As fans of The Walking Dead know, the show can be just as frustrating and uneven as it is engrossing and brilliant. Over the seasons, it’s often been a chore just to stay on top of things. Though there’s always been a blessed payoff once the meanderings and weak plot points end, certain moments of simply bad television stick in the collective memory.
Of course, even acknowledging this is all based in fondness for the show. If you didn’t deeply care about the series, these moments wouldn’t mean so much.
So, with that mind, here’s a list of the series’ worst moments ranked from mildly disappointing to downright infuriating.
10. Rosita’s Booty Shorts, Season 4, Episode 10It’s entirely possible that some of you didn’t have a problem with Rosita’s Halloween-type costume of pigtails, a barely-there vest, and military-style Daisy Dukes when she first jumped into frame. Many others did, however. For a gritty, purportedly realistic look at survivalists, it was decidedly off tone and, in a world where bites can kill, wholly impractical. The fact that she’s moved over to a more sensible wardrobe in following seasons only shows how wrong the producers got this.
9. Andrea in Woodbury, Season 3 Andrea was a frustrating character for many, and her support for the obviously creepy, clearly secretive Governor was among her low points. Even when the Woodbury crew wound up on the wrong side of our group of survivors (her friends!) she didn’t quite make the switch until it was too late. The result was many, many facepalms.
8. Lori’s Pregnancy, Season 2, Episode 6Talking about your frustrating characters, Lori was queen. There’s been a lot written about whether or not viewers disliked her based on her sex. It hard to argue that was the case, however, when she went from guzzling down birth-control pills in the hopes of aborting her pregnancy, to throwing them up, to trying to get Rick to agree with it, to pleading for the life of her child in a few commercial breaks. Her dealings with Shane and whether or not Rick should kill him fit in with this vacillation.
7. Denise’s Death, Season 6, Episode 14You may have found it over reactive when folks took to the internet to decry another seemingly pointless death of yet another lesbian character, but it’s important to look at the context here. Not only had there been several similar deaths across multiple shows in that same month, but this was the only gay relationship the series dared to show up close (Aaron and his boyfriend don’t get much screen time). It was a real disappointment for many.
6. The Governor Showdown That Wasn’t, Season 3, Episode 16 A whole season is spent sowing the seeds for a true blowup between the Governor and the survivors at the prison and, well, nothing much happens. Sure, it let producers tease out the storyline into the next season and, yes, the ultimate confrontation four episodes later was a humdinger. Nonetheless, it was a tooth grinder at the time.
5. The Endless Search For Sophia, Season 2God, this went on forever. Worst of all, the supposed reason that all the cast stayed stuck at the farm for so long didn’t seem really all that important to anyone but Daryl and Carol. By dragging this out, the producers allowed viewers to feel the entire series had lost its momentum. It’s finale was gut wrenching (see above), but the slow, sloth-like buildup almost wasn’t worth the time.
4. What Happened To Glenn? Season 6, Episode 3Producers gave us one of the series’ sharpest cliffhangers when Nicholas and Glenn fell into a pit of walkers with guts and blood shooting everywhere. Too bad no one bought the obvious red herring. People weren’t really asking if Glenn was dead. They were wondering how he was alive. A clear bid for viewership, the plotline had a pretty preposterous conclusion as well. Afterwards, it seemed more cynical than anything else.
3. The CDC, Season 1, Episode 5One of the most brilliant first seasons for any television shows ever ended with one of the sleepiest, uneven finales you could imagine. Putting aside the questions that weren’t resolved and the pointless suicide of two interesting characters, the writing and plotting here was just flat and clunky. The Walking Dead lost steam here and struggled throughout its second season to make up what was lost.
2. Wasting Time In The RV, Season 6, Episode 16For its season-six finale, The Walking Dead gave us an extra-long episode. Alas, much of it was spent literally spinning its wheels. Quietly and with very little energy, the crew bussed around the woods looking for a way to avoid the confrontation with Negan we all knew was coming. It was the clearest example of producers attempting to fill the space between commercial breaks this series has ever allowed us to see.
1. Negan Killed… Who? Season 6, Episode 16 And in its most cynical moment, The Walking Dead ended that same episode with a deferred promise. Fans knew someone was getting their brains bashed in by Negan, they just didn’t know who. Instead of clarity, viewers got a cynical months-long cliffhanger. The Walking Dead is always best when it surprises its viewers, but this was the wrong kind of surprise. Yes, the cliffhanger helped set viewership records for the season-seven premiere, but only after frustrating an entire fan base