|This article is about the first season of the Original TV Series. You may be looking for the first season of the Video Game, the first season of the Fear TV Series, or the first season of the World Beyond TV Series.|
Season 1 of AMC's The Walking Dead premiered on October 31, 2010, and concluded on December 5, 2010, consisting of 6 episodes. Developed for television by Frank Darabont, who wrote or co-wrote four of the season's six episodes and directed the pilot episode, "Days Gone Bye", the series is based on the eponymous series of comic books by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard. It was executive produced by Darabont, Kirkman, David Alpert, Charles H. Eglee, and Gale Anne Hurd, with Darabont assuming the role of showrunner.
This season adapts material from issues #1-6 of the Comic Series. It introduces notable comic character Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), who awakens from a coma, after being shot, in a post-apocalyptic world filled with flesh-eating zombies, dubbed "walkers". After befriending Morgan Jones (Lennie James), Rick sets out to find his family and discover the origins of the walker virus.
- 1 Plot
- 2 Episodes
- 3 Cast
- 4 Deaths
- 5 Production
- 6 Promotion
- 7 Reception
- 8 Home Media Releases
- 9 Videos
- 10 Trivia
- 11 References
Rick soon encounters two other survivors -- Morgan Jones and his son, Duane. Morgan gives Rick additional information about the situation, explaining that the undead are driven to eat the living. "One thing I do know, don't you get bit," Morgan says. "Bites kill, then you become one of them." Duane then speaks: "I saw it happen." Morgan saw the transformation first-hand. His wife Jenny was bitten, and then turned into a "Walker." Now she haunts him and his son, frequently returning to the house where she died.
Rick takes Morgan and Duane to the King County Sheriff's Department, where they stock up on guns and ammunition. Rick is headed for Atlanta, where a refugee center has formed and the CDC is supposedly working on a cure. Along with a rifle, Rick gives Morgan a walkie-talkie, with instructions to check in daily at dawn so the two men can reunite later. En route to Atlanta, Rick runs out of gas near a farmhouse, where he finds a horse to ride the rest of the way.
Meanwhile, Lori and Carl are living in a camp outside Atlanta, with Shane Walsh, Rick's high school friend and partner. There are many other survivors present, including Amy, Dale Horvath, Jim, and the Morales and Peletier families. Believing Rick to be dead, Lori has begun a romantic relationship with Shane, who is the group's de-facto leader.
In a deserted Atlanta, Rick is overwhelmed by hordes of Walkers. They topple his horse and force him to retreat inside a tank. Guided by Glenn, an adventurous young man who instructs him via radio, Rick grabs a gun and grenade and flees for his life. Glenn then leads Rick to a department store, where they meet up with other survivors: Andrea, Morales, Jacqui, T-Dog, and Merle Dixon — a redneck ex-con.
After the volatile and racist Merle attacks T-Dog, Rick handcuffs Merle to the store rooftop. Rick then hatches an escape plan, which involves Rick and Glenn smearing themselves with Walker guts as camouflage. Having navigated through the crowd of Walkers, Rick drives off in a cube van to evacuate the survivors. Glenn helps to lure the undead with the sound of a car alarm in a hot-wired Dodge Challenger.
Back on the rooftop, T-Dog accidentally drops the handcuff key down a ventilation pipe, then chains the access door shut so the stranded and furious Merle will be relatively safe from hungry Walkers.
Driving back to camp, Morales warns Rick about Merle's brother, Daryl, who will be angry that his brother was abandoned. Glenn arrives at camp first, and Shane and Dale chastise him about drawing Walkers with the car alarm. Jim disconnects the alarm just as the cube van approaches.
Andrea tearfully reunites with Amy, her younger sister, as does Morales with his family. Rick then emerges from the van and is shocked to discover Lori and Carl living at the camp. Later that night, Lori tells Rick she was told he would be Medevaced to Atlanta. But it never happened. "Mom said you died," Carl says. "She had every reason to believe that," Rick replies, before thanking Shane for saving them.
That night, Rick and Lori have sex in their tent, vowing to each other that this is a new beginning in their marriage. The next morning, Rick and the others find a Walker feasting on a freshly-hunted deer in the woods. Jim theorizes the undead are running out of food in the city.
Daryl returns from an overnight hunt. After being informed of his brother's whereabouts, Daryl attacks Rick and Shane, who subdue him. Daryl vows to retrieve his older brother, horrified at the idea that they left Merle bound and unable to fend for himself. Rick volunteers to go with him, as do Glenn and T-Dog.
"You're putting every single one of us at risk," Shane says, arguing they need everybody to protect the camp. Rick contends that they really need the guns that he dropped when the geeks attacked. Lori is against it, but Rick tells her he has to get the walkie-talkie back. Otherwise Morgan and Duane could walk into the same trap he did.
After Rick departs, Lori tells Shane to keep away from her family. "You are the one that told me that he died," Lori seethes. Nearby, an altercation breaks out between Ed Peletier and his meek wife, Carol. After Ed slaps Carol, Shane intervenes and beats the man mercilessly.
In Atlanta, Rick and company head to the department store where Merle was left. Reaching the door they had barricaded, they see the chains have been broken. They then find the rooftop deserted, save for a severed hand lying, bloodied, beside a hacksaw. Daryl screams, as the screen cuts to black.
The Atlanta crew follows Merle's trail of blood down to the streets. They decide to retrieve Rick's guns before continuing the search. Glenn goes for the guns while the others stand guard. Their plan is derailed when Daryl is jumped by two men. Glenn is then taken hostage, and brought to an inner city fortress. Although his captors at first seem hostile, it turns out to that they are simply locals who are trying to protect elderly survivors in a nursing home. Glenn is set free, and Rick passes on some guns to the nursing home staff. Rick, Glenn, T-Dog, and Daryl then discover their vehicle is missing. "Merle," Rick says. "He's going to be taking some vengeance back to camp," Daryl predicts.
Back at camp, Andrea and Amy present fellow survivors with fish caught in a nearby lake. Dale interrupts the excitement to express concern over Jim, who is feverishly digging holes without explanation. Shane subdues Jim, who cannot remember exactly why he was digging: "I had a reason, don't remember," he says. "Something I dreamt last night."
Andrea, meanwhile, roots through Dale's RV. She's looking for something to wrap up Amy's birthday present: a mermaid necklace she took from the department store. Later, the group feasts on fish around the campfire and the mood takes on a lighter note. When Amy steps away to go to the bathroom in the RV, she is bitten on the arm by an unseen roamer—one of many about to attack the camp. Rick and his cohorts arrive and drive the Walkers back. They are too late, though, to save Amy or Ed. Jim has also been bitten during the attack.
The survivors burn the Walkers, though Glenn insists they should bury their dead. Andrea cradles Amy nearby, unwilling to let anyone near the body. Dale commiserates, explaining that since his wife's death, "you girls were the first people that I cared anything for." Andrea tells Dale she feels guilty for missing so many of Amy's birthdays. "I'm sorry for not ever being there," Andrea weeps, kneeling next to a now re-animated Amy. She tells Amy that she's here now and loves her. Then she puts her down with a shot to the head.
When Jim's injury is revealed, and the sickness associated with infection worsens, Rick suggests the group go to the CDC for help. Shane thinks the Army base in Fort Benning is safer, but it is 125 miles away. While sweeping the forest for any remaining roamers, Shane tries to convince Rick to change his mind. "I've gotta do what's best for my family," Rick says. "If it was your family you'd feel differently." Enraged, Shane aims his gun at an unknowing Rick, but doesn't pull the trigger. Rick didn't see Shane's actions after their argument, but Dale had been watching the entire spectacle. "Jesus," he mutters.
Later, Shane announces his support of Rick's plan. Morales says that his family will not be joining the group, and they head off in a different direction. En route to the CDC, the RV breaks down. Jim, in agony, asks Rick to leave him behind. "I want to be with my family," he says of his late wife and children. The group reluctantly leaves him beneath a tree.
In a CDC laboratory, disheveled scientist Dr. Edwin Jenner performs experiments on a tissue sample designated "TS-19". He then accidentally spills corrosive fluid, initiating a decontamination sequence that destroys the samples. Meanwhile, Rick's caravan approaches the CDC. Jenner watches the group's approach via a security monitor.
Jenner agrees to allow the survivors into the building, provided they submit to blood tests. The group then feasts on food and wine, and luxuriates in hot showers. Afterward, Andrea laments the fall of civilization as Dale attempts to comfort her.
Later, Shane drunkenly confronts Lori, professing his love and insisting he didn't lie about Rick being dead. Drunk and out of control, Shane tries to force himself on Lori, who scratches his face and neck to stop him. Horrified by his own behavior, Shane flees, leaving Lori shaken and afraid.
The next morning, Jenner shows the group brain scans of Test Subject 19, his wife, who allowed her infection to be recorded. He admits he does not know what the disease is or how to treat it. Also, he has lost contact with any other facilities. Worse yet, the CDC's generators are running out of fuel. When they are empty, the building will self-destruct as per a decontamination protocol.
Though at first he tries to convince them to stay, Jenner agrees to let Rick and the others flee when the self-destruct is activated. Jacqui, terrified of ending up like Amy or Jim, opts to stay behind. After a fiery explosion, Rick and his fellow survivors caravan away from the smoldering rubble, destination unknown.
|Title||Writer(s)||Director(s)||Original Air Date||U.S. Viewers|
|1.||"Days Gone Bye"||Frank Darabont||Frank Darabont||October 31, 2010||5.35 million|
|2.||"Guts"||Frank Darabont||Michelle MacLaren||November 7, 2010||4.71 million|
|3.||"Tell It to the Frogs"||Frank Darabont
Charles H. Eglee
|Gwyneth Horder-Payton||November 14, 2010||5.07 million|
|4.||"Vatos"||Robert Kirkman||Johan Renck||November 21, 2010||4.75 million|
|5.||"Wildfire"||Glen Mazzara||Ernest Dickerson||November 28, 2010||5.56 million|
|Guy Ferland||December 5, 2010||5.97 million|
- Emma Bell as Amy (5/6)
- Michael Rooker as Merle Dixon (2/6)
- Andrew Rothenberg as Jim (4/6)
- Juan Gabriel Pareja as Morales (4/6)
- Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon (4/6)
- Noah Emmerich as Edwin Jenner (2/6)
- Jim R. Coleman as Lambert Kendal (1/6)
- Linds Edwards as Leon Basset (1/6)
- Keisha Tillis as Jenny Jones (1/6)
- Adrian Kali Turner as Duane Jones (1/6)
- IronE Singleton as T-Dog (5/6)
- Jeryl Prescott Sales as Jacqui (5/6)
- Adam Minarovich as Ed Peletier (3/6)
- Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier (4/6)
- Madison Lintz as Sophia Peletier (4/6)
- Maddie Lomax as Eliza Morales (3/6)
- Neil Brown Jr. as Guillermo (1/6)
- Anthony Guajardo as Miguel (1/6)
- Gina Morelli as Abuela (1/6)
- James Gonzaba as Jorge (1/6)
- Viviana Chavez-Vega as Miranda Morales (3/6)
- Melissa Cowan as Hannah
- Addy Miller as Summer
- Noah Lomax as Louis Morales
- Claire Bronson as Candace Jenner
- Judi M. Durand as Vi
- Unknown as Mr. Siggard
- Unknown as Mrs. Siggard
- Unknown as Wayne Dunlap
- Unknown as Mr. Gilbert
- Blade as Siggard's Horse
- Tommie Mack Turvey as Criminal 1
- Chick Bernhardt as Criminal 2
- Brent Bernhard as Criminal 3
- Orlando Vargas as Camp Survivor
- L. Stephanie Ray as Camp Survivor
- Frances Cobb as Camp Survivor
- Sam Witwer as Tank Soldier
- Barry Hopkins as Hospital Patient
- M.V. Oliphant as Infected Nurse
- Ken Melde as Infected Doctor
- Timothy Douglas Perez, Roger Herrera, and Travis Love as Vatos gang members
- Lisa Marie Thomas & Joyce Liles as Nurses
- Deleted Scenes
- Summer (Alive, Confirmed Fate; Zombified)
- Jenny Jones (Alive, Confirmed Fate)
- Leon Basset (Alive and Zombified)
- Hannah (Zombified)
- Mrs. Siggard (Confirmed Fate)
- Mr. Siggard (Confirmed Fate)
- Siggard's Horse
- Wayne Dunlap (Alive, Confirmed Fate; Zombified)
- Jim's Wife (Confirmed Fate)
- Jim's Two Sons (Confirmed Fate)
- Ed Peletier
- Amy (Alive and Zombified)
- Irma Horvath (Confirmed Fate)
- Jim (Alive)
- Candace Jenner (Alive and Zombified, Confirmed Fate)
- Edwin Jenner
- 3 unnamed criminals
- 1 unnamed cat (Confirmed Fate)
- 1 rat
- 1 deer
- Several squirrels
- At least 13 unnamed Atlanta camp survivors
- Numerous CDC scientists (Confirmed Fate)
- Numerous patients and hospital staff
- Several U.S. Military soldiers
Robert Kirkman, who created the comic book series in 2003, says he had considered the idea of a Walking Dead television series, but never actively pursued it. "I certainly wanted it to happen, just because I knew it would be good for the book... I'm certainly not against adaptations, like some creators." When Frank Darabont became interested in adapting the comic books for television, Kirkman said it was "extremely flattering" and went on to say that, "He definitely cares about the original source material, and you can tell that in the way he's adapting it. It's an extreme validation of the work... Never in a million years could I have thought that if Walking Dead were to ever be adapted that everything would be going this well. I think that that's all because of Frank."
Darabont himself had been a fan of the zombie genre since seeing George A. Romero's 1968 film Night of the Living Dead when he was fourteen years old. ""Night of the Living Dead" had this weird vibe that was almost - it was like pornography... It had this marvelously attractive, disreputable draw... I loved it immediately." Darabont recalls walking into a comic book store in Burbank, California and seeing The Walking Dead on the shelf in 2005. "Being that I've always had "the love of zombies genre," I of course grabbed it, took it home and read it, and immediately started pursuing the rights to it. I thought it would make a great TV show... I loved the idea of an extended, ongoing, serialized dramatic presentation set in the zombie apocalypse." He described the process of developing the series and getting it set up at a network as "four years of frustration," and credits executive producer Gale Anne Hurd with finally getting the series on AMC. "I can't remember what the hell prompted her to read it [the script], but she said, "Wow, I really love this pilot you wrote. What are you doing with it?" I said I'd been trying to set it up forever... She said "I think AMC might be the place to take this." She did, and then bam! They were immediately interested. I had to credit Gale, her insight into marrying the material and the buyer."
Darabont's original pilot script was split in half and embellished, making the first two episodes instead of one, "...just to slow the narrative down and dig into the characters more deeply, so it's not just plot-driven, event-driven stuff. You really want to drag these characters into the equation." To write the remaining episodes of the season, Darabont recruited Charles H. Eglee, Adam Fierro and Glen Mazzara, all of whom he had worked with while directing an episode of The Shield. Jack LoGiudice also joined the writing team, along with Robert Kirkman, also an executive producer. "I have the best of both worlds," says Kirkman. "It was a lot of fun writing Episode 104, and I'm hoping if it continues into Season 2, I'll be able to write more episodes."
Principal photography for the pilot episode, "Days Gone Bye", began on May 15, 2010 with the subsequent five episodes beginning filming a few weeks later on June 2. The first season was filmed in and around Atlanta, Georgia where the episodes were primarily set.
The show's official website released a motion comic based on the first issue of the original comic and voiced by Phil LaMarr. The site also posted a making-of documentary primarily about the first episode, as well as a number of other behind-the-scenes videos and interviews. In the documentary, comic series creator and show executive producer Robert Kirkman as well as artist Charlie Adlard expressed that they were pleased with how faithful the show is to the comic and remark on the similarities between the actors and the comic's original character drawings. Several scenes from "Days Gone Bye" were screened July 23, 2010 as part of the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con International. Hurd asserted that "[they] really are doing six one-hour movie", and Darabont insisted that the series would closely reflect the development in the comics. "The path is a very strong template. But we're going to take every interesting detour we feel like taking. As long as were staying on the path of what Robert has done, I don't see any reason not to. If they have patience we'll eventually catch up to what Robert is doing."
The Walking Dead debuted during the same week in 120 countries. "Days Gone Bye" premiered in Hong Kong on TVB Pearl on August 30, 2011, while it expanded in international markets during the first week of November. Two weeks prior to its official premiere in the United States, the contents of the episode leaked online. As part of an expansive campaign to advertise and heighten anticipation for the premiere, international broadcasting affiliates of AMC and Fox coordinated a worldwide zombie invasion event proceeding days prior to premiere of the episode in the United States. The event occurred in twenty six cities worldwide, and were hosted in select locations including the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City, Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., Palace of Westminster in London, Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul, Acropolis of Athens in Athens, and the Museo del Prado in Madrid. The campaign events commenced in Hong Kong and Taipei, and culminated in Los Angeles.
The Walking Dead was included on the cover of the December 2010 edition of Entertainment Weekly, which featured Rick Grimes pointing a gun at a horde of walkers. According to the journalist of the magazine, it "examines the past, present, and future" of the television franchise; "from the comic book's humble beginnings, to unlikely path to the small screen, to even more unlikely path as a bona fide hit." Kirkman was ecstatic upon hearing of the news. "I've got to say—not to kiss your magazine's a– or anything—but when they called me and said Frank [Darabont] wanted to do the show, I was like, 'Yeah, I'll believe it when I see it.' And then when AMC was like, 'We're picking up the show,' I was like, 'Yeah, alright, whatever.' When they actually started shooting the pilot I was like, 'Well, this is kind of real, this is neat.' But when they called me and said, 'Your show's on the cover of Entertainment Weekly,' I think that was the first time I was like, 'Oh my god, I can't believe this is happening to me!'"
The first season of The Walking Dead received mostly positive reviews from critics. On Metacritic, the season holds a score of 82 out of 100, indicating "universal acclaim", based on 25 critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the season holds an 87% with an average rating of 7.37 out of 10 based on 30 reviews. The site's critical consensus reads: "Blood-spattered, emotionally resonant, and white-knuckle intense, The Walking Dead puts an intelligent spin on the overcrowded zombie subgenre." Following the pilot episode's debut, Matt Roush of TV Guide called the show "a stark and harrowing survival parable ... visually stunning ... and daring in its artful use of silence." Following the second episode, Simon Abrams from Slant Magazine awarded the show three and a half stars out of a possible four; "To say that Darabont has kicked his series off with a bang would be a serious understatement ... [he] has fashioned a fully realized alternate reality and it's a thrilling thing to experience."
In response to the season finale, James Poniewozik of TIME magazine gave the first season of The Walking Dead a glowing review stating, "the show has an urgency and bravery that make it something special". Josh Jackson of Paste magazine also praised the season by writing, "the characters are worth caring about" despite "occasional stilted monologues, quick tempers and unfortunate stereotypes". Some reviews were mixed, including one from Kofi Outlaw of Screen Rant who concluded, "The Walking Dead still hasn't really defined itself as anything more than a vague survival story about the human condition" but added, "you can be sure I'm one of those Dead-heads already chomping at the bit for season 2". Sean McKenna of TV Fanatic also offered mixed criticism saying the first season "had its ups and downs" noting that the second season should focus on "a more specific story arc and strengthening of the character development". Logan Hill of New York magazine was more critical, claiming the episodes contained "atrocious dialogue" and "a lot of plot machinery that has been contrived to create action suspense but ... hasn't really moved the story itself anywhere in particular", though he admits the fifth episode showed "flashes of promise".
The first season of The Walking Dead was named one of the Top 10 Television Programs in 2010 by the American Film Institute. The season was also nominated for Outstanding New Program at the 27th TCA Awards and Best New Series at the 63rd Writers Guild of America Awards. It was also nominated for Best Television Series – Drama at the 68th Golden Globe Awards and Best Drama Series at the 1st Critics' Choice Television Awards. For the 37th Saturn Awards, the season received six nominations, winning Best Television Presentation. The nominations were for Best Actor on Television (Andrew Lincoln), Best Actress on Television (Sarah Wayne Callies), Best Supporting Actor on Television (Steven Yeun), Best Supporting Actress on Television (Laurie Holden), and Best Guest Starring Role on Television (Noah Emmerich).
The pilot episode, "Days Gone Bye", received three Primetime Emmy Award nominations for the 63rd Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards, winning Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup for a Series, Miniseries, Movie, or Special, and received nominations for Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series and Outstanding Special Visual Effects. Frank Darabont was nominated for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Series for his work on "Days Gone Bye".
The pilot received 5.3 million viewers, making it the most-watched series premiere episode of any AMC television series. The first-season finale received 6 million viewers, a season high; with 4 million viewers in the 18-49 demographic, making it the most watched basic cable series for the demographic. The first season had an average of 5.24 million viewers and a rating of 2.7 in the 18-49 demographic. In the United Kingdom, it premiered one week after it did in the United States, on November 5, 2010 on digital channel, FX. The premiere had 579,000 viewers, almost double for any other show on FX that week. The viewership dipped during the season then rose to 522,000 viewers for the final episode. The terrestrial premiere on Channel 5 on April 10, 2011, averaged 1.46 million viewers. Based on its ratings, the series was renewed for a second season on November 8, 2010.
Home Media Releases
The first season was released on DVD and Blu-ray in region 1 on March 8, 2011 and in region 2 on May 16, 2011. Special features on the sets include six featurettes—"The Making of The Walking Dead", "Inside The Walking Dead: Episode 1–6", "A Sneak Peek with Robert Kirkman", "Behind the Scenes Zombie Make-Up Tips", "Convention Panel with Producers" and "The Walking Dead Trailer". Also included are other behind the scenes featurettes—"Zombie School", "Bicycle Girl", "On Set with Robert Kirkman", "Hanging with Steven Yeun", "Inside Dale's RV" and "On Set with Andrew Lincoln".
A three-disc special edition of the first season was released on DVD and Blu-ray on October 4, 2011. The sets include all the previous special features, plus brand new extras. The new extras include audio commentary on all six episodes, the black and white version of the pilot, and six new featurettes—"We Are The Walking Dead", "Bring Out the Dead: KNB and the Art of Making Zombies", "Digital Decay: The VFX of The Walking Dead", "No More Room in Hell: The Walking Dead Phenomenon", "Adapting the Dead" and "Killer Conversations: Frank Darabont & Greg Nicotero". In addition to the DVD and Blu-ray release, a limited edition Blu-ray collector's tin contains an exclusive wearable zombie mask from the National Entertainment Collectibles Association designed by the series own make-up artist, Greg Nicotero.
Behind the Scenes
- This season is mainly based on "Volume 1: Days Gone Bye" from the Comic Series.
- This is the only season so far to not have a majority of the cast absent in an episode.
- This is the only season with no main character deaths.
- However, this season has the most deaths of the original Atlanta group being 17 with Amy, Ed, Jim and Jacqui and 13 unnamed camp members.
- This is the shortest season of The Walking Dead with a total of 6 episodes.
- It is also the only season to have less than 10 episodes.
- This is the only season which lists guest actors as "Guest Starring" instead of the "Also Starring" label used in succeeding seasons.
- The song "Mr. Splitfoot (In the darkest night)" by Paris Motel and "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore" by The Walker Brothers were used in the first half and second half of the trailer, respectively.
- Out of the 20 named characters at the camp, only 11 are actually in the comic (Rick, Lori, Carl, Shane, Carol, Sophia, Jim, Dale, Andrea, Amy, and Glenn).
- The Dixon brothers, T-Dog, Jacqui, Ed as well as Morales and his family, along with the 13 unnamed background survivors, are not characters in the comic book, although they are each (besides the extras) featured prominently in Season 1 of the TV series.
- This is the only season in which Frank Darabont is the showrunner for The Walking Dead.