Every Episode of The Walking Dead Ranked by Tomatometer
The Walking Dead fans have hung with AMC’s zombie series for over 10 seasons now — 161 episodes — and helped the show break several ratings records, including the most-watched cable episode in history when its season 5 premiere aired.
We looked at how each of its episodes so far have fared on the Tomatometer and found the most Rotten episodes occurred in season 6, with five of the 16 episodes in that season being deemed Rotten by a consensus of critics (although the season fared well overall — it is Certified Fresh at 76%).
The fifth season is the Freshest of the bunch, with eight TWD seasons overall Certified Fresh, and with the highest overall score at 90%.
Seasons 5 and 3 scored the most episodes in the top 10, claiming four slots each standing at 100%. Season 7’s premiere, “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be,” had the most reviews of any individual episode with 54 — unsurprising, given that it was the episode in which viewers found out which characters Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) had brained.
Where did “For Blood,” episode 8 of season 11 land? Read on to find out!
What was your favorite episode of The Walking Dead? Tell us in the comments.
Critics Consensus: Despite Jeffrey Dean Morgan's deliciously evil turn as Negan, the meandering "Last Day on Earth" -- and its manipulative cliffhanger ending -- make for a disappointing season finale.
Synopsis: To save one of their own, Rick's group must venture outside the walls; their experience changes their lives forever.... [More]
Critics Consensus: "Splinter" doesn't move this season's story forward in any meaningful way, but Paola Lázaro's performance and some hallucinatory flourishes keep this character-focused installment from being wholly redundant.
Synopsis: Eugene, Ezekiel, Yumiko, and Princess are captured and separated by the mysterious troopers that surrounded them at the rail yard;... [More]
Critics Consensus: Daryl is an involving tour guide through The Walking Dead's final batch of antagonists, although "Rendition" won't convince the skeptics that The Reapers are much different than the murderous militias who have plagued the series before.
Synopsis: Daryl and Dog get captured by the Reapers; they are taken to the Meridian and reconnect with a familiar figure... [More]
Critics Consensus: The flashback-laden "The Day Will Come When You Won't Be" is slow to deliver the payoff from last season's finale -- but ultimately delivers with sadistic acts of gut-wrenching violence that will push Walking Dead fans to their limit.
Synopsis: As the members of the group remain helpless, Negan takes action that will forever haunt those who survive.... [More]
Critics Consensus: Though some character motivations remain boggling, a dangerous morality shift between hero and villain -- along with a gratifyingly gruesome death -- make "Still Gotta Mean Something" an enthralling lead-up to the final two episodes of this The Walking Dead season.
Synopsis: A Heaps prisoner makes a discovery; Carol searches for someone in the nearby forest; Rick and Morgan find themselves in... [More]
Critics Consensus:The Walking Dead delivers another character-driven episode in "The Cell," which successfully delves deeper into the world of Negan and his cronies, even if its attempts to humanize a villain achieve somewhat mixed results.
Synopsis: A new group of survivors seem to have it all in their impressive community; however, there is a price.... [More]
Critics Consensus: The Commonwealth gets explored and proves too good to be true while "Out of the Ashes" is a believably fine table-setting installment, befitting a season that has been more solid than gutsy so far.
Synopsis: Aaron, Carol, Lydia, and Jerry go to the Hilltop ruins for blacksmith tools and nearby game; Eugene's group goes through... [More]
Critics Consensus: "Wrath" begins predictably and ends twistedly as it tidily closes out the "all-out-war" arc that's been creeping throughout TWD season 8, presenting a cliffhanger that goes against the grain of several lead characters and the series itself.
Synopsis: The communities join forces in the last stand against the Saviors as all-out war unfolds.... [More]
Critics Consensus: "What Comes After" serves as an emotionally raw and rousing farewell to series lead Andrew Lincoln, though some viewers may find Rick Grimes' ambiguous departure more of a cop out than a relief.
Synopsis: Rick is forced to face the past as he struggles to maintain the safety of the communities and protect the... [More]
Critics Consensus: "Hearts Still Beating" corrects course after a frustrating first half to The Walking Dead's seventh season, using an improved pace and some welcome narrative jolts to set up a hopeful, rousing conclusion.
Synopsis: Negan's unwelcome visit to Alexandria continues as other members scavenge for supplies; things quickly spin out of control.... [More]
Critics Consensus: "Stradivarius" efficiently sets the board for promising developments and provides a welcome spotlight for Daryl Dixon, but some viewers may feel The Walking Dead is sacrificing organic narrative development and stalling for time with contrivances.
Synopsis: Carol seeks out an old friend living alone in a wilderness teeming with walkers; survivors make the perilous trek to... [More]
Critics Consensus: "Bounty" rekindles The Walking Dead's knack for a lighthearted shaggy dog story and hair-raising horror set-piece, but some viewers may come away dissatisfied with the installment's teasing of a clash that never materializes.
Synopsis: The savage group led by Alpha confronts the Hilltop in a harrowing attempt to retrieve her daughter; a supply run... [More]
Critics Consensus: "Omega" utilizes an unreliable narrator to flesh out the zombie skin-clad fanatic Alpha and succeeds at making her all the more unnerving, but some viewers may find the episode's flashback structure and side plots to be more laborious than revelatory.
Synopsis: A new arrival at the Hilltop opens up about the leader of a group of mask-wearing savages; a search party... [More]
Critics Consensus: The introduction of new characters and a face-off (or eye-off) between The Governor and Michonne make "Made to Suffer" a gripping episode as season three enters its mid-season break.
Synopsis: Andrea steps up when the people of Woodbury are thrown into uncharted territory; a new threat arises at the prison.... [More]
Critics Consensus: "Guardians" presents dual stories of tested leadership with thematic resonance and provides the malevolent Alpha a plump opportunity to demonstrate her villainy -- although The Walking Dead is still withholding crucial context from viewers longing to understand the motivations of their heroes.
Synopsis: While one community struggles to ease tensions that threaten to divide from within, the true nature of another group comes... [More]
Critics Consensus:The Walking Dead delivers an unnerving midseason cliffhanger -- and a new and terrifying threat -- although some viewers may feel that the ghoulish Whisperers are a retread of the same old antagonists with a new, rotting face.
Synopsis: A small rescue mission braves a dangerous herd in their hunt for a missing comrade, only to discover a surprising... [More]
Critics Consensus: Though its myriad of lingering questions will no doubt frustrate fans, the introduction of the outrageously entertaining Princess breathes new life into TWD as "The Tower" finds the series switching gears to great effect.
Synopsis: The communities prepare for the final battle of the Whisperer War; meanwhile, Eugene's group encounters Princess.... [More]
Critics Consensus: "Who Are You Now?" swiftly establishes a new world order in The Walking Dead without Rick Grimes, effectively conveying the progression of the survivors, but some viewers may feel adrift in what feels like the umpteenth re-set for the series.
Synopsis: The survivors encounter unfamiliar faces outside the safety of their community's walls and must decide whether or not this new... [More]
Critics Consensus: "The First Day of the Rest of Your Life" overcomes sporadic doldrums with an action-packed battle sequence, satisfying and innovative storytelling, and impressively imaginative use of a tiger.
Synopsis: The stakes continue to grow higher as paths cross; the group enacts an intricate plan.... [More]
Critics Consensus: An emotionally lacerating installment of The Walking Dead provides crucial backstory for the series' new status quo with a flashback structure that culminates in a shocking set-piece that will leave even the most hard-bitten fans shaken.
Synopsis: An outsider's arrival forces Alexandria to rehash devastating old wounds; eye-opening secrets from the past are revealed.... [More]
Critics Consensus: Moving performances by Lennie James and Melissa McBride as their characters get their mojo back move the season's arc forward in "Bury Me Here," though the pacing is slow and their journeys seem relatively implausible.
Synopsis: Things do not go as planned when a group of Kingdommers delivers goods to the Saviors during a routine supply... [More]
Critics Consensus: Jeffrey Dean Morgan's chemistry with real-life partner Hilarie Burton adds a bittersweet authenticity to "Here's Negan," a strong season finale that brings shades of humanity to one of The Walking Dead's most irredeemable characters.
Synopsis: With Maggie back at Alexandria, Carol takes Negan on a journey to minimize the increasing tension; here, Negan reflects on... [More]
Critics Consensus: While it may slow the season's pace, "Hostiles and Calamities" takes a tense look inside previously unexplored Savior lives, advancing one character's logical and much-needed moral transformation.
Synopsis: An Alexandrian discovers they must navigate the mysterious, confusing and terrifying world within the Saviors' compound.... [More]
Critics Consensus: "Look at the Flowers" dives back into the conflict between the Hilltop crew and the Whisperers with a richly introspective episode that explores the far-reaching impact of Alpha's demise.
Synopsis: Heroes and villains reckon with the aftermath of the Hilltop fire; Eugene takes a group on a journey to meet... [More]
Critics Consensus: "Indifference" takes it to the street as survivors search for supplies, in an episode successfully driven by human drama and culminating in a high-stakes choice between Rick and Carol.
Synopsis: Daryl and a small group set out on foot in search of medicine, but their mission faces obstacles; Rick and... [More]
Critics Consensus: "Worth" briskly cleans house to varying degrees of satisfaction, setting the stage for what could be one of the series' most explosive finales -- assuming the show finally follows through on its promise of All Out War.
Synopsis: With the threat of the Saviors still looming, Aaron continues searching for allies; Daryl and Rosita take action and confront... [More]
Critics Consensus: Hell freezes over in a wintry The Walking Dead finale that takes full advantage of "The Storm" with some chilly scares and a meditative, mournful tone -- although this elegiac installment arguably would have best worked as a preamble instead of a denouement.
Synopsis: In the aftermath of an overwhelming loss, the communities must brave a ferocious blizzard; as one group deals with an... [More]
Critics Consensus: "The Calm Before" exemplifies everything that The Walking Dead does best - bittersweetly affirming the bonds of a makeshift community and finding glimmers humanity in a nihilistic landscape before dropping a horrifying twist that will leave viewers reeling long after.
Synopsis: The fair at the Kingdom is underway, with all four communities coming together in celebration for the first time in... [More]
Critics Consensus: "Adaptation" creepily fleshes out the Whisperers beyond their rotting camouflage to chilling effect and teases that redemption for the irredeemable Negan may be possible -- adding up to a solid and satisfying return for The Walking Dead.
Synopsis: The communities thought they could build a better future separately, but the recent loss of one of their own drives... [More]
Critics Consensus: A knockout opener to The Walking Dead's sixth season, "First Time Again" has everything one would hope for - including intense plot development, entertaining character interplay, and more zombies than ever before.
Synopsis: Rick and the others have a difficult time assimilating into Alexandria; a new threat arises that could bring the group... [More]
Critics Consensus: Though it ultimately sets up more than it pays off, "Bonds" introduces a contentious dynamic between Negan and Alpha that offers some of this season's more memorable character moments.
Synopsis: Carol and Daryl go on a mission together while Siddiq struggles to solve a mystery.... [More]
Critics Consensus: "The Well" brings a welcome reprieve from the brutality of the season premiere, introducing a colorful new character and focusing on two of The Walking Dead's most fascinating regulars.
Synopsis: For a number of familiar faces, a new, well-established community seems too good to be true.... [More]
Critics Consensus: Fueled by a thrillingly brutal confrontation between Daryl and Alpha, "Stalker" showcases a nerve-wracking flashpoint that brings the tensions of the incoming Whisperer War to a simmering boil.
Synopsis: The group must defend Alexandria from a threatening outside force.... [More]
Critics Consensus: A visually impressive episode of The Walking Dead, "What Happened and What's Going On" artfully portrays the psychology of the characters, rather than focusing on its shocking moments.
Synopsis: After facing all of the recent trials, a slight detour may offer the solution that the group has been seeking.... [More]
There’s no area The Walking Dead shines better in than character backstories, and “We Are the End of the World” didn’t break that streak as it shed new light (or more accurately, darkness) on the origins of the relationship between the Whisperers leaders Alpha (Samantha Morton) and Beta (Ryan Hurst).
Hurst, the Sons of Anarchy, Outsiders, and Bates Motel alum who has established the TV version of Beta as a calm but terrifying second-in-command to Alpha, talked to Rotten Tomatoes about creating Beta’s backstory with showrunner Angela Kang, how Beta is very much not in the dark about Alpha’s contradictions, why he thinks Beta would never betray Alpha no matter what she does, and how there’s still more backstory to come this season.
Oh, and he also tells us about how he and SOA pal and co-star Charlie Hunnam helped fans at a comic book convention in Detroit get down and spiritual with their bad selves.
At what point did you find out how much we were going to get into Alpha and Beta’s backstory and how much Beta’s backstory was going to differ from the comic book?
It’s one of those interesting things, you know, this happens to me quite a bit…I’ve been meditating for 20 years. And sometimes these ideas just drop into my head while I’m in the middle of meditating. And while I was meditating, this entire sort of backstory dropped into my head. This was before I’d shot a single frame of film for season 9. I contacted Angela, and I said, “Let me come in and pitch you this idea that I have for the backstory about Beta and Alpha.” And I went in there and I pitched it to her and she said, “Oh my God, I love it.” And they put it together, and it was a really collaborative process. They distilled it and made it really, really poignant. There’s still some stuff that we were left to explore about Beta, especially his sort of history before he meets Alpha. We’ve been dropping little Easter eggs — there may or may not have been a little Easter egg in Fear the Walking Dead. We haven’t revealed exactly too much of who he was, but we’re going to get into that also. But yeah, I was just super happy with the way that the episode turned out, you know, and that they actually used some of my ideas, which is enormous.
Does this mean that Beta is not the pro basketball star-turned-actor that he is in the comic book?
I can neither confirm nor deny this. What I can tell you is any changes that we’ve made, if it’s possible to improve upon the comic, we did our best to improve upon the comic … the wonderful stuff that (Robert) Kirkman brought to us.
We finally know now why Beta is so loyal to Alpha and how that began, how their leadership roles were established. Is that at all shaken when he learns she didn’t kill Lydia?
Yes, I mean, I’ve sort of always referred to Beta as the secret keeper of the Whisperers. Beta is acutely aware of the hypocrisies that Alpha possesses. The fact of the matter is that she preaches to everyone, not unlike very charismatic, authoritarian cult leaders, in that they speak one thing and a lot of the time they end up doing another. She says, “Leave everything behind, the apocalypse is upon us. This is their world now, and we’re supposed to live among them.” And yet, Lydia has a name. Everybody refers to her as Lydia … blaring hypocrisy from the very get go, and you sort of very silently, patiently track these cracks in her armor, and that extends to when she names one of the sisters Gamma. These are all things that Beta begins to really sense as enormous problems on the horizon for (Alpha’s) ability to lead the Whisperers. In their flashbacks, you see how much she saved Beta from himself. Beta really takes it upon himself to save her before she sort of cripples the Whisperers forever.
(Photo by Jace Downs/AMC)
We see his reaction after she kills his friend, the zombified version of his friend, in the hospital in the flashback. And then we see Alpha mirror that after Beta discovers the shrine she’s built to Lydia and how she destroys it. Is that a recognition on her part that he’s kind of onto her, and might start calling out her contradictions more frequently?
Absolutely. And I think that that’s one of the reasons why she says over and over again, pleadingly, “They can’t know, they can’t know. You can’t tell them” that Lydia’s alive. It really sort of reveals another faction of their relationship. The most important things for me in their relationship was revealing that it wasn’t just this sort of authoritative-subordinate role. I was really happy with how the relationship came off, because I wanted it to be primal, I wanted it to be carnal, but not sexual. And that’s sort of the way it comes off, it just comes off as super strange. I think she knows that in an instant, Beta can out her, and she holds no power, in and of herself, outside of her charisma. But Beta is the one who sort of, I always sort of picture him as the Dutch boy, with his finger in the dam. He knows where the cracks are and he’s just trying … they built this army, this, for lack of a better term, corporation of Whisperers, and he does his best to keep everything together.
So this certainly is not a lack of awareness on his part or him simply deferring to her. He’s protecting their way of life, of surviving.
Absolutely. That’s absolutely correct.
Do you think there’s anything Alpha could do that would push him so far that he would turn on her?
I don’t think that he would ever turn on her. I think that he would confront her and confront her, and that’s about as far as they would go. But in the same way, he owes his life to her. He would have starved or ended up going completely crazy [in the hospital] with his friend, and Alpha really came and said, you’re not broken, you’re a strong human being and you just need to assume that role in your life. She pulled him out of that darkness, and for that I feel he feels completely and always indebted to her.
(Photo by Jace Downs/AMC)
We learn a lot in this episode, but we don’t learn everything. Beta was wearing a knit mask in the flashback, and we don’t know why exactly, except that we see Alpha have a reaction when she lifts the knit mask. Anything more about that you can share?
I can’t tell you too much. We do reveal more about who he was throughout this season, a sprinkling throughout season 10. All I can say is that I love Samantha’s performance when she pulls off the mask and she sees him; it was such a wonderful recognition and a smile of surprise and then she very knowingly kind of puts it back down because her performance says it all.
It really does. I also have to say kudos to you for your — for lack of a better phrase — eye acting, because your eyes are very expressive underneath that mask.
I tried. I tried. You know, very early on in season 9, before we started shooting, Angela had mentioned, she was like, don’t worry [about the mask], we want to show his face a lot more. And I said, no, no, no. That’s when we really got deeper into the story of … I was like, “Look, I have this idea about how and why he doesn’t show his face that’s sort of contradictory to the comic book a little bit, but it is why someone would never show their face. I’m just always of the school that the more questions you pose to the audience the better, as long as they’re not totally, completely infuriating.
I also love that, as is often the case with The Walking Dead, we get a moment of levity that just, it’s small, but it plays so huge: when Alpha starts cutting up the walker bodies, and Beta says, “Ah, you’re different.”
Yeah, originally the scene started a few different ways, and I was talking to (director) Greg Nicotero, and I was just like, “I would just love to say, “You’re different.” And he said, “Oh, I love it.” So yeah, any levity that you can squeeze into this show … especially the Whispers, who are not known for their slapstick. But I’m a huge fan of trying to infuse as much humor as you can into the show.
I have to ask you about this: at the Walker Stalker convention in Atlanta (Oct. 18-20), you’re doing a “Yogis of Anarchy” session, which is an intro to Kundalini yoga, with the fans. Have you done this before?
Yes. I’ve done it in Pittsburgh and Detroit. I’ve been practicing Kundalini for a very long time and teaching for a long time, and it’s been utterly transformative of my entire life. My friend Charlie Hunnam and I … I brought Charlie into doing Kundalini three or four years ago, and he said, “Man, we should do this at one of these cons.” We tried it, and the response was huge. And since then, every convention that I go to, I try to really early in the morning hold a yoga class, and the people seem to love it.
And how many people come to the classes? Hundreds, thousands?
Not thousands yet. That’ll be something to mark off. In Detroit, there were about 500, and in Pittsburgh, there were a little under a hundred, so it’s been a lot of people showing up, and I really try to just share what I’ve learned. It’s a spiritual technology that sort of everybody has access to, and it has the ability to transform your life to be much lighter and much happier.
And is meditation part of this as well?
Yeah, Kundalini is known as the mother of all yoga, and it’s because it’s the oldest form of yoga. It’s an energy-based yoga that, you know, in the West, we (associate) yoga to just stretching, and Kundalini utilizes poses and creeds, but also mantra, Pranayama, which is breathing, and then formal meditation as well. So you get the Cadillac of all yogas. It’s really the quickest, most powerful, energy-based technology.
As a teacher, it’s wonderful to interact with people in Los Angeles, but to teach with people who already sort of know you, and they bring their best selves to a class, it’s a wonderful opportunity, a confluence of really good, good vibes.
We did Detroit this year. I posted quite a few photos on my Instagram. It was absolutely wonderful. I don’t really proselytize Kundalini yoga. I don’t go, “Oh, you have to try this, you have to try this.” I just sort of say, “This is what I’m doing, if you want to try it, that’s great,” but Charlie was actually one of the only people where I’ve ever gone, “You know, I really think that you should try to do this. You should try to do this,” and for years, he was all like, “Yeah, I’ll meet you in class. I’ll come,” but then 15 minutes beforehand say, “Oh, I’m not coming.” And then I was off shooting something somewhere, and I get this text where he said, “I started going to Kundalini yoga. I’ve been going every single day, and it feels like coming home.” And it just made me cry.