When The Walking Dead premiered on Oct. 31, 2010, we were introduced to a handsome Atlanta police officer named Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln). Back then, he was handsome, clean-shaven with barely a wrinkle on that chiseled face. But, in the first episode, Rick Grimes awoke from the hospital, recuperating from a gunshot wound, only to find that the zombie apocalypse plagued the Earth. Now, with season 8 in full swing, Rick Grimes is looking a bit different.
Alas, poor Rick! I knew him, Walking Dead fans, a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. Since season one, I don’t think there was an episode that went by where Rick didn’t have tears in his eyes. But, can you blame him? He’s seen some crazy stuff and nearly everyone around him who he’s loved has died. So, he’s looking a bit ore gray, a bit more disheveled but he’s got a lot more character.
Young Carl still had those puffy little baby cheeks in season one. He was one of the lucky kids who was fortunate enough to have both parents alive and at his side. But, in the next couple of seasons to come, he would lose his mother, his friends and some other important things that proved to be an eye-opening experience for him.
Yeah, he lost his eye in season six, episode nine. Carl is certainly not a little boy anymore, but a man who struggles with his own concept of morality. He’s become hardened, and at times of questionable character. But, it’s hard to always be the good guy during the zombie apocalypse.
Beth Green (Emily Kinney) was Maggie’s spunky little sister, who we were introduced to in season two. She was a breath of fresh air in a world torn apart by the living dead. She would soon lose her innocence as the season progressed.
After losing their father, Hershel, neither Beth or Maggie, were quite the same again. She made it to season five, but was killed by her psycho captor, Dawn, in Grady Memorial hospital during the dramatic mid-season finale. Emily Kinney said that she wasn’t ready to say goodbye to her character when she read the script for the episode.
Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun) was the cute little nerdy pizza delivery boy that was first introduced to us in season one when he helped get Rick out of a tight spot (literally Rick was in a tank surrounded by zombies). Glenn was one of the characters we saw develop the most in the series.
Oh, poor, poor, Glenn. But, he did make it far in the show. He fell in love, got married and became a father. That’s more than some people accomplish when there isn’t a worldwide zombie plague. Well, if you watched the first episode of season seven, you’ll agree that Glenn’s death at the hands of sociopathic Negan was among the saddest deaths in the entire series. Top three, for sure. “Glenn, we’ll find you.”
In season one, Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride) was a shaken and quiet woman who was being physically and emotionally abused at the hands of her husband. Well, the zombie apocalypse doesn’t take kindly to wife-beaters, so he was killed off quickly. But, when Carol lost her daughter, that’s when she really started to change.
Now Carol has moved up the ranks, and is a respected leader in her group of survivors. She’s a bit calloused in that she knows what she has to do when she has to do it, and she does it without hesitation. But, she still has those nurturing motherly aspects to her character. Oh, and there’s still a ton of unresolved sexual tension between her and Daryl.
Maggie Greene (Lauren Cohen) was the pretty country girl that you couldn’t help but have a crush on in season one. Glenn sure had it bad for her, even though she was way out of his league. Maggie was spunky, but she didn’t develop the depth of character she had in subsequent seasons.
Maggie is one tough mofo in season eight. You don’t want to mess with a hormonal pregnant lady who had to witness her husband’s brutal murder. She’s one tough cookie, like a cookie that’s so hard because it’s been sitting in an abandoned house for seven years because the homeowners turned into zombies. In other words, you don’t mess with Maggie.
Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) was introduced with his brother Merle in season one as a racist backwoods redneck. But, his allegiances to that worldview were shaky from the get go. He quickly realized that in this world, you don’t have time to be prejudiced.
Now Daryl is one of the fan favorite characters on the show. He and his trusty crossbow have helped the gang get out of many a fix. He’s proved himself to be a loyal friend and courageous and selfless warrior. He’s still a bit of a redneck, but the good kind.
Shane Walsh (Jon Bernthal) was Rick Grimes best friend and sheriff’s deputy partner in season one. If it weren’t for Shane’s actions, Rick would have never made it out of that hospital alive in the first place. But, Shane did move in on Rick’s lady and was honestly a bit upset when Rick showed up alive.
While Shane’s role in The Walking Dead was short-lived compared to some other key characters, it was a pivotal one. Yeah, he went a bit psycho, but sometimes you couldn’t help but sympathize with him a bit. Through Shane’s death, we also realized that every person turns into a zombie when they die, regardless of whether they were bit or not.