The Walking Dead has a reputation for shocking its fans. But fans that watch closely also know that sometimes, they telegraph some of their biggest moments seasons in advance.
That’s been the case for major developments, including some of the most notorious deaths in the series’ history. And every season so far has had at least one moment that pointed into the future toward a groundbreaking event.
Here are the biggest moments of foreshadowing from each season of The Walking Dead.
1. Season 1
Dale’s speech was more memorable than it seemed. | AMC
When The Walking Dead first started, there was no Negan, no Alexandria, and no war to fight. There was just Rick, his new allies, and a wide world full of zombies.
But even then, TWD writers may have been looking way ahead into the future. In the fourth episode, “Vatos,” the survivors were sitting around the campfire, and Dale started waxing philosophical about Faulkner’s “The Sound and the Fury.”
He told his friends:
“I like what the father said to the son when he gave him a watch that had been handed down through generations. He said: ‘I give you a mausoleum of all hope and desire which will fit your individual needs, no better than it did mine and my father before me. I give it to you not that you may remember time, but that you may forget it. For a moment, now and then, and not spend all of your breath trying to conquer it.’”
At first glance, this may not seem like anything but a pretty decent paraphrasing of a literary classic. But fans over at Cinema Blend noticed that the last two sentences of Dale’s speech contain, in order, the titles of the last five episodes of Season 5. “Remember,” “Forget,” “Spend, “Try,” and “Conquer” marked the introduction of Alexandria, as well as Rick and his friends’ integration into their safe zone.
Next: Sophia’s fate was right in front of us the whole time.
2. Season 2
Sophia was where Daryl predicted — but she was no longer herself. | AMC
After Sophia disappeared in the first episode of The Walking Dead’s second season, her fellow survivors dropped everything to search for her. In the third episode of the season, “Save the Last One,” Daryl and Andrea took a nighttime stroll to search for Sophia in the woods.
While they walked, Andrea expressed doubt that they’d be able to find her, which Daryl dismissed immediately. “It ain’t the mountains of Tibet, it’s Georgia,” he scoffed. “She could be holed up in a farmhouse somewhere.”
And sure enough, in the midseason finale, “Pretty Much Dead Already,” the group learned that Sophia had, in fact, been hanging out on Hershel’s farm in his barn.
Unfortunately, she was very undead. So, in a way, Daryl and Andrea were both right.
Next: Rick wasn’t the first character to ask the Three Questions.
3. Season 3
Rick understandably struggled over the death of his wife, Lori. | AMC
In Season 4, we saw Rick, Daryl, and their crew institute a new policy before they allowed others into their inner circle. They asked them three questions: “How many walkers have you killed?” “How many people have you killed?” And “Why?”
They’re meant to help weed out unstable or sinister individuals from their ranks. But those questions may have had a dark origin.
In the Season 3 episode “Hounded,” Rick dealt with his wife’s death by having a bit of a psychological break. The episode saw him talking on a prison phone to those who’d already departed his ranks – including Jim, Amy, and even Lori.
The voices on the other end of the phone swore they had found sanctuary. But after Rick begged them to take him and his friends in, they hesitated.
One voice said, “You could be dangerous. Have you killed anyone? How many people have you killed?”
They’re not exactly the questions that eventually act as a buffer for Rick’s group. But they’re close enough.
Next: One of the saddest moments on The Walking Dead was hinted at one episode before.
4. Season 4
Hershel’s death was devastating — but some may have seen it coming. | AMC
Hershel Greene’s death, in the Season 4 midseason finale, was truly devastating for The Walking Dead fans. But while it was shocking, the show did give us a glimpse of what was to come the episode before.
In “Dead Weight,” Philip and Martinez encounter a beheaded body in the woods with a creepy message attached to its chest: “Liar.” It seemed like a disturbing moment, albeit one that wasn’t necessarily connected to the main storyline.
Then, in “Too Far Gone,” Rick told the Governor that they could all come back from the darkness they’d succumbed to. But his enemy merely smirked, called him a liar, and then used Michonne’s sword to cut off Hershel’s head.
Next: Negan’s bloody introduction was hinted at many times.
5. Season 5
Negan’s baseball bat is an important clue. | AMC
In the 100th issue of The Walking Dead comics, Negan was introduced – only to make his mark by bashing Glenn’s head in with his beloved barbed-wire baseball bat, Lucille. So long-time fans of the franchise knew there was a good chance that the arrival of the Saviors’ leader could mean the end of a fan favorite.
That’s part of what made them sit up and take notice when Glenn had several important moments featuring baseball bats in the Season 5 premiere. The first featured him almost being bludgeoned to death by one in Terminus — only to be saved by Gareth.
The second moment featured Glenn himself picking up a baseball bat, and taking a moment to consider it. He eventually used it to beat off his enemies.
But eagle-eyed fans wondered if Glenn’s sudden interest in America’s pastime was a hint of things to come.
Next: That wasn’t the only moment that foreshadowed Glenn’s death.
6. Season 6
Glenn’s death was a memorable one. | AMC
In the Season 7 premiere, “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be,” one of the Saviors snapped a Polaroid photo of Glenn’s remains after Negan was done with him. It made his death, and the aftermath, feel all the more macabre.
But it also called back to a moment in a late-Season 6 episode, “Not Tomorrow Yet.” When Glenn and his friends stormed the Saviors’ compound, he found a few Polaroids taped to a bedroom wall.
They featured gory scenes of human remains with their heads bashed in. Glenn was clearly disturbed by the images.
Little did he know he would soon suffer a similar fate.
Next: This Alexandrian also caught a glimpse of his own demise.
7. Season 7
Spencer on The Walking Dead | AMC
Spencer Monroe was not one of The Walking Dead’s best characters to date. But that didn’t mean that his gory death at the hands of Negan was any less disturbing.
It was, like many other deaths on the series, though, foreshadowed in an earlier episode. Before Spencer tried to make peace with Negan, he took a walk in the woods, looking for weapons.
There, he encountered a walker, hanging in a tree, his guts hanging out. In the very next episode, “Hearts Still Beating,” Negan disembowels Spencer in front of his fellow Alexandrians.
Next: A popular leader on The Walking Dead could suffer a horrible fate based on this moment from Season 8.
8. Season 8
Ezekiel’s death seems imminent. | AMC
The Walking Dead’s Season 8 mid-year premiere offered up perhaps the saddest death of all when Carl Grimes killed himself after revealing he’d been bit by a walker. But Season 8 may have already foreshadowed another major death, too.
In the fourth episode, “Some Guy,” a savior named Gunther held King Ezekiel captive. He hoped to bring the Kingdom’s leader to Negan, but wound up stymied by some pesky technological difficulties.
Before Gunther abandoned Ezekiel outside the Saviors’ compound to run for safety, he left him with a sinister warning. He told the King, “Negan was hoping to have you’re a– chained to the Sanctuary fence. You, The Widow, Rick, but your head on a pike will do just fine.”
Fans of The Walking Dead comics know that Ezekiel does eventually die, when he falls victim to a frightening group of survivors called the Whisperers. And after they kill him, they behead him and put his head – you guessed it – on a pike for his friends to find.
It’s too early to know for sure if The Walking Dead will introduce the Whisperers, but if they do, it’s a safe bet that Ezekiel could be the latest victim of the series’ foreshadowing.
Follow Katherine Webb on Twitter @prufrox.
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