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  • Lady Macbeth: Lori has a moment of this at the end of "Triggerfinger".
  • The Lancer:
    • Shane is Rick's lancer until "Judge, Jury, Executioner" when Daryl steps up in his place.
    • Daryl replaces Shane and also shares the role with Hershel, Rick's mentor and father figure, in Season 3.
    • Michonne comes to share the role of Lancer with Daryl to Rick starting in late Season 4. In mid late Season 7, Rick outright tells her that she's his pick to take over if he dies.
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    • By the end of Season 5, Rick has a reliable group of lancers who are his inner circle and all fulfill the position of Lancer from time to time, including Carol, Daryl, Glenn, Michonne, and Abraham.
    • Jesus becomes Maggie's Lancer at the end of Season 7, after she assumes leadership of Hilltop.
  • Last Episode, New Character:
    • Michonne debuts in the Season 2 finale, "Beside the Dying Fire".
    • Gareth and most of the Terminus residents are introduced in the Season 4 finale, "A".
    • Owen and the Wolves are introduced in the fifth season finale "Conquer" after a half-season of build-up.
    • Negan is introduced in the sixth season finale, "Last Day on Earth", along with his Dragon Simon.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: By nature of the show being so heavily serialized, many seasons start off with information that was originally a twist or spoiler now being commonplace knowledge.
    • Season 3 reestablishes early-on that all survivors are infected with an airborne strand of the walker plague, and will reanimate upon death unless their brain is destroyed.
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    • Season 5 starts with the group's incarceration at Terminus, when Season 4 had a building subplot over whether or not it was a benevolent sanctuary.
    • Season 7 immediately opens with the group at the mercy of Negan, following on from the cliffhanger that ended Season 6.
    • Season 8 opens with the allied communities going to war with Negan, after Season 7's main theme was whether or not they should try to rise up against the Saviors. It also almost immediately shows that Dwight has pulled a Heel–Face Turn and has become The Mole for Rick.
    • Season 9's premise revolves around Rick's victorious outcome at the end of the war with the Saviors. You also can’t start watching Season 10 without learning that Rick is MIA and presumed dead.
    • Additionally, several character deaths are so integral to the main plot or the Character Development of those who outlive them that knowledge of their demise is secondhand knowledge for viewers. Particular offenders include but are not limited to Shane, Lori, Hershel, Beth, Abraham, Glenn, and Carl.
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  • Laughing Mad: Bob when he reveals to the Hunters eating his leg he had been bitten and was "tainted meat".
  • The Law Of Inverse Recoil: Realistic recoil is never depicted.
  • The Leader:
    • Rick comes to lead his group by popular, unspoken vote in Season 1. Shane tries to usurp the position multiple times in Season 2 until he's killed by Rick after one attempt too many. Later, Rick cedes leadership to a council consisting of Hershel (who is the head of the group), Carol, Daryl, Sasha, and Glenn, but is forced to take back the leadership role when Hershel is killed and the prison falls.
    • Rick's group actually has a lot of members who are capable leaders in their own right. Abraham is a former military sergeant who led his own group from Houston to Atlanta, Glenn becomes the leader of a group in the back half of Season 4, Carol is placed in charge when Rick's briefly away in Season 5, Daryl's taken over for Rick occasionally in Season 3, and Tyreese also led his own group before meeting Rick.
    • Leaders of other communities and groups include: Gregory for Hilltop Colony, Negan for the Saviors, Ezekiel for the Kingdom, Jadis for the Scavengers, Natania and later Cyndie for Oceanside, and Magna for her own group.
    • Maggie becomes the unofficial leader of Hilltop in Season 8, after selflessly risking herself (and her unborn child) to defend the community from a Savior attack. Becomes official in Season 9, after the community holds a vote between her and Gregory.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • At the end of "Inmates" after barely holding off a pack of walkers, Tara shouts out "Hope you enjoyed the show, assholes!" while looking directly at the camera. She was really shouting at Abraham Ford, though.
    • At the end of "East," Dwight shoots Daryl and the screen fades to black. Just before the credits roll, Dwight casually remarks, "You'll be all right," as if to reassure the audience that Daryl is simply injured, not dead.
    • During Glenn's death in "The Day Will Come When You Won't Be" has Negan say "You bunch of pussies, I'm just getting started." While he is directly addressing Rick's group it makes sense that he would be talking to the audience with this line as well, since he quickly proves that as hard to watch as Abraham's death was, he really saved the gore and brutality for poor Glenn.
  • Leave Behind a Pistol:
    • 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.
    • The way Andrea goes out after she's bitten. Michonne insists on staying with her at the end, though.
    • In "Start to Finish" Deanna insists on killing herself before she turns rather than Michonne doing it for her, so Rick, Michonne and the others leave her behind with a gun when they leave the house. Deanna ends up using the gun to kill some walkers rather than commit suicide.
  • Leave Him to Me:
    • The Governor says this before his fight with Merle.
    • Rick tells Michonne not to shoot Dan, who tried to rape Carl, so he can stab him to death.
    • Implied with both Rick and Sasha who specifically target Gareth and Martin during the church massacre; Gareth had forced Rick to his knees and laughed off Rick's vow to kill him with his red machete, while Martin had personally harassed Sasha's brother Tyreese and had personally delivered Bob to the Hunters for dinner.
  • 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:
    • In "Live Bait," the Governor torches Woodbury to the ground after finding that it has been abandoned.
    • In "Still," Daryl and Beth torch the house they had gone to for the purpose of getting drunk off the stored moonshine, Flipping the Bird at the flaming house that represented Daryl's past.
  • Licked by the Dog: Shiva not only allows Daryl to get close to her, but she then starts to rub her muzzle to his hand.
  • Life-or-Limb Decision:
    • Merle cuts off his own hand in "Tell It to the Frogs" when T-Dog panics and leaves him handcuffed to a pipe as walkers are attacking.
    • In "Triggerfinger," Hershel considers doing this to free Randall from the fence post his leg is impaled on, but when a mob of walkers shows up and leave them with no time, Rick ends up just yanking it free instead.
    • In "Seed," Hershel gets bitten on the ankle, prompting Rick to hack his leg off just below the knee to try and save him.
    • Carol prepares to save Ryan Samuels by removing his arm in "Infected," but she stops when she sees that he was also bitten on the back of the neck.
    • Dr. S amputates the arm of a Red Shirt in "Isolation," but the man dies anyway.
    • In "Slabtown," Dr. Edwards amputates Joan's arm after she is bitten by a walker. Interestingly, she uses this life-saving procedure to kill herself when she pulls out her stitches.
    • In Season 5's "What Happened and What's Going On," Tyreese gets bitten on the arm. He goes without aid for quite a long time, so he's already delirious when Michonne amputates it. This just makes the blood loss worse, which is why he isn't able to survive.
    • In "Always Accountable," Daryl tricks Savior Mook Cam into getting his arm bitten by a walker. Wade, the Mook Lieutenant, saves him by cutting it off.
    • An interesting case in "No Way Out." Rick cuts off Jessie's hand, not to save her life, but to save Carl's, because she's holding him while being devoured and won't let go, having lost the ability to do so since she’s either dead or dying.
    • In "The Bridge", Aaron has his arm crushed under a falling log when a group of walkers attack the camp where everyone is working on repairing the titular bridge, and Enid is forced to amputate it in order to save him from the massive blood loss.
  • Lighter and Softer:
    • The Governor is not as evil as his comic counterpart, though he still crosses the Moral Event Horizon regardless when he decides that Hershel Greene's head would look great in his fish tank.
    • Some other changes are made as well, such as Carol not committing suicide and Judith surviving instead of her deceased mother falling on top of her.
    • "Still." Though it involves Daryl and Beth coming to terms with the Governor's attack on the prison, their quest for booze is decidedly low stakes.
    • "The Next World," taking place in Season 6, when things had just been markedly dark, is extremely light-hearted and hilarious, from Rick and Daryl digging around for soda and candy, to the duo chasing Jesus through a field a la The Dukes of Hazzard, to Rick and Michonne finally deciding to consummate their relationship. Lots of laughs, barely any death, and even a bit of romance.
    • "The Well", which introduces the Kingdom, a bastion of hope and peace, and its' affable, humorous leader King Ezekiel.
    • In the comics, it's revealed that Lydia, and presumably, other female Whisperers, are frequently raped by the men in the group, which is apparently condoned by Alpha as a necessity to ensure peace within the Whisperers, as well as a means of helping to force the women to grow stronger and fight back. However, Alpha pleads with Rick to take Lydia so that she no longer has to endure this. This entire aspect of the Whisperers is completely absent from the series, presumably to allow Alpha's villainy to be heightened in the series, and remove what was her one redeeming quality in the comics.
  • The Load:
    • At first, 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 the time skip before Season 3, he definitively Took a Level in Badass and is no longer a load.
    • In the first two seasons, characters sometimes argue about whether they're pulling their weight in the group or not, basically accusing each other of being The Load.
  • Living Is More Than Surviving: In Season 5, Abraham Ford is in a discussion with the core Atlanta group, and offers a toast to survivors, but then challenges the group to do more than survive, and join Ford's group on their way to Washington, DC with Eugene, a person who says he can help end the Zombie Apocalypse. Eugene lied, butAbraham’s words resonate with the group for the rest of the season, as shown when Michonne convinces Rick to move the group to DC anyway since they need to at least try to find a life worth living.
  • 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. Starting in Season 7, the show shifts focus between several large communities of people, one of which numbers in the hundreds.
  • Long-Runner Cast Turnover: Of the 11 characters who appeared in the first season and have been credited in the "main cast" at some point in the series, only three are still in the show by the end of the 8th season. Of all characters credited as "main cast," 14 have been killed. And that's not even getting into the many recurring and "also starring" characters.
  • 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 / Love Makes You Evil: The combined stress of the apocalypse as well as his self-deluded lust for Lori causes Shane to become an insane villain.
  • 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.
    • Rosita/Abraham/Sasha have a type 5. Rosita loves Abraham, but he's sick of her and wants to be with Sasha, who initially isn't very interested (partially because he’s hitting on her while still being with another woman).
    • Subverted in Season 9. Rosita is pregnant with Siddiq’s baby despite being in a relationship with Gabriel, but the baby was conceived in a fling before she got with Gabriel. The trio is able to talk it out like adults, and Rosita and Gabriel agree to raise the child together when it’s born. The trio is also aided by Eugene, who has unrequited feelings for Rosita and has accepted it. Lampshaded in the Season 9 finale when Negan tries to heckle them about the situation, but the others are only slightly amused since they aren't having a soap opera like Negan had hoped.
  • Low-Angle Empty World Shot: Used fairly often to save on having to close streets and dress them with trash.
  • 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. This is intentional, to signal the decay of walker bodies over time, though, oddly, freshly reanimated walkers are just as easy to put down.
  • Madness Mantra: In "Clear", the eponymous word spray-painted repeatedly on the walls by Morgan, among other assorted graffiti. He later begins using phrases like “I don’t die”, and “you know what it is”.
  • 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.
    • Abraham and Rosita have sex on the floor of a bookstore with Eugene (and, briefly, Tara) peeping on them.
  • 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 3.
    • When The Governor returns to the prison in Season 4.
    • The Hunters panic when they learn they've been eating Bob's "tainted meat".
    • When a pack of wild dogs attacks the group in "Them", the group is bewildered as they prepare to defend themselves, clearly extremely dumbfounded to be facing their first threat from wild animals.
    • When the tower falls, breaking part of the wall and letting the herd into Alexandria in "Start to Finish."
  • Mauve Shirt: Some characters survive long enough to get at the very least a name or even a minor backstory.
  • 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.
    • Eugene is shocked to see Rick and Carl reunite with Judith in "No Sanctuary". He later admits a severe case of Survivor's Guilt for all the people who died trying to get him to Washington, suggesting he was horrified that his wild goose chase may eventually cause the death of a baby girl.
  • Mercy Kill:
    • Averted with Randall, who is ultimately slain by Shane for his troubles.
    • 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.
    • AHK is forced to administer several of these to their friends once they learn that they were wounded by Savior weapons coated with walker blood, dooming them to die and reanimate.
  • 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:
    • Merle in Season 1. He puts the group in danger by needlessly firing his gun and attracting walkers, and then hurls racial slurs and physically attacks other members of the group, all while high on meth. They return to Atlanta to rescue Merle (the disagreement over which is the first argument between Rick and Shane), during which time Glenn is kidnapped by the Vatos. After freeing himself, Merle steals their van, forcing them to walk back to camp and possibly increasing the casualties at the fish fry attack.
    • 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.
    • Negan develops a soft spot for Carl, and is willing to let him off easy if he crosses him. When Carl dies, Negan genuinely grieves and begins giving Rick offers of peace (under his continued subjugation, of course) to honor Carl. He later forms a genuine attachment to Judith and begins making strides to a Heel–Face Turn for her sake.
  • The Mountains of Illinois: Atlanta residents were amused to see the picturesque Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre masquerading as CDC headquarters, miles away.
  • Mundanger:
    • In "When the Dead Come Knocking," the group encounters a crazed hobo with a shotgun.
    • In the first half of Season 4, the group faces a major threat in the form of a deadly virus.
    • Perhaps the most striking example is in "Them," where the main threats to the group are starvation, dehydration, a pack of wild dogs, and a storm. In the situation with the dogs, the group had never before been attacked by wild animals, explaining their Mass "Oh, Crap!".
    • Once reaching Alexandria in the back half of Season 5, the main threats to the group are an abusive alcoholic, a lying coward, and a suicidal priest.
    • In a twisted way, the walkers become this starting in the second half of Season 9. The survivors had grown so competent at dealing with them, up to and including large herds, that everyone was kind of used to them. Then the Whisperers arrived, and began hiding themselves in hordes of walkers, meaning that now any group of walkers may well be hiding a murderous gang of psychopaths with knives.
  • 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. He begins to grow out of this come Season 5 (even after the Terminus battle), leaving Rick to take up the reins.
    • Carol also develops this belief, leading to conflict with Morgan in season 6.
    • Simon claims to champion this in season 8, but it’s more about satisfying his unquenchable bloodlust and psychotic desires.
  • The Musketeer: Almost everyone is enforced to become equally skilled in using melee weapons and firearms in case the latter runs out of ammo.
  • 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.
    • Daryl is completely devastated when his attempt to defy Negan doesn't result in him getting killed, but Glenn.
  • My Greatest Failure: Daryl considers both Beth and Glenn's deaths as this for him. Beth because he made a careless mistake that resulted in her eventual abduction, and Glenn because his attempt to defy Negan resulted in Negan choosing Glenn to die. He can't even bring himself to speak to Maggie for almost the entirety of the rest of the season.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Plenty of moments or scripts are lifted almost directly from the comics. For a few Season 5 examples, there's Aaron's introduction and Gareth's speech to Bob as he eats his leg in front of him.
    • Several titles of volumes are made into episode titles; among them "This Sorrowful Life" (Merle's last episode) and "Too Far Gone" (the climactic prison war). There's also "A Larger World", the tag line of the second half of Season 6 which adapts that volume.
    • Glenn and Maggie first become involved in episode 10, much like their comic counterparts in the comic's 10th issue.
    • Michonne debuted in episode 19, much liker her comic counterpart did in the comic's 19th issue.
    • 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 that episode, 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.
    • Rick has been using his left hand for the first half of Season 4, nodding to his Handicapped Badass status in the comics.
    • The adaptation of the prison war occurs in Season 4, episode eight, whereas in the comic it took place in issue 48.
    • After the events of "The Grove", Carol, Tyreese and Judith are in a single party. All three characters at that point in the timeline were Spared by the Adaptation.
    • The Season 5 premiere had a lot of fun with it.
      • Glenn was almost beaten by a baseball bat in the head twice. This is how he met his end at the comic.
      • At the same above scene, a mook is sharpening a knife behind Rick, with the knife looking like the one the Governor used in the comic to chop his (right) hand off.
      • Carol and Tyreese encounters a blonde walker wearing Andrea's comic outfit.
    • By the end of "Slabtown", Beth has acquired scars across her forehead and cheek, which coupled with the blonde ponytail make her appearance strikingly similar to that of Andrea from the comics.
    • In "What Happened and What's Going On," Glenn picks up a baseball bat, once again reminding comic book fans of the character's original death and seemingly hinting towards Negan's approach in the series' future. It ended up being Foreshadowing as Glenn is eventually killed by Negan with a bat just as in the comics.
    • "First Time Again" has its flashback sequences all in black and white, giving it a similar appearance to the comics.
    • In "The Next World", Carl hangs around the woods with Enid reading Invincible, another Robert Kirkman comic. Talking Dead immediately Lampshades this in its quiz of the week.
    • In “Some Guy”, Gunther threatens to decapitate Ezekiel and present his head to Negan on a pike. This was the fate of Comic! Ezekiel, who was killed by Alpha this way, but his TV counterpart is fortunate enough to survive this fate.
    • In “The Storm”, Carol stops Lydia from committing suicide by feeding herself to a walker. This was how Carol’s comic counterpart died.
  • 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 mentioned. By extension, Carol and Sophia also get surnames.
    • Shane Walsh, Glenn Rhee, and Dale Horvath are also given surnames (the latter two of which were revealed by Word of God). Andrea and Amy may have been surnamed Harris via an easter egg in Survival Instinct, and Tyreese and Sasha were given the last name Williams by Tyreese's action figure.
    • The Marauders were named "The Claimers", with each member getting names as well.
    • Technically Mary since Chris' mother is not a character in the comic.
    • Abraham's nameless children were given the names Becca and A.J.
    • The posthumous members of Abraham's group were given the names Warren, Rex, Josiah, Dirk, Stephanie, Josephine, Roger, and Pam.
    • The nameless Savior biker was called Bud on the show, as revealed by his actor on a Reddit AMA.
  • 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 "When 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.
    • Slimeball cop Gorman tries to rape Beth in "Slabtown", but she quickly feeds him to a nearby walker.
    • Michonne and Carl are threatened with it by Joe's group so that they can force Rick to watch. Carl gets the worst of it, because he's actually being held down and on the verge of being raped when Rick takes matters into his own hands.
    • In "Something They Need" David attempts to rape Sasha, and is stopped by Negan.
  • 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 from dehydration and starvation.
    • During the attack of the prison in "Too Far Gone", Rick and Carl find Judith's empty baby carrier, and they both break down in tears and anger, assuming she's dead. In "Inmates", however, we discover Tyreese took her from her carrier and with him, Lizzie, and Mica. What's more heartbreaking is Season 4 ends and Rick and Carl still have no idea that Judith is alive (despite Lizzie's "well intentioned" attempts to kill her).
    • Rick is able to shoot Gareth in the shoulder during the Terminus battle and we see him go down, but he's never shown to have died from it. Rick is fully aware of this trope by this point and orders the group to return to the compound to wipe out the survivors, but he's essentially overruled by his group. Sure enough, Gareth and the survivors of Terminus are back to bother them in the next episode.
    • Played With in the group's main assault on the Saviors. While they find (after creating) plenty of bodies, they have no idea which one of them is Negan, and the few Survivors they are able to question are less then helpful about clearing up the confusion. Negan wasn't even there, nor were the bulk of his Saviors, and he turns up again in the season finale to make the group pay.
    • Daryl says this verbatim when explaining to Carol why he's spent so long on his own looking for Rick after the latter's presumed death.
  • Never My Fault:
    • Shane refuses to accept that his poor management of the Atlanta camp left them wide open targets for walkers, and blames Rick for the losses they take.
    • Deranged Dr. Pete Anderson is so deluded that he blames everyone else for his troubles at the end of Season 5, despite the fact that it all started because he was beating his wife. Even when he accidentally kills Reg, Pete doesn’t even try to claim it was an accident and immediately blames Rick.
    • The Saviors generally are childish bullies who abuse their slave states even if they’re being totally compliant. If there’s a problem, it’s not their fault, even if they openly started it.
    • The Savior Gavin is a lazy, selfish prick who claims to want everything to go as smoothly and peacefully as possible, but allows his asshole lieutenant Jared to antagonize the Kingdom and create more tensions. Despite Jared clearly repeatedly starting conflict, Gavin just chastises Ezekiel for everything, all the way up to when he tries to directly attack the Kingdom.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The trailers usually really can't be trusted too much, especially the ones shown at Comic Con.
    • 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.
    • The third season's Comic-Con trailer indicated that the Governor showed up at the prison early on in the season, and met with Rick, Daryl and T-Dog. While it was accurate in that Daryl and T-Dog had become Rick's two right-hand men, T-Dog dies long before the Governor first arrives at the prison. The Governor's first visit is to attack it, not to talk, as the trailer suggests.
    • Promos for "Us" showed a long haired brunette man being beaten down, making it seem that Daryl is being beaten by the Claimers. Instead, it's the lying (and similarly long-haired and brunette) Len who bites it, which is pretty funny considering he's getting beaten for trying to get Daryl beaten by the gang.
    • The fifth season's Comic-Con trailer seemingly depicted Gareth becoming a Token Evil Teammate to Rick's group as they journey to Washington, D.C., and Rick warning Carl that he doesn't trust him. Gareth remains an antagonist for the entirety of his presence on the show, and Rick was actually speaking about Father Gabriel.
    • The clip released of the opening of "What Happened And What's Going On" was assumed to be depicting Beth's funeral. The episode reveals it was a trick, and that it's the funeral of Tyreese.
    • The sixth season's Comic-Con trailer (as well as a lot of pre-season advertising) seems to imply a conflict between Rick and Morgan, but this does not happen - instead, it's Morgan and Carol who have major beef the entire season. In a more minor example, it showed a lot of scenes in color that, when they appeared in "First Time Again," were actually in black and white.
    • The eighth season's Comic-Con trailer strongly implied the season premiere, which was also the show's 100th episode, would feature a major battle. However, the actual season premiere is actually very light on actual action, and mostly consists of the set-up for the war. The fighting proper starts in the second episode. In a smaller example, a scene depicted Negan slamming Lucille angrily on his table; in "The Big Scary U", he is actually mostly offscreen when he does this, as the camera is focusing on Simon, who is then cut off by Negan.
    • The trailers of midlate Season 9 up to the mid season finale hinted that the walkers were somehow evolving into more intelligent, deadly threats with a mind of their own. Comic fans knew what was coming, but those who hadn’t read the comics were in for a shock when the Whisperers, antagonists who disguise themselves as walkers, were revealed.
  • Next Sunday A.D.: If the zombie apocalypse started in 2010, the date the first episode aired, then Season 9 after Rick's disappearance is set in 2020, some two years in the future.
  • 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 Governor'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.
    • Tyreese refusing to kill Martin ends up leading Gareth and Martin to the group again, and Martin calls out Tyreese on this during their later Dead Person Conversation.
    • In Season 6 Episode 2, Morgan refuses to kill any of the attackers at Alexandria, gives a speech about Alexandria having guns and them not having guns, and then lets them escape. On their way out, one of the Wolfs picks up a sidearm off a dead Alexandrian and holsters it in his jeans before he flees, and Morgan naturally has a mild Oh, Crap! moment before he closes the gate behind them. Then in Episode 3, that same group Morgan let go tries to attack Rick, and while Rick manages to fight them off, they inadvertently thwart his plan to lead the walker herd away from Alexandria.
    • In Season 6 Episode 8, Carol immediately skulks toward the abandoned home where Morgan is keeping the Wolves Leader after Morgan takes Denise inside to mend the Wolf's wound. Intent on killing the wolf, she tries to kill Morgan in the process due to his interference. After Morgan knocks her out, the Wolf seizes the opportunity and knocks him out. He's also able to cut his ropes off with the knife that Carol brought in.
    • If Denise hadn't insisted on joining the supply run in "Twice as Far," she wouldn't have gotten herself killed, and Rick and the others wouldn't have needed to make the journey with Maggie to Hilltop, because they would have still had their doctor in Alexandria. Also, Daryl, Michonne, Glenn and Rosita wouldn't have left Alexandria and gotten captured, because Daryl just wanted to get revenge on Dwight for killing Denise, and the others were trying to get Daryl to come back. Negan and the Saviors would have inevitably caught up to the Alexandrians some other way, but the situation they find themselves in in "Last Day on Earth" was definitely avoidable.
      • The whole conflict with the Saviors was avoidable, or at least postponable. When the Hilltop asks Rick and company to take out this other group they're having problems with, Rick takes all their intelligence about the Saviors at face value, and assumes they're just another relatively small band of jerkasses he can deal with easily. He couldn't have been more wrong. Granted, Negan was going to learn about Alexandria sooner or later and make it one of his "providers," but Rick not only brought that day closer but gave Negan cause to be especially brutal when he first confronted the group.
    • In the Season 7 Premiere, Daryl punches Negan in the face for taunting Rosita over Abraham's death. Daryl is quickly subdued by the Saviors but Negan says that he already warned them that their first freakout was free and says they need to learn their place. So he proceeds to kill Glenn next.
    • In Season 7, Rosita is dead set on killing Negan. Her first attempt fails spectacularly, with her trying to shoot him, who is only a few feet in front of her, and misses. In retaliation, Negan orders Arat to kill one of the Alexandrians. Eugene is also taken to the Sanctuary, where he, unsurprisingly, voluntarily offers his services to Negan. During her other attempt, her and Sasha storm the Sanctuary, which ends up failing and Sasha committing suicide. Both attempts are literally done within days of each other.
    • Daryl is overeager to end the Savior War, since he personally suffered an extended period of imprisonment and torture. He refuses to follow Rick’s plan and openly defies him with his own rogue attack. It fails, and ultimately not only reduces the size of the herd surrounding the Sanctuary, but provides Eugene inspiration to come up with a plan for the Saviors to escape. The very pissed off Saviors then proceed to attack Alexandria and the Kingdom, destroying the former and conquering the latter.
    • Daryl and Maggie tamper with the communities’ radio relays they use to keep in touch with each other and to monitor the movements of herds so they can sneak Maggie into Alexandria to kill Negan behind Rick’s back. While Maggie does reach her destination, the communities are left in disarray by the tampering and are unable to catch up to Rick to save him from the two herds that pursue him.
    • The communities becoming estranged from each other after Michonne’s traumatic experience with Jocelyn during the second Time Skip means that at the fair, plenty of people don’t recognize each other. Alpha uses this to infiltrate the fair as “Deborah from Alexandria” and is able to walk amongst her enemies and pick her victims for the pikes.
    • In Season 9, after Lydia is returned to the Whisperers, Henry decides to take it upon himself to rescue her. This forces Daryl and Connie to venture into the Whisperer camp in order to save them both, and whilst they are successful, Henry's actions, despite his best intentions in saving Lydia from her mother, ultimately lead to the deaths of many characters, including Enid, Tara, Tammy, and even Henry himself. Beta even outright states that if they had simply returned Lydia to her people, none of the deaths would have occurred.
  • 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.
    • Hershel welcoming Rick's group to his farm ultimately costs him the place that's been in his family for generations when they accidentally lure a herd onto the property.
    • Tyreese sparing Martin allows the Hunters to find Rick's group again.
    • A peaceful exchange between Rick's group and Grady Memorial Hospital is ruined when Beth gets herself killed trying to kill Dawn to save Noah. Rick later comments that maybe they should've just gone in guns blazing to save Beth and Carol.
    • Morgan lets a group of Wolves go in "JSS," not wanting to kill anyone. They end up attacking Rick in the next episode, and he kills all of them.
    • Daryl saves Dwight and Sherry in "Always Accountable," but they end up stealing his crossbow and his bike. It gets worse when Dwight joins the Saviors, and ends up killing Denise and taking Eugene hostage. Daryl states outright that he should have killed Dwight.
    • Earlier in the same episode, Tina tries to pay respect to two of her fallen friends...only to get attacked and killed by their reanimated corpses shortly after approaching them. And this was shortly after Daryl decided to return the group's insulin to them, rendering the whole return completely pointless.
  • 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 One Could Survive That!:
    • Rick chases Andrew into a courtyard filled with walkers and abandons him, confident that he won’t survive. Andrew turns up alive and well and launches a devastating attack on the prison.
    • Woodbury has mapped out the surrounding countryside, notably a “red zone” which they deem is too infested with walkers to even attempt to journey into. When Michonne runs off into the red zone, Merle declares her good as dead and inaccurately reports her death to The Governor. Both men are shocked to discover that Rick’s group of 11 people managed to not only survive the entire winter in the red zone, but took an entire prison as a camp. It causes The Governor to see Rick’s group as a threat to his empire.
    • Discussed in the Season 5 premiere after the fall of Terminus. Rick wants to double back and wipe out any survivors, but most of the group wants to just keep moving, since any survivors will either die or just flee. Rick is proven right when the Terminus survivors return to harass them in the next episode.
    • Both Rick and Daryl accuse each other of this mindset during the Savior War, and neither are completely unjustified, either. Rick believes his siege will successfully starve the Saviors into surrendering, but Daryl thinks Rick is being too presumptuous. Daryl then mounts his own attack on the Sanctuary, and vehemently insists that it completely worked despite not having stuck around to watch the results. Alexandria learns the hard way in literally hours that no, Daryl’s plan didn’t work.
    • The survivors pretty fairly assume that Rick didn’t survive being at the brunt of an explosion on the bridge, and aren’t surprised when Daryl is unable to find a body. Turns out, he survived, and was rescued by Anne.
  • No Party Like a Donner Party: The survivors at Terminus. One eventually reveals they originally genuinely tried to help people, but were attacked and resorted to cannibalism to survive. By the time Rick's group reaches Terminus they'd moved on to luring in other survivors. It's implied they even get off on cannibalism.
  • 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.
  • Nobody Here but Us Birds: Merle mentions that he and Daryl had used bird whistles to keep tabs on each other when they hunted. Later, this becomes a Chekhov's Skill in "Them" and "The Distance" when Daryl and Rick actually put this to use.
  • Noodle Incident: Morgan telling Father Gabriel that he learned how to fight with his stick "from a cheesemaker" sounds like one. Subverted, in that it's actually explained two episodes later. Morgan wasn't lying.
  • Not Allowed to Grow Up: Sophia is lost in Season 2, and is found to have turned into a zombie and killed at the mid-season 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.
    • Another inversion in the season 5 premiere. Carol leads a herd of walkers into Terminus, disguising herself as a walker to enter the compound. When a Terminus man begins shooting the herd, she shoots him.
    • The entire premise of the Whisperers, who are a group of humans that disguise themselves as walkers in order to move among the herds.
  • 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.
    • Rick slowly begins emulating the various Big Bad's of each season. See his character page for more information.
    • In the Season 6 finale/Season 7 premiere, the Saviors have captured the group and forced them to their knees while their leader, Negan, lectures them on how they shouldn't have messed with him, and kills Abraham and Glenn to teach them a lesson. It's not really that much different from what we saw when the group forced the Hunters to kneel before them and gave them a brutal death in response to wronging them. From Negan's perspective, Rick, having slaughtered dozens of his people, is Gareth.
    • Morales returns in Season 8 to tell Rick that he is no better than the Saviors. While the monologue gets hamfisted, Rick had just come off of killing a Savior who was defending his infant daughter, so it sticks.
  • 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
  • Not His Sled:
    • Season 5 opens with Glenn, Rick, Daryl, and Bob tied up and about to be killed with a baseball bat — clearly meant to evoke Glen's death-by-baseball-bat in the comic book, as Glen is the first of the four in line about to be killed. But though the executioner winds up no less than three times, he's repeatedly interrupted and and is then distracted.
    • In the penultimate episode of Season 9, the disguised Alpha asks Ezekiel to go somewhere with her, and later Gabriel is looking for someone female, presumably his girlfriend Rosita. Ezekiel and Rosita were the most prominent victims of the pike massacre in the comics, a fate that their TV counterparts escape, but at the cost of Henry and Tara’s lives.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: The characters live in a world in which the Zombie Apocalypse as a fictional trope does not exist. Consequently, various groups make up their own names for the undead. Many different groups have been known to simply call them “the dead”, but for specific examples:
    • Morgan Jones calls them "walkers," to differentiate the dead that stayed dead from the dead that got up and started walking. He introduces the term to Rick, who spreads it everywhere he goes, causing it to become the most prominent term used in the series.
    • The members of the Atlanta survivor camp initially call them "geeks," as in a sideshow geek, though the term is quickly replaced by "walkers."
    • Dr. Jenner and other government officials call them "the infected," because they are infected with the Wildfire pathogen.
    • The Living call them "lamebrains" and "roamers."
    • The people of Woodbury use the term "biters," because the fact that they bite is the most important thing about them. This later spreads to the Chambler family and Martinez's group.
    • Sam and Ana call them "skin-eaters."
    • Residents of Terminus call them "cold bodies," likely because they themselves eat warm bodies.
    • Everyone at Grady Memorial calls them "rotters," due to their constant decomposition.
    • The Alexandrians call them "roamers" until Rick's group shows up and they transition to "walkers."
    • The Saviors call them "growlers" and "cold bloods."
    • Magna and her group refer to them as "sickos".
    • The Whisperers, twisted psychos that they are, call them “Guardians” since they rely on them for safety.
  • 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. The gun in question (Glock 17) does not have a safety, though Rick also has to tell him to load the chamber so it may have been hazing the new guy.
    • 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. The safety actually is on and off, respectively.
  • 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.
  • Off the Wagon:
    • Hershel in "Nebraska", after Shane lets the walkers out of the Greene farm and the group kills them.
    • Earl Sutton eventually takes to drinking after losing his son... and after being egged on by Gregory, who manipulated him into getting drunk and angry enough to try to kill Maggie so he can retake Hilltop.
  • 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.
    • In "Conquer", Glenn is shot in the shoulder and pinned down by a couple of walkers, but soon reappears later and beats Nicholas' ass.
    • At the end of "The Other Side", Sasha leaves Rosita behind to stage a one-woman assault on the Saviors to get at Negan. The next episode simply shows her captured, with Negan commenting she caused "one hell of a frackas last night".
  • 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 show starts with this trope here and never looks back.
    • Gareth has exactly this look on his face when Rick has him at his mercy and Gareth spots the red-handled machete Rick promised to kill him with.
  • Once a Season: Starting with Season 2, every season, two major characters will die in the same scene (or at least the same arc).
    • Season 2: Dale and Shane die in the last few episodes of the season.
    • Season 3: Lori and T-Dog both die in “Killer Within”.
    • Season 4: Hershel and The Governor are both killed in the prison war.
    • Season 5: Beth and Tyreese die in the span of two episodes, the mid season premiere and finale, respectively.
    • Season 6: Deanna and Jessie are the major casualties of the “No Way Out” arc.
    • Season 7: Abraham and Glenn are killed by Negan in the season premiere.
    • Season 8: Carl and major recurring Savior villain Gavin die in the same episode, “Honor”.
    • Season 9: The ante is upped to three when Henry, Tara, and Enid are all killed by Alpha in “The Calm Before”. It also is subverted in “What Comes After”, which features the disappearance of Rick and the last appearance of Maggie before she’s Put on a Bus.
  • Once per Episode: Every single episode has an obligatory zombie killing scene, no matter how contrived and shoehorned into the plot it may be.
  • 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.
  • One Last Smoke : Played with, in the season 5 finale. When Aaron and Darryl are trapped in a car and surrounded by dozens of walkers, Daryl wants to sacrifice himself drawing them away. He only asks to finish his cigarette first. (Aaron talks him out of it)
  • One Steve Limit : This tends to be averted on alot of ocasions due to the Loads and Loads of Characters.
    • Averted. In season 3, the Governor recruits an asthmatic kid named Noah to be part of his group that attacks the prison. In season 5, we meet a much more significant character named Noah, one who eventually joins the group.
    • Another aversion, in season 4 Rick and Carol meet survivors Sam and Ana, and in seasons 5 and 6 Jessie's youngest son is also named Sam.
    • Not to mention Bob Stookey and Bob Lamson (hell, this is even a minor plot point).
    • Theere was Dave's scouting partner Tony from Season 2 and a member of The Claimers named Tony from Season 3.
    • Tara Chambler's father from Season 4 was named David. Two seasons earlier one of the Disaster Scavengers that Rick encountered at the abandonned bar was named Dave. There was also a prison newcomer named David who was burned to death. In Season 6, one of the Alexandria survivors from the quarry arc is named David. Then finally, there's a Savior named David.
    • The leader of the Claimers is named Joe and there's a Savior nicknamed "Fat Joey."
    • During Season 3, when the group arrives at the prison and are still seperated from Andrea. One of the prisoners they encounter is named is Andrew, which is the masculine form of the name Andrea.
    • There was Atlanta Camp survivor Jim, who was left by the others after he was bitten and Beth's farmhand boyfriend from Season 2 was named Jimmy.
    • The second-in-command of Martinez's camp was named Pete Dolgen. Alexandria survivor Jessie Anderson's husband was also named Pete.
    • One of the Prison children is named Molly. One of the Saviors in Paula's group was also named Molly.
  • 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.
  • Only One Name: Many characters are only every referred to by their first name.
  • 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 likely be a farm animal vet (Lori even asks if he's done the procedure on pigs before). 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.
  • Out of Focus: Occasionally a character will not get as much screen time as they once did, though often they do eventually step back into the spotlight.
    • T-Dog is a background character in Season Two, barely getting any lines in the season (though apparently the show runners were shocked when fans asked if the character would receive more screen time in the next season).
    • Rick himself, along with Glenn, don't get a lot of focus in the first half of Season 5, but this changes as in the second half of the season they reach Alexandria.
    • A large chunk of the show's regulars such as Daryl, Sasha, Abraham, Eugene, and Carol don't get a terribly large amount of focus in the first half of Season 6, since more time is spent fleshing out the Alexandrians like Deanna, Spencer, and Aaron.
  • Pacifism Backfire:
    • Morgan spares a group of Wolves who end up attacking Rick. Morgan’s arc in Season 7 revolves around him learning this trope the hard way.
    • In Season 8, Jesus decides to spare a Savior who claimed to be a captive worker. Fair enough, but the man turns out to be lying, takes Jesus hostage, and crushes critical medicine. Even when he gets free, Jesus still vehemently refuses to kill him. And at the end of the season, despite preaching to his fellow survivors all season how they should spare the Saviors, the egg gets on Jesus’ face when Rick spares Negan, the one Savior Jesus wanted dead.
  • 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. Many of the parents in Alexandria also don't keep a close eye on their children, despite walkers being right outside the city walls at all times.
  • Party Scattering: Happened twice.
    • 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.
    • After defeating the Hunters in Season 5, the group splits into three parties: Abraham, Glenn, Maggie, Eugene, Rosita, and Tara going to Washington D.C. to find a cure, Daryl and Carol on a rescue mission to save Beth in Atlanta, and the rest who stays behind in Fr. Gabriel's church.
  • The Patriarch: Hershel Greene, especially when he becomes the de facto leader of the prison community in Season 4.
  • 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, especially since he had arrogantly roared at the group that Sophia was dead right to her face. 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, but it's been pointed out that much of Shane's dialogue in this scene ends up being just about his own problems.
    • 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 also aids a naive family out of pure altruism in Season Four that he would've considered weak a few episodes prior.
    • Joe doesn't punish Daryl for not adhering to the "Claimed" system since he's new and wouldn't know of it, so he defuses his conflict with Len peacefully.
    • Subverted in "Four Walls and a Roof"; Gareth initially offers Gabriel the chance to leave his church in peace and not get eaten since he just met the group and never went to Terminus, but it's just a way to flush the group out of their hiding place.
    • When the group is captured by the Saviors in "Last Day on Earth", the villains rush Maggie's stretcher to force her down. Abraham stops them and asks for permission for the group to get the very ill Maggie down themselves, and Simon allows it.
    • Negan doesn't punish the group for Michonne speaking out of turn in "The Day Will Come When You Won't Be", though it also has to do with the fact she's not physically resisting him. He also gifts the group a truck so they can use it to collect supplies for their tribute.
    • Negan generally is prone to doing this when he realizes he has genuinely upset someone. Realizing he's killing her husband, Negan sincerely apologizes to Maggie for doing it. After taunting Carl about his destroyed eye, causing him to cry, Negan sincerely backtracks and admits he forgets that Carl is still a kid. He also expresses sympathy to Carl for his mother's death and having to put her down, and returns Carl home safe and sound - where he also dotes on Judith. After taunting Olivia about her weight and causing her to cry, he apologizes and admits he was out of line.
    • Gavin, the liaison between the Saviors and the Kingdom, is a pretty chill guy, albeit still being a selfish prick. He keeps things on the level with Ezekiel, noting his appreciation for the Kingdom always being on time with their tributes. When he does see the need to kill someone for a mistake, he's more regretful than anything, and later is horrified when Jared kills Benjamin.
    • The Savior Laura is nothing but patient, understanding, and kind to Eugene when he's being conscripted to the Saviors and helps him adjust to his new home, after having previously been a dick to him. Her old attitude resurfaces, however, when he tries to look away from Negan’s gruesome punishment of someone else, and she smugly forces him to watch.
    • The Whisperers see dying by walker bite as an honorable death. Therefore, Beta comforts a dying, bitten Whisperer in “Chokepoint”, summons his wife to be with him, and says he will always be one of them. Of course, this becomes more macabre since Beta is literally saying that the Whisperer will always be with them... as a walker and a member of their “Guardians”.
  • Perma-Stubble: Rick is the king of this look. He even had a stubbly beard when he woke from a months-long coma! Supposedly, the nurses shaved him for easier access to his face for tubes and the like until the hospital was overrun.
  • 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 early Season 4.
  • The Plan:
    • Shane attempts one in order to get Rick out of the way so he could have Lori all to himself, as well as reclaim leadership of the group. He fails.
    • Maggie arranges an alliance with Hilltop in which they will wipe out the Saviors in exchange for critically needed supplies. Though the group succeeds in wiping out an outpost, they don't learn that it was just one outpost the Saviors control until it's too late.
    • The allied forces of AHK’s plan is to hold Negan’s inner circle in the Sanctuary with a siege of walkers; while their leadership is decapitated, AHK then goes to wipe out their outposts, and then reconvene for a final attack on the Sanctuary, which they presume will be on the verge of collapse due to depleted supplies and numbers. It fails due to Daryl’s rogue attack on the Sanctuary inadvertently helping Eugene come up with a way for the Saviors to escape and destroy Alexandria, the main stronghold of the allies.
  • 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.
    • Another example in season 6 with Glenn. He survives falling into a herd of walkers because he is shielded by Nicholas's dead body, and is able to slide out from underneath him to hide under the dumpster.
    • All attempts on Negan’s life in Season 7, his inaugural season as Big Bad, fail.
      • Taken to an absolutely ridiculous level in "Mercy." When the Alexandrians and Hilltop Members storm the Sanctuary, Negan is literally standing in plain view on the balcony, and despite many of the characters having good aim, no one is able to hit him. Even if one could somehow accept that, with the shear amount of people shooting and the number of bullets they have, someone still should've shot him.
    • When Jadis exceeds the level of bullshit he’s willing to take at the end of a bad day, Simon begins massacring her people. She later turns up alive, presumably as a form of Cruel Mercy from Simon. A later episode, however, shows Jadis having to play dead to escape being gunned down, leaving it rather silly that she was able to somehow slip away from a few dozen armed Saviors in the first place.
  • 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. Hershel also is surprisingly dodgy when Tyreese asks who's in charge and will decide whether or not to take them in, and outright leaves the room, causing the outsiders to become suspicious.
  • 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.
  • Post-Apocalyptic Traffic Jam: In the pilot, as Rick heads into Atlanta to search for more survivors of the zombie apocalypse, the lanes of the highway heading in are empty except for him and his horse, but the lanes heading out are completely packed with abandoned cars all the way back into the city. As this foreshadows, things in Atlanta are little different from in the suburbs.
  • 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".
    • From Sasha's perspective through a scope when she's looking for the missing Bob in "Four Walls And A Roof".
    • From Abraham's perspective in "Last Day on Earth" as he's beaten to death by Negan.
  • 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.
    • Some of the injuries were either removed or lessened in severity, due to budget and production constraints. For example, several characters either keep their limbs they lost in the comics, such as Rick; in Hershel’s case, since he lost a leg in Dale’s stead, he got a replacement leg much quicker. This way, budget doesn’t have to go towards digitally removing Andrew Lincoln and Scott Wilson’s limbs (and so the elderly Wilson doesn’t have to stay on crutches all the time).
    • Carl and Dwight’s facial injuries are far less gruesome than in the comics, to save budget that would’ve had to go to removing a chunk of Chandler Riggs’ head and applying extremely extensive makeup to Austin Amelia every episode.
  • Preacher Man: Father Gabriel Stokes.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • In the DVD version of Season 4, Rick drops the series' first use of the F-bomb at the end of "A."
    Rick: They're fuckin' with the wrong people.
    • In "Four Walls and a Roof", one of the Hunters lets out one as he's bludgeoned to death by Abraham with the butt of a rifle.
    • In "Not Tomorrow Yet", Rosita calls Morgan a hijo de puta, which in some dialects of Spanish translates to "motherfucker".
    • In “The Obliged”, Daryl drops the show’s first bleeped out F-bomb.
    Daryl: Man, your ass wouldn't even be alive if it wasn't for Glenn. You wouldn't have found Lori, you wouldn't have found Carl. And you sure as fuck wouldn't have found any of us!
  • Precocious Crush: In 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.
    • When Simon massacres the Scavengers in mid late Season 8, Jadis coats herself in the blood of a fallen friend and plays dead to save her own life.
  • Product Placement: Orange Crush soda is prominently sought after in season 6.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles:
  • 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, and the situation proves that they could've easily been friends if not for the war they're engaged in.
    • Unnervingly so with the residents of Terminus, who have purposely desensitized themselves to death to the point that slaughtering and eating people to them is like a mundane office job like printing copies. It's not until the group destroys Terminus that the survivors begin taking it personally.
    • The Savior Gavin is a pretty laid-back, lazy guy who outright says he signed up to be the liaison with the Kingdom because he wanted a stress-free job. He doesn't go out of his way to harass or intimidate the Kingdom survivors, though he does allow his jackass Jared to do whatever he wants and then blames it on Ezekiel. When he does have to begin committing serious atrocities on the Kingdom residents, he gripes and complains the whole time (and keeps blaming it on Ezekiel and company, as usual).
    • Other minor Saviors like Laura and Dr. Carson also seem to be pretty decent people when not on the job.
  • 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:
    • Sherry leaves the Saviors in Season 7's "Hostiles and Calamities" and hasn't been seen since.
    • At the end of Season 8, Daryl exiles Dwight from the communities and orders him to find Sherry, but never return. As of the six-year Time Skip in Season 9, Dwight has heeded Daryl's orders.
    • Season 9 features the departure of two main characters. First is Rick, who is taken by a helicopter to an unknown location early in the season 9. Second is Maggie, who departs to help allies build up a community far away from the Alexandria region. Both characters are removed from the show due to their actors wanting to work on other projects (Maggie is intended to return to the series at one point, while Rick will star in spin-off films on AMC). Also, Anne (AKA Jadis) disappears on the helicopter along with Rick and will presumably reappear with him.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Negan apparently believes this. He kills Dave for trying to rape Sasha and claims it's not allowed under his command. Of course, this may have been a ploy to get her on his side. It's also pretty hypocritical, as he forces women to marry him.
  • 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.
    • The reason Tyreese is killed of is likely because of his actor, Chad Coleman, getting a major role in the TV adaptation of The Expanse.
    • Morgan's small role in the series is due partly to Lennie James' busy schedule. He was intended to join the main cast in Season 5, but James' schedule prevented it from happening. Nevertheless, the show runners resolved to have him in the fifth season as much as possible — two uncredited appearances in the stingers of "No Sanctuary" and "Coda", and a full appearance in "Conquer", before he properly joined the main cast from that point onward.
    • Tara goes on a long supply run at the end of season 6 and is absent for 4 episodes because her actress was pregnant.
    • Rosita is out of commission for most of early Season 8 due to Christian Serratos’ pregnancy during the filming of those episodes.
    • The most highly-publicized example is the departure of Rick Grimes in Season 9, who, after being injured taking out a herd of walkers, is rescued by Anne and taken away in a helicopter. Andrew Lincoln revealed that his exit was due to a desire to be closer to his family, although fan theories abound that he was unhappy with the series and its direction, particularly after the death of Carl. It was revealed the day his final episode aired that AMC is actually developing a trilogy of films focused on Rick, but it's not yet known if he will return to the show proper in the future.
    • The time skip in Season 9 reveals that Maggie left Hilltop to help Georgie establish a new community elsewhere. This was due to Lauren Cohan landing a role in the series Whiskey Cavalier after AMC refused to up her pay, and thus her being unavailable to film the whole season. It's yet to be confirmed if/when she might return.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • In Season 9, and especially after Episode 5 "What Comes After", firearms are used sparingly, if not at all, and a greater emphasis on bows and arrows and melee weapons becomes the norm. After 4-5 years (10 after the time skip), and with no more bullets being made (and a large amount of ammunition being expended during the conflict with Negan) guns are impractical and a return to easily craftable and quiet weapons is required to survive.
    • In addition, automobiles are no longer used as of Season 9. After years of an apocalypse, what fuel is left has evaporated or gone bad and cars are no longer functional (doubly so after the time skip, which places the show 10 years into the apocalypse). Horses and carts are the main means of transport, as they don't require expensive and degradable fuels and for the most part, are very quiet. “Scars” amusingly shows a horse-drawn cart made out of the shell of a car. The only motorized vehicles remaining are those that can run on ethanol, such as motorbikes. Ethanol can be made from corn, which isn't difficult to grow.
    • 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 Season 3, he remembers this, and asks Michonne and Carl to cover their ears before he kills some walkers at close range with his python.
    • 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.
    • Rick did the right thing in pleading for The Governor and his militia to join the prison community, but some people, like The Governor, are too selfish to change their ways, and it results in Hershel and many more getting killed.
    • Tyreese refusing to kill Martin, as well as the group voting to not finish off any survivors of the Terminus battle, results in a group of psychopathic cannibals on their trail.
      • Speaking of Terminus... putting up signs inviting any and everyone during the apocalypse predictably leads to bad people showing up to take advantage
    • A single second of distraction will kill you, ask Tyreese.
    • Messing with Rick Grimes or his family unleashes his Papa Wolf side. Just don't do it, otherwise you'll end up like Shane, Tomás, Joe, Dan, Gareth, Pete...
    • Some people just aren't cut out to survive in the new world. Rick cites this as the reason he didn't kill Carter when he tried to lead a coup against him, saying he'll probably get killed soon anyway. He's proven right literally the next day.
    • Carol is one of the toughest members of the group, in terms of doing what needs to be done. But, when she goes up against the larger, stronger Morgan in hand to hand combat after losing her weapons, she does as well as you would expect the much slimmer woman to do and she gets knocked out
    • When Rick meets up with Morales (who is now a Savior), you would expect a bigger role for the latter, right? Nope, Daryl still arrives a shoots an arrow into Morales's eye, instantly killing him. Just because he was a returning character from Season 1, it doesn't excuse the face that he joined the bad guys, and is just like every other Savior that needs to be killed. Even Rick acknowledges this, though both men are visibly saddened that their former comrade turned traitor.
    Daryl: I know who it was. Don't matter. Not one little bit.
    • If you don’t clearly outline your objectives and boundaries before going into a conflict, it will lead to a lot of floundering, infighting, and general problems. It was apparently never established to Jesus that the Savior War was one of extermination, thus he takes numerous Saviors as POW’s and strains Hilltop’s already low supplies providing for them. At least five Alexandrians also openly deviate from Rick’s plan, and it almost causes the heroes to lose the war.
    • Rick and Michonne decide to honor Carl's dying wishes and lead the communities into a new era of peace. While they are largely successful and enjoy unprecedented prosperity, there is still a lot of leftover resentment that people have either struggled or failed to properly deal with. Their choice to spare Negan also creates a lot of problems, since numerous people still want him dead, and some holdouts seek to return their former despot to power. Much of early Season 9 revolves around Rick and Michonne realizing that their idealistic approach is not working as well as they had hoped.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure:
    • Even as he hardens, Rick is very accepting of his group even when they screw up and usually will hear them out.
    • Joe, being Affably Evil, is very respectful of his men, and operates on a strict code of honesty. He allows Daryl to ease into his group, and doesn't punish him for breaking rules he didn't know about being a newbie.
    • Deanna is very kind to Rick's group and allows them to take several leadership opportunities in the community, and ultimately cedes control of Alexandria to Rick when he proves that he's the better leader.
    • King Ezekiel is a good and just ruler who just wants to keep his people safe and happy. Though he initially refuses to join the rebellion against the Saviors, he does allow Daryl to stay at the Kingdom as long as needed since he's their escaped prisoner (and Ezekiel has a deal with the Saviors in which they never set foot on his grounds).
    • Maggie takes over Hilltop Colony in Season 7 and proves to be a compassionate, protective, and badass leader in her own right.
  • "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.
    • Rick gives a violent one to the pampered, naive populace of Alexandria.
    • Carol gives one that's more of a very clear death threat to Pete in the fifth season finale.
    • Negan gives the group at whole a big one as he calls them - and Rick in particular - out on their overblown egos, and chastising them for attacking him unprovoked without knowing his full capabilities.
    • Negan gives one to Spencer when he proposes putting him in charge of Alexandria, noting that while Rick may hate his guts, he's swallowing his hate and pride to provide for Negan so that his people can be safe. Meanwhile, Spencer is asking someone else to do his dirty work. He punctuates it by gutting Spencer and letting him die slowly.
    • The Savior Gunther spends the entirety of “Some Guy” harping on Ezekiel for failing his people despite his grandiose persona.
    • Daryl and Maggie give these to Rick and Michonne, respectively, during Season 9, episodes 4 and 5, as they finally vent their frustrations and resentment over their decision to spare Negan.
  • 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.
    • During his rant at the Alexandrians, Rick has a loaded gun that he haphazardly waves at the populace and even himself.
  • Redemption Demotion: Happens with Negan in Season 9, after the destruction of the Saviors and his subsequent imprisonment in Alexandria.
  • 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.
    • Several Savior POW’s who escaped from captivity at Hilltop are promised a second chance by Rick, and they agree to, having witnessed that they are mere cannon fodder to the Savior leadership. Just as they begin genuinely fighting alongside Rick, it turns out Rick was lying and slaughters them all anyway despite their help.
  • Relax-o-Vision: When Rick and Glenn are disemboweling a walker to employ the Covered In Grunge trick:
    "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.
    • Morgan comes to see Benjamin as a surrogate son in Season 7. When Benjamin dies, Morgan loses much of the sanity he had regained after losing his son Duane, and even slips and calls Benjamin Duane.
  • Rescue Arc:
    • Season 1: "Tell it to the Frogs" had Rick, Daryl, Glenn, and T-Dog rushing 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 rushing 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 saving their captured friend and his brother, who ironically is the center of the first (failed) Rescue Arc. The last part of the Season Finale features Rick, Daryl, Michonne, and Tyreese tracking Andrea. They did, but they're too late.
    • Season 5: Originally, Daryl and Carol were supposed to rescue Beth, who was kidnapped near the end of the previous season. But after Carol gets caught, Daryl brought the entire crew along to rescue both of them. Technically, they saved both of them. But Beth has other plans which ended in a fatal conclusion.
  • Retcon: During Season 5, Word of God said that Morgan left King County and went to find Rick at the prison, only to find it had been destroyed, and then eventually found a Terminus sign and headed on. "Here's Not Here" retconned this, showing that Morgan never went to the prison, and that he roamed the woods killing people before he encountered Eastman and headed directly towards Terminus afterwards.
  • Reusable Lighter Toss: Carl drops one in a barn as more a distraction than to kill the walking dead.
  • 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.
    • Tyreese, a hammer, a bunch of walkers, and a dead girlfriend. Things just got serious.
    • Sasha, Rosita, Maggie, and the rest of the group slowly prepare for one during Season 7 to avenge the brutal deaths of Glenn and Abraham at Negan's hands. Negan even lampshades the fact that the now widowed Maggie is coming for him guns blazing.
  • 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. A webisode reveals that room's backstory and who wrote the warning and chained the doors.
    • 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.
    • Abraham gives to Rick and his group to inspire them into joining him to the Washington D.C trip so they can try to put an end to the Zombie Apocalypse.
    • At the end of Season 7, the united leaders Rick, Maggie, and Ezekiel give one to their constituents, though we don't hear what they're actually saying. The big three give another one in the Season 8 premiere, this one audible.
  • 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.
  • Rule of Symbolism: In Season 8, involving mirrors.
    • "The Damned" involves Rick killing a Savior, only to discover that the Savior he just murdered had a baby daughter. When he finds her, he then looks at his bloodied self in a mirror, which is pristine and new.
    • Twelve episodes later, in "Still Gotta Mean Something", after Rick and Morgan kill an entire bunch of Savior POWs, even when the former people promised the latter group that they could come back to the Hilltop, Rick once again looks at a mirror. He is blood-stained, just like the previous example, but the mirror is cracked.

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