[Editor’s note: So as not to be redundant, consider comments to this post to also be your Walking Dead open thread for the week. Because it’s a shared thread, please preface any spoiler comments with “SPOILER” in all-caps – LYT]
Anyone who enjoys The Walking Dead will try to tell you it’s all about the characters. “Oh, they’re so complex,” people will say. Well, sorry to burst your bubble, but 12 million people aren’t watching it for the characters – they’re watching it to see zombies die in fun and exciting ways. Sure, not every zombie kill is innovative, or even particularly interesting, but occasionally a kill is invested with enough artistry, complexity or gravitas that it makes us want to stand up, applaud loudly and poor out a little bit of our beer for the fallen fleshbag. Here are ten zombie kills we felt were worth the price of admission.
10. Pay at the Pump (Season 1, Episode 1)
The first episode of The Walking Dead is not without numerous zombie murders. From casual shovel whacks to summary executions to sniper headshots, zombies get it bad from the beginning. But one of the most memorable kills in the episode is also possibly the creepiest. Taking a page from the Dawn of the Dead remake, the producers pitted Rick against a young zombie girl in her bathrobe and pajamas, wandering alone through a car-crammed gas station. As it began to move quickly towards him, Rick took the shot – it wasn’t his first kill, but it was his first child zombie kill, and you can see from his face (and the zombie’s slow-motion fall) that it pained him to do it. He would eventually go on to kill another young female zombie in Season 2, and in a similar fashion, but you never forget your first time.
9. Get Well Soon (Season 2, Episode 4)
Poor Well Zombie. First off, he was trapped in a well. Nobody wants to be trapped in a well, but eing a zombie trapped in a well with nobody to eat must be awful. Luckily, he weighed about 500 pounds, and probably could have lasted another year or so. Then he got ripped in half by some humans who want to get him out of the well, even though he was there first, but they fail to understand that connective tissue is basically nonexistent in zombies. Finally, he gets stomped to death by T-Dog. If you pity a zombie, pity Well Zombie.
8. Junk in the Trunk (Season 3, Episode 10)
While wondering why the heck he abandoned his friends to hang out with his A-hole brother Merle, Daryl hears a baby crying and sees a family trapped on a bridge, defending themselves against a herd of walkers. After killing most of the walkers singlehandedly, Daryl reaches into the open trunk of the family’s station wagon, dragging the last walker out and away from the mother and child trapped inside. With the zombie’s body out of the car, Daryl leaves its chin resting on the bumper, slamming the hatch door for the kill. While a stylish and arrow-saving method of killing, you just have to wonder how much of that family’s stuff is now covered with zombie juice.
7. Meet Michonne (Season 2, Episode 13)
Alone. Tired. Scared. Out of bullets. Things looked bad for Andrea at the end of Season 2, after Hershel’s farm had fallen and all of her friends had scattered to the wind (and regrouped without her). She’d defended herself ably, but when a zombie reached for her as she scrambled backwards along the ground, we were briefly worried that she might not make it. But a sword flashed through the zombie’s brain pan, and then we saw her. Michonne. Standing in near silhouette, flanked by armless, chained zombies who did not attack, as if trained not to do so. She flicked her sword, and zombie blood spattered the forest floor. The long, drawn-out second season was dead. Long live Season 3.
6. Gimme a Screwdriver (Season 2, Episode 1)
Andrea was already in bad shape since losing her sister in Season 1, so when she was trapped in an RV bathroom by an overly curious zombie, she pretty much fell apart. Luckily, Dale was on the roof with a screwdriver, and he was able to pass it to her just in time for her to take out her attacker with several well-placed eye gouges. Hopefully, the highly detailed Season 2 Special Edition DVD Box Set inspired by that kill is some comfort to her in her time of grieving.
5. Penny For Your Thoughts (Season 3, Episode 8)
While Rick seems to get all haunted every time he has to shot a young zombie girl, Michonne does it like it’s old hat. Lying in wait for the Governor in his secret room of zombie heads, Michonne discovers his zombified daughter Penny, locked up in a closet with a hood over her face. When he finally arrives, he begs for his daughter’s life, but Michonne, either through revenge or practicality, runs her through the back of the head with her sword, the blade exiting her mouth. Needless to say, the Governor flips out.
4. Come Back, Shane (Season 2, Episode 12)
Young Carl had been thinking a lot about death. As he spent more and more time surrounded by zombies, killing just seemed like a more practical way to deal with his problems. And his father Rick had noticed, so when Rick found himself staring down the barrel of Carl’s gun after ruthlessly killing the unbalanced Shane, he assumed his son aimed to kill him. Little did he know that an undead Shane was lurching towards him from behind, re-animated by the disease that infects all dead, not just the bitten. As Rick pleaded for his life, Carl took the shot, killing his onetime father figure Shane, and setting himself on the road to becoming a short, hat-loving dealer of death.
3. Chair Your Feelings (Season 3, Episode 7)
Everybody likes Glenn. He’s nice, kind of innocent, and he hasn’t been killed and eaten yet. But remember when Glenn became a total asskicker? Taped to a chair and beaten by Merle for information about the prison, Glenn refused to break, so Merle put a walker in the room and left. Glenn had to shatter the chair he was taped to, fend off the zombie with the pieces, then stab the zombie in the head with part of the chair still taped to his arm. Glenn: 1. Zombie apocalypse: 0. Your move, zombie apocalypse.
2. Two for One Sale (Season 3, Episode 1)
After Michonne’s dramatic dispatch of a lone zombie in the final seconds of Season 2, how could the producers increase Michonne’s coolness in Season 3? Easy. Send her into what appears to be a late 1800s general store alone, and have two zombies follow her in. Have her pin both zombies on her samurai sword in the watering can department, like some sort of killer kebab, then, in one quick motion, take both of their heads off. If only she had continued to escalate like this throughout the series, killing three zombies at a time, then four, then five. After five, she’d probably need to get a bigger sword.
1. Et Tu, Arrow? (Season 2, Episode 5)
After a nasty fall while out searching for Carol’s daughter Sophia, Daryl found himself at the bottom of a steep ravine with a crossbow bolt through his abdomen. Seeing a walker shuffling towards him and having no other form of self-defense, Daryl pulled the bolt out of his side, drew the crossbow string, loaded the bolt and fired just as the walker was lunging for his jugular. The walker dropped instantly, his head sliding the full length of the embedded bolt upon impact with the ground. If the motorcycle and spaghetti-Western poncho didn’t tell you already, Daryl is a fucking badass.