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The Walking Dead is an American television drama series developed by Frank Darabont. It is based on the comic book series of the same name by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard. The series stars Andrew Lincoln as sheriff's deputy Rick Grimes, who awakens from a coma to find the world dominated by flesh-eating "walkers", resembling the zombies of George A. Romero's horror movies. He sets out to find his family and encounters many other survivors along the way.
The Walking Dead premiered on October 31, 2010 on the cable television channel AMC in the United States. Based on its reception, AMC renewed the series for a second season of 13 episodes, which premiered on October 16, 2011. Two episodes into the second season, AMC announced that the show would return for a third season, airing on October 14, 2012.
The series has been well received and has received many award nominations, including a Writers Guild of America Award nomination and a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Television Series Drama. The series has also attained strong Nielsen ratings, beating various records for a cable series, including receiving 10.9 million viewers for its season three premiere to become the most-watched basic cable drama telecast in history. Based on the comic book series of the same name, The Walking Dead tells the story of a small group of survivors living in the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse. Most of the story takes place in the Atlanta metropolitan area and then the surrounding countryside of northern Georgia, as the survivors search for a safe haven away from the shuffling hordes of predatory "walkers" (as the zombies are referred to in the show), who devour any living thing they catch, and whose bite is infectious to humans. The plot is focused primarily on the dilemmas the group faces as they struggle to balance their humanity with their survival against the zombie horde, and later, how they cope with members' being killed and deal with other human survivors they encounter, many of whom are dangerous and predatory themselves.
The group is led by Rick Grimes, who was a sheriff's deputy before the zombie outbreak. At every turn they are faced with the horror of the walking zombies, the changing dynamic of their group, and hostility from the scattered remains of a struggling human populace who are focused on their own survival now that the structures of society have collapsed.
Season 1 (2010)
Main article: The Walking Dead (season 1)
The series begins with sheriff's deputy Rick Grimes' waking up from a coma in an abandoned and badly damaged hospital. Leaving the hospital Rick discovers a post-apocalyptic world overrun with zombies (or "walkers," as they are often referred to in-show). Rick also discovers his wife and son are missing. Acting on a rumor from a fellow survivor, he arms himself and begins a perilous journey to Atlanta, Georgia, where the CDC is said to have set up a quarantined safe-zone in the city. Upon reaching Atlanta, he soon discovers that the city is instead overrun by the walkers.
A few miles outside the city, Rick's wife Lori and son Carl have been hiding from the walkers with Shane Walsh, Rick's partner and best friend. They have established a camp with a small group of fellow survivors. After being rescued from Atlanta by members of the group and reunited with Lori and Carl, Rick assumes command with Shane. A band of walkers eventually attack the camp, leaving several survivors dead and the remainder to seek aid from the CDC.
In the CDC, all but one staff member, Dr. Edwin Jenner, have either fled or killed themselves. Dr. Jenner explains that his research into the infection has not yielded a cure, and that he has not been in contact with anyone for a long while. Lack of fuel for the emergency generators soon initiates the building's safety protocols, which will trigger an explosion designed to destroy the facility and prevent the escape of deadly diseases. Jenner and Jacqui, a member of Rick's group, decide to stay and end their struggle. Dr. Jenner whispers something into Rick's ear, and the group escapes just as the CDC is incinerated in the explosion.
Season 2 (2011–2012)
Main article: The Walking Dead (season 2)
The second season begins with Rick and his group of survivors escaping the CDC. They decide that Fort Benning will be their next destination. Along the way, they encounter a traffic jam of abandoned vehicles on Interstate 85. The group loots several vehicles, but are forced to hide under them as a large herd of walkers approaches. A walker chases Sophia out from her hiding spot and, with another walker, pursues her into the woods. Rick finds her but loses her again after drawing off the walkers. The remaining group deals with interpersonal relationships while various searches for Sophia are performed. Carl is accidentally shot by a hunter named Otis during the initial search. To get help for Carl, Otis leads Rick and Shane to a large, isolated farm owned by a veterinarian named Hershel Greene, then helps Shane look for medical supplies; after getting them, Shane sacrifices Otis to the walkers so he can get away. The survivors then move to the farm while Carl recovers. Rick's group tries to co-exist alongside Hershel's family, but dangerous secrets and disagreements over leadership cause tensions to rise. Lori is revealed to be pregnant (the father is unknown), and Glenn builds a romantic relationship with Maggie, one of Hershel's daughters. Glenn also discovers that the barn is full of walkers, some of whom are Hershel's family members. After Shane releases the walkers to be exterminated, Sophia appears as one of them and Rick shoots her.
Hershel disappears to grieve for his family and is found by Rick and Glenn drinking at a local tavern, where they meet two other survivors. The situation rapidly turns sour and Rick kills the two men in a gunfight. The dead men's group quickly finds and opens fire on Rick, Hershel, and Glenn at the bar. The noise attracts a large herd of walkers, and one of the attackers, Randall, is injured and left behind. Rick and the others take him back to the farm, where they realize that Randall is likely to reveal the farm's location to his former group. As Rick's group deliberates on what to do with him, Dale is fatally wounded by a walker, forcing Daryl to euthanize Dale. The group later conducts a search for Randall, whom Shane had secretly released and murdered in the woods. Daryl and Glenn find him — as a walker — and kill him. Daryl concludes that a broken neck was the cause of Randall's reanimation, as opposed to a walker's bite or scratch. Meanwhile, Shane and Rick confront each other — the former having planned the fake search so that he could murder Rick. Rick gets the upper hand and stabs Shane in the torso, killing him. Carl arrives just in time to see Shane revive as a walker, and shoots him down.
The gunshot attracts a large herd of other walkers, who quickly overrun the property; in the ensuing battle and escape, Jimmy and Patricia are devoured, and Andrea is left behind. Andrea survives on her own, and is later rescued by a hooded woman accompanied by chained, armless walkers. The remaining survivors regroup but are forced to make camp due to lack of gasoline. After hearing of Randall's fate, Rick finally reveals what Jenner whispered to him at the end of Season One: that every survivor is infected with the walker virus. As Rick's leadership is questioned by the group later that night, a large prison looms in a pan out of the final scene.
Season 3 (2012_2013)
Main article: The Walking Dead (season 3)
The third season begins several months after the group escaped the farm, with Lori far into her pregnancy. Rick and the group come upon a deserted prison, hoping to convert it into their new home. While searching the prison for supplies, Hershel is bitten by a walker and Rick is forced to amputate his leg. During this, they meet a new group of survivors, who are prison inmates. In exchange for food, they clear out a different cell block for where the inmates can reside, away from Rick's group. A walker breakout then forces the group to split up; T-Dog is bitten in the struggle and sacrifices his life to save Carol. Lori goes into labor, and insists that Maggie perform an emergency Caesarean section to save the baby; the operation kills Lori, and Carl is forced to shoot her to prevent reanimation. Everyone regroups outside, where Rick sees his baby and learns that Lori is dead.
Meanwhile, Michonne and Andrea are taken to the town of Woodbury, a safe haven from the walkers. They meet the Governor, the town's leader, and learn that Merle Dixon - Daryl's older brother - has taken refuge there as well. Michonne is immediately suspicious of the Governor and the settlement and decides to leave, but Andrea refuses to go with her. Merle is ordered to hunt down Michonne — wounding her, and then capturing Maggie and Glenn while they are out scavenging. Michonne eventually arrives at the prison and meets Rick's group.
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