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

The series premiered on October 31st, 2010 on AMC, and is produced by Frank Darabont, Glen Mazzara and Gale Anne Hurd. Comic creator Robert Kirkman is also heavily involved with the production, including being the writer of the fourth episode. The show has finished its second season.

After the season two premiere broke cable records among the 18-49 demographic, AMC announced on October 25th, 2011 that the series had been renewed for a third season.

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

The show takes liberties with its source material, so comic readers, don't except to come into this knowing everything beforehand.

Has a character sheet.


This series contains the following tropes:

  • Abandoned Hospital Awakening: Rick does this, in the first episode.
  • Aborted Arc: Andrea and Dale were originally set to become lovers as it was in the comics. This changed when Dale was killed in the antepenultimate episode of season 2.
  • Absentee Actor: A fair chunk of the male beta cast seems to have the day off in "18 Miles Out". Glenn, Dale, Daryl, T-Dog and Herschel are all completely absent, the action at the farm focusing on the women and Rick and Shane dealing with the prisoner.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The series only follows the comic in Broad Strokes so those who have read the comic don't assume the outcome of the series is a foregone conclusion, introducing new characters and scenes in addition to the ones that showed up in the comics.
  • Action Girl: Andrea. Maggie.
  • Adult Fear: During "Bloodletting," T-Dog looks through a car for medicine, then notices a baby's car seat in the back seat--splattered with blood.
  • All Asians Are Alike: In "Vatos", Daryl tells Glenn "You got some balls for a Chinaman."

 Glenn: I'm Korean.

Daryl: Whatever.

  • All There in the Manual: The story of how Hannah became the "Bicycle Girl" walker is in the webisodes.
  • Almighty Janitor:
    • After Glenn comes up with a strategy of military efficiency to get Rick's bag of guns off the swarmed street, Daryl asks him what he used to do for a living. He says he used to deliver pizza.
    • The leader of the Vatos used to be a custodian.
  • Annoying Arrows: Averted. Daryl's crossbow is used effectively against the undead. Later, Daryl accidentally impales himself on one of his own arrows and is shown significantly impaired by it.
  • Anyone Can Die: A truly unique example, in that the source material pushes anyone can die. The series compounds the Anyone Can Die right of Kirkman with an Anyone Can Die in the independent universe of the show. Sophia and Dale, comic survivors, died early in the show.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: There's discussion on whether the Chupacabra is real, and it's Lampshaded that they're having this conversation in a world where the dead walk. On the other hand, there's actual evidence of the walking dead, whereas Daryl was tripping balls when he thought he saw the Chupacabra. Not altogether arbitrary.
  • Asian Drivers: Daryl makes a joke about this towards Glenn in the second season finale.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: The criminals in the opener. Their car is turned over, they're outnumbered by cops, and each cop has a weapon aimed at them, and they come out shooting anyway. Two are promptly gunned down. The third, who goes entirely unnoticed in the initial shootout, and could have gotten a decent head start since nobody had seen him yet, breaks from cover and starts shooting.
  • Audience Sucker Punch: In the mid-season finale for season 2, it's discovered that Sophia was turned into a walker. Also, when Dale is killed by the zombie that Carl accidentally released.
  • Auto Erotica: The episode "Secrets" includes a scene where Shane and Andrea get busy in the car they're in, just after they've escaped a housing development that was full of walkers.
  • Automaton Horses: Real horses don't even take well to living crowds without special training, yet the one Rick rides into a city crawling with walkers barely snorts in nervousness. When attacked, it just stands there whinnying hopelessly and gets eaten alive rather than kicking, bucking or fleeing. Justified since it was running until it got cornered. On the practical side, realistic bucking/kicking would need a very skilled stunt rider. It would also be dangerous for the extras playing walkers.
  • Awesome but Practical:
    • As Daryl points out, crossbows are far better for killing walkers than firearms: they make less noise and you can reuse the shafts. As shown in season two, one can also create more bolts in the field if need be, something that can't be done with modern ammunition.
    • Rick makes the mention of using knives to not attract more Walkers while seeing one in their line of slight.
  • An Axe to Grind:
    • Rick uses one to chop up a dead body as part of a plan to sneak past the walkers and escape Atlanta.
    • Daryl in "TS-19" uses one on the door to the CDC, on a walker in midrun, and almost on Jenner's head because it's not designed to withstand a rocket launcher. One of his axe kills actually has him using two axes to behead one walker in one swing.
  • Bang Bang BANG: Warning -- firing a gun inside a tank may cause pain and temporary hearing loss.
  • Badass Boast:

  Rick: If you want to kill me, you're gonna have to do better than a wrench.

    • His retort when Merle says that he won't shoot him, because he's a cop:

  "All I am anymore is a man looking for his wife and son. Anyone who gets in the way of that is going to lose."

  • Batter Up: Bats are occasionally used as weapons, with the second season's second episode having Maggie on a horse charge up and hit a walker upside the head that was threatening one of the group.
  • Behind the Black: In the season 2 finale, Patricia is grabbed and killed by a walker that was just off camera, though the characters should easily have seen it right off their path.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Shane tells Rick that he thinks Rick can't keep his family safe, Rick and Shane start whaling on each other.
    • In "Judge, Jury, Executioner," Daryl shows Randall that he should have kept his mouth shut instead of telling Daryl about an incident with a man and his two teenage daughters.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Played with. Rick, T-Dog, Daryl and Glenn return to camp just in time to save the camp from walkers. Then Rick and Shane have an argument as to whether the losses would've been greater or worse if the group had never left the camp in the first place.
    • Shane looks resigned to Rick abandoning him while he's stuck in the school bus in "18 Miles Out," until he looks over and sees Rick and Randall (who's driving the car) barreling into the lot at top speed to rescue him.
    • Andrea delivers one to Carol when the latter somehow manages to get separated from the group in the second season finale, and is promptly abandoned by everyone.
    • As Andrea is about to meet her fate at the hands of a walker after being separated from EVERYONE, she's saved at the hands of a mysterious hooded figure. Fans of the comic will instantly identify the hooded figure as Michonne.
  • Big No:
    • Merle gets a few in when he's stuck on the roof.
    • Daryl does it too upon reaching the roof and finding Merle's severed hand. It must run in the family.
    • Rick several times, after Andrea tries to prove her worth by shooting an incoming walker. Turns out it wasn't a walker, but a wounded Daryl. Thankfully, she only grazed him.
  • Black Cloak: In "Beside The Dying Fire", the "hooded stranger (Michonne)" uses a variant of this during her entrance.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Discussed when T-Dog is feverish and suffering blood poisoning:

 T-Dog: How old are you? 70?

Dale: 64.

T-Dog: And I'm the one black guy. Realize how precarious that makes my situation?

Dale: What the hell are you talking about?

T-Dog: I'm talking about two Good Ol' Boy cowboy sheriffs and a redneck who's about to cut off his own hand because I dropped the key. Who in that scenario you think would be first to get lynched?

  • Book Ends: The first and last episodes of season 1 both feature scenes of characters enjoying the now-rare luxury of a hot shower.
  • Boom! Headshot!: With walkers, it's the only way to be sure.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Averted for the most part over the course of the series but there are a few exceptions:
    • In "Guts" Merle fires a great many more rounds than his rifle could physically hold. However it's not unreasonable to assume Merle reloaded his rifle in between his scenes.
    • Plays a vital, if background, role in "Beside the Dying Fire", when Shane's stealing some of the ammunition for himself in "Judge, Jury and Executioner" leads to Andrea having not nearly enough for herself when she's on her own in the forest trying to evade an entire herd of walkers.
    • Also in "Beside The Dying Fire", Herschel is seen (and heard) unloading many more rounds from his shotgun that is physically possible. The first time he's seen firing into the walkers heading towards the house from the barn, he fires nine shots on-screen, and is heard immediately afterward firing at least six additional shots without pausing to reload as Lori walks out and asks Carol where Carl is. Later on, when the action cuts back to him after most of the cars have left, he fires ten shots in succession as he retreats backwards.
  • Bound and Gagged: Randall in "Triggerfinger"
  • Call Back:
    • In "Nebraska" and "Judge, Jury, and Executioner," Daryl is shown making himself an arrow to replace the shafts he's lost.
    • In "18 Miles Out," Rick hides from a small swarm of walkers by covering himself with a dead walker, similar to how Daryl and T-Dog hid from the large swarm in the Season 2 premiere.
    • In "Better Angels," Andrea and Glenn are attempting to fix the group's RV, and Andrea offers Glenn a screwdriver. The shot lingers on the tool a second before Glenn accepts it. Referencing Andrea's encounter with a walker in "What Lies Ahead" where she kills a walker by stabbing it in the eye with a screwdriver.
  • Camera Abuse: Blood and/or brains are often splattered onto the camera, usually resulting from a gunshot, blunt object, or axe to the head.
  • Canon Foreigner: Quite a few - Merle, Daryl, Ed, the Morales family, Jacqui, Jenner, the Vatos...
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Shane. Every time he tries to kill Rick, someone gets in the way. First time it was Dale, second time it was a horde of walkers. And the third time Rick just goes ahead and stabs him in the stomach. Finally.
  • The Cavalry:
    • When Andrea is ambushed by a walker in the forest, Maggie suddenly comes riding in on a horse and armed with bat.
    • Happens multiple times in "Beside The Dying Fire". Andrea arrives to rescue Carol, Rick shows up at the last second to save Herschel from a walker bearing down on him when he paused to reload, and Andrea is saved by Michonne after she runs out of ammo and gets pinned to the ground by a walker.
  • Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: Averted. Jenner says a French research facility was the last still operational when he lost contact, working to find a cure until the end.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The grenade Rick picks up in the first-season episode "Guts" gets used in "TS-19" to blast open an escape route.
    • Rick's sheriff uniform, which he consistently wears rather than more practical or comfortable gear, ultimately defuses the situation with the Vatos when one of the elderly they're protecting recognizes him as a police officer and asks for his help.
    • The damaged radiator hose on Dale's RV is mentioned several times in passing throughout the first season, and conks out once in "Wildfire" and again in the second-season opener "What Lies Ahead."
    • Another was loaded and set on the mantelpiece when Dr. Jenner whispered in Rick's ear. This was eventually revealed in "Beside the Dying Fire", where Rick reveals what Jenner had told him - Everyone is infected, and unless they die by headshot, they will return as walkers. Which explains why Rick shot Tony in the head at the end of Nebraska after killing him.
    • In "18 Miles Out." After explicitly noting that the Mert county deputies were infected without bites, we see Randall and Shane become zombies without being bitten. This is later explained in "Beside The Dying Fire".
    • Daryl's gun, which Carl steals from his bike in "Judge, Jury, Executioner", which Carl later uses to put a bullet in the zombified Shane's head.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The walker Carl inadvertently frees from being stuck in the mud at the riverbank in "Judge, Jury, Executioner" shows up at the end of the episode and kills Dale.
  • Christianity Is Catholic: In the 2nd season premiere, the gang stumble across a small country church, which is explicitly identified as being "Baptist" on its signage. Inside on the altar is a very large crucifix. Baptists are one of the least likely Protestant denominations to have something so "Roman" in their church.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Glenn and Rick. Shane even calls them out on it.
  • Close-Call Haircut: Andrea mistakes Daryl for a walker and shoots him. Fortunately, her aim is bad.
  • Closest Thing We Got

 Lori: You're a doctor, right?

Hershel: Yes, ma'am. Of course. A vet.

Lori: A veteran? A combat medic.

Hershel: A veterinarian.

  • Comforting the Widow:
    • In the time Rick was in the hospital, Shane and Lori were beginning to form this kind of relationship.
    • And again with Daryl and Carol.
  • Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like: Andrea, to Dale. Justified, in that Andrea only left the CDC because Dale refused to leave without her.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The "fish fry attack" from the first-season episode "Vatos" continues to be a sticking point between Shane and Rick (with both of them arguing over whether or not Rick was justified leading a mission to rescue Merle and retrieve the guns) long into the second season. "Pretty Much Dead Already" namechecks the event again, with Shane specifically mentioning Amy and Jim (who both died as a result of the attack).
    • Shane's pre-apocalypse flashback in the first-season episode "TS-19" gets referenced again when he tries to make amends with Rick in "18 Miles Out."
  • Conspicuous CGI:
    • The wrench that Shane hurled at Rick in "18 Miles Out".
    • The CGI (and jawless, and armless) walkers that Michonne/the "hooded figure" appears with in "Beside The Dying Fire". The scene looks almost surrealistic compared to the rest of the episode.
    • The zombie that Glenn nearly decapitates in the pharmacy.
    • The flames when the walkers in the barn are set on fire by Carl and Rick.
  • Contrived Coincidence: In "Beside The Dying Fire". A group of walkers, attracted by the same helicopter that Rick saw in Atlanta in "Days Gone Bye" (and apparently happening at the same time, no less) makes its way towards the direction of the helicopter, and eventually masses more and more walkers who fall in step with the original group. The horde of walkers eventually smashes through a strong wooden fence and onto the Greene farm.
  • Cool Car: The car that Rick and Glenn use to draw the walkers away with the car alarm is a brand new Dodge Challenger. Glenn is understandably happy over being able to drive out of Atlanta with nothing but open road in front of him and no police to pull him over.
  • Cool Hat:
    • Rick's police hat. Glenn even jokes that Rick risked going back into Atlanta not to recover his lost guns but the hat instead. Later he gives it to Carl.
    • Dale's hat is either thought of as this or thought to look goofy by the characters themselves.
  • Cool Old Guy: Dale, and after "Triggerfinger", Hershel.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: The farmer and his wife's suicide note, in the series premiere, is written on the wall in blood.
  • CPR: Clean, Pretty, Reliable: Resorted to in the webisodes in a touchdown pass with the Idiot Ball. There's no reason this person should be attempting this, and it doesn't end well.
  • Crapsack World: Par the course for any Zombie Apocalypse tale.
  • Creepy Child: The zombified little girl that Rick shoots in the pilot. And he does the same to Sophia.
  • Cute Little Fangs: Accidentally revealed if you're paying attention to teeth in "Vatos" while Amy is in the boat.
  • Cute Monster Girl:
    • Morgan's zombified wife, who looks fairly normal except for rings around her eyes and the expression on her face. She is one of the more recent victims, and hasn't decayed as much as the others.
    • In the webisodes, the female walker who Judy mistook for unconscious or in distress. Judy gets part of her face ripped off for her troubles.
  • Daylight Horror: Frequently, though of course it's harder to see zombies at night than it is during the daytime.
  • Death by Adaptation: Sophia, who (compared to her continuing presence in the comic) is killed after the group finds her in the barn, having been turned into a walker and also Dale, as of "Judge, Jury, Executioner". In the source material, he survived all the way past the prison arc (which is the plot of the third season) until the "Fear The Hunters" arc.
  • Deep South: The show takes place in Georgia, thus many characters have southern accents.
  • Despair Event Horizon:
    • Jenner. Jacqui.
    • Andrea, before Dale guilt trips her out of it
    • Hershel and Beth, after the massacre of all the zombies in the barn.
  • Determinator:
    • Merle may be an ass, but one has to admire his stubborn refusal to die. He cut his own hand off because the saw was apparently too blunt for the cuffs. He then took out at least two walkers singlehandedly, then cauterized his stump, and managed to reach--and drive away in--a vehicle. It hasn't been shown whether he has since attached a chainsaw to the stump.
    • Daryl too. He's so determined to find Sophia, that when he falls down a small cliff and gets impaled on one of his own bolts, he manages to climb out and walk back to the farm, killing two walkers on the way. Must run in the family, along with 'Big No's.
    • Andrea as well, as of "Beside the Dying Fire". On her own against a horde of walkers, she runs and fights her way through the forest for the better part of twelve hours. She only gets overwhelmed when she loses her knife.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: Totally averted. We get one scene of expository dialogue, an action sequence, an Impairment Shot in the hospital, and then Zombies.
    • The show's focus on Shane, however, is an example of this, as anyone familiar with the source material would know he was going to die.
  • Diabolus Ex Machina: On every episode. Things get worse as the series progresses, and when something good happens, it doesn't last.
  • Dirty Business: "Save The Last One" -- Shane and Otis are injured and trying to escape a mob, each with one bullet left. Shane shoots Otis to give the mob something to eat so he can escape with the medical equipment for the injured Carl.
  • Disaster Democracy: Rick is never elected, but essentially trusted as the leader of the group because of his former position and natural abilities. This trope is darkly invoked at the end of season 2 though, when Rick makes the ultimatum that if anyone doesn't have confidence in his ability to lead the group, they should just go their own way. Essentially, he forces everyone to vote with their feet, and they vote to stick with him... mostly out of fear of everything else.
  • Driven to Suicide: Obviously, given the nature of the series, the characters have frequently come across the remains of survivors who resorted to this.
    • The farmer in the first episode who wrote "GOD FORGIVE US" in blood appears to have killed himself.
    • Jenner says that the majority of the CDC staff chose this rather than fall to The Virus; while Jenner himself thought that "tomorrow I'll blow my brains out." Later on, Jacqui stays behind with Jenner to die in the CDC building. Andrea wanted to stay, but was forced out of it at the last minute, and later makes it clear that she resents not being allowed to die.
    • Daryl and Andrea found a bite victim who hanged himself in the second season.
    • Played With late in the second season. Beth becomes pessimistic and asks Maggie and Lori why she should live in a world where there's no hope and everyone's going to die anyway. Andrea winds up letting her choose for herself, and Beth can't bring herself to go all the way, therefore proving she wants to live.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Lori actually drives distracted, which becomes a fatal flaw when she runs into something.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: After the group's raid on his barn, Hershel resorts to drinking.
  • Due to the Dead: Surprisingly, towards one of the walkers in the second episode. Rick is about to dismember it with an axe before he stops himself, checks the wallet, and gives an impromptu eulogy about how once, it was just like them. He concludes by saying if the plan works, he's going to tell his wife and kid that he survived because of the walker. Then Glenn points out that the walker's driver's license says it was an organ donor, and they start chopping up its body.
  • Dying Alone: The reason Rick decides to rescue Merle is because as much of a Jerkass he is, nobody deserves this fate.
  • Eaten Alive: What with a zombie apocalypse happening, it's implied this is the fate of many people.
    • Shown to disturbing effect as the fate of guilty and gullible Otis.
    • Ed gets a Karmic Death this way for beating up his wife.
    • Sean, a member of Dave's group, gets eaten by walkers following getting shot by Herschel and screams in pain loud enough to attract them. We even see his nose get bit off.
    • In "What Lies Ahead", T-Dog finds the...aftermath of what was a baby in a child seat.
    • Jimmy and Patricia in "Beside The Dying Fire".
  • Eiffel Tower Effect
    • In "Guts," the Georgia Dome is seen in the background.
    • In the opening scenes of the second-season premiere, Grady Memorial Hospital is seen while Rick is on the radio.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Merle has his in his very first scene, when he calls T-Dog a nigger and threatens to put the group at risk with his violence.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: The twist in "Vatos" when a grandmother comes out of nowhere and manages to defuse the impending shootout between Rick's group and the Latino gang. Then subverted when it is revealed that the gang were actually good people all along trying to protect the residents of an elderly home.
  • Every Helicopter Is a Huey
  • Executive Meddling: Conflicts with AMC regarding the second season's budget eventually resulted in the departure of pilot director and first season showrunner Frank Darabont.
  • Failed a Spot Check:
    • In the second season premiere, Dale is on lookout duty atop his RV while the gang searches the massive gridlock on the freeway. He doesn't notice a massive herd of walkers until they are right on top of the group, leading ultimately to Sophia's death.
    • In "Judge, Jury, and Executioner," in a wide-open field, a walker manages to sneak up right behind Dale and kill him, although it was at night.
  • Failsafe Failure: Played with and averted - the problem in the first season finale is that the CDC failsafes are working perfectly, but they are intentionally excessive because the building's materials must never be allowed to escape.
  • Fake Nationality:
    • British actors Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes) and Lennie James (Morgan Jones) pull off convincing Southern accents.
    • Lauren Cohan (Maggie) is technically not British (she was born in the states but moved to the UK at an early age), but hides her accent with a convincing Southern twang.
  • False Reassurance: In addition to his Half Truth about the doors, Jenners reassures the survivors regarding their blood that there's "no surprises" when only he would not be surprised by the fact that they all have the airborne, dormant infection.
  • Firing One-Handed: Rick tends to do this with his revolver.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Glenn tells Rick after rescuing him, that he puts his neck on the line for others in the admittedly naive hope that they'd do the same for him one day. Rick rescues Glenn two episodes later.
    • In the first episode, before the outbreak, we see two crows eating a dead animal in the road. Later, after the outbreak, there are two crows eating a dead human in Atlanta.
    • Before leaving Cynthiana for Atlanta, Rick gets some advice from Morgan when dealing with walkers: "They may not seem like much one at a time. But in a group, all riled up and hungry? Man, you watch your ass." Upon arriving in Atlanta, Rick saw that Morgan was right.
    • In a flashback scene in "Bloodletting," Lori gripes to a friend of hers about an argument she and Rick had. She wishes that for once he would blow up at her. She gets her wish four episodes later when Rick flips out when he finds her 'morning after' pills.
    • Shane did remind Rick that even before the walkers rose, if 72 hours passed, then they as cops were no longer looking for a person, but the body. He used this as an example to illustrate the chances of finding Sophia alive were slim to none. At the end of "Pretty Much Dead Already," Shane was tragically right.
    • When Daryl come across Cherokee roses, he says that they will find Sophia soon. They do, though she is a walker. Additionally, when Daryl brings Carol the rose, he specifically says that the roses bloomed for the dead children.
  • Fourth Date Marriage: Glenn and Maggie's relationship is progressing quite rapidly.
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Gang-Bangers: The trope seems to be played straight in the episode "Vatos" at first, but it turns out that the gang is really just acting that way to protect an old folks home whose residents were abandoned by the staff when the zombie apocalypse hit.
  • Genre Blind: A lot of the problems the group encounters is because of this, borders on being Too Dumb to Live sometimes. These are a few of the more common examples:
    • Walking around alone, especially at night.
    • Not stopping to check their surroundings.
    • Not making sure a corpse is actually dead before messing with it.
  • Genre Savvy: Comes and goes, but leans toward it generally. When Glenn and his group rescue Rick, they wear sports pads and helmets to protect themselves from bites and scratches.
  • "Glad to Be Alive" Sex: The reason Andrea and Shane get busy on the ride back to the farm after surviving the walker herd while out searching for Sophia.
  • Gonna Need More Trope: After painting himself and Glenn with walker gore, Rick gives their disguise a critical eye and concludes "We need more guts."
  • Goodbye, Cruel World: The suicide note that Daryl and Andrea find with a hanging walker who failed to kill himself in "Save The Last One." Could count as a Death Poem.

  Daryl: (reading note) "Got bit. Fever hit. World gone to shit. Might as well quit."

  • Good Cop, Bad Cop: Daryl and Rick do this with the captured vato. Neither of them seemed to be acting, although Daryl did use his brother's severed hand to threaten the kid, claiming that he did it to a man that crossed him.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: As Rick and Carl jump down from the RV in "Beside The Dying Fire", they see the front windshield being sprayed with blood while Jimmy's screams are heard from within.
  • Guile Hero: Glenn. Dale lampshades this when he mentions to one of the characters that Glenn had no Guile, making him at least another Guile Hero.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Shane seemed to be evolving into an Anti-Villain/Anti-Hero (based on survival instincts) or a Fallen Hero (based on Rick's reappearance) until his death in "Better Angels". Or both.
  • Heroic BSOD:
    • Andrea has one after her sister Amy dies.
    • Lori and Shane have one in "Save The Last One"
    • Both Hershel and Carol have one in "Pretty Much Dead Already."
    • Glenn BSOD's when he is shot at in "Triggerfinger"
  • Hero of Another Story: The Vatos forted up in Atlanta in an old folks home. Morgan and his son also qualify.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: It appears that Otis performed one to allow Shane to get away with the medical supplies needed to save Carl's life. In actuality, it's a subversion, as Shane shot Otis so the walkers chasing them would swarm Otis as opposed to him.
  • He's Dead, Jim:
    • Justified as a necessity to make sure everyone who has died does not get up and start shambling.
    • In the intro for episode "TS-19," it's shown in flashback that Shane didn't just automatically assume Rick was dead before leaving him. He did check for a heartbeat after the power failed for the instruments monitoring Rick, and didn't hear one, then barricaded his room with a gurney before leaving him.
  • Hidden Depths: Daryl.
  • Hollywood Darkness: Averted - even without many streetlights, the characters can still see well enough in the dark or at night.
  • Hope Spot:
    • At first the series leads you to believe that the CDC may still be operational and working on a cure to the plague. Then it shows that the entire building is staffed by one lone scientist whose sanity is gone.
    • After Shane and the group kill all the walkers in Hershel's barn, the music becomes triumphant, and the group looks understandably relieved that their problem has been taken care of...until they hear another low growl, and look over to see the undead Sophia shambling out of the barn.
    • At the beginning of the second season, the convoy decides to set out for Fort Benning, which they believe gives them the best shot of permanent shelter, food and ammunition. In "Nebraska", Rick gets his hopes dashed when he asks Dave about the fort. Dave responds that the whole place was overrun, and there's no way anyone could have survived there. Then again, Dave's an Unreliable Narrator.
  • Hot Mom: Lori Grimes. Hannah to some, before becoming the Bicycle Girl walker. Judy, before she got her face chewed off.
  • I Choose to Stay: In "TS-19", Jacqui and Andrea choose to stay in a building about to explode because they have lost hope and don't want to run any more. However, Andrea is convinced to leave when Dale threatens to do the same.
  • The "I Love You" Stigma: When Maggie says "I love you" to Glenn, he doesn't say it back. He later explains to Rick that no girl but his mother has said that to him and he's afraid of the implications. Given that he's only known Maggie for a bit, his reaction is justified.
  • Impairment Shot:
    • Rick's during-the-hospitalization view of Shane before he responds months later in the now long empty hospital.
    • Daryl as he falls down a riverbank.
  • Important Haircut: Shane, after killing Otis.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills:
    • The only way you're going to pull off an accurate headshot with a pistol while running is pure luck. These guys do it all the time.
    • Carl somehow manages to hit Walker!Shane right in the head when Rick was standing directly between them. As if to intentionally make the Bizarre and Improbable Ballistics more obvious, Rick thought Carl was pointing the gun at him, until Carl fired without even adjusting his aim.
    • Almost everyone kills one walker per shot during "Beside The Dying Fire", even in ridiculous circumstances. Andrea gets headshots firing out a window while T-Dog is seen struggling to hold the wheel as their truck jolts around to avoid walkers, several characters fire from the hip and take targets down, while Herschel stands in front of his house and gets headshot after headshot for what seems like several minutes.
    • Lori, despite no on-screen evidence whatsoever that she has ever fired a gun in her life, has suddenly gained the ability to head shot Walkers with a low caliber revolver, in the dark and at range.
  • Improvised Weapon: Axes, picks, and bats. While not designed as weapons, they are readily adapted to this use.
  • Infant Immortality:
    • Averted from the first scene. Implied later on, when while scavenging Andrea finds a car seat caked in dried blood and flesh. T-Dog also finds a baby car seat covered in blood. Averted again, in the most heartbreaking fashion with Sophia.
    • Especially notable in "Judge, Jury, Executioner"; the walker that Carl accidentally leads to the farm struggles to escape shin-deep mud and can barely hold onto Carl's ankle when it grabs him. When it then grabs hold of Dale several scenes later, it suddenly has the strength to tear a hole in Dale's torso like it's a napkin.
  • It Got Worse: Season 1 started on the premise of things going from bad to worse. Season 2 follows by going further than that. For example, we see in Season 2 that you don't have to be bitten to rise as one of the Walkers.
  • It's the Only Way to Be Sure: If you kept a collection of potentially world-ending pathogens in your basement, you would set up a high-impulse thermobaric device to prevent them from escaping too.
  • Jerkasses: Both Merle and at first, Daryl Dixon.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • Daryl may be a caustic redneck, but he is usually the only one of the group to recognize the gravity of their situations. He also has several redeeming qualities.
    • Shane believes that he is this, but he's just as ruthless with the living as he is with the walkers.
  • Kick the Dog: The military get one big moment in the prologue of "TS-19." Rather than putting the expected brave fight to protect the innocent, they execute hospital personnel en masse before getting screwed big time by actual walkers. The second season finale throws some doubt onto the degree of pooch-punting by the soldiers, and even before then the medical staff may well have been infected in the course of caring for casualties.
  • Kill the Cutie: Amy and Sophia.
  • Killed Off for Real: As of the final episode of season two: Amy, Ed, Jim, Jacqui, Jenner, Otis, Sophia, Dave, Dale, Randall, Shane, Jimmy and Patricia.
  • Kill It with Fire:
    • What happens when something important blows up (the CDC self-destruct goes off), creating a ball of fire that burns the air and everything in the immediate radius.
    • The military is shown in a flash back fire bombing city streets.
    • Carl and Rick pour gasoline in Herschel's barn as the farm is being overrun and kill an impressive number of walkers.
  • Knife Nut: In "What Lies Ahead", Carl finds a dead man with an impressive haul of knives. Rick passes them out and the group is frequently seen wearing or using them for the rest of the season.
  • Lady Macbeth: Lori has a moment of this at the end of "Triggerfinger".
  • The Law of Inverse Recoil: When Carl fires a gun late in season two, he suffers almost no recoil. ...because this would distract the audience from the impact of the fact that he's shooting Walker!Shane.
  • 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.
  • Left Hanging: As of the second season's finale we still don't know what happened to Merle, or what happened to Morgan and his son.
  • Life or Limb Decision:
    • Merle cuts off his own hand when T-Dog panics and leaves him handcuffed to a pole as the walkers are attacking.
    • In "Triggerfinger", they consider doing this to Randall to free him from the fence his leg's impaled on, but when a mob of walkers show up and leave them with no time, Rick ends up just yanking it free instead.
  • The Load:
    • Carl generally needs protecting and sometimes does stupid things that put others in danger. His parents have a bit of a struggle trying to balance keeping him out of danger and getting him to learn to defend himself.
    • Characters sometimes argue about whether they're pulling their weight in the group or not, basically accusing each other of being The Load.
  • Love Confession: Glenn finally admits he loves Maggie near the end of "Beside The Dying Fire", after being unable to say it for most of the season.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Shane with Lori after Rick returns.
  • Love Triangle: A type 4 between Shane/Lori/Rick -- now that Lori's husband whom Shane and Lori thought was dead has returned and the affair with Shane ended.
  • 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.
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender:
    • While doing the group's laundry, the women complain amongst themselves about the "division of labor" while, with the exception of Andrea, they are quite happy to stand back and let the males do the dangerous work - like fighting the Walkers.
    • Lori goes as far as to criticize Andrea for choosing to do men's work rather than women's work. However, her problem is that laundry and cooking are always hard, while guard duty mostly involves sitting in a chair and looking around.
  • Mercy Kill: Averted with Randall. Played straight in many examples:
    • Rick pulls one off on Hannah (the "bicycle girl"), expressing his sympathy for her with the words "I'm sorry this happened to you" before killing her.
    • At the police station Rick killed the former cop who in the intro had talked about being on video, specifically stating that while he thought the guy was an overexcited rookie, he didn't deserve to be shambling around as a walker.
    • Dr. Jenner tries to present death by fuel-air explosive as this to the survivors.
    • In "Pretty Much Dead Already," zombified Sophia is on the receiving end of a mercy kill courtesy of Rick.
    • At the end of "Judge, Jury, Executioner," Daryl does this to Dale after he is mauled by a walker.
  • Mexican Standoff:
    • Between Rick, Daryl, T-Dog, and the Vatos when arguing over the gun bag.
    • Daryl seems to attract these. It happens two more times between him and Rick - first when he threatens T-Dog, then later when he wants to mercy kill Jim.
  • The Millstone: Sophia is this. 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.
  • The Mountains of Illinois: Atlanta residents were amused to see the picturesque Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre masquerading as CDC headquarters, miles away.
  • Mundanger: The main threat to Rick, Glenn and Hershel in 'Triggerfinger' is a group with guns and a grudge.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • Carl has a silent version of this at the end of "Judge, Jury, and Executioner" when he realizes the walker he inadvertently freed killed Dale.
    • Rick has a brief moment of this after killing Shane.
  • 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 being wrong.
  • Never Trust a Trailer:
    • The first-season finale trailer heavily implied that Andrea was infected.
    • Likewise, the trailer for "Save the Last One" implied Shane might be infected. He's not but he was injured by Otis, who pulled out a chunk of his hair and scalp in their struggle.
    • One scene from the trailer was Carl with Rick's hat, aiming a gun, which is almost a perfect recreation of the comic panel where he shoots Shane in the first story arc from the comic. It was actually him pointing at a walker stuck in mud. Ultimately he shot Shane one episode later.
    • Another scene for the trailer hinted at Merle's return, with Daryl saying "sorry, brother." He's actually talking to the mauled Dale, whom Daryl is about to Mercy Kill.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Heroes: 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.
  • No Communities Were Harmed: While Atlanta is obviously real, King County (where Shane and Rick were Deputies) and Mert County (where they take Randall in "18 Miles Out") are fictional.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Judy from the webisodes is zombified by giving CPR to what she thinks is a collapsed woman.
  • No Periods, Period: Glenn indicates he read somewhere that women spending time in proximity to each other will have their cycles all line up and he wonders if that means all the women in their group will "go hormonally crazy" at the same time. Dale wisely tells him to keep that theory to himself.
  • Not 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 two episode "Chupacabra." After falling down a hill twice and getting impaled by one of his arrows as a result, he limps back to the others, dirty and bruised. When the others rush out with melee weapons, they realize he's not dead. Andrea, however, has taken aim with a rifle and nearly takes the poor guy's head off for all his trouble.
  • Not So Different:
    • When Rick and his group confront the Vatos, they find out that the gang is actually protecting the elderly residents of a retirement home. They put up a tough image in order to chase away raiders and thieves.
    • The terms Dave, in "Nebraska", uses to try to convince Rick to take them in are in themselves a callback to what Rick said to Hershel when he was in that situation.
    • In the next episode, what Rick calls out to Dave and Tony's backup is basically the same things Dave said to try and convince them to take them in.
  • Not Using the Z Word: So far, "Walkers," "Geeks," "Lamebrains," and "Roamers." The Zombie Apocalypse trope does not exist in this world, so survivors are not Genre Savvy to call them zombies. In the series, unlike the comics, the term "walker" is never used to contrast the second variety of zombie that sits motionless until something crosses its path.
  • Not with the Safety On, You Won't:
    • Rick says this, almost word for word, to an overexcited cop during the high speed chase at the beginning of the first episode.
    • He does it again in the second episode to Andrea after she apologizes for pointing a pistol at Rick. After Amy dies, Rick tries to talk to Andrea about her coming back, but she points a gun at him and tells him that she knows how the safety works.
  • No Zombie Cannibals: Explained as the walkers only being attracted to the smell of the living.
  • 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
  • Off the Wagon: Hershel in "Nebraska"
  • Oh Crap:
    • Started with a Hope Spot when Rick, while in Atlanta, sees a helicopter and tries to follow it, then promptly hits the skids when he turns a corner and sees a dense mob of walkers filling almost the entire street in front of him.
    • The second episode has a sudden rainstorm pouring on Rick and Glenn, who have covered themselves in gore to fool the walkers. The rain washes off the scent, giving them away, and they quickly have to book it.
    • 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.
    • Rick and Dale's reactions upon seeing a horde of zombies shambling in their direction in "What Lies Ahead".
    • When Shane and Otis try to salvage medical supplies from a FEMA camp, they realize there are a lot more zombies than they anticipated. They get another moment when the distraction they set up for the walkers doesn't last as long they hope.
    • At the end of "Cherokee Rose," Lori finds out she is pregnant.
    • In "Chupacabra", Andrea shoots Daryl after mistaking him for a zombie. She looks triumphant, until she hears Rick screaming, "NO! NO! NO!"
    • Dale gets a quite delicious one when Shane points out how very stupid it was of him to confront a guy who he believes capable of killing his best friend.
    • Glenn, upon finding out while looking for a makeout spot in the barn that it's full of walkers.
    • The entire group upon seeing the undead Sophia shamble out of the barn
    • A furious Shane throws a large wrench at Rick, smashing a window. Said window had a small horde of walkers behind it.
    • Carl, trying to play the big man, lets a walker get close to him, and then lacks the capability to shoot it at point blank range. Then the walker grabs his ankle, and he frantically thrashes to escape.
    • Daryl and Glenn, upon finding and killing the undead Randall, find that he died from a broken neck, and despite not having any bite marks on him, still revived as a walker.
    • Rick and Carl in "Beside the Dying Fire", upon seeing a herd of walkers coming towards them.
  • One Bullet Left:
    • Otis and Shane as they escape from the zombies. Shane uses his on Otis, so he can get away.
    • Daryl gets down to his last crossbow bolt as of "Chupacabra", but makes more bolts in later episodes.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Played straight and subverted.
    • Subverted in the season two 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 gimp. 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 two, Randall (a member of the "Philadelphia crew" Rick, Glenn and Hershel encountered at a bar) has to be rescued by Rick after he spears his lower leg through a pointed fence. We see very little of his recovery time, and Daryl even re-opens the wound to torture him. In "18 Miles Out," an apparently short time later, Randall is shown to be walking just fine and even bends his legs to escape from his bonds without much trouble.
  • Open-Heart Dentistry: Hershel is a veterinarian. He's also the only medical practitioner available to save Carl.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: The zombies in the show can be surprisingly smart and agile, depending on their physical state when seen. They can use tools, open doors, and in spite of not being alive seem to occasionally have glimmers of recognizing something from when they were alive.
  • Painting the Fourth Wall: 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.
  • 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.
  • The Patriarch: Dr. Hershel Greene
  • Perma Stubble: Rick is the king of this look. He even had a stubbly beard when he woke from a months-long coma!
  • Perpetual Motion Monster: The dead are hungry, but never actually 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.
  • Poor Communication Kills:
    • "When this door closes, it will not open again." Jenner meant that literally.
    • Also Lori's lack of being able to tell Rick she was sleeping with Shane, and by extension her pregnancy, almost led to the self-induced abortion of her child.
  • POV Cam:
    • 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, Executioner".
  • 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. Word of God says that this was to prevent readers of the comics from thinking the whole series was a Foregone Conclusion.
  • 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.
  • Properly Paranoid: Michonne turns out to be right about not trusting the Governor.
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • Reality Ensues: In "Days Gone Bye", Rick fires a gun in a tank and spends about the next minute stunned with a loud ringing in his ears.
  • 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.
  • Red Herring: The helicopter in the pilot episode doesn't show up again until the season 2 finale and still has not been explained.
  • Relax-O-Vision:

 "Picture something nice. Puppies and kittens."

"Dead puppies and kittens."

  • 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.
    • At the beginning of "Better Angels", Daryl, T-Dog, Andrea and Shane dispose of a group of walkers in this fashion (spearing one in the head with a pitchfork, shooting them in the head with arrows, cutting off their heads with a Shovel Strike).
  • Room Full of Zombies:
    • In the pilot, a handy sign on a door warns Rick away from one of these, as seen in the page image for this trope.
    • The webisodes do a version of this.
    • Hershel's barn is also full of zombies.
  • 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.
  • Safe Zone Hope Spot: A recurring theme in the show as well as the comic it's based on, having happened twice in the shortened first season alone.
  • Sanity Slippage:
    • Jim begins digging at the top of the mountain until Shane takes him down and ties him to a tree. He can only say that he had a dream (possibly brought on by the guilt of knowing that he only survived because the zombies were eating his family) he couldn't remember.
    • Shane is obviously unhappy with the way things are going once Rick gets back into camp. His sanity doesn't start slipping, however, until he kills Otis. He finally loses it when Lori thanks him for saving her and Carl during the initial outbreak.
    • Dr. Jenner apparently didn't cope well with shooting his patient (who was also his wife) and then was cooped up with only an AI for company for two months.
    • T-Dog shows signs of this as well during the fever caused by a "regular" bacterial infection.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Any locked room or house full of zombies, such as the hospital room in the pilot. More importantly though, Hershel is keeping a bunch of active zombies locked up in his barn.
  • Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere:
    • Merle, with a rooftop instead of a room
    • Dr. Jenner, though this time by "choice"
  • Second Episode Introduction: Andrea, Glenn, T-Dog, Merle, Morales and Jacqui are all introduced in "Guts", the second episode of the first season.
  • Secret Keeper: Glenn, but his conscience makes him a terrible one, which causes some friction.
  • Shell-Shock Silence: Occurs when Rick fires his gun inside the confines of a tank, after he finds out he doesn't have Steel Ear Drums.
  • Sherlock Scan:
    • Daryl instantly realizes that Shane killed Otis, because he came back with his gun in addition to his own. He sits on this for nearly all of season 2 before admitting it to Dale in "Judge, Jury, and Executioner."
    • Daryl does this again in "Better Angels" when he discovers that Shane wasn't telling the truth when he said he was knocked out by Randall after finding matching footprints side-by-side, the discarded blindfold and blood on a tree (from when Shane broke his own nose to make it look like an accident). He also quickly deduces that Randall died of a broken neck.
      • The second time is more justified in that Daryl is an experienced tracker, trained in how to read footprints and other woodland signs.
  • Ship Tease: Carol and Daryl
  • Shoot the Dog: Happens several times, usually to highlight the severity or circumstances of the character's/group's situation.
    • The opening scene has Rick, while searching for gas, come upon a young female walker, who he is forced to shoot once she makes a run for him. Rick looks visibly shaken immediately afterwards.
    • Shane offers this to Jim just before they leave him by the roadside in "Wildfire." Daryl was also determined to do this, but just let him die on his own terms.
    • In "Pretty Much Dead Already", Rick steps up and shoots the undead Sophia because everyone else is too shocked to raise their weapons (even Shane, who was rather pointedly suggesting the group give up the search for Sophia, and also gung-ho just a couple minutes earlier about massacring the walkers in the barn until he saw one of the group's own had died).
    • Rick takes responsibility for the execution of Randall, but ultimately backs down.
    • Dale at the end of "Judge, Jury, Executioner" after a walker rips his stomach open and infects him. Either way, Herschel says there's no hope for a wound that serious.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: After searching for nearly half a season, hoping against hope that she's still alive, the group finally locates Sophia ... as she walks out of Hershel's barn. She had been zombified sometime after Rick left her in her hiding place.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The CDC has been referring to the zombie problem under the code name "Wildfire," and they've been studying it in their secret underground lab. "Wildfire" was also the government's code name for certain categories of pandemic, and the secret underground lab built to combat them, in The Andromeda Strain.
    • In "Bloodletting," you see for a split second quite a bit of Blue Sky in Merle's drug stash while Daryl is looking for some antibiotics for T-Dog.
    • As Glenn is explaining his plucky compliance to the group's sometimes insane requests of him to Maggie, he likens it to "playing Portal." Interestingly, the same company makes a much more applicable game, Left 4 Dead, but it does not exist in this world because the Zombie Apocalypse trope also does not exist in media.
    • T-Dog compares Daryl to Rambo in his search for Sophia. Perhaps coincidentally, actor Norman Reedus was also compared to Rambo in The Boondock Saints.
  • Shovel Strike:
    • Rick gets one to the face when Duane mistakes him for a zombie.
    • Later Rick lays open a zombie's face with a military entrenching tool.
    • And again by Shane when dispatching a group of walkers on the farm.
  • Sink or Swim Mentor: Shane to Andrea, when teaching her how to shoot moving targets. When they're surrounded by Walkers, and Shane's doing all the legwork in keeping them at bay, Andrea can't land a single headshot. When one Walker gets close to her, Shane aims at it, then lowers his weapon to force her to defend herself. Her initial response is an angry and incredulous, "Seriously?!"
  • Slept Through the Apocalypse: Rick.
  • Soft Glass: Averted in the season finale when they try to break open the glass windows of the CDC. They spend about a minute trying to break it until they use a grenade to blow it up.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Shane, though it turns out to be simply delayed. He survives past where he was killed in the comic, only to die toward the end of Season 2.
  • Spotting the Thread: Daryl figures out that it isn't really his brother Merle talking to him because he still has both his hands.
  • The Talk: When Carl discovers his mother is pregnant, they discuss it a little and it suddenly occurs to her that she and Rick never had an opportunity to give him this.
  • Tanks, But No Tanks: Anyone familiar with tank warfare might spot that the tanks are not only the wrong nationality - British Chieftains in Atlanta? - but that their tracks are surprisingly clean. Tanks can kill soldiers with machine guns, super sized buckshot, or simply by driving forwards. The tracks would miss the heads more often than not, but not arms, legs, and spines. It would be simple for soldiers to follow behind to finish the job, and this is one of the first things tankers would think of.
  • Team Dad: Rick is the leader and authoritarian of the group, while Dale is the more nurturing example.
  • The Teaser: Each episode opens with one of these. It's usually either a Flash Back to past events or a moment In Medias Res, with the rest of the episode depicting How We Got Here.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • Rick's reassurance to the horse that the zombies are few and slow and they can flee them easily. Cue Oh Crap moment.
    • Also Rick's reassurance to Glenn involving Maggie. "It's not like she's going anywhere." Somebody should tell him that you never say that sort of thing in this sort of genre.
  • That Came Out Wrong:
    • Lori says this word-for-word after saying that she'd rather eat Miss Piggy than frog legs.
    • Rick has one of these when he tells Shane that he wouldn't understand his plan to go to CDC because Lori and Carl aren't his family, when it was Shane that took care of them while he was gone.
  • Thicker Than Water: Merle and Daryl Dixon, especially Daryl's attitude towards Merle.
  • Throw-Away Guns: Averted most of the time. However, there are some exceptions:
    • Merle's rifle and handgun don't appear after the episode "Guts".
    • The revolver Carl learned to shoot in "Secrets" is never seen again.
  • Throw It In: As mentioned in an Entertainment Weekly story, Rick's deadpan line, "We need more guts" from the episode "Guts" was ad-libbed by Andrew Lincoln during filming. The director liked it so much that it was kept in the final cut.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Even when you're having a feast, always watch the perimeter. Taking active measures to prepare a defensible area instead of acting like it's just another camping trip in a normal world, where the biggest concern is a wild animal wandering into camp or some drunken idiot crashing the party, is a good idea, too.
    • In a flashback soldiers are too busy executing hospital staff to watch the doors behind them.
    • Andrew in the Webisodes: walking alone, without a flashlight, into a dark basement, during a Zombie Apocalypse. The crunch followed by the scream was no surprise.
    • Randall jumps off a high wall without properly looking at what's below, and gets his leg impaled on a spiked fence. He would have bled out or become zombie food if Rick didn't decide to help him.
    • Dale too. How does someone usually on lookout wind up not being able to see an upright zombie in a wide open field with no trees for hiding purposes?
  • Took a Level In Badass: Andrea, in "Chupacabra"/"Secrets." At the end of "Chupacabra," she successfully lands a headshot on Daryl with a hunting rifle at 100 yards with barely any practice or training. The next episode, she proves to be just as much a natural with a pistol.
  • Took a Level In Jerkass: Rick in the Season 2 finale.
  • Trailers Always Spoil:
    • The trailers showed both the wasteland of Atlanta with radio transmissions warning people away and shots of Rick getting shot down by gunmen. The truth about Atlanta was only revealed about halfway through.
    • Double subverted - Rick getting shot actually happened twice. The first time it hit his jacket and the second time it puts him into a coma. Viewers who thought they'd been spoiled by the trailers or the comic actually had their expectations blown away, along with bits of Rick's shoulder and lung.
  • Trash the Set: A recurring element of the series.
    • In "TS-19", the Center for Disease Control and Prevention self-destructs via a thermobaric incendiary explosion as the group flees.
    • Played with in "Beside The Dying Fire". The Greene family barn (and, by extension, Dale's RV) are destroyed, but the Greene homestead remains untouched.
  • Underestimating Badassery:
    • In "Nebraska" and "Triggerfinger," the "Philadelphia boys" (on two separate occasions) believe that Rick, Glenn and Hershel will roll over and give them what they want. In the first case, it was two guys who underestimated the sheriff with plenty of experience in headshots (not to mention putting their weapons down), and in the second, Hershel proves to be a capable shot as well.
    • In "Better Angels", Shane takes Rick out onto a moonlit field in order to kill him because he believes that he is too soft and cannot protect his family. Rick keeps insisting that he won't defend himself and that all will be forgiven if they can both put their weapons down. However, he's just using the conciliatory talk as a ruse to get in close and put his knife to good use, saying he'll protect his family at all cost.
  • The Virus: They went so far as to indicate "it infects the brain like meningitis." Note that meningitis doesn't involve the brain, but the meninges (the membrane around the brain and spinal cord).
  • Vomit Discretion Shot:
    • Glenn, when he and Rick hack up a zombie body with an axe and paint themselves with the guts.
    • Jim after becoming infected.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot:
    • Andrea in the second season, courtesy of Daryl seeking payback for her laughing over a mishap he had as a child.
    • Also, Lori throwing up her morning after pills.
  • Watching Troy Burn: Herschel and Daryl manage to get a long last look at the overrun farmstead and burning barn in "Beside The Dying Fire".
  • We Used to Be Friends: The friendship between Rick and Shane is tense since the outbreak. Shane having slept with Rick's wife in his absence doesn't help.
  • Weapon of Choice: Daryl's hunting crossbow, though he will readily use any other weapon that comes to hand. This may be a choice more from practicality than preference - crossbows are quieter than guns and arrows are easily recovered and reused so ammunition is less of a concern. However, he still brings it along when expecting confrontations with armed humans, when it would be much less useful than a real gun.
  • Webcomic Time: After two full seasons, they're just moving into autumn.
  • Wham! Episode:
    • "Vatos": Abusive Ed and Amy are killed in a large zombie attack, and Jim is infected, forcing the group to abandon their camp and leave Jim to die.
    • "Pretty Much Dead Already": The barn zombies are massacred by the group, Shane rebels against Hershel's rules, and most shockingly Sophia turns out to be a zombie.
    • "Judge, Jury, and Executioner": After Dale breaks down due to the group becoming uncivilized enough to execute Randall, he proceeds to get attacked by a walker. Even more wham due to the fact it's the same walker Carl tried to shoot in the swamp, but ended up freeing it instead.
    • "Better Angels": Shane completely loses it, kills Randall, and tries to kill Rick, who kills him in self-defense. Then he comes back as a walker and Carl has to shoot him. Oh, and the gunshot attracts a horde of walkers, which approaches the farm. Oh and it no longer seems to be just being scratched and bitten by a walker is all it takes to turn you into one. Randall became one despite his cause of death being nothing more than getting his neck broken.
    • "Beside The Dying Fire": The farm gets attacked by a horde, and all hell breaks loose. Jimmy dies saving Rick and Carl, Patricia dies while trying to run and everyone is forced to flee in separate directions, while leaving Andrea (who was presumed dead) behind. Andrea kills a ton of walkers before being saved at the last second by a mysterious hooded stranger (fan-favorite Michonne from the comic series), Glenn finally admits he loves Maggie, Rick reveals the truth about Jenner's whisper and Shane's death to the group, and it finally ends with a reveal of the prison.
  • What Happened to Mommy: A variation. Hershel's wife was infected and kept in the barn because he believed a cure would be found. His wife is eventually shot in the face by Daryl in "Pretty Much Dead Already," proving to him and his family (especially Beth, who tries to cradle the body and almost gets chowed on) that she couldn't have been saved anyway.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Hershel and his family believe that the Walkers are simply people afflicted with a disease that can be cured, which which is why he refrains from killing them. Rick's group find this belief absurd, since walkers are clearly dead and most have decomposed far beyond the capacity for any miracle cure. Ultimately the farm family comes around.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Lori chews out the rest the group for their lack of faith in Rick's leadership ability, telling them that if they really thought that, they were free to leave at any time.
    • In "Pretty Much Dead Already", Shane causes the slaughter of Hershel's undead family and friends by releasing them, forcing everyone to open fire while Hershel and his family can only watch. After Shane finally spells out Walkers are inhuman monsters, an undead Sophia stumbles out of the barn, giving everyone a perspective on what they've just done.
    • Daryl verbally lashing out at Carol in "Triggerfinger"
    • Andrea chews out Lori in "18 Miles Out" for not facing the facts that everything is a Crapsack World and not a World Half Full, which Lori believes there was still hope in their lives after the bad stuff that happens.
    • Subverted in the season two finale "Beside The Dying Fire" when various members of Rick's group are visibly disgusted with him after he admits to killing Shane before the major zombie attack happened at Herschel's barn, and Carol outright states that Rick's no longer an honorable man. Rick basically tells them to fuck off, saying that his actions have burdened him, especially since the person he killed was his best friend, and that no one else is making any substantial decisions to lead the group.
  • Who's Your Daddy?: "Cherokee Rose", Lori's new pregnancy kicked this off.
  • Word of God: The Talking Dead tie-in talk show interviews with series executives and actors provides a good deal of information not available within the show itself.:
    • Creator Robert Kirkman stated that in the universe of the TV show, the George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead was never created, and there was never a boom of zombie pop culture like in our world. This is why the word "walker" is more commonly used, as none of the characters have any knowledge of the concept of "zombies."
    • He also confirmed that Raising the Steaks will be averted.
    • According to Talking Dead, Otis was the one who found and corralled the undead Sophia into Hershel's barn, but Shane killed Otis before Otis knew of a missing girl in the group, meaning that the whole search and Daryl's near death was all for naught.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Shane attempts this in order to get Rick out of the way so he could have Lori all to himself. He fails.
  • Yandere: Shane.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Happens once an episode, with the most notorious one being the CDC event.
  • You Are Already Infected: Rick reveals the big secret in which Dr. Jenner told him in the Season 1 finale to the others in the Season 2 finale. Everyone is infected and will turn into a walker regardless upon death...unless you die by headshot.
  • You Don't Want to Die a Virgin, Do You?: Glenn and Maggie.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: The biological infection version, as revealed in the CDC exposition, as opposed to the comic's use of the Romero rules (everyone who dies comes back as a zombie).
    • Using Romero rules after all, Randall, whose neck is snapped, and Shane, who is stabbed, come back as zombies. Confirmed by Rick in the next episode.
  • Zombie Advocate: Hershel has a barn full of walkers locked up.
  • Zombie Gait: Some of the walkers do this. And Daryl too, due to his injuries and the ordeal he endured to get back to the farm. It results in him being mistaken for a zombie.
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