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The Most Pause-Worthy Moments In The Walking Dead

In a world full of great zombie stories, few have proven more compelling or addictive than "The Walking Dead." This brutal series sees humanity become infected with a virus that reanimates people's bodies once they've died, making everyone a potential threat. Even survivors who manage to cobble together some semblance of community and peace live with the gnawing awareness that it could all fall apart — or be forcibly taken away — at a moment's notice.

Over the course of its run, "The Walking Dead" throws its survivors into many terrifying scenarios. Interestingly, most of them hinge more on the horrors that living humans exact upon other living humans than running from zombies or scavenging the next meal. From merciless cannibals to feckless bureaucrats, something sinister is always lurking just around the corner. With all those twists and turns to pull off, "The Walking Dead" is constantly serving up big (and occasionally confusing) moments that inspire viewers to take a closer look. From head-scratching puzzles to hilarious special effects gone awry, here are the most pause-worthy moments in "The Walking Dead."

Enid's turtle treat

When it comes to surviving the apocalypse, there's simply no way around eating sketchy foods. Sustenance is scarce, and restaurants aren't exactly taking reservations. Heck, even something as rudimentary as an open fire to cook upon can be hard to come by. Scavengers can sometimes get by on questionable canned food they pray isn't harboring botulism after nearly a decade rusting on a pantry floor, but this isn't always an option. Enid learns this the hard way in "The Walking Dead."

In "JSS" (Season 6, Episode 2), viewers see a flashback of the teen's life from the days after her parents were eaten by Walkers. Lost in the woods and struggling to survive, the orphaned and hungry girl decides to try out some literally slow food by consuming a turtle. What results is a truly grisly "Walking Dead" moment that left fans gagging — and wondering how the heck the producers pulled it off. After messily chowing down on raw turtle with nary a concern about salmonella, Enid even uses its bones to spell out her mantra, "JSS," which stands for "Just Survive Somehow."

When zombies fly

Although most of the Walker kills on "The Walking Dead" are by knife, arrow, or bullet, the show does have its fair share of creative deviations. A perfect example arrives when Michonne and Rick use two cars and a steel wire to take out a whole herd like they're slicing a block of cheese. And who can forget the time Carol and Lydia lead Alpha's herd right off a cliff? But of all the creative ways to get rid of Walkers, you just can't go wrong with a wicked explosion — especially when it comes with plenty of flying zombies.

In "No Sanctuary" (Season 5, Episode 1), Carol's efforts to free her people from Terminus ignite exactly that sort of conflagration when she shoots a propane tank, creating a breach in the fence. In a CGI moment as comical as it is improbable, a couple of well-aimed shots and a bottle rocket cause a brilliant explosion that sends Walker bodies flying in all directions. It's a moment straight out of Looney Tunes, and the perfect spot for a well-placed pause.

Morgan sees the writing on the wall

A survivor's post-apocalyptic décor says a lot about them. Take the Governor's carefully curated community of Woodbury. The pirate-eyed control freak chooses a unique focal point for his living quarters: an aquarium full of Walker heads. In Alexandria, homes reflect their inhabitants' desire for peace. Rick favors an airy and modern scheme, while Eugene, Abraham, and Rosita dwell in comfier quarters. And then there's Morgan Jones' design aesthetic. No matter where the nomadic staff-wielder settles, his tastes lean towards what can best be described as "scavenger maximalist."

From Morgan's mattress-lined water tower hideout in "Fear the Walking Dead" to his earlier King County dwelling in Season 3, one thing is certain: He abhors a bare wall. When Rick first enters the traumatized survivor's quarters after finding him again in "Clear" (Season 3, Episode 12), it's hard not to notice the writing scrawled across every wall, in various colors of paint and chalk. Pausing the show at just the right time yields a fair amount of insight into Morgan's mental state and where he's been since Rick last saw him: References to specific locations, a map, and various notes about things he's learned (see "Sick after blood cover") can be discerned.

The Heisenberg principle

Careful placement of an Easter egg referencing another beloved media property is one of the best ways to get fans talking. This happens in "Bloodletting" (Season 2, Episode 2), where a nod to "Breaking Bad" can be briefly glimpsed. As Daryl retrieves a convenient bag of drugs from his brother Merle's bike, he narrates his findings: "Crystal, X — don't need that — some kick*** painkillers, doxycycline." Nestled lovingly in the bag amid orange pill bottles and paraphernalia is a baggie of blue crystal meth, courtesy of Walter White, aka Heisenberg.

Despite its small size and casual appearance, this little blue pouch sent the "Breaking Dead" theory, one of the most enduring fan theories in "The Walking Dead" universe, into the stratosphere. As a Netflix video exploring the purported series collision explains, the theory rests upon the idea that Walter White's blue meth is what leads to the original zombie outbreak. Whether this is true or not, it makes for one heck of an anti-drug PSA.

Gas station girl rides again

If there's one thing "The Walking Dead" has plenty of, it's Walkers of all shapes and sizes. It might seem like if you've seen one Walker, you've seen them all. But in fact, the Walker universe is populated with some pretty interesting characters. An eagle-eyed viewer can find all sorts of notable zombies, including members of the production crew, Walkers with special abilities, and even famous Walker cameos you probably missed, like Anthrax's Scott Ian.

One of the most iconic Walkers in "The Walking Dead" is the little zombie girl Rick mistakes for a living child in Episode 1, "Days Gone Bye." Officially named Summer, the teddy bear-wielding zombie is played by Addy Miller. But this isn't Miller's only appearance — she pops up as a grown-up zombie towards the beginning of "Mercy" (Season 8, Episode 1). She's dressed in a similar outfit, right down to the slippers and bathrobe. According to The Huffington Post, this second appearance was put together to commemorate the show's 100th episode. Much effort was made to keep it under wraps — Miller even arrived on set under a fake name, to avoid letting Andrew Lincoln in on the secret until the time was right.

Zombie Sophia

Most fans of "The Walking Dead" can't help but have a love-hate relationship with the series. While the show is full of great characters, relationships, and worldbuilding decisions, the plot can get a little wonky. Consider the decision to kill off Beth, or anything related to the Garbage People. One of the series' most divisive writing decisions pertains to the Season 2 death of Carol Peletier's daughter Sophia.

After mother and daughter become separated, the survivors spend a full six episodes looking for the tween. When an enraged Shane forces Hershel's barn open in "Pretty Much Dead Already" (Season 2, Episode 7), Walkers spill out and get taken down in an all-out Walker skeet shoot. The last to emerge is the long-lost Sophia — turns out, she's been tucked away in Walker storage the whole time. While her death is necessary to turn Carol into the warrior we've all come to know and love, it's still shocking to realize she's been right there on Hershel's farm all along.

The CGI carnival deer

Shows like "The Walking Dead" rely on CGI to fill in everything from scenery to massive Walker herds. Sometimes, the results are outstanding, leaving viewers stunned by the realism that can be achieved with modern technology. But everyone has an off day, even the CGI wizards responsible for making zombies out of code. One especially notorious failure is the carnival deer Michonne and Rick encounter in "Say Yes" (Season 7, Episode 12).

While scavenging around an abandoned carnival, Rick spies a deer. Many viewers find the deer shamefully unconvincing, with Forbes writer Erik Kain going so far as to declare it the most poorly animated deer he'd ever beheld. The worst part? As Post Apocalyptic Media recounted, VFX supervisor Aaron McLane has claimed the deer itself is real, just sloppily edited into the final episode. Whatever went wrong, the results speak for themselves. Be sure to hit pause on ol' carnie Rudolph and get a closer look at the carnage yourself.

Maggie's gallery wall

In a world where survival is the primary thing on everyone's mind, it's nice to see the good people of Hilltop and Alexandria explore everyday hobbies like pasta-making, painting, and whatever it is that Eugene is into. For Maggie, achieving this new normal means she's finally got the time to work on interior decorating. She promptly adds a little flair to her office with a chic gallery wall.

Taking a trip to Bed, Bath, and Beyond is not what it used to be in the zombie apocalypse, of course. Fortunately for Maggie, former art teacher Anne, aka Jadis, is a fantastic painter. She creates a series of colorful, expressionistic portraits for Maggie's wall, seen in "The Bridge" (Season 9, Episode 2). Their rich blues, greens, yellows, and pinks are set off perfectly by lustrous gold frames. Viewers who pause the moment to get a closer look will see these paintings are tributes to the friends and loved ones who've been left behind. Hershel, Beth, and Glenn are all clearly present, while the subjects of other paintings are a hot topic of debate on fan forums like Reddit.

The mystery chopper

"The Walking Dead" has its share of mysteries. One of the most long-lasting is the mystery of the helicopters that occasionally show up in both "The Walking Dead" and "Fear the Walking Dead." While there are a couple of helicopter sightings earlier in the series, "The Big Scary U" (Season 8, Episode 5) marks the first confirmed appearance of a helicopter sporting a mysterious three-circled symbol.

While the helicopters only show up every now and again, it becomes apparent that they're part of a fairly professional operation when Althea of "Fear the Walking Dead" learns the group's aim in "The End of Everything" (Season 5, Episode 5): They're looking to rebuild society. Pausing the show for a closer look at the symbol on the chopper reveals the three circles are interconnected. This symbolizes the three-community alliance of the Civic Republic Military, which plays a key role in "The Walking Dead: World Beyond."

Glenn goes dumpster diving

In its 11 seasons on the air, "The Walking Dead" has seen its fair share of controversies. But among them all, no controversy has been remotely as pot-stirring as what fans would eventually come to know as "Dumpstergate." While on the run from Walkers in "Thank You" (Season 6, Episode 3), a cornered Glenn Rhee falls off a dumpster into a horde of Walkers. Thanks to a bit of clever editing, it seems Maggie's fella meets his demise in this harrowing moment.

But a few episodes later, it's revealed that the whole thing is just a sneaky fake-out. Glenn actually slides under the dumpster after the Walkers eat Nicholas off his belly like the world's grisliest charcuterie board. The entire fandom let out a collective groan at this moment. But as they did so, they also backtracked to the original dumpster dive, to confirm the sleight-of-hand being pulled.

Alpha's victims

Any way you look at it, life expectancy isn't great on "The Walking Dead." Unlike shows that metaphorically bubble wrap their main characters against deadly danger, anyone can potentially die in the world of the Walkers. Though viewers know this, it's still shocking when a major player gets killed off. Thus, when 10 beloved characters die in "The Calm Before" (Season 9, Episode 15), including Carol's second child, fans get more than a little shaken up.

As the superheated turf war between the Whisperers and the good people of Alexandria, Hilltop, and the Kingdom, rages, a fair brings the latter three communities together. Unfortunately, Alpha takes advantage of this, turning the festival into a murderous rampage. The shocking aftermath includes a glimpse of 10 key characters' undead heads on pikes. Fans frantically hit pause to fully grasp the scope of the carnage, which includes the deaths of Tara, Enid, and Henry, among others.

Rick's phone message

These days, we've grown so dependent on our phones that it's hard to remember what life was like before doomscrolling and GPS. But the only social media in "The Walking Dead" is Eugene's radio. Google is just a distant memory here, and 5G never happened, which means mobile phones serve as little more than paperweights. But despite this lack of phone service, Rick Grimes finds a use for his device.

Six years after Michonne loses her guy, who is presumed dead after the Season 9 bridge explosion, she begins to suspect he may still be alive in "What We Become" (Season 10, Episode 13). After a harrowing encounter where Virgil dupes her into a trap and laces her food with hallucinogens, Michonne comes across Rick's boots, which she learns came from an abandoned military boat. Aboard the vessel, she finds a few more clues, including a mobile phone etched with Rick's name and a sketch of herself and Judith wearing her dad's hat. This was likely drawn by Anne, who was last seen with Rick. Viewers who pause to investigate will also notice the drawing is accompanied by Japanese writing, which Insider confirmed translates to "Believe a little longer."

Glenn meets Lucille

In a series plagued with the traumatic deaths of central characters, Glenn's demise at the business end of Lucille in "The Day Will Come When You Won't Be" (Season 7, Episode 1) still managed to shock viewers. Although fans of "The Walking Dead" comic series knew that the beloved character gets killed off, the show has been known to deviate from its source material to keep fan favorites alive. Moreover, after Glenn's Season 6 death fake-out, the thought that he could be killed off unexpectedly was far from most fans' minds. Glenn seemed safe — or at least, as safe as anyone on this show could be.

Season 7 kicks off where the Season 6 finale leaves off, with the Savior war coming to a head. Tired of the back-and-forth and bent on enforcing his dominance over Rick's crew, Negan selects someone to execute: Glenn. His gory death scene is one of the most visually disturbing of the entire series. Fans with cast-iron constitutions might pause this scene to take in all the awful details, while more sensitive folks freeze the action just before Negan takes that first swing for a snack break.

Spencer's note

"The Walking Dead" has plenty to offer fans who like to uncover cryptic clues, from strange symbols to bizarre messages. One of the most interesting tidbits in the series makes an appearance in "Sing Me a Song" (Season 7, Episode 7), when Spencer finds a note hidden in the pocket of a Walker who fell from a tree.

While Spencer claims the note includes directions to a supply cache, a closer look reveals it contains Latin words scribbled in poor handwriting. This got plenty of fans reaching for the pause button, but it looks like it might actually be a red herring. According to savvy Redditor James_Rustler_, the text is a meaningless mash-up of words. However, the Latin does serve as a clever callback to the Ovid quote Spencer's mom Deanna places on the Alexandria blueprints in "Now" (Season 6, Episode 5), "Dolor hic tibi proderit olim."