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10 most underrated The Walking Dead episodes ever, ranked

T-Dog, Glenn, Rick, and Daryl standing together in a scene from the first season of The Walking Dead.
AMC

The Walking Dead has had its share of ebbs and flows. When ranking the seasons of The Walking Dead, there’s no denying the series took a dip in its 7th and 8th seasons, but managed to return to its original glory in seasons 9 and 10. The Walking Dead ended with its 11th season, which concluded in 2022, but the franchise lives on with numerous spinoffs. These include Walking Dead: Dead City and Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon, both of which have been renewed for second seasons, and the recent 2024 Rick and Michonne-centric spinoff The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live.

When it comes to the original, however, whether it was a top-rated season or not, every season of The Walking Dead has underrated episodes. In many cases, these are episodes that weren’t as frantic in pacing, nor filled with gruesome walkers and pivotal storylines. But they were important for a variety of reasons, and these 10 rank among the most underrated of them all.

10. When the Dead Come Knocking (season 3, episode 7)

Glenn killing a walker with the leg of a chair while tied down in a scene from The Walking Dead.
Gene Page / AMC

Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Glenn (Steven Yuen) had only just begun their romance by this point. But the deep love he felt for her was on full display when the two were kidnapped and tied up in separate rooms. When The Governor (David Morrissey) orders Maggie to remove her shirt and bra, it’s a turning point for the woman, showing just how strong and fierce she has become. It’s also a more serious moment for the show, depicting the character in a vulnerable state that made viewers feel uncomfortable at the possibility of what could come. This led to one of Glenn’s most heroic early moments as well, as he sprung into action to take down a walker while tied up, setting up the character to be the fan favorite he eventually became.

This is also the episode where Merle (Michael Rooker) pledges his allegiance to The Governor, assuring he will not side with his brother. The moment wrenches the hearts of viewers who believe at this point that Merle cannot be saved, though they yearn for his redemption.

9. Killer Within (season 3, episode 4)

Lori lying on the ground, Carl standing over her in a scene from The Walking Dead.
AMC

T-Dog (IronE Singleton) was one of the most beloved original characters on The Walking Dead, and his death hit fans hard, especially since he sacrificed himself to save Carol (Melissa McBride). She went on to become a fan favorite character herself, making sure his selfless death was not in vain.

Meanwhile, fans expected Andrea (Laurie Holden) to last on the series given her role in the comics. But it’s the beginning of the end of fans rooting for her when she ingratiates herself to the Governor and decides to stay in Woodbury. Most notably, however, this is a crucial episode for Maggie, Carol, and Rick (Andrew Lincoln) as Lori (Sara Wayne Callies) realizes she will not survive childbirth and begs Maggie to cut her open and save Judith.

It’s a turning point for Carl (Chandler Riggs), too, as he makes the mature decision to shoot his dead mother before she turns into a zombie. Both Carl and Maggie are forever changed in this episode, and it sets Rick on a somber path dealing with the death of his wife and the birth of a child who has now become his.

8. Four Walls and a Roof (season 5, episode 3)

Gareth on his knees in a church, looking up in a scene from The Walking Dead.
AMC

Father Gabriel (Gabriel Stokes) had one of the most compelling arcs on the series, so rewatching the episode where he admits his guilt for locking his parishioners out of the church while the world fell is a reminder of everything for which he worked to atone. He was a shell of a man at the time he was discovered, yet still maintained his faith. When he pleads with Maggie not to conduct heinous acts in the church, calling it the “Lord’s house,” she retorts that it’s “just four walls a roof,” a telling statement from a former church-going farm girl. Worse, however, is how this episode shows how Rick has become more like Shane (Jon Bernthal), as he brutally murders Gareth (Andrew J. West) as he kneels at the altar of the church. Fans may also notice eerie comparisons to the way Gareth stares up at Rick for mercy while on his knees, the same way Rick did to Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) in a later season.

Bob’s (Lawrence Gillard Jr.) death in this episode also marks an important change in Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) that is compounded later when she also loses her brother, Tyreese (Chad Coleman). These moments set up her growing closeness with Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) and her ultimate decision to sacrifice herself for the group.

7. What Happened And What’s Going On (season 5, episode 9)

Tyreese holding his blood soaked hands out in front of him, looking distressed in a scene from The Walking Dead.
AMC

Aside from featuring the death of fan favorite character Tyreese, this episode was much different from others, which is why it doesn’t get as much attention. But the shift in tone and pacing pays off. The episode has heart, is highly emotional, and marks the return of several characters, albeit only as visions.

While hallucinating from his walker bite and fighting death, Tyreese sees everyone from the Governor to Beth (Emily Kinney), Lizzie (Brighton Sharbino), and Bob. They reassure him that he has fulfilled his purpose and he can let go. It’s an existential episode that sheds light on the mental process of going from human to undead. For a show that’s so heavily about death, this episode was a welcome departure that fans might not have completely appreciated until long after.

6. Still (season 4, episode 12)

Daryl standing, looking menacing with Beth in the background in a scene from The Walking Dead.
Gene Page / AMC

Beth died prematurely, before her story was able to fully be told. But what fans loved most about her was the deep connection she had with Daryl (Norman Reedus), which had big brother, little sister vibes. She was 18 when she died, much younger than Daryl, but there’s no denying the bond the two shared.

This episode was part of a season that flipped back and forth among different people in the group each episode. While it was more low-key than others, it explored a deeper, more sensitive side of Daryl and set up his immense heartbreak over Beth’s demise. Daryl cares for Beth, tries to teach her things, and chastises her as if she was his teenage child acting like a college frat girl. He also opens up emotionally for the first time, admitting his guilt for Hershel’s (Scott Wilson) death, and even breaking down crying because of it. It’s a softer side of Daryl fans had been waiting so long to see.

5. What We Become (season 10, episode 13)

Michonne wearing a head scarf, standing in the middle of the forest with a weapon in a scene from The Walking Dead.
AMC

Throughout the series, fans always wondered what path characters might have taken had they encountered and joined a different group. This Michonne-centric (Danai Gurira) episode addresses this by presenting an alternate version of the character through her own hallucinations. If it sounds like a departure from the usual The Walking Dead tone, it is. But it was a welcome one.

Virgil (Kevin Carroll) is introduced and he seems like a good person until he serves Michonne a hallucinogenic tea and then traps her in a cell. She begins to see alternate stories of how her life might have gone had she made different decisions, including letting Andrea die, joining Negan and the Saviors, and being killed by and killing Rick. It’s a harrowing episode for a woman who has been through so much grief, but also confirmation that Michonne is better for the decisions she made.

It also drove fans to consider how anyone in the main group could have become a very different person had they done things differently. What We Become encourages fans to think about “what ifs” and see the villainous groups in a different light and, conversely, to analyze Rick’s group and the things they have done more critically.

4. The Storm (season 9, episode 16)

Negan carrying Judith over his shoulder in the middle of a snowstorm in a scene from The Walking Dead.
AMC

Some may call episodes like this one “filler,” but there’s something to be said for the importance and value of quieter, more laid-back episodes that drive the plot forward. The Storm comes on the heels of a massive battle with Alpha that left Carol and Ezekiel (Khary Payton) grieving the death of their son, Henry. It’s precisely the sense of calm fans needed after such a shocking episode.

Negan gets his knight in shining armor moment when he saves Judith (Cailey Fleming) and Dog in the middle of a blistering winter storm. If there were holdouts suggesting Negan did not deserve redemption, this is the episode that finally proved he was worthy. Daryl, meanwhile, also demonstrates more depth of character when he pleads with his group to have mercy on and accept Lydia (Cassady McClincy Zhang), despite her familial connection. It’s a slow-paced episode that marks a needed break for fans of the show, even if it meant waiting another week for more edge-of-the-seat action to happen.

3. JSS (season 6, episode 2)

Enid standing behind a tree in a scene from The Walking Dead.
AMC

This is the episode where the Wolves attack the otherwise serene community of Alexandria, leaving the group to defend itself and resulting in massive loss. But there are a few important lessons and messages delivered in this episode. Morgan (Lennie James), fresh off his training with Eastman (John Carroll Lynch), is now proficient in Aikido, but has also learned the mantra that there’s another way and it isn’t necessary to kill. So, when Carol saves him from a Wolf by killing the man, it creates friction between the two former friends. Morgan says they don’t have to kill people and Carol replies, “of course we do.”

Meanwhile, we are also reminded of how far Carol has come when she delivers blunt advice to Sam about his abusive father, telling him to get over it and “live with it or it eats you up.” At the heart of this episode is the meaning behind Enid’s (Katelyn Nacon) mantra JSS, “Just Survive Somehow.” Its these words that got Enid through the loss of her parents and gave her strength, and it’s a powerful message in and of itself for anyone dealing with any type of trauma.

2. Thank You (season 6, episode 3)

Glenn pointing a gun in a dumpster with Nicholas behind him in a scene from The Walking Dead.
AMC

Thank You gets a lot of attention for its ending that frustrated viewers by teasing the death of fan favorite character Glenn, only to reveal in the next episode that he was, in fact, alive and well thanks to a garbage can. The episode got a lot of flak for that shameless bait and switch. But in hindsight, Glenn’s status was all anyone could talk about for an entire week, which meant the episode did its job. Because of that final scene, however, fans also forget about all the incredible moments in the episode.

First is the terrifying death of Noah in a scene that is surely engrained in fans’ heads. This includes seeing both Noah’s (Tyler James Williams) terror and Glenn’s anguish at not being able to do anything about it. Then there’s Nicholas’ (Michael Traynor) mental struggles as the character goes from loathed to misunderstood, troubled, and maybe even deserving of sympathy. The episode forces fans to ask themselves, would they be able to handle such a world or buckle under the pressure and be judged?

1. Mercy (season 8, episode 1)

Rick leading his group towards battle, Morgan second in command in a scene from The Walking Dead.
Gene Page / AMC

Mercy has the unfortunate reality of coming at the worst time in the show’s run. Former fans had grown bored of the drawn-out war with Negan and protested the brutal death scene of Glenn and Abraham (not to mention the endless teasers leading up to those moments). Because of that, Mercy didn’t get the recognition it deserved. It kicked off one of the most lackluster seasons of the series’ entire run. But the episode itself was a long-awaited payoff, the culmination of everything for which fans who stuck with the show had been waiting. Mercy might have had a better reception had it been the finale of season 7.

Nonetheless, in the episode, the big battle between Rick and his many allies and Negan and The Saviors finally takes place. There’s also a pivotal conversation between Rick and Carl about trusting others that lays the foundation for Rick deciding not to kill Negan in the end. It’s subtle moments like this that make the episode just as crucial to the plot as the intense action, even if fans were frustrated that the Negan arc didn’t get the satisfying end they had hoped for. In hindsight, given how the Negan character arc continues in the spinoff, it was a good decision that fans can look back on now and appreciate.

Stream all 11 seasons of The Walking Dead on Netflix. 

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Christine Persaud
Christine has decades of experience in trade and consumer journalism. While she started her career writing exclusively about…
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