AMC’s The Walking Dead has just returned to the screen, starting its eighth season with the centennial milestone of its 100th episode. It’s been a long time since Rick woke from his coma all those years ago; since Atlanta, the CDC and Hershel’s farm; since all the group had to worry about were walkers. It’s been almost as long since Merle Dixon was chained to a rooftop, since Daryl had short hair and Rick was still an idealistic sheriff just trying to find his family. Since then, the series’ cast has changed. It both dwindled and grew, with many fan-favorites lost along the way.
We’ve seen our favorite characters go through many trials and hardships, and we’ve seen them overcome the horrors of the world they live in. The Walking Dead is a series that, since its inception, has always strived to push the limits of the shocking, the terrifying and the grotesque. Throughout its eight years, many moments have been discussed, water-cooler scenes that called into question how far the series was willing to go. Today, CBR revisits 100 episodes of The Walking Dead to list 15 controversial moments that should have been censored.
15. GLENN MEETS LUCILLE
Every Walking Dead fan tuned into the season 7 premiere, “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be,” to see which member of Rick’s group would be on the receiving end of Negan’s vampire bat, Lucille. What no one expected however was a one-two gut punch sequence, when Negan started by killing Abraham only to follow suit by setting his sights on Glenn.
Now, in the comic books, this is exactly the scene where Glenn died, and yet still people thought, for a brief instant, that he had managed to dodge the proverbial bullet. The fact that his television death was so visceral and graphic, lifted directly from the source material almost panel for panel, was a controversy in itself, one that many people complained about — something that even prompted the series to scale back on its gruesomeness for subsequent episodes.
14. DALE GETS TORN APART
Over the course of The Walking Dead‘s first two seasons, Dale had become a fan-favorite character, a stable fixture among Rick’s group of survivors. But, in the season 2 episode “Judge, Jury, Executioner,” fans of the series were in for a rude awakening. The beloved Dale met his end, not just by falling prey to a walker, but after being completely ripped open by the undead monster.
Up to this point, Dale’s death was one of the more brutal and bloody the show had ever seen. The walker, unable to reach Dale’s head, instead decided to rip open his stomach, pulling it apart like Dale was nothing but a bag of treats. The scene was absolutely horrifying and devastating to watch, especially since it was at the expense of a character loved by most.
13. NEGAN BURNS MARK WITH A HOT IRON
Negan was a divisive character from the get-go. Instantly, people knew him to be vile, and some would love to hate him, while others would simply wish him gone. While we knew how sadistic the villain could be, it turns out that we would find out ever more of how brutal the character was in the season 7 episode, “Sing Me A Song”.
With Carl paying an uninvited visit to the Saviors’ compound, Negan proceeded to show Rick’s son how he treats people who have disappointed him. With a scorching iron fresh out of the fire, Negan burns half of one of his subject’s faces off. The scene is absolutely brutal and grotesque, the flesh searing and melting right on the screen. To many, this was another moment where the gore was taken too far.
12. WALKER GOES THROUGH A FENCE
“Infected,” the second episode of season 4 of The Walking Dead, proved to become incredibly memorable thanks to a very special walker who decided that he wasn’t going to let something like a simple fence stop him from chewing on fresh meat. As the horde of walkers charged forward, pressing him ever forward, the soft, rotting corpse of the walker began to burrow into the fence, chopping him up into bits.
Not only was the sequence terrifically made, it also proved to be extremely graphic. In fact, showrunner Scott Gimple went on record to say that the original cut of the scene had to be toned down for the episode’s release. “I think we’ve found the sweet spot between totally awful and abhorrent but acceptable,” Gimple said. Even then, the scene proved too much for some.
11. HERSHEL GETS DECAPITATED
Season 4 of The Walking Dead reached a boiling point in its mid-season finale “Too Far Gone,” when the Governor came to lay siege on Rick’s prison compound. But the true shock and horror came in the villain’s bargaining chip: everyone’s favorite white-haired farmer-slash-healer Hershel, who had grown to become the heart of the group and Rick’s moral compass.
With Michonne’s very own sword, the Governor didn’t hesitate to slice at Hershel’s neck, cutting the character’s head clean off of his body. The visual of seeing such a harmless old man getting killed in such a manner was truly alarming. Although that was undoubtedly the intent of the scene, some might have considered it a bridge too far, especially when the Governor went ahead and kept hacking at the body until the head was chopped completely off.
10. RICK BITES A CLAIMER’S THROAT OFF
In the season 4 finale “A,” we were following different splinters of Rick’s group as they all headed towards the same spot, a place they hoped to be a safe haven. But before they would get there, Rick, Carl and Michonne ran into the Claimers, and the group of sadistic villains had some very special ideas about what they wanted to do with their prisoners.
With Carl in imminent and horrific danger, Rick didn’t hesitate to employ the use of the only weapon he had left. With his teeth bare, he ripped his captor’s throat right out, spitting out the blood of his victim. The scene, from apprehension to elimination, was terrifying on many levels, and it ended with the brutal takedown of a group of villains that left our main hero covered in blood.
9. THE GOVERNOR TAKES THINGS TOO FAR
On quite a few occasions, The Walking Dead has proven that the horrors of a post-apocalyptic, zombie-infested world don’t always come from the dead. Sometimes, the living are just as bad, and even a whole lot worse. This idea was explored in the third season, with the Governor’s arrival. But episode 7, “When The Dead Come Knocking” is where things were taken too far.
When Maggie was taken prisoner by the Governor, the scene may have started out as an interrogation, but it quickly devolved into physical intimidation, a display of power that thankfully ended sooner rather than later. While the comic books took this even further when Michonne was the Governor’s prisoner, many felt that Maggie being forced to take off her shirt was one of the times the series could have been scaled back.
8. CAROL BURNS TYRESE’S SICK GIRLFRIEND
In her evolution from helpless to lethal, Carol progressively grew to become a fan-favorite character. Rarely have fans felt that she took things too far, but the second episode of season 4, “Infected,” may have been one of those times, when poor Tyrese’s new girlfriend Karen was murdered and then burned for fear of spreading a disease throughout the prison refugees.
While Carol’s accountability wouldn’t be revealed in this very episode – the mystery of who was responsible would last for a few episodes – it doesn’t change the fact that this grizzly murder, perpetrated by Carol, was absolutely brutal. Sure, it was done with good intentions, but it was questionable at best. It was unfair not just to Karen (and David, who was also infected), but also to Tyrese, a character fans were starting to root for.
7. NOAH LITERALLY GETS RIPPED APART
By the time The Walking Dead had reached its fifth season, it had offered more than its fair share of brutality, gruesomeness and stomach-churning horror. But the series would once again go out of its way to showcase that when it came to bloody, grotesque killings, it was in a category all its own. In the episode “Spend,” viewers would witness the shocking death of Noah.
Noah, a new character who had quietly begun to carve his place in the group was abruptly killed, in the most gory way possible. Pressed up against the glass of a revolving door, Noah got ripped to shreds, with the walkers heading for his neck first, then literally pulling his face apart as he screamed. Even for a series as vicious as The Walking Dead, this is one of the times when a lot of people looked away.
6. RICK SHOOTS SOPHIA
Much of the first half of the second season of The Walking Dead revolved around the search for Carol’s daughter, Sophia. Even as the group found refuge at Hershel’s farm, the search for Sophia was ongoing. But that all reached a boiling point in the mid-season finale, “Pretty Much Dead Already,” when Shane opened the doors to Hershel’s barn, letting out all the walkers the farmer hoped could be cured.
What no one expected, however, was seeing Sophia walk through those barn doors as a zombie. The shock alone was heartbreaking enough. Viewers knew that there was no other way about it, that someone had to put Sophia down. It wasn’t necessary to actually see Rick shoot the young girl: seeing him raise his weapon and pulling the hammer back was all that was needed to know what would happen next.
5. RICK’S ASSAULT ON NEGAN’S OUTPOST
Before Negan would physically show up on the scene, before he would make his presence known, we just heard mentions of his name. To try and cut off the head of the snake before it was too late, Rick decided to embark on a preemptive strike on Negan’s outpost in the dead of night, in the season 6 episode “Not Tomorrow Yet.” His plan was to take out all of their enemies as they slept.
And that is exactly what Rick, Daryl, Glenn and the rest did. Sneaking into the outpost, the group’s heroes turned almost villainous when they used knives to kill all of Negan’s goons in their beds. The sequence was controversial because it made us question our heroes’ motives and tactics. The way they killed these unassuming opponents was absolutely cold, and made many feel uneasy.
4. SAM GETS EATEN IN FRONT OF HIS MOTHER
Many fans probably believed that the Andersons had a longer journey ahead of them in The Walking Dead‘s sixth season. But in the mid-season premiere, “No Way Out,” when Rick, the Andersons and the rest of the group all walked hand-in-hand, disguised as walkers to try and make it out of Alexandria, Jessie’s son — young Sam — froze on the spot, something that attracted the attention of many walkers.
The zombies didn’t hesitate to make a meal out of the boy, chewing his face off as his mother watched, helpless. Poor Sam got brutally ripped to shreds in a sequence that was shocking to many viewers. Even his mother, who died moments later, didn’t get the graphic send-off that her son did, prompting some to wonder if such a gruesome death was warranted for the character.
3. DENISE GETS AN ARROW IN THE HEAD
As the threat of the Saviors kept growing and growing, and after Rick and his group had attacked and killed many of Negan’s forces, many viewers knew that retaliation would be coming soon. The Walking Dead has always been blunt about the notion that not many characters are safe from harm, and fans were brutally reminded of that fact in the season 6 episode “Twice As Far.”
Denise may not have been a fan-favorite character, but she was endearing enough that she was earning her own spot in Rick’s group. But then came the sharp twist of the knife when Denise was given a particularly gruesome death, one reserved for Abraham in the comics: an arrow, straight through the head and out of her eye. It was as shocking as it was graphic.
2. RICK KILLS A PRISONER WITH A MACHETE
Going into its third season, The Walking Dead had to hit the ground running and show viewers that Rick, as well as his group, weren’t the same survivors they were back when we last saw them. Season 3 began by showing us a group that was much more lethal and practical. To hammer home that fact, we saw just how far Rick was willing to go in the second episode, “Sick.”
Inside the prison walls, Rick and a few others ran into some prisoners. While they started working together to clear the halls of all walkers, it didn’t take long for one of them to become defiant – a threat slowly beginning to rise. And so, to stop it from taking root, Rick abruptly brought his machete down, swiftly burying it in the prisoner’s head. The scene was more than shocking and ferocious, showing us a new side of Rick.
1. CAROL PUTS LIZZIE DOWN
Rarely was The Walking Dead as shocking and horrifying and all around gasp-inducing as in the season 4 episode, “The Grove.” This episode saw the series tackle its most arguably heart-breaking moment ever, when Carol saw that she had no other choice but to put the young-but-troubled Lizzie down after she had murdered her own sister.
Over the course of the season, Lizzie had grown increasingly dangerous, and viewers were left devastated when they discovered that the girl had killed her young sister with barely any remorse. Carol recognized the danger the young girl represented, and, reluctantly, she decided to do what needed to be done. This is likely the most controversial scene in Walking Dead history, one that left many viewers beyond shell-shocked.
What scene from The Walking Dead was simply too much for you? Let us know in the comments!
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