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Series: The Walking Dead
And where do you think you're going?
"You step outside, you risk your life. Take a drink of water, you risk your life... Every moment now, you don't have a choice. The only thing you can choose is what you're risking it for!"
Hershel Greene

The Walking Dead is a live action television series based on the comic of the same name. Like the comic, its story focuses on a group of survivors struggling to stay alive in a world overrun by undead humans. Rick Grimes, the leader of the group, awakens in the hospital from a coma to find everything has gone downhill. He sets out to find his family, and the rest of the show focuses on him and the rest of the characters as they adapt and relate to each other in a terrible new world.

The series premiered on October 31st, 2010 on AMC, and is produced by Frank Darabont, Glen Mazzara and Gale Anne Hurd. Comic creator Robert Kirkman is also heavily involved with the production, including being the writer of the first season's fourth episode. The show has finished its third season. On October 29th 2013 AMC confirmed that the series has been renewed for a fifth season.

The series has its own homepage. It includes three series of webisodes, the six part Torn Apart, the four part Cold Storage, and the three part The Oath along with other extra content, including online content for the Talking Dead talk show accompanying the series. A flash-based adventure game entitled Dead Reckoning is also available on the website, and shows Shane's initial encounters with the walkers when the outbreak begins.

The show's writers are knowingly taking (Creator Approved) liberties with its source material, so comic readers, don't expect to come into this knowing everything beforehand. Word of God says that the intention from the start has been to approach the series as an Alternate Continuity of its own, in which certain events play out differently- sometimes radically so- due to the Butterfly Effect ripples of the additions and subtractions of various characters and events major and minor.

Has its own dedicated Shout-Out page here. Now also has an in-progress recap page.

See also The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct, a first person shooter video game set in the TV series continuity.


This series contains the following tropes:

    open/close all folders 

    A 
  • Abandoned Hospital Awakening: Rick does this, in the first episode.
  • Aborted Arc:
    • The Vatos' story was originally intended to conclude in "What Lies Ahead", with Rick and the group finding out that the Vatos and nursing home patients were executed offscreen by an unknown party, and then left for the walkers. The whole sequence revealing this was deleted from the episode as aired, but is shown in the deleted scenes in the second season boxset.
    • Andrea and Dale were originally set to become lovers as it was in the comics. This changed when Dale's actor left the show, forcing Dale to be killed off in the antepenultimate episode of Season 2.
  • Absentee Actor:
    • A fair chunk of the male beta cast seems to have the day off in "18 Miles Out". Glenn, Dale, Daryl, T-Dog, and Hershel are all completely absent, the action at the farm focusing on the women and Rick and Shane dealing with the prisoner.
    • "Walk with Me" serves as an introduction to Woodbury and the Governor. As a result, Rick's entire prison survivor group is absent.
    • "Clear" features a grand total of four characters: Rick, Carl, Michonne, and Morgan. Well, five if you count the hitchhiker.
    • "Prey" is another episode with Rick's prison group absent, sans Rick himself. The episode's main plot is Andrea abandoning Woodbury and the Governor chasing her down, and Rick's lone appearance is completely wordless and is him trying to get a view through a sniper scope of the Governor and Andrea just outside of the Prison.
    • "This Sorrowful Life" does the opposite, focusing almost entirely on the prison group — the only exception being an appearance by the Governor and a few of his soldiers in the final scenes.
    • Similar to "Walk with Me", the Season 4 episodes "Live Bait" and "Dead Weight" don't feature anyone in the prison group (other than again wordless appearances by Rick, Carl, Michonne and Hershel in the latter), as they serve as The Governor's A Day in the Limelight episodes.
    • Every episode in the second half of Season 4 is missing a number of the main cast, with each focusing on one or two of the smaller groups of survivors following the fall of the prison. Rick's absence was done to emphasize how split up the group was.
  • Action Girl: Andrea. Maggie. Michonne in spades. Carol is becoming one.
    • By Season 4, pretty much every female character still alive has become this to varying extents, with even Beth, Tara (who initially seemed to be more of a Faux Action Girl) and Rosita (who was The Chick and very little else in her comic book incarnation) capable of holding their own against walkers without much trouble.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness
    • Maggie is already beautiful in the comics, but the series gave her height and bust-size upgrades by casting former model Lauren Cohan.
    • The Governor has a menacing appearance in the comics. He is given a more Cultured Badass look here.
      Michonne: There's a town called Woodbury led by a man who calls himself The Governor. Pretty Boy, Jim Jones type. I don't trust him.
  • Adaptational Badass: The series actually made the (non and) Action Survivors more combat proficient (e.g Glenn, Carol, Lori, Maggie) or/and the emotionally and psychologically fragile be more emotionally strong and assertive (e.g Carol, Maggie). Inverted with a few other characters, with Andrea being most noticeable.
    • Dear God, Morgan, what did you do?!
  • Adaptational Heroism: A number of Anti Heroic and morally gray characters in the comics are more humane in this incarnation.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Carol's husband Ed, Andrew from the prison, Allen, and most notably Shane are more villainous here compared to the comics.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The series only follows the comic in Broad Strokes so those who have read the comic don't assume the outcome of the series is a Foregone Conclusion, introducing new characters and scenes in addition to the ones that showed up in the comics.
  • Adapted Out:
    • Out of Hershel's family: his twin daughters, son Billy, eldest son Arnold, and eldest daughter Lacey.
    • At the prison: Dexter is replaced by Tomas, while Thomas Richards had been replaced as Knight of Cerebus by Dave before the prison arc even began. Tomas, however, has been confirmed to be his counterpart by Robert Kirkman.
    • At Woodbury: Bruce and Gabe, the Governor's Co-Dragons, have been replaced by Merle. Alice has been combined with Dr. Stevens.
    • Allen and Donna have only one son, Ben, with no sign of Billy.
    • Tyreese's daughter Julie and her boyfriend Chris are gone, replaced by Tyreese's Canon Foreigner sister, Sasha.
    • Behind the scenes issues with the production crew ultimately caused Dale's actor to leave the show — first by his own choice, then when he changed his mind mid to late production, a "we're too far into things now, you still have to go" choice was made by AMC. Dale was intended to fill the spot Hershel has been filling throughout Season 3, at least.
  • Adult Fear:
    • During "Bloodletting", T-Dog looks through a car for medicine, then notices a baby's car seat in the back seat — splattered with blood. It freaks him out enough to cause him to shake violently and flee the scene.
    • Similarly during "Too Far Gone" when Judith ends up missing, during the Prison Assault by The Governor. The same happens to Meghan after she had been bit by a Walker while her mother was too far away to save her.
    • Your little sister dies, your kid gets lost in the woods, your son starts getting used to the psychological horrors of conflict, your baby may be dead in the womb. The story has a lot of these.
  • Age Lift: Several characters are noticeably older than their comic counterparts.
  • The Alcoholic: Bob Stookey, or at least a recovering one. When he inspects a bottle in the supermarket during the Season 4 premiere, it's part of what leads to him being trapped and the walkers falling through the ceiling.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: In Season 2, Andrea jumps Shane after they survive the overrun subdivision and shortly before he loses it and tries to murder Rick. In Season 3, she falls for the Governor.
    • This is probably a big part of Darryl's appeal
  • All There in the Manual: The story of how Hannah became the "Bicycle Girl" walker is in the webisodes.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us:
  • Almighty Janitor:
    • After Glenn comes up with a strategy of military efficiency to get Rick's bag of guns off the swarmed street, Daryl asks him what he used to do for a living. He says he used to deliver pizza.
    • The leader of the Vatos used to be a custodian.
  • Alternate Universe: As per a comment by Kirkman on the Talking Dead talk show, this world never had a Night of the Living Dead, which pretty much defines modern culture's view of zombies. The only other zombies are of the voodoo variety, and their heyday as a fictional device was in the 1920s, before even Dale was born.
  • Anachronic Order: "Inmates" starts out showing Beth and Daryl following the tracks of another group of survivors from the prison, then jumps back a few hours and shows what happened to Tyreese's party as they left that trail.
  • An Axe to Grind:
    • Rick uses one to chop up a dead body as part of a plan to sneak past the walkers and escape Atlanta.
    • Daryl in "TS-19" uses one on the door to the CDC, on a walker in midrun, and almost on Jenner's head because it's not designed to withstand a rocket launcher. One of his axe kills actually has him using two axes to behead one walker in one swing.
    • In "Seed", Rick uses one to amputate Hershel's infected leg.
    • In "Say the Word", after Lori's death Rick kills a large number of walkers using a fire axe.
  • Annoying Arrows: Averted. Daryl's crossbow is used effectively against the undead. Later, Daryl accidentally impales himself on one of his own arrows and is shown significantly impaired by it.
  • Anticlimax: A sizable number of viewers found the Season 3 finale underwhelming. The battle for the prison, which was hyped for six episodes and was a pivotal moment in the comics, is over in five minutes with no casualties on either side. Marketing had heavy use of Tonight Someone Dies, but 24 of the 27 promised deaths were nameless redshirts. Many major plot threads are also left entirely unresolved, with the Governor on the run having lost his army.
  • Anyone Can Die: A truly unique example, in that the source material pushes anyone can die. The series compounds the Anyone Can Die right of Kirkman with an Anyone Can Die in the independent universe of the show. Even some survivors from the comic died early in the show. The running tally so far:
    • Season 1: Amy, Ed, Jim, Jacqui, and Jenner.
    • Season 2: Otis, Sophia, Dale, Randall, Shane, Jimmy, and Patricia.
    • Season 3: Big Tiny, Tomas, T-Dog, Andrew, Lori, Oscar, Donna, Axel, Duane, Ben, Merle, Milton, Allen, and Andrea.
    • Season 4: Zach, Clara, Patrick, Ryan, Karen, Dr Caleb, David Chalmers, Bill Jenkins, Shumpert, Martinez, Pete, Hershel, Meghan, Mitch, Alisha, The Governor, Lily, Mika, Lizzie, all the members of Joe's gang, Alex.
  • Apocalypse Anarchy: The show is an extended exploration of this trope, with the first two seasons basically breaking Rick down and forcing him to abandon civilized behavior.
  • Apocalyptic Logistics: While supply runs are a major facet of the show, well-maintained cars are driven around without any mention of fuel, or any show of characters getting it. While there are ample abandoned vehicles scattered about, that probably have fuel, the show is now a over a year into the apocalypse in an area with plenty of other people, making it questionable that gas would be that easy to get a hold of. Ammo is mentioned to be scarce, but firefights in the show don't seem to show otherwise.
  • The Apocalypse Brings Out the Best in People: Daryl. Where all the other characters start out civilized and are forced to give it up, he starts out as a violent, racist redneck whose main saving grace is that, unlike his brother Merle, he will generally try to help other people—if he's not angry enough to attack them himself. After being separated from Merle's influence and being forced to work together with the group to survive, he gradually becomes a nicer, more steadfast and emotionally stable person, though still rather gruff and awkward.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: There's discussion on whether the Chupacabra is real, and it's lampshaded that several months ago, they'd have been having the same conversation about walking, flesh-eating corpses.
  • Arc Words: "Those who arrive survive" for Season 4.
  • Armor Is Useless:
    • Averted, especially in regards to the riot gear wearing Walkers in the prison.
    • Averted again when Milton wraps his sleeves in duct tape. It actually does prevent a walkers bite from getting to him.
    • Averted yet again with duct tape by Glenn, while his arm was duct taped to the arm of a chair.
  • Artistic License - Biology: In 1.6, Dr. Jenner says that the zombie pathogen "invades the brain like meningitis." The problem is that meningitis doesn't invade the brain at all, but the meninges (the protective coverings of the brain and spinal cord).
  • Artistic License - Law: A brief example is mentioned in "Home". Axel, a former convict, says he was in prison for robbing a store with a fake gun. When the police came to his house, they found his brother's real gun and said he used that, making it an armed robbery. Except... using a fake gun would be armed robbery anyway. It only matters if people think it's real. We don't expect that he'd be a legal expert, but the charge would have been armed robbery either way.note 
  • As the Good Book Says:
    • Season 3's "I Ain't a Judas" finds Hershel and Merle comparing their respective missing limbs:
      Hershel: "And if your right hand offends you, cut it off, cast it from you. For it is profitable that one of your members should perish..."
      Merle: "...and not that thy whole body should be cast into Hell." Matthew 5:29 and 30. (beat) Woodbury had a damn fine library.
    • There's a scene in "This Sorrowful Life" where Hershel and his daughters are praying, and he reads a Bible passage that happens to be very relevant to their circumstances.
    • Someone (probably Hershel again) also leaves an open Bible with a very pointed verse highlighted for the Governor to find while he searches the prison.
  • Asian Drivers: Daryl makes a joke about this towards Glenn in the second season finale.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: The criminals in the opener. Their car is turned over, they're outnumbered by cops, and each cop has a weapon aimed at them, and they come out shooting anyway. Two are promptly gunned down. The third, who goes entirely unnoticed in the initial shootout, and could have gotten a decent head start since nobody had seen him yet, breaks from cover and starts shooting.
  • Attack! Attack... Retreat! Retreat!: The heavily-foreshadowed battle for the prison. The Governor attacks with a barely-trained group of civilians who've never fought humans before. The prison group abandons the place but leave a trail of clues that leads the attackers into a bottleneck, where they're ambushed. Without suffering a single fatality, the attackers panic and run, jumping in a vehicle and fleeing. The Governor is not amused.
  • Audience Sucker Punch: In the mid-season finale for Season 2, it's discovered that Sophia was turned into a walker. Also, when Dale is killed by the zombie that Carl accidentally released.
  • Auto Erotica: The episode "Secrets" includes a scene where Shane and Andrea get busy in the car they're in, just after they've escaped a housing development that was full of walkers.
  • Automaton Horses: Real horses don't even take well to living crowds without special training, yet the one Rick rides into a city crawling with walkers barely snorts in nervousness. When attacked, it just stands there whinnying hopelessly and gets eaten alive rather than kicking, bucking or fleeing. Justified since it was running until it got cornered. On the practical side, realistic bucking/kicking would need a very skilled stunt rider. It would also be dangerous for the extras playing walkers.

    B 
  • Back-to-Back Badasses:
    • Merle and Daryl Dixon in the opening scene of "The Suicide King".
    • Surprisingly, Daryl and Martinez (the Governor's dragon) in "Arrow On The Doorpost".
    • Maggie and Sasha in "Alone" when they were surrounded by walkers near an ice cream truck.
  • Bang Bang BANG:
    • Warning — firing a gun inside a tank may cause pain and temporary hearing loss.
    • Thankfully, Rick remembers this in "Clear" when trapped by walkers in a car with Carl and Michonne. He warns them to cover their ears before firing his gun.
  • Badass Boast:
    • After getting a wrench thrown at him by Shane, Rick says to him "If you want to kill me, you're gonna have to do better than a wrench."
    • His retort when Merle says that he won't shoot him, because he's a cop:
      "All I am anymore is a man looking for his wife and son. Anyone who gets in the way of that is going to lose."
    • Daryl to Andrea, after he gets mistaken for a walker due to his injuries and she shoots him:
      "You shoot me again, you best pray I'm dead."
    • "They're screwing with the wrong people."
  • Badass Crew: Applies to Rick's group from Season 3 onwards, as a result of the months spent on the road following the loss of the farm. Driven home when the Governor expresses his surprise that just ten people managed to take over the prison, as Merle had declared it uninhabitable.
  • Badass Longcoat: The Governor has one.
  • Bat Scare: A flock of birds bursts out of a bush, scaring Mika into running off.
  • Batter Up: Bats are occasionally used as weapons, with the second season's second episode having Maggie on a horse charge up and hit a walker upside the head that was threatening one of the group.
  • Beard of Sorrow/Beardness Protection Program: The Governor, after Woodbury falls apart.
  • Behind the Black: Time and again the characters will be surprised by walkers coming out of nowhere. That they would fail to perceive them, when they're usually in the forest with dry leaves all around (and the walkers have no stealth ability whatsoever), is kind of tough to swallow. Especially when you consider that Walkers are, essentially, moving hunks of rotting meat.
  • Berserk Button:
    • When Shane tells Rick that he thinks Rick can't keep his family safe, Rick and Shane start whaling on each other.
    • In "Judge, Jury, Executioner", Daryl shows Randall that he should have kept his mouth shut instead of telling Daryl about an incident with a man and his two teenage daughters.
    • The Marauders should have never threatened to rape Carl and Michonne. Rick literally rips Joe's throat out with his teeth and then guts the other man who was attempting to rape Carl. He stabs him over and over and over again.
  • Big Bad: Shane in Season 2, The Governor in Season 3 and the first half of season 4, and Joe for the second half of Season 4.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Played with. Rick, T-Dog, Daryl, and Glenn return to camp just in time to save the camp from walkers in "Guts". Then Rick and Shane have an argument as to whether the losses would've been greater or worse if the group had never left the camp in the first place.
    • Shane looks resigned to Rick abandoning him while he's stuck in the school bus in "18 Miles Out", until he looks over and sees Rick and Randall (who's driving the car) barreling into the lot at top speed to rescue him.
    • Andrea delivers one to Carol when the latter somehow manages to get separated from the group in "Beside The Dying Fire".
    • As Andrea is about to meet her fate at the hands of a walker after being separated from everyone, she's saved at the hands of a mysterious hooded figure. Fans of the comic will instantly identify the hooded figure as Michonne.
    • Carl, of all people, delivers one to Tyreese's group in "Made to Suffer".
    • In "Home", Rick looks to be walker chow as he runs out of ammo and is pinned to the prison's fence by two of them, when Daryl and Merle show up. At the same time, Glenn also returns (after bailing on his plan to go to Woodbury to kill The Governor) to rescue Hershel with Michonne's help.
    • In "Us", Glenn and Tara are surrounded by Walkers in a collapsed train tunnel, and Tara's leg is pinned. Tara is yelling at Glenn to leave her, and he refuses, making it seem like a desperate last stand. Cue Maggie, Sasha, Bob, Rosita, and Abraham showing up and leveling the Walkers with a hail of gunfire.
  • Big "NO!":
    • Merle gets a few in when he's stuck on the roof in "Tell It To The Frogs".
    • Daryl does it too upon reaching the roof and finding Merle's severed hand. It must run in the family.
    • Rick several times, after Andrea tries to prove her worth by shooting an incoming walker. Turns out it wasn't a walker, but a wounded Daryl. Thankfully, she only grazed him.
    • Rick does another one at the end of "Killer Within", when he realizes that Lori died giving birth.
      • Carol has one in the same episode when she sees T-Dog get bit by a walker.
    • Rick again in "Too Far Gone", when The Governor swings the katana at Hershel's neck.
  • Black Cloak: In "Beside The Dying Fire", the "hooded stranger" (Michonne) uses a variant of this during their entrance.
  • Black Comedy:
    • The prisoners using standard riot tactics against the Walkers in an attempt to put them down, with one of them repeatedly shiving a Walker in the gut and nothing happening while Daryl, Rick and T-Dog watch on in disbelief.
      Rick: All right, do it right this time; no more of that prison riot shit.
    • The scene between Daryl and Rick as they gut the Walker at the beginning of Season 2.
  • Black Dude Dies First:
    • Inverted in the first season, in which one of the black characters is the LAST member of the survivor party to die.
    • Then, subverted in the second season when during a horde of walkers marching through the crowded highway, T-Dog cuts his arm wide open and leaks blood everywhere, attracting the attention of the horde. It looks as if it's all over for him as a walker is about to get him, when all of a sudden, he's saved at the last minute by Daryl (of all people). He survives the whole season.
    • Discussed when T-Dog is feverish and suffering blood poisoning:
      T-Dog: How old are you? 70?
      Dale: 64.
      T-Dog: And I'm the one black guy. Realize how precarious that makes my situation?
      Dale: What the hell are you talking about?
      T-Dog: I'm talking about two Good Ol' Boy cowboy sheriffs and a redneck whose brother cut off his own hand because I dropped the key. Who in that scenario you think would be first to get lynched?
    • As of Season 3, however, this trope seems to be in full force along with Token Minority. The first member of Rick's group to die is T-dog, and not long after, Oscar joins the group. The first of the prisoners to die was also Big Tiny, though about half of them were black anyway. A few episodes later Oscar is the only protagonist to die during the attack on Woodbury, and during that same episode, Tyreese is introduced.
    • In Season 4 of "Too Far Gone", the first person to die in the Governor's army during the assault on the prison was a black man.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: Merle has the non-permanent variant to compensate for his missing right hand.
  • Bloody Horror: The Walking Dead has way too many instances of this to list all at once. But generally the bloody mess is a result of them fighting off Zombies.
  • Book Ends:
    • The first and last episodes of Season 1 both feature scenes of characters enjoying the now-rare luxury of a hot shower.
    • The "Sophia we're here" graffiti in the Season 2 premiere was featured again in the season finale but is now blurry.
    • Early in Season 2, Andrea is in the woods, trips and has to crawl away from an on-coming walker when Maggie shows up just in time to save her. At the end of the season the same scenario happens, but with Maggie replaced with Michonne.
    • In their first scene together in the Season 3 premiere, Michonne is featured tending to a sick Andrea. In their last scene together during the season finale, Michonne is featured tending a dying Andrea. Also, Andrea is wearing the exact same outfit in their first encounter.
    • Also prominent in Season 3. The first shot of the season is a close-up of a walker's pupil, which then slowly zooms out to reveal its entire face. Likewise, the first shot of the Season 3 finale is a close-up of The Governor's eye, which zooms out to show his face in an identical manner.
    • With The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct, in a way. The game shows Merle's first chronological appearance in the canon, where he is drunk and shooting people from a hidden position until Daryl comes and rescues him. The same week the game was released in real life, "This Sorrowful Life" aired, showing Merle's last chronological appearance. Where he is killed while drunk and shooting people from a hidden position until Daryl comes and puts zombie Merle down for good.
  • Boom, Headshot: With walkers, it's the only way to be sure.
    • This is Axel's fate during The Governor's first assault on the prison in Season 3.
    • The Governor's presumed fate at the end of "Too Far Gone".
    • Lizzie takes out Alisha and another member of the Governor's group this way in "Too Far Gone".
  • Bottle Episode: At least one per season from the second season onwards:
    • Season 2 has "18 Miles Out", which features only two locations and a handful of the main cast, and deals with Beth's suicide attempt and Rick and Shane fighting over what to do about Randall.
    • Season 3 has "Clear", which only features Rick, Carl, Michonne, and Morgan and takes place almost entirely at King's County.
    • Season 4 has several episodes that could qualify owing to its different format, but the biggest example is "Still", which concerns Daryl and Beth in their quest for liquor and features no other characters.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Averted for the most part over the course of the series but there are a few exceptions:
    • In "Guts", Merle fires a great many more rounds than his rifle could physically hold. However it's not unreasonable to assume Merle reloaded his rifle in between his scenes.
    • Plays a vital, if background, role in "Beside the Dying Fire", when Shane's stealing some of the ammunition for himself in "Judge, Jury and Executioner" leads to Andrea having not nearly enough for herself when she's on her own in the forest trying to evade an entire herd of walkers.
    • Also in "Beside The Dying Fire", Hershel is seen (and heard) unloading many more rounds from his shotgun than is physically possible. The first time he's seen firing into the walkers heading towards the house from the barn, he fires nine shots on-screen, and is heard immediately afterward firing at least six additional shots without pausing to reload as Lori walks out and asks Carol where Carl is. Later on, when the action cuts back to him after most of the cars have left, he fires ten shots in succession as he retreats backwards.
  • Bound and Gagged:
    • Randall in "18 Miles Out".
    • Andrea at the end of "Prey".
  • Bread and Circuses: In "Say the Word", Merle and Martinez engage in a mock gladiator fight, staged by the Governor for the Woodbury residents. They do so while surrounded by chained walkers.
  • Break the Cutie: A frequent point with Carl, who is 12 but living in the apocalypse; in Season 2, Rick even bluntly tells him there's no more time for kid stuff, and that his parents will inevitably die. Season 3 keeps the hits coming. Not only does his mother die in front of him, but he has to put a bullet in her corpse and then watches his father collapse in distress. In Season 4, he thinks his baby sister is dead, almost has to shoot his father when he thinks he has turned, and is almost raped by a member of Joe's group.
    • Rick also counts. Idealistic and clean-cut in the first season, he's hard, bitter, and kind of greasy by the third. He tries to return to a simpler way of life in Season 4, inspired by Hershel, but the season finale shows how it was all in vain.
  • Break the Haughty:
    • Season 3 has Rick sobbing when he discovers Lori died in childbirth.
    • Season 3 also has The Governor. After Michonne breaks into Woodbury, she finds his zombified daughter and kills her, despite him tearfully pleading not to. When he tries to kill her in revenge, he gets stabbed in the eye and is almost killed. Shortly after the fight ends, he crawls over to his daughter's body and begins to sob as he cradles it.
    • Season 4 later takes it one step further with The Governor. After the failed assault on the prison in Season 3, the Big Bad (The Governor) is abandoned by his men. Left behind by others in the following month as he more or less shuts down following the failure, he's eventually taken in by a family that, going by the Darwinist mentality shown in Season 3, would previously have been considered "weak".
  • Breather Episode: "Clear" for Season 3, which takes a break from all of the Woodbury and prison drama and focuses on Rick, Carl, and Michonne performing a simple supply run.
    • "Still" is by far the quietest episode of Season 4, focusing on character development between Beth and Daryl.
  • Brick Joke: In "Clear", the episode starts with them passing up a man with a heavy backpack, waving for them to stop. He shows up again just a few minutes later, just as they are leaving a spot where they got stuck in the mud. At the end of the episode they pass the place again and find a smear of red where the man was presumably eaten by walkers. The car stops, they pick up the backpack, and drive on.
  • Bulletproof Human Shield:
    • In "Home", Carol uses Axel's body this way after he is killed by the Governor; Played Straight as it blocks multiple rounds from an automatic rifle without her being hit. Although they were shot in the head, and may have been wearing a bulletproof vest, since they were in one of the former guards' uniforms, but this still probably wouldn't stop all of them.
    • In "Too Far Gone", Daryl uses a zombie he shot to provide cover from weapons fire from the Governor's forces attacking the prison as he ran from one shielded area to another.
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • Two characters who had disappeared from the storyline by the end of the first season, Merle and Morgan, return in the third.
    • Carol in "Inmates".
  • Bus Crash:
    • Both Sophia and Duane are absent from the series for quite a while, only to end up (un)dead the next time we see or hear of them.
    • Shumpert was Mercy Killed by Martinez in the events between the Season 3 finale and Season 4.
    • Lily is last seen in "Too Far Gone" putting down the Governor. We find out in "Inmates" that her sister, Tara, witnessed her get overrun by the horde and killed.
    • Pretty much a literal one with the bus full of survivors that escaped from the prison in "Too Far Gone". We find out exactly what happens to them in "Inmates"; it isn't pretty.

    C 
  • Call Back:
    • In "Guts", Merle asks Rick who he is, he answers "I'm Officer Friendly." In Season 3's "This Sorrowful Life", there is a Played With example of What the Hell, Hero? where Merle questions Rick's willingness to hand Michonne over to The Governor by asking "You're willing to do all that for a shot? You're cold as ice, Officer Friendly."
    • In "Nebraska" and "Judge, Jury, Executioner", Daryl is shown making himself an arrow to replace the shafts he's lost.
    • In "18 Miles Out", Rick hides from a small swarm of walkers by covering himself with a dead walker, similar to how Daryl and T-Dog hid from the large swarm in the Season 2 premiere.
    • In "Better Angels", Andrea and Glenn are attempting to fix the group's RV, and Andrea offers Glenn a screwdriver. The shot lingers on the tool a second before Glenn accepts it. Referencing Andrea's encounter with a walker in "What Lies Ahead" where she kills a walker by stabbing it in the eye with a screwdriver, as well as a reference to the time when Dale taught Glenn how to fix the radiator hose, showing that Glenn learned a thing or two from Dale.
    • In "Home", during an argument Merle has with Daryl, the former asks the latter if he's friends with "the Chinaman". Daryl corrects him on Glenn being Korean, to which Merle replies "Whatever."... just how Daryl called Glenn a "Chinaman" himself in one of the first episodes and replied "Whatever" upon Glenn correcting him.
    • Just before The Governor shoots Merle in "This Sorrowful Life", Merle says, "I ain't begging you!", the same thing he says during his opening speech in "Tell It To The Frogs".
    • When Andrea and Rick first meet in "Guts", she points a gun at him, but he points out that she left the safety on. This is first called back to in "Wildfire" when Rick is warning Andrea that Amy is going to turn and that she should let them dispose of her body and she again points a gun at him, replying "I know how the safety works." That line gets repeated verbatim (but with a very different tone) in "Welcome to the Tombs" when Rick gives Andrea a gun so she can end her own life before she turns.
  • In Season 4, episode 2, Carol (and then Mika) tells Lizzie "look at the flowers" while their dad is dying. This is repeated in "The Grove." (See Wham Shot below).
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Carl gives Rick a rather thorough one in "Welcome to the Tombs". He does so again in "After", but Rick is in a coma and doesn't hear it.
  • The Cameo:
    • Jon Bernthal as Shane in "Made to Suffer". This is caused by Rick having a hallucination, and imagining that one of the Woodbury attackers is the aforementioned Shane.
    • Lori likewise shows up as a hallucination several times in the third season.
    • Retired Pittsburgh Steelers' wide receiver Hines Ward has a blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearance as a walker in Season 3's "The Suicide King". He's put down by Maggie.
    • The show's head special F/X guru, Greg Nicotero, has made several appearances as a walker.
    • Often, the crew will put in walkers that are homages to other zombie films. Example: Jack from An American Werewolf in London appears in "After".
  • Camera Abuse: Blood and/or brains are often splattered onto the camera, usually resulting from a gunshot, blunt object, or axe to the head.
  • Canon Foreigner: Quite a few — Merle, Daryl, Ed, the Morales family, Jacqui, Jenner, the Vatos...
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin' : Shane. Every time he tries to kill Rick, something gets in the way. First time it was his conscience, second time it was a horde of walkers. And the third time Rick just goes ahead and stabs him in the stomach.
  • Casting Gag: A twofer with Chad Coleman as Tyreese. Coleman's two most notable roles previously were as Coach in Left 4 Dead 2, a video game about the Zombie Apocalypse, and as "Cutty" Wise, a ex-convict on The Wire who is introduced in prison. And then promptly goes back into a prison in his first appearance here.
  • Casual Danger Dialog: In his first appearance in "Walk With Me", Merle reintroduces himself to Andrea and Michonne as a walker comes up behind him, then casually turns around and stabs it in the head with his bayonet before asking Andrea for a hug.
  • The Cavalry:
    • When Andrea is ambushed by a walker in the forest, Maggie suddenly comes riding in on a horse and armed with a bat.
    • Happens multiple times in "Beside The Dying Fire". Andrea arrives to rescue Carol, Rick shows up at the last second to save Hershel from a walker bearing down on him when he paused to reload, and Andrea is saved by Michonne after she runs out of ammo and gets pinned to the ground by a walker.
  • Cerebus Retcon: In "Home", it is revealed that Merle and Daryl initially joined the Atlanta survivors with the intention of robbing them.
  • Character Development: A major point in the show is showing how normal people are twisted by their experience, breaking or strengthening. One reviewer summed up the changes with: "if Shane was the example of how the zombie apocalypse can change a man for the worse, Daryl has become an example of how it can also change a man for the better."
  • Characters Dropping Like Flies: Only five characters from the first season are still definitely alive by Season 4, with everyone else either confirmed dead or unknown. Characters both major and less prominent die each season. Heck, fans breath a sigh of relief when an episode ends without someone you like dying.
  • Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: Averted. Jenner says a French research facility was the last still operational when he lost contact, working to find a cure until the end.
  • Chekhov's Gun, often literally:
    • The grenade Rick picks up in the first season episode "Guts" gets used in "TS-19" to blast open an escape route.
    • In "Guts", distant thunder can be heard sporadically right from the first scene. This foreshadows the rain shower that washes away the zombie organ sludge from Rick and Glenn's clothes, thus compromising their camouflage.
    • Rick's sheriff uniform, which he consistently wears rather than more practical or comfortable gear, ultimately defuses the situation with the Vatos when one of the elderly they're protecting recognizes him as a police officer and asks for his help.
    • The damaged radiator hose on Dale's RV is mentioned several times in passing throughout the first season, and conks out once in "Wildfire" and again in the second season opener "What Lies Ahead".
    • Another was loaded and set on the mantelpiece when Dr. Jenner whispered in Rick's ear. This was eventually revealed in "Beside The Dying Fire", where Rick reveals what Jenner had told him — Everyone is infected, and unless they die by headshot, they will return as walkers. Which explains why Rick shot Tony in the head at the end of "Nebraska" after killing him.
    • In "18 Miles Out". After explicitly noting that the Mert county deputies were infected without bites, we see others become zombies that we know died without being bitten. This is later explained in "Beside The Dying Fire".
    • Daryl's gun, which Carl steals from his bike in "Judge, Jury, Executioner", which Carl later uses to put a bullet in the zombified Shane's head.
    • Carol pulls Glenn aside while Lori and Beth look after Hershel because she needs some help getting a walker so she can practice a C-section, because she knows Lori's had trouble in the past. Sure enough, Lori does have trouble.
    • After they invade the prison, Rick's group finds flash bangs and tear gas in the armory. They mention not knowing how useful they'd be against walkers, but they'll take them, just in case.
    • The prison alarm strategy used in "Killer Within" becomes important in the season finale.
    • The bottle of liquor that Bob Stookey stole in "Indifference" came in handy in "Inmates" for Glenn when he uses the liquor to make a Molotov cocktail bomb.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • The walker Carl inadvertently frees from being stuck in the mud at the riverbank in "Judge, Jury, Executioner" shows up at the end of the episode and kills Dale.
    • In "Sick", Andrew flees when Rick kills Tomas, and Rick locks him outside with walkers as he attempted to attack him. During "Killer Within", it's revealed he turned on the alarms to attract the walkers as revenge.
    • In the first episode, Morgan is unable to kill his reanimated wife. In "Clear", Morgan reveals that she ultimately killed Duane when Duane couldn't shoot her, either.
    • Karen in Season 3.
    • Like her comic counterpart, Lilly is the one to kill The Governor.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Subverted in the third season. In "Sick", Carol uses a female corpse to teach herself how to perform a emergency C-section, in the event that Lori goes into labor and Hershel isn't around to help. Two episodes later, in "Killer Within", this is flipped on its head when Maggie (not Carol) is forced to perform a C-section on Lori to remove her unborn child just before she dies. Maggie even lampshades that Carol should be doing the operation, not her.
  • Christianity is Catholic: In the second season premiere, the gang stumble across a small country church, which is explicitly identified as being "Baptist" on its signage. Inside on the altar is a very large crucifix. Baptists are one of the least likely Protestant denominations to have something so "Roman" in their church.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Glenn and Rick. Shane even calls them out on it.
  • Clean Cut: Most sharp blades, since the walkers are Made of Plasticine. Michonne's katana is particularly notable, even pulling off a classic Diagonal Cut at one point.
  • Cliff Hanger: The end of Season 4, which ends with most of the protagonists being captured by the Terminus residents.
  • Close-Call Haircut: Andrea mistakes Daryl for a walker and shoots him. Fortunately, she only wings him.
  • Closest Thing We Got
    Lori: You're a doctor, right?
    Hershel: Yes, ma'am. Of course. A vet.
    Lori: A veteran? A combat medic.
    Hershel: A veterinarian.
  • Combat Medic:
    • Hershel certainly qualifies, being both a doctor and helping clear out the undead whenever necessary.
    • Carol is working on becoming this, getting directly involved in killing walkers and learning first aid from Hershel to make herself more useful to the group.
    • Bob is, literally, this, his former occupation before the apocalypse being as a medic in the US Army.
  • Comforting the Widow:
    • In the time Rick was in the hospital, Shane and Lori were beginning to form this kind of relationship.
    • And again with Daryl and Carol.
  • Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like:
    • Andrea, to Dale. Justified, in that Andrea only left the CDC because Dale refused to leave without her.
    • Michonne does this in "Walk with Me" after she and Andrea are rescued by the Governor's men. In the few times she directly talks to the Governor or Andrea, she continually asks about getting their confiscated weapons back, and says that she doesn't trust anyone. She also refuses to thank the Governor, and eyes all of his guards and the townspeople suspiciously. She treats Rick and the group similarly when they rescue her outside the prison walls, but she does thank Hershel for sewing up her gunshot wound.
  • Composite Character: Practically, if a character suffers from Death by Adaptation, his or her characterization(s) will often be absorbed or distributed to surviving characters and fuse it with their own.
    • Dale and Hershel in Season 3. Because of the former's early death, his characterization starting the prison arc was fused with the latter.
    • In Season 3, Andrea's story arc is more closely tied with Alice from the comics.
    • The Governor seems to be a combination of Philip and Brian Blake as he is the Governor and the real father of Penny.
    • Tomas is basically a Race Lifted Thomas Richards with Dexter's role as the most antagonistic prisoner, while at the same time donning The Governor's comicbook appearance.
    • Lilly Chambler in Ceason 4 is a combination of Lilly Caul and April Chalmers from the comic/novel.
  • Conspicuous CGI: Often averted due to a huge budget and a skilled (not to mention disturbingly enthusiastic) traditional special effects crew making an art form of creating things like realistic edible entrails. Word of God says that whenever possible, what you see is what you get, but there are still occasional slips and scenes that couldn't be done otherwise.
    • The wrench that Shane hurled at Rick in "18 Miles Out".
    • The CGI (and jawless, and armless) walkers that Michonne/the "hooded figure" appears with in "Beside The Dying Fire". The scene looks almost surrealistic compared to the rest of the episode.
    • The zombie that Glenn nearly decapitates in the pharmacy.
    • The flames when the walkers in the barn are set on fire by Carl and Rick.
    • The walker whose head is split in two in the first few minutes of Episode 5 from Season 3.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The "fish fry attack" from the first season episode "Vatos" continues to be a sticking point between Shane and Rick (with both of them arguing over whether or not Rick was justified leading a mission to rescue Merle and retrieve the guns) long into the second season. "Pretty Much Dead Already" namechecks the event again, with Shane specifically mentioning two of the casualties of the attack, Amy and Jim.
    • Shane's pre-apocalypse flashback in the first season episode "TS-19" gets referenced again when he tries to make amends with Rick in "18 Miles Out".
    • The silencer on Carl's gun in Season 3 is made from an aluminum baseball bat. It's actually the same bat the group has had since the start of the series, most visible when Rick first meets the Atlanta survivors in "Guts" and carried by T-Dog at the end of "Chupacabra".
    • During Merle's first conversation with Andrea and Michonne in the Woodbury infirmary in "Walk with Me", he asks for a show of hands from the group, much like his initial appearance in "Guts". The same scene also has Andrea list off all the main and supporting characters in Rick's group (sans Shane) who died in the series to date.
    • The posthumous reveal in "Say the Word" that T-Dog drove a church van around picking up the elderly during the initial stages of the outbreak seems to come out of left field, yet it is a nod to the beige van he drove in "Wildfire" and "TS-19", and later siphoned the gas out of to put into the RV in "What Lies Ahead".
    • When Daryl asks Carl about names for the baby in "Say the Word", Carl mentions all of the dead female character's names as possible choices.
    • When Glenn escapes from the walker-overrun ruins of the prison in "Inmates", he's wearing an orange backpack that looks suspiciously like the one Rick, Michonne, and Carl scooped off the road near Backpack Guy's remains in "Clear".
    • In "A", Rick realizes something is off with Terminus when he spots residents there wearing the riot gear from the prison, Daryl's poncho, Hershel's watch, and the aforementioned orange backpack. These items were all grabbed by Glenn in "Inmates", and seen or mentioned both in earlier episodes, and flashbacks in the same episode.
  • Continuity Snarl: The Cold Storage webisodes. Rick's hometown is retconned as Cynthiana, Kentucky, (as it is in the books), when it was King's County, Georgia, in the pilot. It's then discovered that Rick had a storage locker in Atlanta.
  • Contrived Coincidence: In "Beside The Dying Fire". A group of walkers, attracted by the same helicopter that Rick saw in Atlanta in "Days Gone Bye" (and apparently happening at the same time, no less) makes its way towards the direction of the helicopter, and eventually masses more and more walkers who fall in step with the original group. The horde of walkers eventually smashes through a strong wooden fence and onto the Greene farm.
  • Conveniently-Placed Sharp Thing: Invoked when Milton drops a tray of scary-looking sharp things the Governor happened to have laid out in the holding cell, and deliberately leaves a pair of pliers lying out of sight when he clears up the others.
  • Cool Car: The car that Rick and Glenn use to draw the walkers away with the car alarm is a brand new Dodge Challenger. Glenn is understandably happy over being able to drive out of Atlanta with nothing but open road in front of him and no police to pull him over.
  • Cool Hat:
    • Rick's police hat. Glenn even jokes that Rick risked going back into Atlanta not to recover his lost guns but the hat instead. Later he gives it to Carl.
    • Dale's hat is either thought of as this or thought to look goofy by the characters themselves.
  • Cool Old Guy: Dale, and after "Triggerfinger", Hershel.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: The farmer and his wife's suicide note, in the series premiere, is written on the wall in blood.
    • In "Alone", Maggie uses walker blood to leave messages for Glenn.
  • CPR (Clean, Pretty, Reliable):
    • Resorted to in the "Torn Apart" webseries. There's no reason the person should be attempting this, and it doesn't end well.
    • Used by Lori when Hershel stopped breathing, with a Jump Scare.
  • Crapsack World: Par the course for any Zombie Apocalypse tale.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Morgan's house in Season 3. He even has a knife duct taped to the bed, just in case. Hershel gets in on the act, too, strapping a gun to his stump. Would you frisk a one legged man? Would you feel up his stump?
  • Create Your Own Villain:
    • Rick handcuffs Merle on a roof and leaves him there alone, unwittingly forcing him to cut his own hand off to escape from walkers. He returns much later, with a Blade Below the Shoulder and a serious grudge.
    • Happens to The Governor when Michonne kills his zombie daughter and stabs him in the eye with a piece of glass. Granted he was a ruthless, murderous autocrat even before then, but the resulting combination of The Gloves Come Off and It's Personal turns him into a dangerous enemy bent on killing Michonne and subjugating anyone who tries to harbour her.
    • Joe and his group were ruthless before encountering our protagonists, but Rick killing a member of their group in "Claimed" out of self-defense didn't help matters, and leads to a brutal confrontation in "A".
  • Creepy Child:
    • The zombified little girl that Rick shoots in the pilot. And he does the same to Sophia in the second season.
    • And in Season 3, there's Penny, the Governor's daughter.
    • Lizzie. Dear lord, Lizzie.
  • Critical Staffing Shortage:
    • Dr. Jenner is the only one left of the hundreds of doctors that once staffed the CDC.
    • Later on the cast settles for a time in a prison that probably had a couple hundred inmates and guards. At their peak of Red Shirts there are maybe three dozen. This is a real problem in the fourth season when there just aren't enough able-bodied people around to do everything.
  • Cute Little Fangs: Accidentally revealed if you're paying attention to teeth in "Vatos" while Amy is in the boat.
  • Cute Monster Girl:
    • Sophia.
    • Morgan's zombified wife, who looks fairly normal except for rings around her eyes and the expression on her face. She is one of the more recent victims, and hasn't decayed as much as the others.
    • In the Torn Apart webseries, the female walker who Judy mistook for unconscious or in distress. Judy gets part of her face ripped off for her troubles.
  • Cuteness Proximity: Few can go up against baby Judith without fawning over her, but considering the circumstances, can you blame them?

    D 
  • A Day in the Limelight: Has a couple each season starting with Season 2.
    • Season 2: "Chupacabra" (Daryl), "18 Miles Out" (Beth).
    • Season 3: "Walk with Me" (Woodbury as a whole), "Home" (The Dixon brothers), "Prey" (Andrea).
    • Season 4: "Indifference" (Carol), "Internment" (Hershel), "Live Bait"/"Dead Weight" (The Governor), "After" (Carl ad Michonne), "Still" (Daryl and Beth), "The Grove" (Lizzie and Mika).
  • Daylight Horror: Frequently—the vast majority of encounters with Walkers past the first season happen during the daytime, mostly because the characters are at least Genre Savvy enough to bed down and stay inside during the night.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Carl suggests this when his sister is born... and then goes into a Long List of all the options they have to choose from.
  • Dead Guy on Display: The Woodbury militia has a walker strung up on a tree on the road leading to the town gate.
  • Deadly Training Area: In "Triggerfinger", Shane takes Andrea on a trip to an infested housing development while teaching her how to fire a handgun, and forces her to fend for herself when the pair come upon a large group of walkers.
  • Death by Adaptation:
    • Otis, who is killed while the group is staying at Hershel's farm, while in the comic he is killed near the end of the prison arc.
    • Otis's wife, Patricia was killed at the end of Season 2, while in the comic she was killed by The Governor.
    • Sophia, who (compared to her continuing presence in the comic) is killed after the group finds her in the barn, having been turned into a walker.
    • Dale, as of "Judge, Jury, Executioner". In the source material, he survived all the way past the prison arc (which is the plot of the third season) until the Fear The Hunters arc.
    • Lori, as of "Killer Within". In the source material, she is killed at the end of the prison arc along with her infant daughter. In the series, she dies in childbirth and never gets to see her newborn child.
    • Ben, as of "The Sorrowful Life". In the source material, he was executed by Carl during the Cannibals arc. In the series, he was accidentally killed by Merle during his Dying Moment of Awesome attack on Woodbury.
    • Andrea, at the end of Season 3. Similar to Sophia, she's still alive and well in the comics.
    • Lily, as of "Inmates". In the source material, her two counterparts are either left alive and well or had her fate was left ambiguous as she takes shelter in the prison after killing the Governor to avoid the incoming herd of Walkers. In the series, she is revealed to have been devoured by walkers after killing him.
  • Death by Childbirth: Lori dies giving birth to her child.
  • Death Course: Rick's hometown is turned into this by Morgan.
  • A Death in the Limelight: Has a couple each season.
    • Season 1: Amy in "Vatos", Jenner and Jacqui in "TS-19".
    • Season 2: Dale in "Judge, Jury and Executioner", Shane and Randall in "Better Angels".
    • Season 3: T-Dog and Lori in "Killer Within", Axel in "Home", Merle in "The Sorrowful Life", Andrea and Milton in "Welcome to the Tombs".
    • Season 4: Karen in "Infected", Martinez in "Dead Weight", The Governor in the last three episodes of Season 4's first half, Lizzie and Mika in "The Grove".
  • Decomposite Character: Practically, if a character suffers from Death by Adaptation, his or her characterization(s) will likely be absorbed or distributed with a surviving character(s).
    • Due to being introduced much later in this series, Tyreese's characterizations for the first two seasons were distributed to T-Dog (his Captain Ersatz complete with his backstory), Shane (for being The Lancer and the Love Triangle-gone bad story line) and Daryl (for his relationship with Carol and later The Lancer). It's also worth noting that his death in the comics is given to Hershel in the show.
    • Despite appearing, Dr. Steven's character arc from the comics was given to Milton in the show.
    • Despite appearing, Allen and his son Ben's character arcs from the comics were respectively given to characters Ryan Samuels and his daughter Lizzie.
  • Deep South: The show takes place in Georgia, thus many characters have southern accents.
  • Defiant to the End: Merle's last words to The Governor:
  • Despair Event Horizon:
    • Jenner. Jacqui.
    • Andrea, before Dale guilt trips her out of it.
    • Hershel and Beth, after the massacre of all the zombies in the barn. Though they do both pull out of it.
    • Rick, after Lori's death.
    • Morgan, after Duane is killed and turned by his zombified mother, forcing Morgan to kill them both.
  • Determinator:
    • Merle may be an ass, but one has to admire his stubborn refusal to die. He cut his own hand off because the saw was apparently too blunt for the cuffs. He then took out at least two walkers singlehandedly, then cauterized his stump, and managed to reach—and drive away in—a vehicle.
    • Daryl too. He's so determined to find Sophia, that when he falls down a small cliff and gets impaled on one of his own bolts, he manages to climb out and walk back to the farm, killing two walkers on the way. Must run in the family, along with 'Big No's.
    • Andrea as well, as of "Beside The Dying Fire". On her own against a horde of walkers, she runs and fights her way through the forest for the better part of twelve hours. She only gets overwhelmed when she loses her knife.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: Averted. We get one scene of expository dialogue, an action sequence, an Impairment Shot in the hospital, and then Zombies.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: On every episode. Things get worse as the series progresses, and when something good happens, it doesn't last.
  • Dirty Business: "Save The Last One" — Shane and Otis are injured and trying to escape a mob, each with one bullet left. Shane shoots Otis to give the mob something to eat so he can escape with the medical equipment for the injured Carl.
  • Disaster Democracy: Rick is never elected, but essentially trusted as the leader of the group because of his former position and natural abilities. This trope is darkly invoked at the end of Season 2 though, when Rick makes the ultimatum that if anyone doesn't have confidence in his ability to lead the group, they should just go their own way. Essentially, he forces everyone to vote with their feet, and they vote to stick with him... mostly out of fear of everything else. In the second half of the third season, Rick ends the Ricktatorship, due to no longer fully trusting his own judgement.
    • In the first half of Season 4, Rick has given up leadership entirely and the prison community is governed by a council comprised of Hershel, Daryl, Glenn, Carol, and Sasha. This very quickly falls apart as a result of the flu epidemic, as Glenn and Sasha both become dangerously ill, Hershel is needed to help maintain the quarantine and treat the sick, Daryl leaves for a days-long supply run to look for medicine, and Carol is exiled by Rick after murdering infecting survivors in a desperate attempt to stop the disease from spreading.
    • Merle tried to do this with the Atlanta survivors in the first season. He calls for an impromptu voting session for a change of leadership. The only reason anyone votes for him is because he just gave T-Dog a savage beating, is pointing a gun at them, and scares them. Rick ends his reign pretty quickly.
  • Dog Food Diet: Subverted in "Seed". In the opening sequence, Carl finds two cans of dog food in a house and immediately opens one to give to the group. Rick picks up the can before anyone has the chance to eat it, and throws it away without a word.
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: Carl finds a walker with its feet stuck in the mud by a riverbank, and decides to foolishly stay, throwing rocks at it, then coming in close to shoot it... At which point it manages to wrench one of its legs free, knocking the gun from his hand and nearly catches him before he can get away. Later it follows him back to the farm and kills Dale.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Two instances within the group, both subverted to an extent and both involving Sophia's death. Everyone avoids Carol afterwards and nobody knows what to say to her. Carol tells Lori she doesn't appreciate the pitiful looks everyone's been giving her and pity wasn't what she needed to begin with. On the other hand, Daryl doesn't know how to handle his failure to find Sophia and Carol tries to stop him from his self-induced reclusion by telling him the group needs him. Daryl responds by angrily telling her that Sophia wasn't his problem, and that Carol should stop trying to take care of him. Carol, aware that this is Daryl's way of handling what happened, stands there and allows him to take as long as he needs to vent his anger and frustration.
  • The Dragon:
    • Merle becomes this to the Governor in Season 3. At least until the Governor throws him under a bus for failure.
    • Martinez takes over the role in the latter half of the season.
  • Dramatic Irony: Many instances in Season 2 becomes this in Season 3.
    • Hershel suggesting Rick to amputate Randall's leg. In the Season 3 premiere, Rick was forced to amputate Hershel's leg.
    • Maggie became angry at Lori for almost getting her killed to get the latter's "abortion pills" (actually Plan B, which can prevent pregnancy but will not terminate an existing pregnancy). In Season 3, Maggie was forced to perform C-section to Lori despite the possibility of Lori dying from it. She did die.
  • Driven to Suicide: Obviously, given the nature of the series, the characters have frequently come across the remains of survivors who resorted to this.
    • The farmer in the first episode who wrote "GOD FORGIVE US" in blood appears to have killed himself.
    • Jenner says that the majority of the CDC staff chose this rather than fall to The Virus; while Jenner himself thought that "tomorrow I'll blow my brains out." Later on, Jacqui stays behind with Jenner to die in the CDC building. Andrea wanted to stay, but was forced out of it at the last minute, and later makes it clear that she resents not being allowed to die.
    • Daryl and Andrea found a bite victim who hanged himself in the second season.
    • Played With late in the second season. Beth becomes pessimistic and asks Maggie and Lori why she should live in a world where there's no hope and everyone's going to die, anyway. Andrea winds up letting her choose for herself, and Beth can't bring herself to go all the way, therefore proving she wants to live.
    • Andrea made a Heroic Sacrifice at the end of Season 3.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Lori actually drives distracted, which almost becomes a fatal flaw when she runs into something.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Axel is abruptly shot in the head by The Governor. Hardly anyone in Rick's group even acknowledged his death afterwards.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: After the group's raid on his barn, Hershel resorts to drinking.
  • Duct Tape for Everything:
    • Members of the Governor's group are shown wrapping their arms in duct tape to guard against bites. It actually works.
    • To fix a hole in the roof of the caravan Brian is seen tearing off a piece of duck-tape. He doesn't get around to using it though.
    • Hershel gets crutches with additional padding duct-taped on when he loses his leg.
  • Due to the Dead: Surprisingly, towards one of the walkers in the second episode. Rick is about to dismember it with an axe before he stops himself, checks the wallet, and gives an impromptu eulogy about how once, it was just like them. He concludes by saying if the plan works, he's going to tell his wife and kid that he survived because of the walker. Then Glenn makes a joke about him being an organ donor, and they start chopping up its body.
  • Dying Alone: The reason Rick decides to rescue Merle is because as much of a jerkass he is, nobody deserves this fate. As time progresses, though, he becomes less concerned about it outside of those he considers "his" group.

    E 
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: "Guts" (the second episode of the series) shows zombies running and even climbing and jumping fences. No other episode has them display such behavior. This is most likely due to the fact that the Walkers become increasingly more rotten and, thus, less capable.
  • Eaten Alive: What with a zombie apocalypse happening, it's implied this is the fate of many people.
    • Shown to disturbing effect as the fate of guilty and gullible Otis.
    • Ed gets a Karmic Death this way for beating up his wife.
    • Sean, a member of Dave's group, gets eaten by walkers following getting shot by Hershel and screams in pain loud enough to attract them. We even see his nose get bitten off.
    • In "What Lies Ahead", T-Dog finds the aftermath of what was a baby in a child seat.
    • Jimmy and Patricia in "Beside The Dying Fire".
    • T-Dog is messily torn apart by a group of walkers in "Killer Within".
    • Martinez suffers this fate in "Dead Weight", thanks to The Governor.
  • Eiffel Tower Effect
    • In "Guts", the Georgia Dome is seen in the background.
    • In the opening scenes of the second season premiere, Grady Memorial Hospital is seen while Rick is on the radio.
  • Elite Mooks: The riot-gear wearing walkers in "Seed". The group come upon them after mowing through a number of walkers in the prison courtyard, and quickly learn that their ranged weapons don't do anything to stop them (as the walkers have faceplates as well). It's only when Maggie lifts up one guard's helmet and stabs him in the neck that they finally realize how to take them down. This trope's use in video games inspired the writers.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Merle has his in his very first scene, when he calls T-Dog a nigger and threatens to put the group at risk with his violence.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas:
    • The twist in "Vatos" when a grandmother comes out of nowhere and manages to defuse the impending shootout between Rick's group and the Latino gang. Then subverted when it is revealed that the gang were actually good people all along trying to protect the residents of an elderly home.
    • Big Tiny expresses concern for his mother after learning of the walker apocalypse.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
    • Merle is a racist, borderline-sociopathic Jerkass, but it seems he genuinely loves his brother.
    • The Governor deeply cared for his daughter as shown by his breakdown when Michonne re-kills her.
  • Every Helicopter Is A Huey: Averted, several Apaches are seen in a flashback. Later, the helicopter used by the National Guard troops the Governor has gunned down is a Huey, but given that the NG usually has older equipment than the active services, there's nothing particularly unusual about it.
  • Eye Scream: Michonne uses a shard of glass to stab an opponent (the Governor) in the eye.

    F 
  • Failed a Spot Check:
    • In the second season premiere, Dale is on lookout duty atop his RV while the gang searches the massive gridlock on the freeway. He doesn't notice a massive herd of walkers until they are only about 100 meters away from the group.
    • In "Judge, Jury, Executioner", in a wide-open field, a walker manages to sneak up right behind Dale and kill him, although it was night. It's worth considering that the rotting corpse of a cow had his attention and horror, though one would thinking finding zombie bait would have made him wary.
    • Hershel is bit by a walker while looking for Maggie and Glenn. Though when he first passes it by, it did nothing, but only when he doubled back did the walker spring into action.
    • The whole group fails one when during a calm spot at the prison, no one notices a large swarm coming in behind them.
    • Rick and Michonne, sitting next to a small fire on a road, fail to notice several armed men approaching until one has his gun directly next to Rick's head.
  • Failsafe Failure: Played with and averted - the problem in the first season finale is that the CDC failsafes are working perfectly, but they are intentionally excessive because the building's materials must never be allowed to escape.
  • Failure Is the Only Option:
    • From a series-wide standpoint, the survivors are always going to be struggling to survive against something, be it walkers or humans, and it's a safe bet that any cozy safe haven they come across isn't going to last for long.
    • On a more localized level, over the course of Season 3 there have been a number of attempts on the Governor's life, all of which would have been a very abrupt and anticlimactic way to end his reign as Big Bad had they succeeded.
  • Faux Affably Evil: The Governor.
  • False Reassurance: In addition to his Half Truth about the doors, Jenner reassures the survivors regarding their blood that there's "no surprises" when only he would not be surprised by the fact that they all have the airborne, dormant infection.
  • Fingore:
    • The Governor bites off two of Merle's fingers, shortly before killing him.
    • Glenn cuts two fingers off a walker, to get an engagement ring for Maggie.
  • Firing One-Handed:
    • Rick tends to do this with his revolver.
    • Merle with weapons in the third season, due to being short a hand. He uses his covered stump as a support while firing an assault rifle.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Glenn tells Rick after rescuing him, that he puts his neck on the line for others in the admittedly naive hope that they'd do the same for him one day. Rick rescues Glenn two episodes later.
    • In the first episode, before the outbreak, we see two crows eating a dead animal in the road. Later, after the outbreak, there are two crows eating a dead human in Atlanta.
    • Before leaving Cynthiana for Atlanta, Rick gets some advice from Morgan when dealing with walkers: "They may not seem like much one at a time. But in a group, all riled up and hungry? Man, you watch your ass." Upon arriving in Atlanta, Rick saw that Morgan was right.
    • In a flashback scene in "Bloodletting", Lori gripes to a friend of hers about an argument she and Rick had. She wishes that for once he would blow up at her. She gets her wish four episodes later when Rick flips out when he finds her 'morning after' pills.
    • Shane did remind Rick that even before the walkers rose, if 72 hours passed, then they as cops were no longer looking for a person, but the body. He used this as an example to illustrate the chances of finding Sophia alive were slim to none. At the end of "Pretty Much Dead Already", Shane was tragically right.
    • When Daryl come across Cherokee roses, he says that they will find Sophia soon. They do, though she is a walker. Additionally, when Daryl brings Carol the rose, he specifically says that the roses bloomed for the dead children.
    • While interrogating Randall in "Judge, Jury, and Executioner", Daryl learns of a group the former had belonged to that scavenged, raped, and murdered. Two seasons later, Daryl encounters the Claimers.
    • In "Walk with Me", Merle tells Andrea that a gun in your face is just a greeting now, and he'd be more afraid of someone who walked up waving a white flag. At the end of the episode, this is exactly how the Governor approaches the soldiers from the helicopter, right before he and his men gun them all down.
    • A very subtle example lasting through all of Season 3: Early in the season, The Governor tells Merle that Woodbury would fall apart without him. The second half of the season has Merle joining Rick's group, and ultimately ends with everyone from Woodbury either dead or also joining Rick's group, aside from The Governor, Martinez, and Shumpert. It probably didn't help that Merle killed many members of Woodbury.
    • In "30 Days Without an Accident", the last man to enter the store during the supply run pauses to look at the lower half of a corpse lying near the entrance. A tracking shot reveals its zombified upper body, and a bunch of other walkers, on the roof, which subsequently fall through onto the foraging party, just as the half-corpse's legs must have fallen from above.
    • When the veterinary college is searched in "Indifference", the camera pans over a pile of pathology books someone has left out along with makeshift camping supplies. Turns out there's a horde of plague-victim walkers on site, suggesting that a prior group of infected survivors tried to treat themselves using medications and textbooks they found there, only to succumb to their illness too quickly to benefit from their efforts.
  • Forgiven But Not Forgotten: In "The Grove", after Carol confesses to Tyreese for killing Karen and David and offers her gun to him, Tyreese forgives her but tells her he will never forget what she did.
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: An odd example occurs with Maggie in the latter half of Season 4; she's hell-bent on finding Glenn following the destruction of the prison, but seems to have entirely forgotten that she also has a sister, who she mentions once in passing and then never brings up again. This is especially jarring considering her panic when Beth wasn't on the prison bus, and the fact that Beth is now her only remaining blood relative after both women witnessed the brutal execution of their father in the mid-season finale.
  • Fourth Date Marriage: Glenn and Maggie's relationship progresses rapidly over the course of roughly a year, and they end up engaged in "This Sorrowful Life".
  • Four Philosophy Ensemble:
    • Tyreese's group after Donna's death; Tyreese is The Realist, Sasha is The Optimist, Allen is The Cynic and Ben is The Apathetic.
    • The remaining five Atlanta group members in Season 4; Rick is The Conflicted, Glenn is The Optimist, Daryl is The Apathetic, Carol is The Realist, and Carl is The Cynic.
  • Freak Out!: Rick has one when he is kicking Tyreese's group out, where he screams at a hallucination of Lori and waves a gun around, evidencing his ongoing Sanity Slippage.
  • Free-Range Children: This crew would not win any parent/babysitter of the year awards.
    • Carl often wandered off so freely at the farm in Season 2 that it became a joke among fans.
    • Even at the prison, children were left unattended enough that one died sick and alone in a shower and became a walker, and Lizzie was able to go to the fence freely and feed rats to walkers, unnoticed by adults.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: During "Too Far Gone", just before the last tank shell fires, you can see Tyreese running with out of a building with something in his arms. As we later learn, he was saving Judith.
  • From Bad to Worse: Season 1 started on the premise of things going from bad to worse. Season 2 follows by going further than that. For example, we see in Season 2 that you don't have to be bitten to rise as one of the Walkers.

    G 
  • Gang Bangers: The trope seems to be played straight in the episode "Vatos" at first, but it turns out that the gang is really just acting that way to protect an old folks home whose residents were abandoned by the staff when the zombie apocalypse hit.
  • Gangsta Style: Played with when one of the kids from Hershel's farm holds a pistol sideways during shooting practice. T-Dog promptly tells him to "knock off that gangsta bullshit."
  • Gender Flip: Usually happens to one half of a Decomposite Character (see above) since some of said comic original characters who appeared in the show are more or less In Name Only characters.
    • Zig-Zagged by Dr. Stevens. Stevens is male in the comics but is a woman in the show. However, the show's Dr. Stevens is more or less an In Name Only character and his character arc is more in-line with Milton, who is also male.
    • Ben and Billy (male) becomes Lizzie and Mika (female). Complete with the Cain and Abel storyline.
  • Genre Blind: A lot of the problems the group encounters is because of this, borders on being Too Dumb to Live sometimes. These are a few of the more common examples:
    • Walking around alone, especially at night.
    • Not stopping to check their surroundings.
    • Not making sure a corpse is actually dead before messing with it.
  • Genre Savvy: Comes and goes, but leans toward it generally as the series goes on. The Genre Blind characters die out, and the surviving characters develop better techniques over time.
    • When Glenn and his group rescue Rick in Atlanta in Season 1, they wear sports pads and helmets to protect themselves from bites and scratches, but neglect such precautions later. By Season 4, Rick's group routinely use better protective gear, such as military dress, worker gloves, and butcher aprons.
    • Additional examples of savviness include characters' increasing reliance on knives to preserve ammo, and Michonne and the Governor's use of walkers in the field.
  • Giving Them the Strip: Carl loses a shoe to a walker in "After".
  • Gladiator Games: Merle and Martinez engage in this (in a pit surrounded by walkers with their teeth removed) in "Say the Word". However, the fight is staged, and they weren't in much danger to begin with.
  • Glad-to-Be-Alive Sex: The reason Andrea and Shane get busy on the ride back to the farm after surviving the walker herd while out searching for Sophia.
  • Gonna Need More X: After painting himself and Glenn with walker gore, Rick gives their disguise a critical eye and concludes "We need more guts."
  • Goodbye, Cruel World!: The suicide note that Daryl and Andrea find with a hanging walker who failed to kill himself in "Save The Last One". Could count as a Death Poem.
    Daryl: (reading note) "Got bit. Fever hit. World gone to shit. Might as well quit."
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Daryl and Rick do this with the captured vato. Neither of them seemed to be acting, although Daryl did use his brother's severed hand to threaten the kid, claiming that he did it to a man that crossed him.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Carol deciding to euthanize Karen and David considering how she is pretty much the most humane character in the show.
  • Gory Discretion Shot:
    • As Rick and Carl jump down from the RV in "Beside The Dying Fire", they see the front windshield being sprayed with blood while Jimmy's screams are heard from within.
    • Done twice in "Sick". When Tomas beats Big Tiny to death, the killing blows are seen off-screen (with Tomas coated in Tiny's blood right afterwards). Later, when Rick chases Andrew through the prison until the latter is trapped in a courtyard of walkers, Rick closes the door on him and hears screaming from the other side. This turns out to be a subversion when Andrew returns in "Killer Within" to take revenge.
    • Considering the nature of this series, this trope is often avoided. However, in the case of Dale and Lori, both of their Mercy Kill head shots were shown as either a POV or an off-screen sound effect. Of course, both characters were viciously gutted at the torso on-screen, so it may not be a subversion after all.
    • When The Governor massacres the Woodbury troops in "Welcome to the Tombs", the majority of the violence occurs off-screen, with Martinez and Shupert's shocked and scared reactions giving the audience all they need to know about what the characters are seeing.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: While being held prisoner by The Governor, Glenn tears the arm off a dispatched walker and then breaks the bones in the forearm. He then takes the severed bone and gives it to Maggie, who later kills one of their captors in an effort to escape.
  • Groin Attack: Michonne kicks Merle in the crotch during their fight.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy:
    • There's always someone on duty to keep an eye out for walkers at the farm. Despite this whoever is on duty never notices wherever Carl wanders to.
    • The Governor is shown to significantly improve security when he takes over a new camp in Season 4, installing palisades and posting guards. The guards are actually shown fooling around and not paying attention shortly before a walker is discovered in the middle of the camp, and attacks Megan.
    • When Rick and his group arrive at Terminus, Gareth comments that someone named Albert must have been on guard duty. It remains to be seen if Albert really is a poor guard, or if the residents of Terminus purposely lure people inside their walls.
  • Guile Hero: Glenn. Dale lampshades this when he mentions to one of the characters that Glenn had no Guile, making him at least another Guile Hero.

    H 
  • Heal It With Fire:
    • Merle cauterized his arm after cutting off his right hand, although the delay in getting medical treatment results in him almost dying.
    • Subverted when Carol pointed out fire wouldn't stop Hershel's leg from bleeding and could quite possibly kill him.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Shane seemed to be evolving into an Anti-Villain/Anti-Hero (based on survival instincts) or a Fallen Hero (based on Rick's reappearance) until his death in "Better Angels". Or both.
  • Heroic BSOD:
    • Andrea has one after her sister Amy dies.
    • Lori and Shane have one in "Save The Last One".
    • Both Hershel and Carol have one in "Pretty Much Dead Already".
    • Glenn BSOD's when he is shot at in "Triggerfinger".
    • Rick has a big one after Lori's death.
    • After "Too Far Gone":
      • Michonne hallucinates about her lost family and acknowledges just how alone she feels
      • Daryl spends some time after the mid-season finale like a robot. Sure, he still hunts, sets up shelter, and keeps Beth safe, but he is emotionally distant. When he talks, it's passionless and direct. Come "Still", he completely loses it while drinking, breaking down and confessing that he feels guilty that he couldn't protect everyone. And I mean everyone. There's even a Call Back to Sophia. Beth hits the nail on the head harder than she thought. Daryl has a serious protective instinct that is rarely addressed directly.
  • Hero of Another Story: The Vatos forted up in Atlanta in an old folks home. Morgan and his son also qualify.
  • Heroes Gone Fishing: The third season episode, "Clear", features a bonding session between Michonne and Carl, and Rick connects with an old friend - all while the prison is still contentious ground.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • It appears that Otis performed one to allow Shane to get away with the medical supplies needed to save Carl's life. In actuality, it's a subversion, as Shane shot Otis so the walkers chasing them would swarm Otis as opposed to him.
    • In "Killer Within", an already-infected T-Dog rushes a group of walkers and pushes them back so that Carol will have a chance to escape.
  • He's Dead, Jim:
    • Justified as a necessity to make sure everyone who has died does not get up and start shambling.
    • In the intro for episode "TS-19", it's shown in flashback that Shane didn't just automatically assume Rick was dead before leaving him. He did check for a heartbeat after the power failed for the instruments monitoring Rick, and didn't hear one, then barricaded his room with a gurney before leaving him.
  • Hidden Depths: Daryl and Merle started out appearing as relatively uneducated rednecks, but as the series went on they both were shown to have more intelligence than the redneck stereotype would suggest.
  • Hollywood Darkness: Averted — even without many streetlights, the characters can still see well enough in the dark or at night. Except in the first episode of the second season when they wanted to shoot an evening scene and it was inconveniently still early afternoon (judging by shadows); they slapped a filter on the camera that made things dim and orange, had someone say "It'll be dark soon" and called it a win.
  • Hollywood Silencer: In full effect at the premier of the third season. Even better than usual, they're jury-rigged silencers.
  • Homage: When walkers overrun the farm in S2, the expected "hide in the fortified farmhouse" homage to Night of the Living Dead is subverted. The group immediately realizes it would be suicide and flees.
    • The opening to "The Grove" is a slow short of a pastoral scene that quickly reveals the apocalypse, set to "Maybe" by The Inkspots. This is referencing the intro to the original Fallout
    • Bub from the original Day of the Dead turns up as a Zombie Cameo in a Season 4 episode. Neck collar, jeans jacket, same gaunt face.
  • Hope Spot: A number of these turn up in the series.
    • At first the series leads you to believe that the CDC may still be operational and working on a cure to the plague. Then it shows that the entire building is staffed by one lone scientist whose sanity is gone.
    • In the deleted scenes for "What Lies Ahead", Rick and the group decide to go to the Vatos encampment (who had previously parted on good terms) and stay there while they plan their next move, with everyone agreeing this is a great idea. Once they enter the encampment, though, they discover that all the Vatos and the nursing home residents were executed by an unknown party sometime prior to their arrival, and that the home was subsequently overrun by walkers.
    • At the beginning of the second season, the convoy decides to set out for Fort Benning, which they believe gives them the best shot of permanent shelter, food and ammunition. In "Nebraska", Rick gets his hopes dashed when he asks Dave about the fort. Dave responds that the whole place was overrun, and there's no way anyone could have survived there. Then again, Dave's an Unreliable Narrator.
    • After Shane and the group kill all the walkers in Hershel's barn, the music becomes triumphant, and the group looks understandably relieved that their problem has been taken care of... until they hear another low growl, and look over to see the undead Sophia shambling out of the barn.
    • Rick and Daryl's discovery of the prison in the third season premiere, "Seed". You can see a look of hope and sheer relief come over Rick's face when he first lays eyes on it.
    • Toward the end of the third season, Andrea spends an entire episode hiding, sneaking, fleeing, and otherwise crapping her pants trying to escape the Governor's pursuit as she tries to reach the prison. Toward the end she pulls off a pretty badass escape by unleashing a horde of walkers on him, and soon enough, she finally reaches the prison and starts waving to get Rick's attention... until the Governor grabs her from behind and pulls her out of sight. And just like that, everything she went through was for naught, and the next we see of her, she's tied of up in the Governor's new torture room.
    • A subtle one from the third season: a scientist confirms that the walkers, while doing so much more slowly than humans, are actually starving to death, and it's logical that they're also slowly decaying, hence why they are both so disgusting looking and so easily dispatched. It therefore follows that, eventually, all of the walkers will "die" of starvation, so if the humans can just keep safe long enough for that to happen... Remarkably, this is the only one to not involve a subsequent dashing of hope, so it really is a genuine glimmer of hope for the series.
    • In Season 4, we're introduced to Dr. Eugene Porter, who claims to know what caused the zombie outbreak and is being escorted to Washington, D.C., where there's presumably still some remnant of functioning government and military that can make use of his knowledge.
    • The group's arrival at Terminus at the end of the penultimate Season 4 episode, "Us".
  • Hook Hand: Merle uses a bayonet variant in the third season.
  • Horseback Heroism: Done once or twice a season except the third.
    • Rick in the pilot.
    • Maggie and Daryl in Season 2.
    • Michonne in Season 4.
  • How We Got Here: Episodes 6 and 7 of Season 4 shows what happened to The Governor after the Season 3 finale up until his return in Episode 5.
  • Human Pack Mule: Michonne uses her undead boyfriend and his best friend to carry various bags around their necks when she and Andrea are traveling in the third season. She dispatches them in "Walk with Me" after it looks like they'll give away their position to The Governor's group.

    I 
  • I Did What I Had to Do: In "Welcome to the Tombs", Carl says this to Rick when asked why he killed a young Woodbury soldier, coupled with a speech about how Rick's inaction led to Lori and Merle's deaths.
  • The "I Love You" Stigma: When Maggie says "I love you" to Glenn, he doesn't say it back. He later explains to Rick that no girl but his mother has said that to him and he's afraid of the implications. Given that he's only known Maggie for a bit, his reaction is justified.
  • I Surrender, Suckers:
    • The Governor does this against a group of National Guard personnel in "Walk with Me" by driving up to them in a car with a white flag, then convincing them that one of their soldiers (Welles) wants to talk with them. The Governor and his men (who have surrounded the soldiers offscreen) blow them away when they let their guard down.
    • This is Carl's version of events regarding a scene in the Season 3 finale. A teenage soldier from Woodbury is confronted by Carl and Hershel pointing their guns at him. Hershel tells him to drop his weapon. The teenager says "okay" but lowers his gun very slowly while holding the end of it and moving towards them, ostensibly to hand it over. Carl shoots him, later claiming he "couldn't take the chance", but Hershel is convinced the guy was genuinely surrendering.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: It's heavily implied that the Terminus residents are cannibals who use the promise of sanctuary to lure unsuspecting victims in.
  • It's a Small World After All: Or at least a small section of Georgia these people stay in, running into the same people repeatedly despite the depopulated world. Especially in the tail end of Season 4 when the gang has been scattered yet all decide to head in the same general direction and start to run into each other. One of the reasons that's implied is that when the Walker packs are on the move, the survivors are forced to move with them or avoid them as new ones pop up leading to a strange wave like moving pattern. Between seasons 2 and 3, the group made no progress because they kept having to move in gigantic circles to avoid the Walker packs during the winter.
  • Impairment Shot:
    • Rick's during-the-hospitalization view of Shane before he responds months later in the now long empty hospital.
    • Daryl as he falls down a riverbank.
  • Important Haircut: Shane, after killing Otis.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills:
    • The only way you're going to pull off an accurate headshot with a pistol while running is pure luck. These guys do it all the time.
    • Carl somehow manages to hit Walker!Shane right in the head when Rick was standing directly between them. As if to intentionally make the Bizarre and Improbable Ballistics more obvious, Rick thought Carl was pointing the gun at him, until Carl fired without even adjusting his aim. In the first episode of the third season, he doles out one headshot per trigger-pull during the prison takeover from the top of a tower.
    • Almost everyone kills one walker per shot during "Beside The Dying Fire", even in ridiculous circumstances. Andrea gets headshots firing out a window while T-Dog is seen struggling to hold the wheel as their truck jolts around to avoid walkers, several characters fire from the hip and take targets down, while Hershel stands in front of his house and gets headshot after headshot for what seems like several minutes.
    • Lori, despite no on-screen evidence whatsoever that she has ever fired a gun in her life, has suddenly gained the ability to head shot Walkers with a low caliber revolver, in the dark and at range.
    • This was actually lampshaded in one episode of Talking Dead for the episode "Home", by Robert Kirkman who mades a comment about how everyone seemed to have excellent aim and that he was glad Michonne was a poor shot.
  • Improvised Weapon:
    • Axes, picks, and bats. While not designed as weapons, they are readily adapted to this use.
    • When the walkers pour into the courtyard in "Killer Within", Hershel uses one of his crutches to beat and push away one that tries to attack him and Beth.
    • Michonne uses a shard of broken glass from a fishtank to stab the Governor in the eye during her fight in "Made to Suffer".
    • Also in "Made to Suffer", Glenn rips off a walkers arm and makes a bone dagger with it.
  • Incongruously Dressed Zombie:
    • One walker was shown wore a Santa suit.
    • Also in the webisodes, in which a child walker wears a purple birthday-party hat and an adult one wears the bright yellow vest of a parking-meter reader.
    • Becomes a problem when the survivors take over the prison, as those walkers still dressed in prison riot-gear have helmets that make it harder to put them down. Additionally, one of the walkers inside the prison was clearly a civilian, indicating that the prison might not be as secure as the group had initially hoped.
    • Michonne, traveling with leashed walkers in the midst of a herd in "After", gets creeped out by a black female walker with the same hairstyle as hers.
    • Beth and Daryl take out a walker in a forest clearing specifically because it's wearing a gunbelt, and they need the pistol in its sheath.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: The Season 4 premiere has a boy named Patrick suffer from this, causing a nasty outbreak of people coughing up blood and quite often becoming walkers afterwards.
  • Infant Immortality:
    • Averted from the first scene. Implied later on, when while scavenging Andrea finds a car seat caked in dried blood and flesh. T-Dog also finds a baby car seat covered in blood. Averted again, in the most heartbreaking fashion with Sophia.
    • Especially notable in "Judge, Jury, Executioner"; the walker that Carl accidentally leads to the farm struggles to escape shin-deep mud and can barely hold onto Carl's ankle when it grabs him. When it then grabs hold of Dale several scenes later, it suddenly has the strength to tear a hole in Dale's torso like it's a napkin.
    • Averted again in "Made to Suffer" when Michonne stabs The Governor's daughter in the back of the head.
    • And again in "Too Far Gone", when Megan is bitten and Mercy Killed by the Governor. Double Subversion in the same episode with Judith, who was implied to have been Eaten Alive offscreen, but is revealed to be alive and well in "Inmates".
    • Tragically averted in "The Grove", the series' most extreme example to date when you consider that the walkers had nothing to do with this one. Basically, if you're a kid on this show, you better hope your last name is "Grimes."
  • Interchangeable Asian Cultures:
    • In "Vatos",
      Daryl: You got some balls for a Chinaman.
      Glenn: I'm Korean.
      Daryl: Whatever.
    • Ironically echoed, in the vein of role-reversal and character growth, in Season 3's "Home":
      Merle: I nearly killed the Chinese kid.
      Daryl: He's Korean!
      Merle: Whatever, man.
  • Involuntary Battle to the Death: In the third season, the Governor forces the brothers Dixon to fight while surrounded by walkers.
  • Irony: Hannah, despite becoming a Walker, cannot walk.
  • It's The Only Way To Be Sure: If you kept a collection of potentially world-ending pathogens in your basement, you would set up a high-impulse thermobaric device to prevent them from escaping too. Just the description of the device by Vi terrifies half the group to tears. The security protocols on the CDC are also made to very, very high standard. Nothing gets in or out. Unless you have a grenade.

    J 
  • Jerkass: There are quite a few them in the series. While some are merely snarky, others are outright malevolent, proving the walkers aren't the only thing the survivors have to worry about.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • Daryl may be a caustic redneck, but he is usually the only one of the group to recognize the gravity of their situations. He also has several redeeming qualities.
    • Shane. Andrea even tells him that his attitude and lack of tact means no one will listen to him even though he may be right.
    • Merle gets a few during his stint on the Token Evil Teammate as well as a few not so good points.
  • Jump Scare: It could be anticipated, but Hershel grabbing Lori when she resuscitates him still causes an unusually sudden scare for this show.
  • Just Following Orders: In "I Ain't a Judas", Merle gives this to Michonne as an excuse for trying to hunt her down after she left Woodbury.

    K 
  • Katanas Are Just Better: On Talking Dead, Danai Gurira (the actress who plays Michonne) says this about the katana in comparison to British broadswords.
  • Kick the Dog: The military get one big moment in the prologue of "TS-19". Rather than putting the expected brave fight to protect the innocent, they execute hospital personnel en masse before getting screwed big time by actual walkers. The second season finale throws some doubt onto the degree of pooch-punting by the soldiers, and even before then the medical staff may well have been infected in the course of caring for casualties.
  • Kill the Cutie: Amy, Sophia, and Haley
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Axel gets shot in the head by the Governor in the middle of telling Carol about his brother.
  • Kill It with Fire:
    • What happens when something important blows up (the CDC self-destruct goes off), creating a ball of fire that burns the air and everything in the immediate radius.
    • The military is shown in a flash back fire bombing city streets.
    • Carl and Rick pour gasoline in Hershel's barn as the farm is being overrun and kill an impressive number of walkers.
  • Knife Nut: In "What Lies Ahead", Carl finds a dead man with an impressive haul of knives, axes, swords, and machetes. Rick passes them out and the group is frequently seen wearing or using them for the rest of the season.

    L 
  • Lady Macbeth: Lori has a moment of this at the end of "Triggerfinger".
  • The Law Of Inverse Recoil: When Carl fires a gun late in Season 2, he suffers almost no recoil. Possibly justified since Carl had been taking his previous training seriously.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: At the end of "Inmates", Tara shouts out "Hope you assholes enjoyed the show!" while looking directly at the camera. She was really shouting at Abraham Ford, though.
  • Leave Behind a Pistol: The way Andrea goes out after she's bitten. Michonne insists on staying with her at the end, though.
    • In season one, Rick offers one to Jim. He refuses on the ground that they will need it and that if he turns, he may have the chance to meet up with his undead family.
  • Leave Him to Me: The Governor says this before his fight with Merle.
  • Leave No Survivors: In a flashback from Shane, it shows the army lining civilians up against a wall and executing them then shooting them in the head to be sure.
  • Let The Past Burn: The second season ends with the barn of walkers being burned during the attack on the farm.
  • Life or Limb Decision:
    • Merle cuts off his own hand when T-Dog panics and leaves him handcuffed to a pole as the walkers are attacking.
    • In "Triggerfinger", they consider doing this to Randall to free him from the fence his leg's impaled on, but when a mob of walkers show up and leave them with no time, Rick ends up just yanking it free instead.
    • In the Season 3 opener, "Seed", Hershel gets bitten on the ankle, prompting Rick to hack his leg off just below the knee to try and save him.
  • The Load:
    • Carl generally needs protecting and sometimes does stupid things that put others in danger. His parents have a bit of a struggle trying to balance keeping him out of danger and getting him to learn to defend himself. In Season 3, he definitively Took a Level in Badass and is no longer a load, by any definition.
    • Characters sometimes argue about whether they're pulling their weight in the group or not, basically accusing each other of being The Load.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: By the end of Season 4, there are around fifteen major characters still in play, with an ever-changing ensemble of minor and recurring characters. Due to the nature of the show, characters both major and minor are routinely killed off and replaced with newcomers as the survivors continue their search for a safe haven, and as a result the cast going into Season 5 looks very different to the cast of Season 1.
  • Love Confession: Glenn finally admits he loves Maggie near the end of "Beside The Dying Fire", after being unable to say it for most of the season.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Shane with Lori after Rick returns.
  • Love Triangle: A type 4 between Shane/Lori/Rick — now that Lori's husband whom Shane and Lori thought was dead has returned and the affair with Shane ended.
  • Low Angle Empty World Shot: Used fairly often to save on having to close streets and dress them with trash.

    M 
  • Made of Plasticine: From the start of the second season the survivors have little trouble driving any kind of implement right through a zombie's skull with simple muscle power alone. The third season has them driving knives and/or swords right into skulls. Seems like this is intentional, to signal the decay of walker bodies over time.
  • Madness Mantra: In "Clear", the eponymous word spray-painted repeatedly on the walls by Morgan, among other assorted graffiti.
  • Magic Countdown: "TS-19": The CDC is set to blow itself up when the backup generators providing emergency power run out of fuel — a countdown starting at when there's only an hour of power left. The residing doctor remaining kind of omitted this particular bit of information. He only hinted at it when he told them, "when these doors close, they will not re-open."
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places: So far, Glenn and Maggie have had sex in a drugstore (which later turned out to have still-active walkers inside), an intended rendezvous in Hershel's barn (which led to Glenn discovering the walkers inside) and in a guardtower at the prison.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!":
    • Everyone in episode four during the fish fry, just before a large group of walkers descends on the camp, biting people left and right.
    • The survivors discover what happens when the CDC countdown clock reaches zero.
    • When walkers are set loose on the prison in episode four of season three.
  • Meaningful Echo:
    • When Rick is shot by criminals in the first episode, Shane comforts and shushes him while he blacks out. In "Better Angels", Rick stabs Shane and comforts him in the same manner.
    • Rick's line in "Better Angels" ("No more kids' stuff. People are going to die.") is remembered by Carl in "Killer Within" when he shoots his mother to prevent her from returning as a walker.
    • The Governor comforts Maggie (who he had just threatened to rape), and then uses the exact same line and tone to comfort Andrea (with whom he has having a fling) in the next scene.
    • Not a line, but most of an episode. In the first episode, Rick is knocked unconscious by Duane, Morgan's son, and then tied to a bed until Morgan is sure he's not a threat. In "Clear", Morgan is knocked unconscious by Carl, Rick's son, and tied up on his bed until Rick is sure that he's not a threat.
  • Meaningful Background Event: Get past looking at Merle's Oh Crap face near the end of the and you'll see that the guard behind him is threatening him with a rather familiar looking crossbow. Suffice to say, its owner might be in trouble.
  • Mercy Kill: Averted with Randall. Played straight in many examples:
    • Rick pulls one off on Hannah (the "bicycle girl"), expressing his sympathy for her with the words "I'm sorry this happened to you" before killing her.
    • At the police station Rick killed the former cop who in the intro had talked about being on video, specifically stating that while he thought the guy was an overexcited rookie, he didn't deserve to be shambling around as a walker.
    • Dr. Jenner tries to present death by fuel-air explosive as this to the survivors.
    • In "Pretty Much Dead Already", zombified Sophia is on the receiving end of a mercy kill courtesy of Rick.
    • At the end of "Judge, Jury, Executioner", Daryl does this to Dale after he is mauled by a walker.
    • At the end of "This Sorrowful Life", Daryl finds Merle after he was killed by The Governor and turned into a walker. When Merle tries to attack, he pushes him away at first, but eventually Daryl forces himself to stab Merle in the head.
  • Mexican Standoff:
    • Between Rick, Daryl, T-Dog, and the Vatos when arguing over the gun bag.
    • Daryl seems to attract these. It happens two more times between him and Rick — first when he threatens T-Dog, then later when he wants to mercy kill Jim.
  • The Millstone: Sophia. Because of Sophia's actions at the beginning of the second season, Carl was shot, Otis got eaten alive, Daryl got impaled on one of his arrows, mistaken for a walker and shot (with a thankfully grazing blow), and the group was split on whether or not they should even keep looking for her until they discovered her as a walker shambling out of the barn.
  • Mood Motif: The Theme Tune in particular, but the rest of the show's music is all about the Strings of Suspense.
  • Morality Pet: Daryl is possibly the only person in the world Merle cares for.
  • The Mountains of Illinois: Atlanta residents were amused to see the picturesque Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre masquerading as CDC headquarters, miles away.
  • Mundanger: The main threat to Rick, Glenn and Hershel in 'Triggerfinger' is a group with guns and a grudge.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: Carl seems to have developed this belief, due to every one of the group's attempts to avert this trope going horribly wrong.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • Carl has a silent version of this at the end of "Judge, Jury, Executioner" when he realizes the walker he inadvertently freed killed Dale.
    • Rick has a brief moment of this after killing Shane.
  • Mythology Gag: In "Live Bait", the Governor uses the name Brian as an alias. In The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor, which is canon to the comics but not the TV series, Brian was the Governor's true name, as he took his brother's identity after his death.
    • Later in "Live Bait", Lilly watches helplessly as The Governor caves in her walker father's head. In the Telltale game, Lilly watches helplessly as Kenny caves in her walker father's head.

    N 
  • Named by the Adaptation: A number of characters.
    • The bicycle girl walker was named Hannah. She was also given a backstory.
    • Ed Peletier, Carol's husband and Sophia's father, was given a full name compared to the comics where he's only referred.
    • Carol, Sophia (see Ed above), and Glenn (Rhee) were given surnames.
  • Near-Rape Experience:
    • A drunken Shane nearly forces himself on Lori in "TS-19", until her resistance makes him stop and think about what he was doing.
    • In "The Dead Come Knocking", the Governor forces Maggie into a Shameful Strip and forces her down as if to rape her. When she makes clear that it won't break her, he stops.
  • Never Found the Body:
    • Rick locks Andrew the convict in with a bunch of walkers and assumes him to be dead. He shows up again a few episodes later, understandably pissed off.
    • When T-Dog is killed, the group finds Carol's headscarf nearby and assumes she died as well. They even go to the trouble of digging a grave, filling it back up with nothing, and setting a marker. Daryl later finds Carol trapped in a cell, half-delirious.
  • Never Trust a Trailer:
    • The first season finale trailer heavily implied that Andrea was infected. She is, just not in the same way as Jim was, as the audience finds out at the end of the second season.
    • Likewise, the trailer for "Save the Last One" implied Shane might be infected. He's not but he was injured by Otis, who pulled out a chunk of his hair and scalp in their struggle.
    • One scene from the trailer was Carl with Rick's hat, aiming a gun, which is almost a perfect recreation of the comic panel where he shoots Shane in the first story arc from the comic. It was actually him pointing at a walker stuck in mud. Ultimately he shot Shane one episode later.
    • Another scene for the trailer hinted at Merle's return, with Daryl saying "sorry, brother." He's actually talking to the mauled Dale, whom Daryl is about to Mercy Kill.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • The main characters try to pull a fat walker out of a well in an attempt to prevent the well from getting contaminated. It rips in half, pouring guts and blood all over and in the well.
    • Instead of killing Andrew in the contained courtyard filled with walkers, Rick locks the door on him and assumes the walkers will finish the job. This comes back to hit him two episodes later in "Killer Within" when Andrew, having escaped the courtyard, turns on the prison generators and cuts the chains holding the courtyard gate closed, allowing walkers to flood the prison, which results in the deaths of T-Dog and (indirectly) Lori.
    • Michonne killing the Governer's undead daughter in front of him, after seeing him beg her not to. This resulting in a fight between the two, the loss of his eye, and thus starting his road to madness and the downfall of Woodbury. Although judging by his notebook, he went off the deep end after his daughter turned, and all Michonne did was strip away the veneer and hasten the inevitable conflict.
    • Morgan's failure to kill his zombified wife results in her ambushing and killing Duane during a supply run.
    • Milton prevents Andrea from assassinating the Governor in Season 3, claiming that he knew the man before the apocalypse and thought he was still in there. Because of this, the Governor's war on the prison continues and the Governor murders half of Woodbury, Andrea, and Milton himself.
  • Nobody Poops: Averted in the third season, where Rick finds out the hard way that some prisoners holed up in a cafeteria for 9 months still pooped, whether or not they had the facilities for it.
  • No Communities Were Harmed: While Atlanta is obviously real, King County (where Shane and Rick were Deputies) and Mert County (where they take Randall in "18 Miles Out") are fictional.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Judy from the webisodes is zombified by giving CPR to what she thinks is a collapsed woman.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: The fight between The Governor and Merle is pretty one-sided. Too bad Merle wasn't the one doing the beating...
  • No Periods, Period: Glenn indicates he read somewhere that women spending time in proximity to each other will have their cycles all line up and he wonders if that means all the women in their group will "go hormonally crazy" at the same time. Dale wisely tells him to keep that theory to himself.
  • Not Allowed to Grow Up: Sophia is lost in Season 2, and is found to have turned into a zombie and killed at the midseason finale. You can tell the actress, who is in her early teens, had grown considerably in the hiatus between the two seasons and would probably have been progressing faster than the scant weeks which were supposed to be passing could account for.
  • Not a Zombie:
    • Tame, generally. In the intro for the pilot episode, while looking beneath a car Rick sees a little girl's feet shuffling along. However, once he sees her fully after standing up and she turns to his voice, he realizes she's a walker, and promptly blows her head off.
    • Inverted in the first episode of the first season, where Rick is initially mistaken for a walker and gets whacked in the head with a shovel. A few moments later, it's noted that as Rick was talking before being knocked unconscious, he's unlikely to be a walker, as they don't talk.
    • In the webisodes, Judy finds out the hard way she was wrong about that fallen person needing artificial respiration.
    • Inverted again with Daryl in the Season 2 episode "Chupacabra". After falling down a hill twice and getting impaled by one of his arrows as a result, he limps back to the others, dirty and bruised. When the others rush out with melee weapons, they realize he's not dead. Andrea, however, has taken aim with a rifle and nearly takes the poor guy's head off for all his trouble.
  • Not So Different:
    • When Rick and his group confront the Vatos, they find out that the gang is actually protecting the elderly residents of a retirement home. They put up a tough image in order to chase away raiders and thieves.
    • The terms Dave, in "Nebraska", uses to try to convince Rick to take them in are in themselves a callback to what Rick said to Hershel when he was in that situation.
    • In the next episode, what Rick calls out to Dave and Tony's backup is basically the same things Dave said to try and convince them to take them in.
  • Not Using the Z Word: So far, "walkers," "geeks," "lamebrains," "roamers," "biters," "D-K's," and judging by the trailer for The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct, "Eaters." The Zombie Apocalypse trope does not exist in this world, so survivors are not Genre Savvy to call them zombies. In the series, unlike the comics, the term "walker" is never used to contrast the second variety of zombie that sits motionless until something crosses its path.
  • Not with the Safety on, You Won't:
    • Rick says this, almost word for word, to an overexcited cop during the high speed chase at the beginning of the first episode.
    • He does it again in the second episode to Andrea after she apologizes for pointing a pistol at Rick. After Amy dies, Rick tries to talk to Andrea about her coming back, but she points a gun at him and tells him that she knows how the safety works.
  • No Zombie Cannibals: Explained as the walkers only being attracted to the smell of the living, although in one scene from Season 2, while looking for Sophia, Daryl and Andrea find a walker hanging from a tree. His suicide note says he was bitten, and he'd have reanimated after death even if he wasn't, but other walkers had subsequently eaten the flesh off his legs. It's unknown how long went between hanging himself and reanimating as a walker, however.
  • Nothing Is Scarier/Quieter Than Silence: Used to underscore the complete lack of anyone living around Rick when he's in the hospital and at several other points

    O 
  • Off The Wagon: Hershel in "Nebraska", after Shane lets the walkers out of the Greene farm and the group kills them.
  • Offhand Backhand: As the Governor walks through the smoke Rick's group threw into the midst of the Involuntary Battle to the Death between Merle and Daryl, he casually shoots a walker while looking in another direction entirely.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: In "Us", Maggie explains that she used the last clip of bullets to cause a cave in that stopped a walker horde.
  • Oh Crap:
    • Started with a Hope Spot when Rick, while in Atlanta, sees a helicopter and tries to follow it, then promptly hits the skids when he turns a corner and sees a dense mob of walkers filling almost the entire street in front of him.
    • The second episode has a sudden rainstorm pouring on Rick and Glenn, who have covered themselves in gore to fool the walkers. The rain washes off the scent, giving them away, and they quickly have to book it.
    • Rick and Dale's reactions upon seeing a horde of zombies shambling in their direction in "What Lies Ahead".
    • When Shane and Otis try to salvage medical supplies from a FEMA camp, they realize there are a lot more zombies than they anticipated. They get another moment when the distraction they set up for the walkers doesn't last as long they hope.
    • At the end of "Cherokee Rose", Lori finds out she is pregnant.
    • In "Chupacabra", Andrea shoots Daryl after mistaking him for a zombie. She looks triumphant, until she hears Rick screaming, "NO! NO! NO!"
    • Dale gets a quite delicious one when Shane points out how very stupid it was of him to confront a guy who he believes capable of killing his best friend.
    • Glenn, upon finding out while looking for a makeout spot in the barn that it's full of walkers.
    • A furious Shane throws a large wrench at Rick, smashing a window. Said window had a small horde of walkers behind it.
    • Carl, trying to play the big man, lets a walker get close to him, and then lacks the capability to shoot it at point blank range. Then the walker grabs his ankle, and he frantically thrashes to escape.
    • Daryl and Glenn, upon finding and killing the undead Randall, find that he died from a broken neck, and despite not having any bite marks on him, still revived as a walker.
    • Rick and Carl in "Beside the Dying Fire", upon seeing a herd of walkers coming towards them.
    • Merle has a rather spectacular one in "Made to Suffer", when the Governor brands him a traitor for not telling the truth about Michonne's demise. Bonus points for getting another Oh Crap-worthy moment seconds later, when the Governor reveals that the prisoner they captured is his brother Daryl, whom he hasn't seen in a year, and they're both trapped at Woodbury with no easy way out.
    • Carol and Tyreese in The Grove when they return from an aborted deer hunt to find sociopath Lizzie standing over the body of her sister Mika, hands dripping blood. She was — as she casually tells them — just about to do the same to baby Judith.
    • A particularly stunning example happens after Rick bites Joe's throat out in "A." They're too shocked to even defend themselves.
  • One Bullet Left:
    • Otis and Shane as they escape from the zombies. Shane uses his on Otis, so he can get away.
    • Daryl gets down to his last crossbow bolt as of "Chupacabra", but makes more bolts in later episodes.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Played straight and subverted.
    • Subverted in the Season 2 opener, T-Dog severs a major artery during the horde incident on the highway, and loses a significant amount of blood. He ends up running a high fever and gets blood poisoning for two days before Daryl gives him strong antibiotics for the pain, and he continues to wear an arm patch throughout the rest of the season.
    • Subverted with Daryl, who gets an arrow through his side in "Chupacabra" and proves to be strong enough to make it back to camp, in spite of being visibly impaired and walking with a limp. He continues to have trouble walking for several episodes thereafter.
    • Carl is injured via a rifle shot that penetrated through a deer before hitting him, and requires two surgeries and additional equipment to save his life. Less than a week later, he's up and walking like nothing ever happened. And as the One-Hit Polykill page shows, even low powered rounds can retain lethal force after going through a target.
    • In Season 2, Randall (a member of the "Philadelphia crew" Rick, Glenn, and Hershel encountered at a bar) has to be rescued by Rick after he spears his lower leg through a pointed fence. We see very little of his recovery time, and Daryl even re-opens the wound to torture him. In "18 Miles Out", an apparently short time later, Randall is shown to be walking just fine and even bends his legs to escape from his bonds without much trouble.
  • Open Heart Dentistry: Hershel is a veterinarian. He's also the only medical practitioner available to save Carl. This is actually somewhat justifiable. Hershel would must likely be a farm animal vet (Lori asks what you did this on pigs?). Pigs are actually a very good substitute for the human body. Sure it wouldn't be exactly the same, but it would be similar enough to make the procedure plausible.
  • Our Zombies Are Different:
    • The zombies in the show can be surprisingly smart and agile, depending on their physical state when seen. They've been seen using rocks to smash through glass, the pilot episode showed one grasping at a doorknob as if attempting to open it, and a couple actually managed to climb over a short chain-link fence in pursuit of Rick and Glenn. By Seasons 2 and 3, however, their continuing decay seems to have reduced their capabilities.
    • Discussed in detail between The Governor and the researcher Milton in "Walk with Me". Milton explains that the walkers Michonne was traveling with stopped trying to attack her because she cut off their arms and lower jaws. He later hypothesizes that the walkers retain a slight recollection of who they once were, and that they also starve (albeit slower than living humans).
    • One zombie the Governor's daughter Penny is shown going after a bowl of raw meat - a rare case of a zombie not going for the living.

    P 
  • Painting the Medium: The car alarm blaring from Glen's ill-gotten sports car from the first season matches the beat of the background music perfectly.
  • Pants Positive Safety: Basically everyone but Rick, who has his hip holster from his old uniform. Most notable with Shane, who used to be his department's firearm safety instructor. Again, may be justifiable. Police officers are notorious for having poor home security systems despite having Seen It All. It wouldn't be a stretch that a gun safety specialist would somehow convince themselves that, since they know better, they can take greater risks. It would be the same kind of fallacy. Eg. they put the safety on then put the gun in their pants, thinking that would be enough, but not thinking that the action of walking may click the safety off.
  • Parental Neglect: The sheer number of times Carl is allowed to wander off on his own, ignored, or otherwise left to his own devices is astounding considering it's the middle of a zombie outbreak. Even at times when there's no reason whatsoever not to.
  • Party Scattering: Following the events of "Too Far Gone", the core survivor group has separated into the following smaller factions:
    • Rick and Carl.
    • Daryl and Beth.
    • Maggie, Sasha and Bob.
    • Tyreese and the kids.
    • Glenn and Tara.
    • Michonne on her own.
  • The Patriarch: Dr. Hershel Greene.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Shane has one of these moments in "Nebraska" when he's trying to console Carol over the discovery of Sophia being a walker in the barn the whole time she's been missing. His kind words and the care he uses in cleaning up her hands and arms shows that he has a lot of caring in him.
    • Merle, of all people, gets one when he expresses his condolences to Andrea over the death of her sister Amy.
      "She was a good kid."
    • The Governor may have had a field day trying to kill Michonne, executing the National Guard troops and almost raping Maggie, but when Michonne takes the zombified Penny as a hostage in "Made to Suffer", stabs her through the head and eventually stabs him in the eye, the only thing he can do is crawl over to Penny's body and cry uncontrollably as Andrea looks on.
  • Perma Stubble: Rick is the king of this look. He even had a stubbly beard when he woke from a months-long coma! Supposedly, teh nurses shaved him for easier access to his face for tubes and the like up until the point they were shot and eaten or they deserted the hospital.
  • Perpetual-Motion Monster: The dead are hungry, but never actually seem to starve to death. At least one character ( Patricia, at Hershel's farm) gives them food anyway because the Greene family believes they're still alive. In the third season, however, we learn from Milton that they can starve, but they do it at a much slower rate.
  • The Plague: The plot of Season 4.
  • The Plan: Shane attempts one in order to get Rick out of the way so he could have Lori all to himself. He fails.
  • Plot Armor: Taken literally by way of human being. In "This Sorrowful Life", just as Merle has a shot perfectly lined up on the Governor, Ben walks right into the crosshairs and takes the bullet.
  • Pocket Protector: Bob gets chomped on the shoulder by a walker, but survives because it bit directly on top of a thick gauze bandage he'd been wearing over a previous injury.
  • Poor Communication Kills:
    • "When this door closes, it will not open again." Jenner meant that literally.
    • Also Lori's inability to tell Rick she was sleeping with Shane, and by extension her pregnancy, almost led to the self-induced abortion of her child.
    • A lot of the conflict in Season 3 could have been avoided had Michonne explained to Andrea what made her suspicious about the Governor.
    • Tyreese's group would have easily joined Rick's if someone had merely taken them aside and explained that Rick wasn't himself because his wife had just died and he hadn't been sleeping. Instead, they just run straight out of the prison and keep running, leading to a lot of conflict later on when they are easily persuaded that Rick's group is dangerous.
  • Pop The Tires:
    • In the opening of the first episode, they stop the high speed pursuit with a spike strip taking out the wheels of the escaping car.
    • They also show up in the third season finale, as the group defends the prison with makeshift spike strips.
  • P.O.V. Cam:
    • From a walker's perspective as Daryl headbutts it with a rifle during the fish-fry attack in "Vatos".
    • From Randall's perspective as Rick gags him and puts him in the car trunk in "18 Miles Out".
    • From Sophia's perspective prior to being shot by Rick in "Pretty Much Dead Already".
    • From Dale's perspective just before Daryl shoots him in "Judge, Jury, and Executioner".
    • From Michonne's perspective as the walkers close in on her (just before Carl shoots them down) in "When The Dead Come Knocking".
    • From Milton's perspective when The Governor is beating him in "Welcome to the Tombs".
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: While the overall story is the same, there are a number of differences from the comic, including specific events and completely new characters. This was to prevent readers of the comics from thinking the whole series was a Foregone Conclusion.
  • Precocious Crush: As of Season 3, Carl has one on Beth.
  • Pretend We're Dead: Played for Drama.
    • This is how Glenn and Rick get everyone out of the store in the first season. The two cover themselves in zombie gore then make their way through the undead crowd toward a parking lot with the scent masking their presence. It works, until it starts to rain. Justified, in that Atlanta summertime weather does go from hot and dry to sudden thundershowers just like that. There was also a bit of foreshadowing earlier with storm clouds. Also something of a deconstruction, since they first have to smear themselves in dismembered zombie bits to get the proper scent going.
    • Daryl Dixon pull this off by dropping a dead body on T-Dog and another on himself as the zombie herd passes on the highway. Suffice to say, it works.
    • In "18 Miles Out", Rick throws the body of a walker he killed seconds earlier on top of himself to avoid the walkers coming out of the public works building.
    • Karen plays dead under the corpse of another person after The Governor massacres the Woodbury soldiers in "Welcome to the Tombs". This only works, however, because he had ran out of ammo, while delivering headshots to the gunned-down people so they wouldn't become walkers.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles:
    • Norman Reedus (Daryl) in Season 2.
    • Lauren Cohan (Maggie) and Michael Rooker (Merle) in Season 3.
    • Melissa McBride (Carol) and Scott Wilson (Hershel) in Season 4.
  • Pulling The Thread: When Andrea decides to leave Woodbury, she feeds the guards on the wall a story designed to lure them away. They pick at it a bit and she gets fed up and says "Look, I'm going. I don't want any trouble."
  • Punch Clock Villain: "Alone" has various members of Rick's group connecting with members of Woodbury.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Dr. Jenner claims, in a tense standoff capping a stressful situation, that the CDC stores WEAPONIZED! SMALLPOX! along with EBOLA STRAINS! THAT! COULD! WIPE OUT! HALF! THE NATION!
  • Put Down Your Gun and Step Away: While scrounging for supplies, Glenn and Maggie encounter Merle, who takes Maggie hostage after a tense conversation and convinces Glenn to put down his gun.
  • Put on a Bus: This trope is played almost ruler-straight with Carol. The only difference being that it was a car instead of a literal bus.

    R 
  • Rare Guns: Rick's Colt Python is fairly rare and well sought-after by gun collectors, driving its price beyond a thousand dollars, easily. Not exactly the kind of gun a police officer would carry day-to-day, especially since many police departments have retired their revolvers for semi-auto pistols.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: A couple of notable instances in the cast so far.
    • Dale was killed off because his actor, Jeffrey DeMunn was unhappy about Frank Darabont (someone with whom he'd worked for years) being fired, and quit the show in protest.
    • Sophia was present for the first episode of the second season, then gets lost to kickstart the arc that involved searching for her and Carl needing medical attention at Hershel's farm as a result. Madison Lintz, the actress who plays Sophia, was growing too fast for the time frame in which Seasons 1 and 2 take place, necessitating in her Walker transformation the next time we see her and subsequent death at Rick's hands.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • In "Days Gone Bye", Rick fires a gun in a tank and spends about the next minute stunned with a loud ringing in his ears. Also an aversion of Steel Eardrums.
    • In "This Sorrowful Life", Merle successfully hotwires a car. Then the alarm goes off, attracting a bunch of walkers.
    • In "Welcome to the Tombs", the Governor's impromptu army attacks the prison, blowing up guard towers with a grenade launcher and shredding walkers with machine guns. Then, the moment they're fired upon, they react how you'd expect a barely-trained, inexperienced group of people to react.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • From Michonne to Andrea in "I Ain't a Judas".
    • In "Welcome to the Tombs", Carl gives one to Rick, pointing out where Rick's soft-hearted decisions have resulted in people dying.
  • Reckless Gun Usage:
    • Dave and Tony, the Philly survivors in "Nebraska", set Rick up by bracketing him. Had they actually managed to get off a shot, they would have almost certainly hit each other.
    • Andrea shooting at Daryl, mistaking him for a walker. Not only did she fail to confirm her target, she also completely ignored the multiple other people mere feet from him.
    • In "A", The Terminus resident searching the group hands back Rick and Carl's guns by the barrel, with it pointing right at himself.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Merle attempts to kill the Governor by himself in a surprise attack, but is ultimately killed by him, and his zombified self is later found by Daryl who in turn kills him.
  • Relax-o-Vision:
    "Picture something nice. Puppies and kittens."
    "Dead puppies and kittens."
  • Reluctant Mad Scientist: Milton. He has a better insight into the Governor's true nature than most Woodbury residents — even enabling several of his worse excesses as the resident Smart Guy — but turns a blind eye due to interest in the experiments he is able to perform under his patronage.
  • Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain:
    • Only the latter works. The walker that killed Daryl's deer got decapitated, but it kept snarling until Daryl put a crossbow bolt through its skull.
    • In "Secrets", the walker that attacks Maggie is still standing when Glenn partially decapitates him. It takes multiple repeated blows to the head while the walker is on the ground to subdue it.
    • Zigzagged early in season 3 - Michonne slices off a walker head which is shown still moving after that, but later we see the Governor with a bunch of intact heads that are mosty done moving.
  • Replacement Goldfish: There's a strong subtext suggesting the group the Governor travels with in "Live Bait" — especially the little girl with them — acts as a substitute for his own deceased family.
  • Rescue Arc:
    • Season 1: "Tell it to the Frogs" had Rick, Daryl, Glenn, and T-Dog rush back to Atlanta to save a handcuffed Merle. They failed. "Vatos" had Rick, Daryl, and T-Dog attempting to save Glenn after he was kidnapped by the eponymous group. This time it ends well.
    • The first half of Season 2 has an odd variation; It deals with the entire group searching instead of actually rescuing a missing member of their group.
    • Season 3: "Made to Suffer" features Rick, Daryl, Michonne, and Oscar rush to Woodbury to rescue Glenn and Maggie. They succeeded, but with Oscar dead and Daryl captured. This leads to the following episode "The Suicide King", where the surviving rescuers and the previous rescuees successfully saved their captured friend and his brother, who ironically is the center of the first (failed) Rescue Arc. The last part of "Welcome to the Tombs" features Rick, Daryl, Michonne, and Tyreese tracking Andrea. They did, but they're too late.
  • Revenge by Proxy: Michonne kills the Governor's zombie daughter.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: In "Say the Word", Rick grabs an axe and goes on a killing spree through one of the prison cellblocks after he learns of Lori's death. In the next episode, "Hounded", Rick estimates that he killed anywhere from one-to-two dozen walkers by himself.
  • Room Full of Zombies:
    • In the pilot, a handy sign on a door warns Rick away from one of these, written on the doors chained shut to contain the walkers.
    • The webisodes do a version of this.
    • Hershel's barn is also full of zombies.
    • The Governor has a private room that's filled with the heads of decapitated walkers.
    • In the episode "Prey", Andrea barges into one, has an Oh Crap moment, and then quickly backs out and shuts the door. A short while later, she unleashes that horde on the Governor.
  • Rousing Speech: Andrea gives one to the citizens of Woodbury in place of the absent Governor to calm them down after the first attack by Rick's group.
  • Rule of Cool: The firefight with the massive herd in "Beside The Dying Fire" is dependent upon this trope. Shooting from moving vehicles and hitting targets at extended distances just doesn't happen otherwise.

    S 
  • Safe Zone Hope Spot: A recurring theme in the show as well as the comic it's based on, having happened twice in the first season alone.
  • Sanity Slippage:
    • Jim begins digging at the top of the mountain until Shane takes him down and ties him to a tree. He can only say that he had a dream (possibly brought on by the guilt of knowing that he only survived because the zombies were eating his family) he couldn't remember.
    • Shane is obviously unhappy with the way things are going once Rick gets back into camp. His sanity doesn't start slipping, however, until he kills Otis. He finally loses it when Lori thanks him for saving her and Carl during the initial outbreak.
    • Dr. Jenner apparently didn't cope well with shooting his patient (who was also his wife) and then was cooped up with only an AI for company for two months. The straw that broke the camel's mind, however, was emergency procedures destroying his last active zombie-virus sample. He was nuts, but focused until that point. Afterwards, he was just nuts.
    • T-Dog shows signs of this as well during the fever caused by a "regular" bacterial infection.
    • Michonne discovers the Governor is showing signs of it in "Say the Word". She pulls out a book that has various notes written by him, ending with a list of deceased people (and the name "Penny" underlined at the bottom) followed by pages full of counted days since that death.
    • Rick shows signs of it early in the third season. After Lori dies, he imagines that Amy, Jim, Jacqui, and finally Lori are calling him on a rotary phone in one of the prison wings. In "Made to Suffer", when the group is escaping Woodbury, Rick imagines that Shane is walking out of the smoke and shooting (which leads to Oscar being killed). He shoots and kills "Shane", only to discover that it was one of the Woodbury attackers.
    • Lizzie was always rather unhinged, but in the second half of Season 4 she's firmly in the deep end after she nearly suffocates Judith, and then starts treating walkers as though they were perfectly healthy people. Then we get to the episode "The Grove"... first she completely loses it when Carol kills a walker she was playing with, then seriously considers letting another one bite her so she can join them. Then things really get nuts when she murders her sister Mika to get her to reanimate as a new playmate, and was about to do the same to Judith when Carol and Tyreese stopped her. Carol is forced to put her down the next day, knowing her psychosis is way too far gone for her to be left alive. She even thought that Carol was most upset at her for pointing a gun at her when confronted, completely missing that she just killed her own sister.
  • Scenery Porn: A brief moment in the fourth episode of the second season, as Hershel and Rick look out over the Georgia countryside, off toward the mountains.
    Hershel: Rick, take a look. That's something, isn't it? It's good to pause for an occasional reminder.
    Rick: Of what?
    Hershel: Whatever comes to mind. For me, it's often God.
  • Scream Discretion Shot: What happens to Andrea when the undead Milton attacks her as she's freeing herself (seen from behind a door) in "Welcome to the Tombs". Rick and the others find out later that she killed Milton, but was bitten in the process.
  • Screaming Woman: There's usually at least one instance of this in every season. In the first, it's Amy (and Andrea soon after), in the second, Lori (while trapped in a car as a walker tries to break in), and in the third, Carol (when T-Dog is bitten).
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Any locked room or house full of zombies, such as the hospital room in the pilot. More importantly though, Hershel is keeping a bunch of active zombies locked up in his barn in the second season.
  • Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere:
    • Merle, with a rooftop instead of a room.
    • Dr. Jenner, though this time by "choice".
  • Second Episode Introduction:
    • Played straight by Andrea, Glenn, T-Dog, Merle, Morales, and Jacqui, who are all introduced in "Guts", the second episode of the first season.
    • Hershel, Maggie, Beth, Otis, Patricia, and Jimmy are introduced in "Bloodletting", the second episode of the second season.
  • Secret Keeper: Glenn, but his conscience makes him a terrible one, which causes some friction.
  • Serious Business: The system of government that the Marauders operate on for dividing up resources is basically a glorified "I called it" system, but its one that they take very seriously, delivering vicious beatings to anyone who doesn't fall into line with it.
  • Sex Slave: In the Cold Storage webseries, Kelly (a female employee at the storage facility) was forced into this role by B.J. after he murdered the other employees, and is eventually rescued by Chase.
  • Shameful Strip: Maggie is forced to take off her shirt and bra during the Governor's interrogation in "When The Dead Come Knocking, but the latter doesn't do anything else once he realizes she won't break.
  • Shell-Shock Silence: Occurs when Rick fires his gun inside the confines of a tank, after he finds out he doesn't have Steel Eardrums.
  • Sherlock Scan:
    • Daryl instantly realizes that Shane killed Otis, because he came back with his gun in addition to his own. He sits on this for nearly all of Season 2 before admitting it to Dale in "Judge, Jury, and Executioner".
    • Daryl does this again in "Better Angels" when he discovers that Shane wasn't telling the truth when he said he was knocked out by Randall after finding matching footprints side-by-side, the discarded blindfold and blood on a tree (from when Shane broke his own nose to make it look like an accident). He also quickly deduces that Randall died of a broken neck.
  • Ship Tease: Carol and Daryl.
    • As of Season 4, however, the Carol/Daryl ship seems to have taken something of a backseat, with Bob/Sasha, Daryl/Beth and arguably Rick/Michonne the main pairings being teased.
  • Shoot the Dog: Happens several times, usually to highlight the severity or circumstances of the character's/group's situation.
    • The opening scene has Rick, while searching for gas, come upon a young female walker, who he is forced to shoot once she makes a run for him. Rick looks visibly shaken immediately afterwards.
    • Shane offers this to Jim just before they leave him by the roadside in "Wildfire". Daryl was also determined to do this, but just let him die on his own terms at Jim's request.
    • In "Pretty Much Dead Already", Rick steps up and shoots the undead Sophia because everyone else is too shocked to raise their weapons (even Shane, who was rather pointedly suggesting the group give up the search for Sophia, and also gung-ho just a couple minutes earlier about massacring the walkers in the barn until he saw one of the group's own had died).
    • Rick takes responsibility for the execution of Randall, but ultimately backs down.
    • Dale at the end of "Judge, Jury, and Executioner" after a walker rips his stomach open and infects him. Either way, Hershel says there's no hope for a wound that serious. Daryl shoots him so Rick doesn't have to.
    • Carl ends up shooting Lori, after she dies during her C-section early in Season 3.
    • In the Season 3 finale, Carl shoots one of The Governor's soldiers in the head even after he surrendered. When Rick questions him about it, he merely tells him that he did what he had to do. Since the soldier was quite young and it was never confirmed if he was truly evil or not, one could argue that it was a Kick the Dog moment.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: After searching for nearly half a season, hoping against hope that she's still alive, the group finally locates Sophia ... as she walks out of Hershel's barn. She had been zombified sometime after Rick left her in her hiding place.
  • Shovel Strike:
    • Rick gets one to the face when Duane mistakes him for a zombie.
    • Later, Rick lays open a zombie's face with a military entrenching tool.
    • And again by Shane when dispatching a group of walkers on the farm.
  • Shower Scene: Comes in two varieties in the Season 1 finale. Rick and Lori share a Shower Of Love while Andrea and Shane had a Shower of Angst, the former over her sister, while the latter over the aforementioned couple. Shane has another one early in Season 2 over shooting and abandoning Otis to be eaten.
  • Simultaneous Arcs: In the first half of Season 3, with Arc # 1 taking place at the prison and Arc #2 at Woodbury.
  • Sink or Swim Mentor: Shane to Andrea, when teaching her how to shoot moving targets. When they're surrounded by Walkers, and Shane's doing all the legwork in keeping them at bay, Andrea can't land a single headshot. When one Walker gets close to her, Shane aims at it, then lowers his weapon to force her to defend herself. Her initial response is an angry and incredulous, "Seriously?!"
  • Sinister Scraping Sound: Deliberately employed by the Governor when tracking down Andrea in an abandoned warehouse, using the shovel he was carrying at the time.
  • Slept Through the Apocalypse: Rick, courtesy of a coma due to being wounded in the line of duty.
  • Soft Glass: Averted in "TS-19" when the group tries to break open the glass windows of the CDC. They spend about a minute trying to break it until they use a grenade to blow it up.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Although some characters have had series deaths differing from those of their comic counterparts, as of the fourth mid-season finale, Carol, Tyreese, and possibly Judith have passed the point in the comic's timeline where they died. Carol's husband Ed was already dead at the start of the comics, but was alive in the second episode of the series, later becoming an early casualty in the first season.
  • Spoiler Opening:
    • "Walk with Me" has a "Previously On" segment at the beginning of the episode. Remember that character you haven't seen since the third episode? His actor is added to the title sequence. No, he won't be showing up now.
    • In "Clear", the "Previously On" segment pretty much gives away the return of a Season 1 character.
  • Spotting the Thread: Daryl figures out that it isn't really his brother Merle talking to him because he still has both his hands.
  • Surprisingly Similar Stories: Would you believe it? With Toy Story!
  • Suspiciously Stealthy Predator: For creatures that supposedly don't have the brains to sneak around, walkers seem remarkably good at slipping up behind people or eluding the notice of sentries until they're dangerously-close.
  • Steel Eardrums: Averted when Rick fires his gun inside a tank. Played straight almost any other time. A particularly bad example happens in "Us", where multiple rounds are fired off in a concrete tunnel that likely would have left everyone deaf for at least a short period.
  • Stepford Suburbia: Woodbury appears to be a type of this. It initially looks like a pleasant enough place inside the walls that protect it from the rest of the Zombie Apocalypse, but then the viewer is given views behind the facade, including a leader that has aquariums with severed zombie heads, prevents anyone from permanently leaving the town, and has no problem with slaughtering any group that could threaten his city, and thus, his power.
  • Swipe Your Bladeoff: Michonne's method of cleaning her katana. She is first seen doing it in "Beside The Dying Fire", and continues to do so in almost every fight with walkers afterwards.
  • Sword and Gun: Merle, who appears in the third season wielding a gun in one hand and, for his other arm (sans hand), a bayonet attachment.
  • Sword Drag: The Governor does this with a shovel in "Prey", while he's hunting Andrea through a dark, empty building. Serves to demonstrate that while his quarry is desperately trying to avoid making any sound, he's not afraid to give away exactly where he is (partly because he also has a gun).

    T 
  • The Talk: When Carl discovers his mother is pregnant, they discuss it a little and it suddenly occurs to her that she and Rick never had an opportunity to give him this.
  • Tanks, But No Tanks: Anyone familiar with tank warfare might spot that the tanks are the wrong nationality — British Chieftains in Atlanta? Perhaps somebody stole it from a war museum or something.
  • Tastes Like Chicken: In the Talking Dead episode following the fourth season finale, Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes' actor) is a guest, and discusses the scene with the Claimers where he rips out the leader's throat with his teeth. When setting up the scene, he's asked by the effects team which kind of meat he'd like for spitting out to simulate the flesh ripped out of the leader's throat, beef or chicken, and going with reasoning of this trope he says chicken. He mentions this was a poor decision on his part, given the specifics of the scene.
  • Team Dad: Rick is the leader and authoritarian of the group, while Dale is the more nurturing example.
  • The Teaser: Each episode opens with one of these. It's usually either a flashback to past events or a moment In Medias Res, with the rest of the episode depicting How We Got Here.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • Rick's reassurance to the horse that the zombies are few and slow and they can flee them easily. Cue Oh Crap moment.
    • Also Rick's reassurance to Glenn involving Maggie. "It's not like she's going anywhere." Somebody should tell him that you never say that sort of thing in this sort of genre.
    • When Glenn sees Hershel walking in the courtyard with crutches in "Killer Within", he says, "Can't we just have one good day?" A few seconds later, walkers come pouring into the courtyard, forcing everyone in the immediate vicinity to run for it.
  • Terrifying Pet Store Rat: The unlucky rat that gets fed to a walker early in Season 4 doesn't struggle or resist being carried, even when held by its tail (which hurts). Any actual wild rat would be squirming and biting like mad to escape a human's grasp, even before it smelled a walker nearby.
  • That Came Out Wrong:
    • Lori says this word-for-word after saying that she'd rather eat Miss Piggy than frog legs.
    • Rick has one of these when he tells Shane that he wouldn't understand his plan to go to CDC because Lori and Carl aren't his family, when it was Shane that took care of them while he was gone.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Rick on Dan in his Papa Wolf moment. First, he calmly cut him open from groin to sternum and then proceeded to stab him numerous times without haste. And stab him more. And some more. Dan was probably dead after first or second strike.
  • Thicker Than Water: Merle and Daryl Dixon, especially Daryl's attitude towards Merle.
  • Throw Away Guns: Averted most of the time. However, there are some exceptions:
    • Merle's rifle and handgun don't appear after the episode "Guts".
    • The revolver Carl learned to shoot in "Secrets" is never seen again.
  • Throw a Barrel at It: Oscar throws a barrel at Andrew to stop his attack on Rick in "Killer Within".
  • Time Skip:
    • The first third season episode "Seed" takes place seven months after the ending of "Beside The Dying Fire", during which time the various characters have changed physically and psychologically (Carl has grown longer hair and much more capable in combat, and Hershel has grown a beard, among others). The episode also conveniently glosses over how they managed to make it through the winter with no secure shelter, no food except what they could scavenge, and nothing but the thin and light clothes on their backs.
    • According to Executive Producer Scott M. Gimple on Talking Dead, there was "six or seven months" between the end of Season 3 and the start of Season 4.
  • Title Drop: Expect the episode names to be uttered by any of the characters within the episode. The series title is dropped by Rick after the group is driven from the farm, and he reveals they're all infected.
  • Token Minority: The cast seems to have a quota of one black male on the heroes' team at any one time; no more, no less. T-Dog is killed in "Killer Within", the same episode where Oscar officially joins the group. Oscar is then shot and killed in "Made to Suffer", the same episode where Tyreese is introduced.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Even when you're having a feast, always watch the perimeter. Taking active measures to prepare a defensible area instead of acting like it's just another camping trip in a normal world, where the biggest concern is a wild animal wandering into camp or some drunken idiot crashing the party, is a good idea, too.
    • In a flashback soldiers are too busy executing hospital staff to watch the doors behind them.
    • Andrew in the Webisodes: walking alone, without a flashlight, into a dark basement, during a Zombie Apocalypse. The crunch followed by the scream was no surprise.
    • Randall jumps off a high wall without properly looking at what's below, and gets his leg impaled on a spiked fence. He would have bled out or become zombie food if Rick didn't decide to help him.
    • Andrea had a fantastic opportunity to steal or disable the Governor's truck, but blew it off in favor of escaping on foot.
    • Meghan, the Governor's adopted daughter is hit hard by this. Despite nearly being killed by Walkers twice over, she's no more attentive than she is if she was watching TV before the apocalypse. Due to this, she plays in the dirt, accidentally un-buries a walker, and is bitten and infected.
    • Rick, Carl, and Michonne come across a man screaming for help in an open field. Despite a clear path in one direction (which also happens to be towards them, though they never make their presence known), he just stands there ineffectually swinging it at the zombies that devour him.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Andrea, in "Chupacabra"/"Secrets". At the end of "Chupacabra", she successfully lands a headshot on Daryl with a hunting rifle at with barely any practice or training. The next episode, she proves to be just as much a natural with a pistol.
    • In "Seed", the entire group has become a much more cohesive unit than the previous time they were seen (seven months earlier, in "Beside The Dying Fire"). The rest of the group (Carl, Beth, and Carol) have learned how to shoot well and conserve their ammo, they're able to clear houses without any form of verbal communication, everyone is able to stab walkers in the head without freaking out, and they've learned how to clear infested areas while moving in a distinct offensive setup.
    • "When the Dead Come Knocking" offers some great perspective on the levels in badass taken by the group; Merle had ruled out the prison as an area that could be salvaged. The news that just ten survivors could have cleared out and secured the area comes as an unwelcome shock to both himself and The Governor.
    • Carl in the third season. He's become much more capable with a handgun (that's equipped with a silencer), and often goes on tasks by himself, even when others chew him out for it. In "Sick", he goes to the medical wing of the prison and singlehandedly kills two walkers to get supplies for Hershel, and in "Made to Suffer", he goes by himself to investigate the screaming, and helps Tyreese and his group get back to the safety of the secured cellblock. Tyreese even addresses Carl as "the man" when the latter locks the former's group in for their own protection.
    • In the first half of the fourth season, Lizzie quickly learns how to handle weapons, and not just against walkers.
    • Beth takes a level in Season 4's "Too Far Gone", opening fire on the Governor's forces following Hershel's execution and taking an active part in the ensuing battle.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass:
    • Shane in the Season 2 finale.
    • Carl in Season 3, to the point of possibly prematurely growing to a teenager's mindset.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Daryl Dixon's positive Character Development serves as a counterpoint to everyone else's descent into cynicism.
  • Trailers Always Spoil:
    • The trailers showed both the wasteland of Atlanta with radio transmissions warning people away and shots of Rick getting shot down by gunmen. The truth about Atlanta was only revealed about halfway through.
    • Double subverted — Rick getting shot actually happened twice. The first time it hit his jacket and the second time it puts him into a coma. Viewers who thought they'd been spoiled by the trailers or the comic actually had their expectations blown away, along with bits of Rick's shoulder and lung.
    • The Season 4 episode "Dead Weight" ended with a cliffhanger of the Governor standing in the woods, un-spotted by any of the prison group, pointing a gun at Michonne. The immediately following On the Next segment ruined this by showing Michonne alive during the prison battle.
  • Trash the Set: A recurring element of the series.
    • In "TS-19", the Center for Disease Control and Prevention self-destructs via a thermobaric incendiary explosion as the group flees.
    • Played with in "Beside The Dying Fire". The Greene family barn (and, by extension, Dale's RV) are destroyed, but the Greene homestead remains untouched.
    • In "Live Bait", the Governor returns to the now abandoned and walker-infested Woodbury and burns it down.
    • In "Too Far Gone", much of the prison is destroyed during the Governor's second assault, mostly thanks to the tank he brings to the fight.
  • True Companions: The survivor group eventually comes to regard each other as this, something which is repeatedly lampshaded throughout Season 3 especially.
    Glenn: My blood, my family is standing right here.

    U 
  • Undead Child:
    • The Teaser of the very first episode, "Days Gone Bye", has Rick encountering (and dispatching) a little girl-turned-walker.
    • Later on, this becomes Sophia's fate.
    • The Governor's undead daughter, Penny, in the opening scene of "Say the Word". He keeps her in a broom closet when he's not brushing her hair.
  • Underestimating Badassery:
    • In "Nebraska" and "Triggerfinger", the "Philadelphia boys" (on two separate occasions) believe that Rick, Glenn, and Hershel will roll over and give them what they want. In the first case, it was two guys who underestimated the sheriff with plenty of experience in headshots (and put their weapons down), and in the second, Hershel proves to be a capable shot as well.
    • In "Better Angels", Shane takes Rick out onto a moonlit field in order to kill him because he believes that he is too soft and cannot protect his family. Rick keeps insisting that he won't defend himself and that all will be forgiven if they can both put their weapons down. However, he's just using the conciliatory talk as a ruse to get in close and put his knife to good use, saying he'll protect his family at all costs.
    • In "Sick", Tomas nearly kills Rick by throwing a zombie on top of him. There is a tense standoff afterward, and he clearly didn't expect the other to try anything; he gets a machete to the head for it.
    • When Joe and his gang catch up with Rick, Carl, and Michonne, Joe holds Rick at gunpoint and tells him his plan is to beat Daryl to death, rape Carl and Michonne, and shoot Rick last. Joe took the backwards groin headbutt in stride, but nobody expected Rick to counter the subsequent bear-hug by ripping Joe's throat open with his teeth. This distracts the rest of Joe's gang enough for Michonne to gun down some of them, Daryl to curbstomp another, and Rick to gut the would-be rapist with a hunting knife.
    • This goes as far as being invoked in-universe by Rick in fourth season finale, when his group is locked up by Terminus inhabitants.
  • 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.
  • Unusual Euphemism: "Opting out," which refers to committing suicide.

    V 
  • Villainous Breakdown: The Governor suffers one after Penny's death, locking himself inside his house and ignoring what's going on Woodbury. He does it again after arriving at Martinez's camp, and failing to escape when he sees things are about to go bad.
  • Villain Decay: Taken quite literally. The zombies in the first couple of episodes were much faster, with some even being able to quickly jog after Rick. However, towards later seasons many zombies have decayed and are much slower. This is intentional on the writers' part, and the zombies are still of course dangerous as they keep their main advantages: numbers and requiring brain damage.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: The Governor, to the people of Woodbury until his gunning down the Woodbury militia in "Welcome to the Tombs" is revealed by the survivor who just barely avoided being killed herself.
    • However, he manages it again after taking control of Martinez's group.
  • The Virus: They went so far as to indicate "it infects the brain like meningitis." Note that meningitis doesn't involve the brain, but the meninges (the membrane around the brain and spinal cord).
  • Vomit Discretion Shot:
    • Glenn, when he and Rick hack up a zombie body with an axe and paint themselves with the guts.
    • Jim after becoming infected.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot:
    • Andrea in the second season, courtesy of Daryl seeking payback for her laughing over a mishap he had as a child.
    • Lori throwing up her morning after pills.
    • Andrea again in "Walk with Me", just after she and Michonne discover the crashed Army helicopter.
    • Carl in "After", shortly after he kills three walkers by himself.

    W 
  • Watching Troy Burn:
    • Hershel and Daryl manage to get a long last look at the overrun farmstead and burning barn in "Beside The Dying Fire".
    • Averted in "Too Far Gone" when Rick tells Carl not to look back as they flee the burning prison.
  • We Used to Be Friends: The friendship between Rick and Shane is tense since the outbreak. Shane having slept with Rick's wife in his absence doesn't help.
  • Weird West: Beginning with homages to the genre in Season 1, to incorporating Western themes and stories in the subsequent seasons.
  • Wham Episode:
    • "Vatos": Abusive Ed and Amy are killed in a large zombie attack, and Jim is infected, forcing the group to abandon their camp and leave Jim to die.
    • "Pretty Much Dead Already": The barn zombies are massacred by the group, Shane rebels against Hershel's rules, and most shockingly Sophia turns out to be a zombie.
    • "Judge, Jury, Executioner": After Dale breaks down due to the group becoming uncivilized enough to execute Randall, he proceeds to get attacked by a walker. Even more wham due to the fact it's the same walker Carl tried to shoot in the swamp, but ended up freeing it instead.
    • "Better Angels": Shane completely loses it, kills Randall, and tries to kill Rick, who kills him in self-defense. Then he comes back as a walker and Carl has to shoot him. Oh, and the gunshot attracts a horde of walkers, which approaches the farm. Oh and it no longer seems to be just being scratched and bitten by a walker is all it takes to turn you into one. Randall became one despite his cause of death being nothing more than getting his neck broken.
    • "Beside The Dying Fire": The farm gets attacked by a horde, and all hell breaks loose. Jimmy dies saving Rick and Carl, Patricia dies while trying to run and everyone is forced to flee in separate directions, while leaving Andrea (who was presumed dead) behind. Andrea kills a ton of walkers before being saved at the last second by a mysterious hooded stranger (fan-favorite Michonne from the comic series), Glenn finally admits he loves Maggie, Rick reveals the truth about Jenner's whisper and Shane's death to the group, and it finally ends with a reveal of the prison.
    • "Killer Within": Andrew (the convict Rick left locked outside as a horde closed in on him) activates the prison's generator/alarm system, drawing in walkers from all around the area. The group is separated. Oscar shoots Andrew to save Rick. T-Dog gets bit by a walker, then goes out in a Heroic Sacrifice to give Carol a chance to escape. Lori requires an emergency C-section (from Maggie), and dies as a result of the procedure; Carl shoots his mother to prevent her from coming back as a walker.
    • "Made to Suffer": A new group of people arrives at the prison, and the plan to sneak in to Woodbury to find Glenn and Maggie without trouble fails when a gunfight erupts between both sides. Oscar is killed in the ensuing chaos, and Daryl is captured while trying to buy time for the others to escape. The Governor finds out that Michonne is alive when she sneaks into his office, kills his infected daughter, and stabs him in the eye with a shard of broken glass. Merle's decision to lie to the Governor about Michonne's demise leads the Governor to brand Merle a traitor in the middle of an angry crowd of Woodbury citizens, using the captured Daryl as proof to connect Merle to the 'terrorist' group. Andrea, who chooses to stand against Michonne when they confront each other in the Governor's office, suddenly looks very unsure of where she stands when Daryl and Merle alike are thrown into the ring. The Governor declares war on Rick's group.
    • Season 4 starts off with a new virus was shown that passes off like the flu. And it just keeps getting heavier after the end of each episode.
      • "Infected": Most of the prison falling prey to this, including Tyreese's girlfriend Karen and those who were in the cell block where the virus started, including Glenn and others. And it ends with Tyreese finding Karen and another survivor murdered and brunt to a crisp.
      • "Isolation": Not only Tyreese losing his shit, those still being now inflected with the virus were isolated, including Hershel after being coughed upon and blood hitting his face. Rick also finds out that it was Carol whom had murdered Karen and the other survivor to protect the prison.
      • "Indifference": While Daryl and others look for medical supplies, Rick exiles Carol, on a supply trip with her, after knowing he couldn't have her in his group anymore in fear of what would happen if it was Judith and Carl who were suffering from it. Especially since Tyreese would probably murder her in revenge which will help nothing.
      • "Too Far Gone" (mid-season finale): The Governor attacks the Prison again with his new group (including a tank). By the time it's over there are tons of casualties including Hershel, the Governor, and most of the Governor's army are dead, the Prison is in ruins and overrun by Walkers, Judith may or may not be dead, and the prison group has been scattered.
  • Wham Line:
    • From "Better Angels":
    "So this is where you're planning to do it?"
    • From "Beside The Dying Fire":
    "We're all infected."
    • "Made to Suffer" had two in succession:
    "There's a traitor among us. Merle, a man I trusted!"
    "We also captured one of those terrorists, Merle's own brother!"
    • From "Isolation":
    "Did you kill Karen and David?"
    • From "Too Far Gone":
  • Wham Shot:
    • The last walker coming out of Hershel's barn in "Pretty Much Dead Already".
    • Shane and Randall reanimating without getting bitten in "Better Angels".
    • The aforementioned "Duane turned" graffiti from "Clear".
    • Tyreese seeing the trail of spilled blood, leading to him seeing the bracelet of the burned corpse in "Infected".
    • The Governor appearing at the end of "Internment".
    • Carol telling Lizzie to look at the flowers...
  • What Happened To Mommy: A variation. Hershel's wife was infected and kept in the barn because he believed a cure would be found. His wife is eventually shot in the face by Daryl in "Pretty Much Dead Already", proving to him and his family (especially Beth, who tries to cradle the body and almost gets chowed on) that she couldn't have been saved anyway.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Morgan and his son are the first survivors Rick meets after he wakes up from his coma. They promise to follow Rick to Atlanta later, but when Rick finds that Atlanta has been overrun, he tries to warn Morgan over the radio. However, he is unsure if Morgan heard the warning and his fate is left unknown until Season 3's "Clear", where he's shown to have become batshit crazy.
    • The Morales family decides to split from Rick's group after they decide to go to the CDC, stating that they want to try and find some family members in Alabama. They are never seen or heard from again.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Hershel and his family believe that the Walkers are simply people afflicted with a disease that can be cured, which which is why he refrains from killing them. Rick's group find this belief absurd, since walkers are clearly dead and most have decomposed far beyond the capacity for any miracle cure. Ultimately the farm family comes around.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Lori chews out the rest the group for their lack of faith in Rick's leadership ability, telling them that if they really thought that, they were free to leave at any time.
    • In "Pretty Much Dead Already", Shane causes the slaughter of Hershel's undead family and friends by releasing them, forcing everyone to open fire while Hershel and his family can only watch. After Shane finally spells out Walkers are inhuman monsters that eat people, an undead Sophia stumbles out of the barn, giving everyone a perspective on what they've just done.
    • Daryl verbally lashing out at Carol in "Triggerfinger".
    • Andrea chews out Lori in "18 Miles Out" for not facing the facts that everything is a Crapsack World and not a World Half Full, which Lori believes there was still hope in their lives after the bad stuff that happens.
    • Subverted in the Season 2 finale "Beside The Dying Fire" when various members of Rick's group are visibly disgusted with him after he admits to killing Shane before the major zombie attack happened at Hershel's barn, and Carol outright states that Rick's no longer an honorable man. Rick basically tells them to fuck off, saying that his actions have burdened him, especially since the person he killed was his best friend, and that no one else is making any substantial decisions to lead the group.
    • In "This Sorrowful Life", Merle makes his opinion known to Rick after Rick asks him to deliver Michonne to The Governor in order to get him to call off the attack on the prison. He still agrees to do it, though. Though this is not so much an Even Evil Has Standards moment so much as just Merle being Merle and messing with Rick.
      Merle: (after speculating on what he thinks The Governor will do to her) You're willing to do all that for a shot? You're cold as ice, Officer Friendly.
    • Subverted with Maggie, after she learned Carol had been exiled by Rick for killing Karen. She doesn't chew out Rick but instead agrees with him over the choice he had to make.
  • Who's Your Daddy?: "Cherokee Rose", Lori's new pregnancy kicked this off, with Shane being the potential father of Judith.
  • Why Don't Ya Just Shoot Him?: Occasionally suggested, but only rarely. Beginning with the very first episode, and frequently repeated afterward, it's made clear that shooting one walker can (will) attract more. If you can't take them out silently, then you should run.
  • With This Ring: Glenn cuts two fingers off a walker, to get an engagement ring for Maggie.
  • Woman in White: Rick hallucinates seeing Lori after her death, dressed "in a floor-length white dress and with her Face Framed in Shadow. Given the Scavenger Punk nature of every other outfit we ever see, the effect is particularly striking.

    Y 
  • Yandere: Shane.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Happens once an episode, with the most notorious one being the CDC event.
  • You Are Already Infected:
    • Rick reveals the big secret in which Dr. Jenner told him in the Season 1 finale to the others in the Season 2 finale. Everyone is infected and will turn into a walker regardless upon death...unless you die by headshot.
    • The Governor reveals this to Andrea and Michonne in "Walk With Me", as the duo were not with Rick when he told the same thing to his group.
  • You Didn't Ask: A variant with Hershel in the episode "Triggerfinger", in that the lateness of the revelation is pretty minor and inconsequential in this case. Given Hershel's attitude toward guns and killing, Rick had been assuming Hershel didn't know how to use guns and remarks that the gun training they'd been offering "would have come in handy" in their current predicament. Hershel then readies his gun and replies "I can shoot, just don't like to."
  • You Have Failed Me:
    • Merle tells the Governor that Michonne is dead in "Say the Word". Two episodes later, when she turns out to still be alive, and kills the Governor's walker daughter, the Governor has Merle arrested as a traitor who aided the "terrorist" attack on Woodbury".
    • Exaggerated Trope — after the Woodbury militia's assault on the prison turns into a rout, The Governor tears after the fleeing amateur "soldiers", runs their car off the road and guns down 20-odd people, then kills Allen when he pulls a gun on him. Even Martinez and Shumpert are horrified.
  • You Would Do the Same for Me: Glenn's given reasoning behind sticking his neck out to save Rick: he hopes if he ever gets that far up shit creek, someone would do the same for him. Two episodes later, Rick repays the favour.

    Z 
  • Zerg Rush: The Governor acknowledges that his people aren't anywhere near as skilled and proven as Rick and the Atlanta group, but he has far superior numbers to make up for that fact.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: The biological infection version, as revealed in the CDC exposition.
  • Zombie Advocate:
    • Hershel has a barn full of walkers locked up.
    • The Governor keeps his zombie daughter chained up and locked in a closet, except when he's combing her hair.
    • One of the newer survivors that came from Woodbury believes that the Walkers can still listen.
    • Lizzie thinks the zombies are still people, just different.
  • Zombie Gait: Some of the walkers do this. And Daryl too, due to his injuries and the ordeal he endured to get back to the farm. It results in him being mistaken for a zombie.
  • Zombie Infectee: Usually dealt with sanely; affected limb cut off if possible, restrained until death, put down once they turn.

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