: Rick's hatchet, Tyreese's hammer, Andrea's hunting rifle and Michonne's katana.
- We Can Rebuild Him: Averted in most cases. Except for the Governor.
- We Just Need to Wait for Rescue: Shane insists on the group staying next to Atlanta so the military will be able to easily find them, even as winter begins to set in and food becomes scarce. This contributes to his Sanity Slippage as the others begin blaming him for keeping them there instead of trying to find a safer location.
- Otis likewise expects the military to be able to protect people, and was planning on leaving for Atlanta before learning how bad things were there.
- Wham Episode:
- Issue 48 may just be the whammiest episode of anything ever, essentially cutting almost all of the evolving plotlines dead in their tracks, and putting all of the rest on long-term hiatus, and killing off several major characters that the audience had come to take for granted would be the core cast in the long run.
- Issue 83, which has all of the citizens of Alexandria trapped in their houses after their wall is breached and the entire settlement is overrun with walkers. During Rick's planning of an escape Morgan dies from his infection and is put down by Michonne and while Rick, Jessie, Carl, and Ron try to make their way through the horde to safety Ron panics, getting both him and his mother eaten right in front of Rick, who severs her arm to save Carl. Finally, just when it looks like things can't get any worse a stray bullet fired by Douglas Monroe as he commits suicide by zombie hits Carl in the eye, which leaves a large hole in his head and causes heavy brain damage. The last scene has Rick standing on Dr. Cloyd's porch begging her to save his son's life. End of issue.
- Issue 100, and its killing of Glenn.
- What Happened To Mommy: Hershel, when we first meet him. Harboring his zombie son eventually results in the deaths of two more of his kids. And then...
- Morgan has taken this path as well.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: After their introduction in issue #1, it's a long time before we see Morgan and Duane again.
- What Year Is This?: None of the protagonists know what the exact date is after a year of events. The date is never mentioned by the residents of Woodbury, Christmas is approximated, and even the residents of the Alexandria Safe Zone have lost precise track of the date fourteen months after Z-Day. Digital watches did not survive the apocalypse.
- Who's Your Daddy?: Lori Grimes' pregnancy. Kirkman has confirmed that it was Shane.
- Zombie Apocalypse
- Zombie Infectee: Many characters across the series, notably Jim in Volume 1.
- As shown during the All Out War a zombie bite isn't needed for this to happen. Weapons coated in zombie remains will do the trick even if the wound they inflicted was minor.
- Zombie Gait: Naturally, since they're based on Romero's shamblers.