Twelve Years of Apocalyptic Greatness
Twelve years ago, Frank Darabont, Robert Kirkman, and Tony Moore paired to bring one of the most iconic horror series of the last decade into our homes.
On Halloween 2010, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) found himself in a coma, slowly awakening to an apocalyptic world. It was a world overrun by the reanimated and it was unfamiliar territory indeed. Survival seemed impossible as the terrain was almost unnavigable. However, Grimes was a police officer by trade and sentimental by nature.
And so, he launched a search for his family despite the bleak outlook. And thus began the saga of The Walking Dead.
Family Ties – Grimes North Star
It was not long before Grimes found his family, however things had changed a lot and Rick’s best friend Shane (Joe Bernthal) was a key factor. We followed the story intently, wondering if there would be hope for reconciliation in a broken world. We hoped hard, but every week the lines blurred.
As Grimes fought for his immediate family, his extended family grew, as did ours. Carol, Glenn, Darryl, T-Dog, Andrea, and Dale found a place in our hearts and home. We rooted for them. We cheered for them, chastised them, and hugged them all from the comfort of our living rooms. Every week, like re-welcoming family, we brought them back into our humble abodes, hoping they would find something to give them hope. Unfortunately, everything pointed to hopelessness and we began to lose some along the way. Our hearts were laden with sadness as we said goodbye to Dale and the presumptive loss of Carol’s daughter Sophia. It hurt, but that made for good television.
Life occurs in balance; it is the yin and yang of all things. With loss, there is a renewal of life and as such, we gained more family.
The group found help and respite in Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson). Along with Hershel, we met Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Beth (Emily Kinney), two of his lovely daughters. Despite the desperation the group faced, we still felt a little more relief. However, it was a short time before the intensity built as things flared up between Shane and Rick. Carl fought for his life. Hope for Sophia was dwindling and one thing became sure: There were no peaches and cream to go with the glass of iced tea Hershel offered.
Power Struggles Prelude to Tragedy
As weeks progressed, so did the power struggle amongst the strong-headed and there was still much for the group to learn about the walkers. It was obvious things would not end well. That is not at all unexpected as some studies render hard lessons and our new family faced some of the hardest.
Over the course of The Walking Dead, we lost more of our beloveds. We said goodbye to Sophia, Shane, and Dale. The weight of choice weighed heavy. Being forced off the farm overrun by walkers dimmed the light of expectation. The group expressed resilience of spirit, although they were unsure if there was a road that would lead to salvation. Rick led reluctantly, and the group held. The struggle was real but, as in life, sometimes salvation comes in the most unexpected places and the bleakest hours. Salvation came in the form of a prison shuttered by the apocalypse and things began looking up. Despite the prior losses, there was new hope.
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New Life in Various Forms
Lori, Rick’s wife, was expecting and soon to bring forth a child. The prison provided adequate shelter and sprigs of life were taking shape through Herschel’s healing hands. The prison is also where we would meet Michonne (Danai Gurira), Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), and Tyreese (Chad Coleman), who would become staples in the series. But despite the additions came looming trials. At the prison is where we would also meet the Governor (David Morrissey), who would mark the beginning of a long line of bad guys, a significant threat to the core of the group, Rick’s Family; our family.
Villain Numero Uno
The Governor tested relational ties. He pulled on the bonds between Darryl (Norman Reedus) and his brother Merle (Michael Rooker) and Andrea (Laurie Holden) and the group. Unfortunately, the mayhem would be enough to splinter the group indefinitely. Neither T Dog, Lori, nor Hershel would make it out of prison alive.
Looking it All Over
We witnessed the group shift and merge from season three to the current. We saw them grow and transition. We would say goodbye to loved ones and hello to others we would come to see as new favorites. A host of villains would stoke the fires of rage. Some would make the blood curdle, while others inspire extreme ire. The highs and lows kept viewers glued to their screens week after week. And it is what will keep us buckled in until the ride comes to a stop.
The Villainous Hall of Fame
The Walking Dead would be nothing without its villains. They are the driving force of the biting drama in this world. The only thing worse than the zombies was the hard-hearted villain. They were ten times more toxic and one hundred times harder to exterminate. Throughout the years, The Walking Dead has given us the Governor, Jadis (trash people), Gregory (Hilltop), The Wolves, Gareth (Terminus), Alpha (Whisperers), and Negan, each one taking with them immeasurable losses.
The Losses Beyond Tragic
Shane, T Dog, Dale, Sophia, Lori, Meryl, Hershel, Lizzie, Micha, Abraham, Glenn, Carl, Beth, Noah, Andrea, Sasha, and Tyrese number the losses. Most were staples in the show. Their deaths were definitive, and the images are forever burned into our memories. However, none of the losses were quite as heartbreaking and transformational as Glenn’s (Steven Yeun) death at the hands of Negan (Jefferey Dean Morgan). One can say Glenn’s death changed the show’s trajectory, leading to the point of no return for many fans.
It would be sad to end the review on lives lost for as many losses we experienced, there were some tremendous gains. Those gains include Morgan, Ezekiel, Gabriel, Judith Grimes, Rick Grimes Jr., Hershel Rhee, Rosita, Eugene, Aaron, and Jerry, each an asset in their way.
Sadly, fans will soon be saying goodbye. There is no telling how many more we will lose before the final curtain call, but that makes the final days so much more thrilling. With The Walking Dead, viewers have learned to expect the unexpected. Despite how it may end, one thing is sure The Walking Dead has been one heck of a wild ride and the cast has been like family. When the final page is written, the last scene shot, we will be left with a walker-sized gap in our lives. And with that, we say thank you for keeping fans entertained for 12 years.
The Walking Dead (2022) The Final Season Official AMC Trailer