The Walking Dead is hands-down one of the best-adapted shows in the history of television. Yes, it sometimes strays a good bit from Robert Kirkman’s source material, but, when it does, it does it smartly and with confidence. This show’s backbone is its humanity. That’s what makes its reflective and daunting environment so much more conquerable. We have a show about the dead walking, feeding and terrorizing, but what we really have is a tight group of humans sticking together at any cost to help survive the darkest times.
With Fear the Walking Dead premiering this Sunday and AMC running full-season marathons on Sundays, Walking Dead fans are surely thinking back to previous seasons, episodes, and scenes to get amped up for this fall. So, to assist in that endeavor, here are some of the most heartbreaking moments in Walking Dead history — moments that made us both sob our eyes out, but also connect with each and every character.
Warning: There will be spoilers.
The CDC Explosion
This finale scene from the first season may not initially seem like a “heartbreaking” moment, but what it represents is sad to say the least. The CDC was a beacon of hope for the entire pilot season, and for it to be destroyed means a new, scary way of life is approaching. A life with little hope, many questions, and much darkness. Room getting dusty on you?
Sophia And The Barn
Arguably the most famous scene in the series thus far, Sophia’s death was an unexpected and emotional moment that connected not only us with all the characters on the screen, but the characters with each other. In one scene, we see every character think the exact same thought: “This girl must be killed,” while no one is willing to step up and do it besides Rick, who throws his feelings aside and takes care of business.
Lori Grimes: Birth And Death
Lori Grimes was a character that was hated by quite a few fans, but she cared greatly for her son, Carl. When she got pregnant, it was easy to wonder if we might be witnessing the run-up to her exit from the show, due to the lack of working hospitals and abundant supplies. Did we have any clue that her end was going to be this bad? Nope. In a moment juxtaposed with life and death, Carl must witness a new family member come into his life before making a hard choice.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is what a rollercoaster of emotions looks like.
Merle Tries To Go Out In A Blaze Of Glory
Merle (brilliantly played by the great Michael Rooker) was complicated in that he was a gross racist ass who had no respect for anyone, but, as time passed, we slowly (and I mean slowly) saw Merle come around before he met his end in a somewhat heroic fashion.
No, we don’t cry over Merle’s death (and later turn toward walkerhood), but dammit, we pour one out for him.
Hershel Passes On
Hershel was the reigning father figure on the show from his first episode to his last. He always offered advice, wisdom, and gave comfort to anyone in need, mainly Rick. He saw Rick as a son and knew he had to level Rick out so that he could keep a straight mind to lead the group on a daily basis. That’s why it was such a gut punch when we saw Hershel in front of The Governor. Because The Governor shows no mercy.
The Dixon Brothers Meet One Last Time
The Brothers Dixon’s final goodbye is beyond tough to watch. Daryl, a rough-edged, “emotionless” human being is forced to kill his own brother face-to-face. Similar to the Sophia sequence, the Brothers Dixon scene is about leaving the ones we love behind.
Hats off to Norman Reedus, who conveys perfect emotions and mannerisms for the tone of this scene. He pushes Merle away multiple times because he cannot come to terms with killing his brother. But, after a while, he knows what has to be done.
“Just Look At The Flowers, Lizzie”
Finally, it’s time to look at the flowers. This is a gut-wrenching scene that no one expected. We knew that the show had no problem killing off some select main characters, but this made it clear that no one was safe. At all.
Again, a core character we love, Carol, is put in a situation where a gritty, possibly right decision is put on the table. She makes her choice, and boy is it troubling. I remember seeing the immediate backlash for this storytelling decision, and it was almost all bad. “The Walking Dead just murdered a child.” That sentence was continuously echoed by fans whose hearts were absolutely demolished, but surviving the post-apocalypse is about the hard choices, and Lizzie had become a monster.