Follow TV Tropes

Following

Sandbox / TWD Show 1

Go To

  • 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.
    • Advertisement:
    • 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.
    • Advertisement:
    • "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
      Advertisement:
    • 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, replaced with one teenage daughter, Beth.
    • 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.
    • Outliving One's Offspring and Kill the Ones You Love have been played several times during the show.
  • 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 (1968), 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.
  • And Starring:
    • David Morrissey (The Governor) in Season 3 and the last three episodes of the first half of Season 4.
    • Scott Wilson (Hershel) during his tenure in the "Also starring" lineup. Strangely when he'spromoted, he is still billed last but without the "And" treatment.
  • 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.
  • Antagonist Title: Also counts as Double-Meaning Title since "the walking dead" doesn't just refer to the walkers, but also to the other survivors who killed/lost their humanity and went into the deep end due to the stress of the Zombie Apocalypse.
  • 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, Ana, Dr Caleb, David Chalmers, Shumpert, Martinez, Pete, Hershel, Meghan, Mitch, Alisha, The Governor, Lily, Mika, Lizzie, all the members of Joe's gang, Alex.
    • Season 5: Sam, Mary, Mike, Greg, Albert, Theresa, Martin, Gareth, Bob, Joan, Gorman, Lamson, O'Donnell, Beth, Dawn.
    • The only characters who have survived since the first season are: Rick, Carl, Daryl, Glenn, Carol, and Morgan.
  • 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 two years 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. Automotive gasoline goes bad after six months to a year. Ammunition 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 Symbol:
    • Walls and gates/doors for Season 3.
    • Fire, crucifixes and crosses for Season 5.
  • Arc Words:
    • "Family" for Season 3.
    • "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.
    • Done subtly in season 5. Rick's group confronts the Hunters, a gang of cannibals, in a church which prominently displays the quote "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life" from John 6:54. The verses on the wall of the inside of the church all reference resurrection of the dead, but would only be obvious to those well-versed in the Bible or look them up.
  • 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.
  • Audience Surrogate: Beth, during her dual Day in the Limelight episode with Daryl. One could make the argument that much of that episode was intended as Wish Fulfillment for Daryl's female fans.
  • 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.

  • 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, Gareth and the Terminus crew for the end of season 4 and beginning of season 5 and Dawn and her officers in the first half of season 5.
  • 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.
    • If you take the trope by name in Season 5, Bob Stookey. The character isn't the season's first casualty per se, but the first casualty of the protagonists group.
  • 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.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Merle displays this throughout Season 3. He dismisses Michonne's flight into zombie-infested territory with a No One Could Survive That!. Later, he locks Glenn in a room with a Walker and then leaves, despite the room being filled which potential weapons and obstacles, all of which get used in the Walker's defeat. Then, when he and his soldiers recapture Glenn and Maggie following a brief battle, instead of gunning them down where they stand, he prepares to kill them execution-style, giving their friends plenty of time to sneak up and begin lobbing smoke grenades.
  • 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".
    • How Dawn kills Beth in "Coda", and what Daryl does to Dawn in turn.
  • 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".
    • Morgan cameos in the season 5 premiere.
  • 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.
    • Sam from "Indifference" came back in "No Sanctuary" for a few minutes and ends up dying after getting knocked out with a baseball bat to the head and then getting his throat slashed with a knife by some cannibal butchers.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • The show is not kind to anybody, naturally, but even among this cast Bob Stookey stands out. He was the Lone Survivor of two separate groups before he even appeared in the series, which drove him into an alcoholic depression. Shortly into Season 4, his momentary weakness in reaching for a bottle of liquor collapses a shelf on him and costs Zach his life in saving him. Later, he is nearly thrown out of the group for doing it again on a medicine run. After finally finding brief happiness in Season 5 with Sasha, he gets kidnapped by the Terminus survivors, who proceed to keep him alive just so they can gloat about eating his leg.

  • 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, Merle tells him that he nearly killed "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.
    • Sarah Wayne Callies as Lori likewise shows up as a hallucination several times in the third season.
    • The third season features Emma Bell (Amy), Andrew Rothenberg (Jim) and Jeryl Prescott Sales (Jacqui) in voice only roles.
    • 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".
    • Lennie James as Morgan shows up at The Stinger of the season 5 premiere, "No Sanctuary".
  • Camera Abuse: Blood and/or brains are often splattered onto the camera, usually resulting from a gunshot, blunt object, or axe to the head.
  • Cannibal Larder: As Rick, Daryl, Glenn, and Bob escape being butchered in Terminus (amidst an increasingly unsubtle string of hints that the people of Terminus were cannibals), they pass through a room with several bloody human torsos hanging from hooks.
  • Canon Foreigner: Quite a few — Merle, Daryl, 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.
  • Car Cushion: Several walkers fall from an overpass onto a van that had just fallen off said overpass. The accompanying Talking Dead episode referred to the first one, in its "In Memoriam" section, as "wait for it walker", as there was several seconds delay between the van's landing and that of the walker.
  • 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.
  • Cliffhanger: 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.
    • Because of the Dale's early death, his characterization starting the prison arc was fused with the Hershel. After Hershel dies in season 4, Bob picks up the remaining remaining slack.
    • 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 both 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.
    • Meghan Chambler is actually a combination of two important people in Lily Caul's life; her main counterpart is the latter's stillborn child, but her given name was taken from the latter's best friend, Megan Lafferty.
    • Due to dying way too early, Andrea's characterizations from the comics were distributed; her supposed role as the group's resident Lady of War was given to Carol, while her and Dale's roles up until the Fear the Hunters arc were respectively given to Sasha and Bob.
  • 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?

Top

Example of:

/
/

Feedback