Last season, AMC's The Walking Dead drew over 12 million viewers an episode — a huge audience for any show these days, but especially for one that each week sends its characters on a grim march toward certain death. Give credit to the show's writers, for making the gory saga of a zombie plague not just endurable, but meaningful. Following the lead of the Robert Kirkman, the creator of The Walking Dead comic (and one of the TV series' executive producers), the show traffics in both long, graphic-novel-sized arcs and the occasional short, stand-alone episode. That mixed approach has allowed the series to spend time exploring how its band of human survivors are struggling to rebuild a society — as well as take an hour here or there just to scare the crap out people.


These 10 standout Walking Dead episodes include some of the show's most chilling moments — warning: dead children ahead — but also represent what it does best, i.e. using ghastly carnage as the backdrop for intense character studies. These are the cream of the zombie-apocalyptic TV crop.