This Walking Dead article contains spoilers for the comic series.
The Walking Dead is over. It seems strange to type that but it’s true all the same.
Though the franchise lives on in multiple TV shows, movies, games, and books, Robert Kirkman’s comic book series that started it all has called it quits with Issue 193. You can read us process the ending over here. But for now perhaps its best to remember all the good times rather than just the end.
Gathered here are some of (though not nearly all) of the best and most impactful issue from The Walking Dead‘s 193-issue run. From Rick’s awakening to Rick’s…sleepening, here are our picks for The Walking Dead‘s best and most memorable moments
Rick Wakes Up
Volume 1 – Days Gone Bye
It must never be overlooked just how iconic the first issues of The Walking Dead are. How better to begin a story than with the hero shot into a coma? Rick Grimes wakes up months later into a brave new world. All the imagery is here from Rick’s first breaths all the way through the charmingly misread “Don’t Dead Open Inside” message on the hospital door.
We’re All Infected
Volume 3 – Safety Behind Bars
Every zombie story adopts its own zombie rules. Bites from the dead dooming a person to an unfortunate afterlife? That’s a given. What The Walking Dead adds in this early moment is a little twist. It’s not just zombie bites that create a zombie, it’s death of any kind. Rick, Tyreese, and the gang find this out in tragic fashion with a murder-suicide gone wrong. This is also the first glimpse we see of Tyreese’s brutal competence in this new world.
Volume 4 – The Heart’s Desire
Every zombie story needs a good hero. Rick Grimes is damn near perfect as the Kentucky lawman-turned-uber-mensch. Still, one it comes to zombie-slaying badasses, The Walking Dead operates under the more-the-merrier rule. Michonne’s introduction, as she shambles toward the prison stronghold, two walker pets in her thrall remains one of the series’ coolest moments.
Volume 7 – The Calm Before
Carol has become one of The Walking Dead TV show’s most important characters. Through 9 seasons, one could even argue that she is a co-lead of the show alongside Daryl. The Carol of the comics is quite different. This Carol never fully overcomes her meek beginnings and succumbs to the violence of the world. Her choice of suicide remains one of the more inventive uses for the walking dead.
The Prison Assault
Volume 8 – Made to Suffer
The comic’s “Made to Suffer” arc is one of the earliest indications that this Robert Kirkman guy really meant business. The introduction of The Governor and Woodbury was one thing. This is another thing entirely. After Michonne takes her vengeance out on The Governor, he decides to write another chapter in the story’s bloody book. The Governor storms the prison with many men and tanks. He kills…damn near everyone. “Made to Suffer” wipes out a sizeable percentage of the series’ cast in one fell swoop, cementing the story’s unpredictable nature.
Volume 11 – Fear the Hunters
You just knew cannibals were gonna come up at some point in the zombie post-apocalypse. They finally do so in Volume 11 “Fear the Hunters.” The Hunters are ironically terrible hunters so to sustain themselves they attract human meat and slaughter it. Dale is one of their unlucky victims. Unbeknownst to the Hunters, however, Dale had previously been bitten and was awaiting death. His delirious taunting of “tainted meat” is one of the more darkly humorous moments from the comics.
Sheriff Rick Oversteps
Volume 13 – Too Far Gone
When Rick and co. arrive in the relative safety of Alexandria, they are determined to prove that they are just as civilized as their new neighbors. Those attempts don’t last long, however. Rick beats the shit out of local doctor Peter Anderson for beating his wife, Jesse. Peter then retaliates and accidentally kills Douglas Monroe’s wife. Rick summarily executes the man in the streets. So much for not being too far gone.
Introduction of the Hilltop
Volume 16 – A Larger World
The volume title promised a larger world, but still it’s hard to comprehend just how much larger it would get. For dozens of issues, Alexandria was the only surviving society in the known universe. Then a helpful man by the name of Jesus, pays Rick a visit and promises him that there’s more out there than he thinks. The first look at the Hilltop is staggering and beautiful. It would also eventually lead to the introduction of The Sanctuary, The Kingdom, and more.
Volume 17 – Something to Fear
In many ways, the death of Glenn remains the iconic Walking Dead comic moment. With the introduction of supervillain Negan and the upcoming 100th issue imminent, many comic writers could assume some big death was on the horizon. When Abraham was killed by Dwight in issue 98, perhaps Kirkman would think that was enough of a big death splash. Nuh uh. Negan kills one of the series’ most beloved and longest-surviving characters in the most cruel, brutal way imaginable. It’s the stuff of nightmares.
Assault on Alexandria
Volume 20 – All Out War Pt. 1
The title of All Out War promised…well, all out war. At the end of its first part it more than delivers. Negan and the Saviors assault on Alexandria is a true spectacle. As their home smolders in the background, it’s hard to imagine how Rick and friends are ever going to win this war. The assault on Alexandria is also notable for its surprising humor. It’s genuinely amusing to watch Negan’s Savior soldiers reckon with what a weirdo their leader and boss is.
Volume 21 – All Out War Pt. 2
Rick’s victory against Negan is among the most thrilling and cathartic moments in the whole series’ run. Negan proved to be such a terrifying villain in such a short amount of time that it’s truly relieving to see Rick’s knife plunge into his throat. Of course, this moment also provides an opportunity for Rick to show what he has learned about leadership and societal reconstruction. Rick decides that they’re going to be a society of law and mercy right then and there…and it’s going to start with Negan’s imprisonment.
The Time Jump
Volume 22 – A New Beginning
The Walking Dead is well and truly on fire at this point in its run. After concluding the biggest war arc the comic will ever see, it refuses to give anyone a time to catch their breath and launches right into an ambitious time jump. 18 months in the future, readers get to see a host of new characters and new looks for some of their favorite older characters. This volume also features some of Kirkman’s best writing in the series. The characters are all on point and there are some real moments of growth, especially from young Carl Grimes.
The Whisperers Revealed
Volume 23 – Whispers Into Screams
Every zombie story needs a great villain. The Walking Dead had already featured several including the monstrous Governor and the cocky Negan. Even still, the series was always in search of more. They find some excellent ones in Whispers into Screams. One unlucky Hilltop soldier swears he hears the dead talking. Obviously, no one believes him. That is until Dante uncovers the terrifying truth: human beings wearing the skin of the dead.
The Line in the Sand
Volume 24 – Life and Death
If Alpha and her Whisperers weren’t scary enough to begin with, the comic asserts their villain credentials in a big way just one volume later. After some Alexandrians wander into Whisperer territory, Alpha helpfully decides to mark a border for them. Not-so-helpfully, Alpha marks the border with the severed heads on spikes of nearly a dozen innocent people. Not since “Made to Suffer” has The Walking Dead killed as many characters in one fell swoop.
Negan Among the Whisperers
Volume 26 – Call to Arms
You’ve got one great villain in Negan and another in Alpha. What happens when you combine them? Absolute magic, that’s what. Negan predictably escapes his prison cell at Alexandria. Instead of running off to safety, however, he elects to pay a visit to these Whisperers he’s heard so much about. Negan’s time at Whisperer camp is a truly charming and hilarious montage. Less charming and hilarious, but equally as compelling is his decapitation of Alpha. He just wants to bring a treasure back home to Rick, you see.
The Death of Lucille
Volume 27 – The Whisperer War
We often become attached to inanimate objects once they’ve acquired a name. With that in mind, the barbed-wire bat Lucille is one of The Walking Dead‘s best characters. The gleam in Negan’s eye and the terror in Dwight’s as Negan reacquires his old friend in battle against Beta is sublime. Then it’s equally as devastating when Lucille cracks when striking the behemoth. Fear not, Lucille will soon get the burial she deserves.
The Herd and Andrea
Volume 28 – A Certain Doom
It really seemed like we were done with major character deaths for awhile. The Whisperers were defeated and all that remained was their herd. Still, the Alexandrians have dealt with herds plenty of times now and with Eugene’s ingenuity leading the way, this one should be no problem. Unfortunately, Kirkman wants to remind us that accidents happen…especially in the land of the dead. Andrea sustains a bite from the zombie simply because there were thousands of the things and as a human being, she couldn’t remain vigilant and focused 100% of the time. The scenes with the gang clearly the herd are surprisingly joyous and exciting. And it all comes to a swift, scary end.
Arrival at The Commonwealth
Volume 30 – New World Order
All stories have to grow. Still, it’s hard to comprehend the level of growth our main characters witness in “New World Order.” Michonne, Eugene, Magna, Siddiq, and Yumiko set out from communities that house a couple hundred people or so. Then in Ohio, they find the fabled Commonwealth and its nearly 50,000 people. The Commonwealth opens up a new avenue of political storytelling for the series and ultimately its that kind of storytelling that the book ends with.
The Death of Rick Grimes
Volume 32 – Rest in Peace
Rick Grimes has survived a hell of a lot. He’s taken down no fewer than two despots, lived amongst the ravenous dead for years, and has lost a hand and fully-functioning legs in the process. Nothing could kill this guy. Nothing except for a rich brat with a gun and a grudge. Rick ignonimously meets his death at the hands of Sebastian Milton and his temper tantrum. Rick’s death is a major moment for the series and immediately begged the question: how can this thing continue without Rick Grimes? As we now know: it didn’t.