With The Walking Dead set to return to AMC soon, it felt appropriate to rank every season of the hit show so far in honor of its upcoming final season.
10. Season 8: Taking out the incredibly dumb decision to kill Carl (Chandler Riggs), this was the most frustrating season for me. The characters were annoying, the pacing was boring, the dialogue was horrible and the writing was all over the place. What was the point of bringing Morales (Juan Gabriel Pareja) back if they were just going to kill him off? Why is Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) so insistent about not killing kids all of a sudden? This is the same guy who was said to kill a teenager just to introduce himself and was seconds away from killing Carl last season. I really hated the ending where Rick (Andrew Lincoln) spares Negan after all that he did. I also don’t buy Carl’s sudden urge for peace after he was the one who arguably wanted to kill Negan the most. Aside from the acting from Andrew Lincoln, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Steven Ogg as Simon, this season was awful in my opinion and almost made me quit the show. Rating: 3/10
9. Season 6: Most people agree that The Walking Dead’s decrease in quality began with this season. The first half was boring, Carol’s (Melissa McBride) arc came out of nowhere, Morgan’s (Lennie James) philosophy became tiring, the second half was inconsistent, and while I really liked the finale, the cliffhanger was just annoying. However, I do like the larger roles that some of the Alexandria residents are given, Negan’s introduction was terrifying, the acting was pretty good and Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) had some of his best moments here. While it wasn’t a good season, it had its moments. Rating: 4.5/10.
8. Season 7: Even though many people would say that this was the worst season, I have to admit that there are a lot of things to enjoy about it. First off, I loved Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan. He was so unlikeable yet entertaining to watch. Whenever we had an episode that focused on him at the Sanctuary, I was fascinated. While it was extremely brutal, I loved the premiere and felt the emotional moments that it wanted me to feel. However, there are a ton of bad things that weigh this season down. The Scavengers were a bad idea from the start and not once was I able to take them seriously. Morgan’s transformation back into a killer did not feel earned. Carol’s insistence on being left alone was annoying and boring since the character was so awesome in seasons 4 and 5. I also couldn’t stand Rosita (Christian Serratos) at all. Her attitude was understandable, but it was prominent way too much. Overall this isn’t my least favorite season, but I can’t say that it was great. It’s fine. Rating: 5/10.
7. Season 2: This season is infamous for being too slow, and I pretty much agree. However, whenever it focused on Shane (Jon Bernthal), I was always hooked. Bernthal gives an amazing performance and makes Shane’s descent into villainy so believable. Looking back it this season also reminds me how much I loved the character of Dale Jeffrey DeMunn. It’s a shame that the Frank Darabont controversy happened. It would have been great to see DeMunn get more screen time and develop Dale’s character. I also loved the barn twist and the debate on what to do with Randall (Michael Zegen). The final confrontation between Rick and Shane is still my favorite scene from the entire show. Overall, I liked this season, but I’d definitely skip through some of the episodes. Rating: 6/10.
6. Season 1: This was a terrific opening season. I loved Rick’s journey to get back to Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) and Carl, the introduction of the main characters, the finale at the CDC, and the overall vibe. While some parts are slow and the Vatos episode is just insufferably boring, this season had a nice pace with its six episodes. A great opening for a great show. Rating: 7/10
5. Season 5 (I know that so many people put this season at the top of their lists, and while it isn’t my absolute favorite, it’s still amazing. I loved the first half of the season where the group is fighting the Terminus cannibals and looking for Beth (Emily Kinney). I also love Rick’s unhinged side as it was taken even further than in season 3. However, I wasn’t a fan of Gabriel (Seth Gilliam), Noah (Tyler James Williams) being killed off so quickly and the back half of the season with the group settling into Alexandria. I honestly wish that they would get rid of that location already since I think the show works better with the group maneuvering through the unknown parts of the zombie apocalypse. I also wasn’t a fan of the hospital subplot since it pretty much led to Beth dying followed by Noah six episodes later. Still, this season was amazing. Rating: 8/10.
4. Season 9: This season was a breath of fresh air and revived my interest in the show. AMC is so lucky to have Angela Kang. The pacing was much better, the Whisperers were a much more intimidating threat, the acting was amazing, and the characters were not as frustrating. Alpha (Samantha Morton) was also a terrific villain, with Morton giving a chilling performance. This season also proved that the show doesn’t need Rick to keep going, as it’s arguably even better now. Aside from the first four episodes which have some questionable writing and the fact that the first half of the season has rebelling Saviors as the main threat, technically making it three whole seasons where that group is the main enemy, this season was still great. A perfect comeback from three prior seasons of mediocrity. Rating: 8.5/10
3. Season 10: This season takes what worked about season 9 and makes even better. I loved Negan’s redemption arc, Lydia’s (Cassady McClincy) struggle of finding her place, Alpha’s death, the final conflict with the Whisperers, Siddiq’s (Avi Nash) tragic storyline and Carol’s arc. I also loved Beta’s larger role. Ryan Hurst was so intimidating and interesting as the main villain in the back half of the season. The only reason that this isn’t higher is because no one important besides Beta died in the finale after so much buildup. It’s starting to make me wonder if the show is still willing to kill off members of its core cast. However, I still found this season to be amazing. Rating: 9/10.
2. Season 3: This was originally my favorite season, and while it isn’t anymore after rewatching it, it’s still incredible. I loved Merle’s (Michael Rooker) reintroduction, his relationship with Daryl (Norman Reedus), and his redemption story. Rooker was absolutely outstanding in this show. I also loved Rick’s new personality after finally being fed up with Lori and the group at the end of season 2. It shows a colder and scarier side to him that we hadn’t seen before. I also really liked Andrea’s (Laurie Holden) story even though a lot of people didn’t. Yes she’s still annoying, but I honestly understood where where she was coming from in that particular situation. The introduction of a B-plot with Woodbury helped this show stay fresh. Speaking of which, The Governor (David Morrissey) was the absolute highlight of this season. Morrissey is terrifying in the role and his performance easily makes his character the best villain to ever appear on the show in my opinion. If it wasn’t for the “Ghost of Lori,” subplot, this would have been my favorite season. It was that good. Rating: 9.5/10.
1. Season 4: Everything just worked in this season for me. I loved the flu arc, Rick’s peaceful side in the first half and violent side in the second half, the Governor’s two solo episodes, and the final confrontation at the prison. The Governor’s death was so satisfying, and Hershel’s (Scott Wilson) death is still probably the saddest death on the show for me. Scott Wilson was an incredible actor who brought a tremendous amount of humanity to his character. I especially loved the second half of the season with the journey to Terminus. The characters being separated allowed certain characters to develop a dynamic that I never thought I would see like Daryl and Beth or Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Bob (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.). Carol’s story with Lizzie (Brighton Sharbino) was also heartbreaking and fascinating at the same time. I also really liked the Claimers as the villains of the second half. They were particularly frightening as these are people you probably would run into during an apocalypse. They are without question the most evil and least sympathetic group the show has had, making their deaths so satisfying. For me, this is the perfect season and the one that I always come back to. Rating: 10/10.