Welcome back. The Walking Dead has reached its final season but you might have fallen out with the show long ago. With 11 seasons of deaths, double-crosses, and even a time jump to catch up on, it can feel like tough going to try and muster up the energy to shamble towards the show's endgame.
Don't worry, you don't have to spend hours binging the show so you can find out what's happened since you last stopped watching. Across the next two pages, we'll make sure you're all on the same page about The Walking Dead's long and winding history. A nice easy, breezy recap. Perfect-o. Plenty of stuff and thangs happen so, of course, spoilers follow for The Walking Dead seasons 1-11.
The Walking Dead recap: season 1
What happens in The Walking Dead season 1?
Where it all began. The Walking Dead season 1 starts with Rick Grimes, a sheriff's deputy, waking from a coma after being shot. He encounters a world filled with 'walkers', and heads to Georgia to reunite with his family - wife Lori and son, Carl.
Along the way, he comes across Morgan and his son, Duane, though eventually leaves them after hearing of a refugee camp. In Georgia, he befriends Glenn, a survivor scavenging for goods, as well as redneck Merle and T-Dogg. The gang handcuff Merle and leave him stranded on a roof – but later return to find him gone, with no sign of a body.
Rick finally reaches the camp housing both Lori and Carl, as well as his best friend/former colleague, Shane, who has started a relationship with Lori, unbeknownst to Rick. The camp also includes the rest of the group that would form a core part of the first season: Daryl (Merle's brother), Amy, Andrea, Morales, Carol & Ed (along with daughter Sophia), Jim, Dale, and Jacqui.
During an excursion, a group of walkers attack the camp and kill Amy and Carol's husband, Ed. The gang eventually depart for the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), hoping a cure will be found there, though Morales goes his own way and Jim stays behind. However, the lead scientist at the CDC informs them there isn't a cure, rigs the CDC to self-destruct and dies from suicide alongside a resigned Jacqui, but not before imparting Rick with some (at the time) unknown knowledge about the walker virus.
Moments to remember - our season 1 cheat sheet
- Rick wakes up from a coma and meets Glenn, Merle, and T-Dog in Georgia
- The group return to the survivors' camp, where Rick reunites with his wife Lori and son Carl
- Walkers attack the camp and kill two survivors: Amy and Carol's husband, Ed
- The gang head to the CDC in the hope of a cure but are told there isn't one
Who died in The Walking Dead season 1?
- Amy (killed by a walker)
- Ed (killed by a walker)
- Jacqui (suicide in CDC explosion)
The Walking Dead recap: season 2
What happens in The Walking Dead season 2?
The vast majority of season 2 takes place on the farm of elderly doctor Hershel, also populated by his two daughters Maggie and Beth. The gang head there after Carl is accidentally shot and Carol's daughter Sophia goes missing.
Otis, the man who shot Carl, is eventually left for dead by Shane while out on a hunt for supplies. Carl, meanwhile, eventually recovers from his wounds and Lori discovers she is pregnant.
Glenn starts a relationship with Maggie, though a late-night meet-up eventually turns sour after Glenn discovers Hershel's barn is filled with captive walkers.
Eventually, the group of survivors decide to open the barn. Inside, Sophia is found, but she's long since died and turned into a walker; Rick kills her reanimated corpse.
Filled with grief, Hershel goes to a nearby bar but is attacked by a gang. Rick and Shane make the save and haul one member, Randall, back to the farm. Despite debating over his fate, Shane decides to take initiative and secretly kills him. A large group of walkers also descends on the farm – one kills Dale after Carl fails to use it for shooting practice.
Finally, Rick kills Shane after it's clear that Shane is becoming more frenzied. Walkers invade the farm and Rick relays the CDC scientist's warning that everyone who dies will turn into a walker. The group all escape, barring Andrea who is split from the group and rescued by a mysterious woman, later revealed to be Michonne.
Moments to remember - our season 2 cheat sheet
- Carol's daughter, Sophia, goes missing after running off into the woods
- Carl is accidentally shot by wandering hunter, Otis and the boy is operated on by the local doctor Hershel on his farm
- Shane leaves Otis for dead
- Glenn and Hershel's eldest daughter, Maggie, start a relationship
- Lori is revealed to be pregnant
- Glenn finds out the barn on Hershel's farm is filled with walkers, who Hershel believes to be still people
- Sophia is found – she is a walker and Rick is forced to kill her
- A gang attack Hershel, Rick, and Shane. They capture one, Randall, and take him back to the farm
- Dale is killed by a stray walker
- Shane murders Randall, but lies about it, saying instead that he escaped
- Rick kills Shane after the two clash – Carl finishes the job with a headshot on an undead Shane
- Walkers invade the farm
- Rick tells the group the CDC scientist's words: that everyone will turn into a walker once they die
- The group escape the farm, though Andrea gets separated from the group and is found by the katana-wielding Michonne
Who died in The Walking Dead season 2?
- Otis (killed by walkers after Shane shoots him)
- Sophia (killed by walkers off-screen then shot by Rick)
- Dale (killed by walker)
- Randall (killed by Shane)
- Shane (killed by Rick)
The best Walking Dead episodes, ranked! (opens in new tab)
The Walking Dead recap: season 3
What happens in The Walking Dead season 3?
Season 3 kicks off eight months after season 2 ended, with Rick and the survivors taking back a prison from the walkers to use as a new home. Lori, meanwhile, is heavily pregnant with her second child.
During the battle for the prison, Hershel is bitten on the leg and has it amputated to avoid turning. The remaining prisoners are, ironically, held captive by the group in a different wing of the prison.
Andrea and Michonne are taken in by Merle, who now aligns with the community of Woodbury and their leader, The Governor.
Back at the prison, walkers are lured in by alarms and all hell breaks loose: T-Dog is killed trying to save Carol, while Lori gives birth to a daughter, Judith, and Carl is forced to mercifully kill his own mother.
Michonne leaves Woodbury and, after Merle captures Glenn and Maggie, takes some much-needed supplies to a depleted prison. After recuperating, everyone heads over to Woodbury to take back Glenn and Maggie – and Michonne stabs the Governor in the eye.
The second half of the season sees Woodbury eventually liberated from the Governor's control, but not without casualties. Merle is killed thanks to The Governor, as is Andrea, who secretly worked against The Governor. The remaining main Woodbury residents, siblings Sasha and Tyreese, are invited into the prison community.
Moments to remember - our season 3 cheat sheet
- The group set up base in the prison
- Hershel has his leg amputated after a walker bite
- Andrea and Michonne go to live in Woodbury, a community ruled by The Governor
- T-Dog dies while trying to save Carol
- Lori gives birth to a daughter and dies
- Glenn and Maggie are captured by The Governor
- Merle is killed thanks to The Governor's actions
- Andrea dies after turning on The Governor
- Woodbury is overrun by walkers
- Sasha and Tyreese, who used to live in Woodbury, join the main group
Who died in The Walking Dead season 3?
- T-Dog (killed by walkers)
- Lori (killed by Carl after childbirth blood loss)
- Merle (killed by walkers)
- Andrea (killed by Milton, The Governor's right-hand man)
The Walking Dead recap: season 4
What happens in The Walking Dead season 4?
Things at the prison soon spiral out of control thanks to a disease spread by livestock on the grounds. The group are forced to make some tough decisions, including quarantining the infected. Two of those with the disease, David and Tyreese's girlfriend, Karen, are murdered – the culprit is later revealed to be Carol.
The Governor also strikes back at the prison – and encounters the Chambler family (Lilly, Tara, and Megan). He kidnaps Michonne and Hershel, executing the latter and starting an all-out war at the prison. The Governor is eventually defeated and killed by Lilly, while the original group of survivors fracture and go their separate ways in the chaos, with Judith being taken in by Carol and Tyreese.
One large group begins to form, consisting of Daryl, Beth, Carol, Tyreese, Judith, sisters Lizzie and Mika, Sasha, Bob, and Maggie, while Glenn meets Abraham, Rosita and Eugene, who are on the way to Washington D.C. to sort a cure. Rick, Michonne, and Carl hunt for the remaining members of the group.
All roads, though, lead to Terminus, a promising new community. Along the way, Carol is forced to kill Lizzie after she kills her sister and Beth is also captured by a mysterious set of strangers. Everyone, barring Carol's group, is eventually captured at Terminus – though Rick ends the season with a rallying cry, banding together the new ensemble, featuring those that Glenn found, the surviving members of the prison, and Tara.
Moments to remember - our season 4 cheat sheet
- Many become infected at the prison thanks to a virus
- David and Karen are mysteriously killed
- The Governor beheads Hershel in one final assault on the prison but is killed himself
- The group are all split up after the prison is overrun
- Beth is abducted
- Everyone barring Carol, Judith, and Tyreese reunite at Terminus – but are held at gunpoint by the leader, Gareth.
Who died in The Walking Dead season 4?
- Hershel (beheaded by The Governor)
- The Governor (killed by Lilly Chambler)
- Lilly (killed off-screen by walkers)
- Mika (stabbed by Lizzie)
- Lizzie (shot by Carol)
The Walking Dead recap: season 5
What happens in The Walking Dead season 5?
The first half of the season deals with the recovery of Beth, who is found working under the watchful eye of Dawn, a crazed police officer-turned-hospital leader. This all comes after an explosive opening episode which sees Carol dispatch much of Terminus' members while also rescuing the group.
Rick meets Father Gabriel, who consigned much of his parish to their eventual deaths in the wake of the walker outbreak. While there, the ex-leader of Terminus, Gareth, leads his remaining group to attack and kill Bob.
Later attempts to rescue Beth include Carol being wheeled i to the hospital after an accident, though it ends in tragedy after Beth stabs Dawn and Dawn kills Beth. Sasha’s brother Tyreese also dies during a trip to rescue hospital worker Noah's family.
After Eugene lies about having a cure, the group divert their attention to the walled community of Alexandria after they are invited by one of its residents, Aaron. Things eventually descend into paranoia aimed at the new members of Alexandria with one Alexandrian, Pete, becoming jealous over Rick's attention towards his wife. Despite initial protests against his hardened attitude, the Alexandrians (and their leader, Deanna) eventually warm towards Rick, who is forced to kill Pete after he accidentally stabs Deanna's husband, Reg.
The season ends with scavengers The Wolves on the outskirts of Alexandria and Morgan returning after brief appearances in the pilot and in season 3.
Moments to remember - our season 5 cheat sheet
- Carol rescues the group in Terminus
- Rick reunites with Judith
- The group meet Father Gabriel
- Bob and Tyreese both die
- Carol is also abducted by the same group that took Beth
- We discover Beth is now working at a makeshift hospital
- Eugene lied about having a cure
- Beth dies
- The group befriend Aaron, a member of the town of Alexandria, and settle into the community
- The Wolves scout out Alexandria
- Morgan returns
Who died in The Walking Dead season 5?
- Beth (shot by Dawn)
- Dawn (shot by Daryl)
- Bob (killed by walkers after The Wolves cut off his leg)
- Tyreese (bitten by Noah's undead brother)
- Deanna's son, Aiden (killed by walkers)
- Noah (killed by walkers)
- Reg (killed by Pete)
- Pete (killed by Rick)