Is ‘The Walking Dead’ Always at its Best at Mid-Season?


Every season of AMC’s zombie drama The Walking Dead always seems to peak somewhere around the middle, with mid-season finales usually outshining season finales.

WARNING: Spoilers are ahead!

Season 6 of The Walking Dead will probably ultimately end up best known for the cliffhanger at the end. After being hyped over the course of the season, Negan finally debuted with his barbwire-covered baseball bat. But just as quick as Negan showed up, the show cut to the credits, serving viewers an ending that most of them seemed to hate.

The thing is, disappointing season finales are nothing new when it comes to the show. A lot of us forget that the quality of each season seems to peak mid-season, with the back half of episodes coasting to the conclusion. This has happened every year— other than the first season, which was only six episodes.

Let’s go back to Season 2. That year’s mid-season finale saw the infamous “barn reveal” scene where Sophia walked out of the barn. It was a gut punch that provided an effective conclusion to the missing child storyline. This season also had a strong finale with Hershel’s farm being overrun, but the Sophia reveal stands out as the biggest moment.

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In Season 3 of The Walking Dead, we closed the first half of episodes with Daryl being captured by the Governor, forced to have a gladiator battle with his brother, Merle. They may have brushed past it pretty quickly once the show came back on, but that was a very intense episode that saw our heroes infiltrating Woodbury after a long build-up.

Season 3’s finale came nowhere close to matching that level of excitement, as it hyped a major battle that never happened and wound up being one of the worst episodes of the series.

Remember Season 4? That was when the Governor returned to decapitate Hershel in the mid-season finale. The season finale was decent, actually using a cliffhanger effectively with the group being locked up at Terminus— but, come on, the war between the prison and the Governor was definitely the most intense and insane episode of the year.

Season 5 had a strong premiere, leading up to an excellent mid-season finale that concluded several subplots and saw the death of a major character. The mid-season premiere was even better, with another big name biting it in one of the series’ most unique episodes.

How did that season end? A cliffhanger that saw Rick shoot another bad guy as Morgan arrives in Alexandria. It was nice to see Morgan make it, but as a season finale, the episode was underwhelming.

That takes us to now. We all know how badly Season 6 ended. So did the show maintain its tradition of peaking at the middle of the season?

Absolutely. The mid-season finale saw the fences at Alexandria collapse, with a horde of walkers spilling in. I remember being much more immersed in the story and afraid for the characters during that time. Yeah, that episode also ended with a cliffhanger, but it flowed well with the story and wasn’t shoehorned in just for the sake of the cliffhanger— unlike the one 8 episodes later.

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Just keep all of this in mind moving forward with The Walking Dead. I guess each season really is like a roller coaster ride. You’ll go through ups and downs, with the most enjoyment being somewhere in the middle of the ride— but at the end, you’ll slowly come to a complete stop.