It’s been just over a month since Telltale’s The Walking Dead reached its conclusion and I guess I’m in the state of wanting more. While there has been
some positive speculation along with the announcement of The Walking Dead: The Definitive Series, I’m still in the process of doing as much as I can to commemorate
this amazing franchise with content.
From videos like my saddest moments to articles like ranking every single character in the franchise, it’s a bit crazy realising how much the series has had an impact on me. Today, however, I’ll be ranking every single episode from the main story, so 400 days and the Michonne series miss out. Also, I’ll be scoring each episode out of 10.
Here is your official warning that from here on out, everything you read is based on my own opinions so chances are you’ll disagree with me. But anyways, let’s get to it…
Number 19 – Season 3, Episode 2: Ties That Bind II; 4/10
While I personally enjoyed season three, A New Frontier, I must also say it was the weakest season in the franchise for me. When looking at both the franchise as a whole and also A New Frontier, in particular, there isn’t a worse episode out there to me than Ties That Bind II.
Where do I even begin? The episode is the shortest in the franchise, clocking in at around one hour exactly. The flashback at the start had arguably the most misguided choice in the franchise since telling David off apparently means we have to tell him that Kate wants to leave him.
The whole Kate surgery scene seemed far too unrealistic for me and the standoff between Prescott and the New Frontier just felt painful to play through, and not in a good way.
The ending of the episode isn’t exactly spectacular either. The final choice between Clementine and Conrad was completely stupid because who in their right mind is going to betray Clementine on their first playthrough? Also, the reveal of David as part of the New Frontier was far too predictable too.
While the episode was mostly underwhelming there were some cool moments included. Burying Mariana was emotional, the introduction of Jesus was interesting, and the entire tunnel scene was pretty good too.
Number 18 – Season 3, Episode 4: Thicker Than Water; 5/10
Sticking with A New Frontier, the penultimate episode, Thicker Than Water, was another big disappointment in my eyes.
I’ll admit, there were some good moments in the episode. I really enjoyed the flashback of Javi and David practising their baseball swings, retrieving the truck and guns from the New Frontier, and also the ending of Kate crashing the truck with Conrad determinantly sacrificing himself to save Javi. However, the negatives significantly outweigh the few positives.
Gabe determinantly blurting out that Javi killed Conrad was really frustrating and if you do spare Conrad then Eleanor’s decision to betray the group literally makes no sense. Deciding whether to shoot Joan or to take the deal was pretty pointless considering the fact that both choices result in the same chaos. Also, while I’ll credit the writers for trying something different, the Ava vs Tripp choice was a massive slap in the face to fans. Just awful.
Number 17 – Season 2, Episode 4: Amid The Ruins; 5/10
Rounding out the bottom three is the fourth episode from season two, Amid The Ruins. If you ever wanted to show someone the worst of Telltale Games and The Walking Dead, then look no further than this episode.
I know this usually happens in your normal ‘choose the adventure’ type game but not a single choice made matters in this episode.
- Did you choose to chop Sarita’s hand off? Too bad she dies as soon as the episode starts regardless of your decision.
- Did you convince Walter that Nick was a good man, thus resulting in him saving Nick’s life? Too bad again because Nick just dies offscreen.
- Did you help save Sarah’s life at that rundown apartment? Well… too bad once again because she will just die later in the episode.
- Were you unsure about whether or not you should leave in the morning? Well… you guessed it! It doesn’t matter because Rebecca will get the same off-screen death regardless of your choice.
- Did you choose to not steal from Arvo? Well, you already know where I’m going with this, but his group will still attack… REGARDLESS OF YOUR CHOICE.
I know these type of games follow the same formula of choices mattering, yet not really mattering at the same time, and I mostly don’t mind it. There are many great examples of this happening in the game from Lee getting bit to Arvo shooting Clementine but Amid The Ruins is probably the worst example of this happening and the episode just stands out for all of the wrong reasons.
I think the game should’ve revolved around Carver’s group for longer and this episode mostly consisted of filler to get to the last 20 minutes or so.
The only parts that prevented this episode from being my least favourite in the franchise were the hilarious chase with the racoon and also the cliffhanger involving Arvo’s group – which, while frustrating, is one of my favourite episode conclusions in the franchise.
Number 16 – Season 3, Episode 5: From The Gallows; 6/10
We’re back with A New Frontier and episode five, From The Gallows, was easily the worst season finale in the franchise. There just wasn’t a lot that happened in the episode. Every other season finale in the franchise has been full of action and memorable moments, but I just can’t say the same about this episode.
The reveal of Kate being alive was both underwhelming and predictable, the flashback at the start was okay, and pretty much everything that happened outside of Richmond felt rushed and bland. The death of Tripp or Ava, depending on who you saved, was a slap in the face to the player too.
However, while the episode did have a lot of faults, I have to give credit where it’s due to the writers for the various endings. Having Clementine follow one of four separate paths without player input was unique for the franchise and letting Conrad live was a breath of fresh air too.
The determinant deaths of David and Gabe were both pretty emotional scenes and it was weird to see a season conclude on a really positive note.
From The Gallows was a poor episode but it does deserve some credit for being unique.
Number 15 – Season 3, Episode 3: Above The Law; 7/10
Sticking with A New Frontier, the middle episode, Above The Law, was actually pretty good.
The episode mostly exists to inform the player about Richmond and the New Frontier, the introduction and development of some characters like David, Max, and Clint was pretty enjoyable, and discovering the truth about Joan and the community raids was surprising to me.
The Clementine flashback and development of her character in this episode was a big positive too. Considering we had no idea what happened to AJ, it was interesting to see the lengths Clementine went to, to save his life. Also, learning that she was exiled, without AJ, did a great job of planting the seeds for Clem to become more the hardened character we see in the season.
Number 14 – Season 1, Episode 4: Around Every Corner; 7/10
It’s the first episode to feature from season one and I just wasn’t a massive fan of the penultimate episode, Around Every Corner.
While I usually do enjoy longer episodes, this one just felt too long. I wasn’t a massive fan of the scenes that took place in the house and also everything that happened in Crawford too.
I loved the introduction, and departure, of Molly in the episode but I can’t really say the same about Vernon and his group. They were mostly annoying and also underdeveloped at the same time too.
However, the last ten or so minutes of the episode was faultless. The conversation between Clementine and Lee about her parents combined with Clem going missing was sad, watching Lee get bit was a massive surprise, and seeing the impact that previous choices had on all of the surviving characters was quite impactful.
Number 13 – Season 3, Episode 1: Ties That Bind I; 7/10
While I’ve commented before that A New Frontier wasn’t exactly spectacular, in my opinion, the first episode, Ties That Bind I, was a great way to introduce the new season.
There was a lot included in the episode that I really enjoyed. For example, the opening flashback felt unique because it’s something we’ve never seen before and the overall sequence that played out was chilling yet fantastic. It was a great way to present the shock of the looming apocalypse and also provide some context to the Garcia family.
Also, I enjoyed the introduction to the different groups. The New Frontier’s introduction instantly presented them as interesting antagonists, to me at least, and Prescott was a refreshing community. Additionally, the development of Clementine as more a hardened and antagonist character was pretty interesting for the narrative.
However, what ruins this episode for me are the atrocious graphics that were introduced as well as the treatment of most of the season two endings. With the exception of Clementine going alone with AJ, every other ending felt like a massive slap in the face to the fans. Randy’s group will attack Howe’s regardless of your choice with Jane, Wellington always gets overrun, and the deaths of Kenny and Jane were underwhelming.
If the delivery on the various endings was better overall, then Ties That Bind I would’ve been a top 10 episode for me personally.
Number 12 – Season 2, Episode 1: All That Remains; 7.5/10
Sticking with the season introductions, the debut episode for season two, All That Remains, was a pretty good start to the next chapter in the franchise.
We were introduced to improved graphics, interesting characters, and also an intriguing narrative.
Personally, I think this episode showcases some of the best and worst aspects of Telltale Games.
On one hand, you have the incredible character development of Clementine which perfectly showcases how far she’s come in the last two years. The entire raid of the cabin combined with the walker fight and stitching part is one of the most iconic scenes in the franchise for me.
But, on the other hand, you have the atrocious treatment of Christa and Omid, two beloved characters in the franchise. The treatment of Omid was disastrous and he should have been given a significantly better exit while the reluctance to bring back Christa was wasted potential.
Overall though, a good start to episode two.
Number 11 – Season 4, Episode 4: Take Us Back; 7.5/10
The final ever episode, Take Us Back, was the worst episode in the Final Season, in my opinion.
The pacing for the episode felt inconsistent and the lack of endings was a bit of a downside for the episode too. However, given the problems associated with Telltale Games, I’ll let this slide.
Taking into consideration what I said about All That Remains, it’s only fair that I give this episode similar criticism.
Although the game tells us consistently that our choices will dictate the type of person that AJ becomes, the only choice that actually matters for his development is whether or not you trust him. Also, regardless of your choice at the end of episode three, both Lilly and James will barely feature in the final episode.
However, despite the aforementioned negatives, the episode was obviously memorable too. The Clementine near-death experience was one of the saddest moments ever in the franchise which made a lot of people, like myself, cry. Also, the reveal of Clementine being alive was perfect and while a lack of endings was frustrating, the ending for Clementine’s story felt right.
Away from the ending, the episode also included some of the best scenes in the entire season, including the Minerva ‘final battle’ and the AJ barn scene.
Number 10 – Season 2, Episode 3: In Harms Way; 8/10
While it’s technically called In Harms Way, the middle episode of season two will always be Carver’s episode to me.
This is the episode that establishes him as both a fantastic villain and one of my favourite characters in the franchise despite his little screentime. His relationship with Clementine across the episode is written to perfection, in my opinion. Also, while a little annoying, his death was one of the best in the franchise too.
The episode did include a bit of unnecessary filler which I would’ve altered, but overall the episode is pretty good. Howe’s was a great location for the season and it’s a shame there was not more focus on Carver’s group combined with the plan to escape.
The ending for the episode was very memorable too. Personally, I love the scenes where you have to “embrace” the walkers and walk alongside them given how tense and daunting the situation always is. To make the situation even better, the deaths of Carlos and Troy along with Sarita getting bit made the entire escape feel realistic.
Number 9 – Season 4, Episode 2: Suffer The Children; 8.5/10
The second episode of the Final Season, Suffer The Children, did a great job of building on the narrative and ending that took place in the previous episode.
I love the fact that Clementine and AJ were temporarily forced to leave Ericson with everyone having different opinions of them because it made the entire situation realistic. Louis’ reaction to Marlon’s death combined with his character development throughout the episode was faultless, in my opinion.
On the topic of character development, the episode did a good job of building up Mitch and Ruby.
It’s a shame a majority of the episode was spoiled through the trailer, poster, and leaks though because it did lessen some of the excitement. The return of Lilly was long-overdue, the reveal of James as a whisperer was pretty exciting, and the death of Mitch was upsetting.
There were a lot of other fun moments in the episode too including the truth or dare card scene as well as the scenes following that with either Violet or Louis.
Also, the final battle scene felt really intense and I loved the standoff between Lilly and Clementine. However, it did seem a little strange that Minerva was never brought along because it would’ve helped Lilly if anything and her ordering her guards to kill members of Ericson made little sense.
Number 8 – Season 1, Episode 3: Long Road Ahead; 9/10
There isn’t a more game-changing and impactful episode.
Have you ever wanted to play through an episode that will take you on a rollercoaster ride of emotions? Well, look no further than Long Road Ahead.
It’s actually spectacular at how well this episode was written given the variety of emotions it takes you through. The detective Duck scenes and Clementine’s one-liners are really funny, the deaths of Duck and Katjaa along with Kenny’s breakdown are emotional, Lilly’s betrayal is both powerful and infuriating, and teaching Clementine how to survive is motivational.
As one of the longest episodes in the franchise’s history, it’s worth noting that the pacing of the episode was spot-on and the sudden change in the story was actually interesting. In addition, the episode introduced three new engaging characters in Christa, Omid, and Chuck.
The only major criticism I can give this episode is the fact that Ben was obviously the one helping the bandits given his reaction following their ambush. It made no sense that Lilly determinantly assumed it was Carley. Also, maybe it’s just me, but getting the train to start was very annoying.
Number 7 – Season 1, Episode 1: A New Day; 9/10
The first episode in the franchise did a fantastic job of shaping the narrative and showing what a Telltale “choose your adventure” game was all about.
All of the characters that were introduced were fantastic and interesting in their own unique way. Lee and Clementine were unsurprisingly loveable, the likes of Lilly and Larry were really complex, and Glenn was a fun reference to the comics. Also, even background characters like Chet and Hershel were fun in their own way.
The use of choices felt fresh and there were numerous decisions that I struggled to make including the choice on whether you save Carley or Doug. But, at the same time, the episode does a good job of highlighting the fact that some choices do not matter such as whether you save Duck or Shawn since the latter always dies.
However, this isn’t always a negative. The entire scene at the motel and trying to save Irene was great and while the eventual gun choice doesn’t actually matter, both paths were written well and I loved both options.
Number 6 – Season 2, Episode 2: A House Divided; 9/10
Just missing out on my top five is A House Divided, the second episode from season two.
Whenever I think about this episode, the first thing I always remember is the incredible return of Kenny. Even though I wasn’t a massive fan of him in season one, I loved his character arc and watching him reunite with Clementine felt special and offered some optimism for a change.
I absolutely loved Walter’s introduction in the episode but I do wish we got to see more from him, especially after he discovers the truth about Matthew. Sarita was a nice character to the franchise as well.
Away from this, pretty much everything else about this episode was done well. The determinant scene with Pete or Nick was excellent, the bridge scene with Luke was intense, and the finale involving Carver’s group raiding the lodge was excellent.
Also, I love how some choices matter in this episode when it comes to the fate of characters. If you choose to go with Pete at the end of episode one, then he’ll die in episode 2 by being shot and devoured by walkers. If you fail to convince Walter that Nick is a good man, then it results in Nick dying too. Also, during Carver’s siege, there are quite a few choices in which Alvin is killed and others where he is spared.
Number 5 – Season 4, Episode 1: Done Running; 9.5/10
I didn’t think it was possible for a season premiere to be better than the one from season one, but the introduction to season four was incredible. After a pretty underwhelming season with A New Frontier, Telltale had to get this episode right and they knocked it out of the park.
The new art style for the Final Season was beautiful and the new engine and game mechanics gave the entire season so much potential.
The setting at Ericson’s Boarding School was distinctive and creative for this season for a variety of reasons. Having most of the season revolve around children and teenagers felt fresh because it’s something we’ve never really seen before in any form of The Walking Dead.
Also, since everyone at Ericson was formerly a student of the boarding school, it instantly made me want to find out more about each new character. Speaking of which, the overall cast for the Final Season is arguably the best in the franchise. The time jump helped shape AJ’s inexperienced yet capable character, Violet and Louis are both loveable, and as I’ve said before, Marlon is the best one-episode character in the franchise.
The war card game was a fun break from the seriousness of the world and the standoff with Marlon combined the events following it was both intense and a massive shock. Honestly, knowing how the finale was treated in episode two, this episode finale might just be my favourite in the franchise.
Number 4 – Season 2, Episode 5: No Going Back; 9.5/10
Following one of the worst episodes in the entire franchise, at least in my opinion, Telltale Games completely turned season two around with their season finale, No Going Back.
To get my only bit of criticism out of the way, THIS is where Nick and Sarah should have died. Considering how the previous episode ended, I thought a very bloody episode was on the horizon. But, Natasha is the only one that is initially killed with Buricko and Mike getting wounded. Taking into consideration how Telltale normally treats determinant characters in this franchise, it would have been perfect and a lot more realistic for Nick and Sarah to die here.
With that out of the way, there’s so much that I love about this episode. The entire snow scenery, particularly closer to the end of the episode, is fantastic and I wish the entire franchise explored this environment more often. Also, the Lee dream sequence was beautiful and was written in perfect. Finally, the entire segment that took place at the power station was both beautiful and memorable.
As much as I hate Luke’s death, I also appreciate it in a way because of how realistic it is. He obviously deserved a more heroic exit but at the same time, you need realism to be present.
To make this episode stand out, even more, the last twenty minutes takes the cake. The insinuated death of AJ was shocking and the entire fight between Kenny and Jane was spectacular. I found the choice between shooting Kenny and looking away very difficult and I appreciate the fact that this episode has so many different endings depending on a variety of choices.
Number 3 – Season 1, Episode 2: Starved For Help; 10/10
One of the most shocking and gruesome episodes in the franchise’s history, Starved For Help, earns my first 10 out of 10 rating and only just missed out on a higher position. This episode, along with the next two, are masterpieces in my opinion.
What prevents this episode from reaching my top two is the introduction. While David or Travis’ death plays a crucial role in the story, they’re both awful characters. Travis, in particular, was beyond frustrating regardless of your choice and you could make the case that he has both of the worst deaths in the game’s history. On the other hand, Mark received a significantly better introduction.
When it comes to the narrative from a single episode’s perspective, this episode is arguably the best thanks to the St John family. Despite being just a few months into the apocalypse, the fact that some have already resorted to cannibalism is haunting. The entire family was written to perfection and the mood for a majority of the episode was spot-on. I love how everything looked dull and gloomy because it reflected on the actual story taking place.
Mark getting shot was a big surprise and I absolutely love the level of detail to his death. The actual fact that his legs were dismembered and then fed to Lee’s group is simply horrifying. Yet, it’s moments like this that makes this episode absolutely perfect.
Also, some of the “bigger” choices are some of the most difficult you’ll ever have to make. Both Lilly and Kenny have legitimate arguments about what to do when Larry suffers a heart attack in the meat locker. Additionally, there are many for and against reasons for stealing the supplies from the abandoned car. Overall, both choices play a significant role in where you, as the player, stand on humanity.
To maintain the consistent brilliance of this episode, the finale at the dairy farm along with the determinant death of Andy and final battle with Danny was flawless.
This episode was near-enough perfect.
Number 2 – Season 4, Episode 3: Broken Toys; 10/10
The penultimate episode of the Final Season, Broken Toys, just misses out on the top spot in my list. Personally, I thought this episode was faultless from the narrative to the music, I loved everything.
Abel’s interrogation was produced well and I love the fact that there are so many different paths to his eventual death. You can give Abel everything he wants, take a hard stance, or get your revenge on him and make him suffer. Considering the fact that I love Abel as a character, I do appreciate the fact that he even gets a bit of a redemption story during his interrogation.
While I didn’t like the meaning behind it, the barn scene with James was fantastic and I loved the tense atmosphere inside the walker barn. The callback to season one with the salt lick was a nice addition too. The determinant scene with either Violet or Louis was special and I loved the party scene that followed it, it was a perfect “calm before the storm” moment.
It’d take me quite a while to talk about the entirety of the last hour of the episode, but overall you could definitely argue it’s the best hour of gameplay that Telltale has ever produced. The entire Lee dream was beautifully created, sneaking onto the Delta was exhilarating, the Minerva reveals were surprising, and the two separate encounters with Lilly was spectacular.
While I’ve seen some criticise it, the determinant treatment of Louis and Violet was incredible for the narrative. The brainwashing of Violet was really impactful knowing what she’s like as a person and Louis having his tongue removed is arguably the most gruesome thing to happen in the franchise. It’s this treatment that perfectly portrays the Delta’s determination to force people to join their war. Sure, disabling the pair might not be smart, but it’s the type of behaviour that forces others to accept their “fate” like we saw with Aasim and Omar.
Lastly, the final choice for this episode was very difficult to make. While I hated its pay off in the final episode, Take Us Back, this choice was smart since it forces you to decide where you stand on AJ’s development in this world. The bomb detonating was a phenomenal way to conclude a fantastic episode.
Number 1 – Season 1, Episode 5: No Time Left; 10/10
Getting to the end of this list took a lot of time and effort but the season finale to season one, No Time Left, is my favourite episode in this incredible franchise.
THIS is how you conclude a phenomenal game. I’ve played through many “choose your adventure” games in the past that have either had a disappointing ending or episode from Until Dawn and Life is Strange to other season finales in this franchise like with A New Frontier and the Final Season but this episode was done to perfection.
The entire adventure of trying to find Clementine was exhilarating and I love how character relationships mattered in this episode. From the belltower to defending the house to the Marsh House, the entire journey was tense. Also, the episode included one of the funniest moments in the franchise’s history with Omid’s one-liner as well as the infamous Randy Tudor easter egg.
The death of Ben was emotional and both of Kenny’s exits were perfect for his character to come full circle. For all of his faults, he risked his life to save someone else.
The Armed With Death sequence is perfect and is another one of my favourite ever moments. Also, I adored the first and final encounter between Lee and the Stranger.
And then there’s the ending.
I never thought I’d ever get really emotional or cry at a video game, but this episode completely changed that for me seven years ago.
Personally, I think Lee and Clementine’s final ever moment together combined with Lee’s eventual death isn’t just the saddest moment in this entire franchise’s history, but, is one of the saddest ever moments in the history of video games.
I wish I was there when this scene was recorded because I would’ve loved to have watched the emotions that the legendary duo of Dave Fennoy and Melissa Hutchison went through.
I still can’t believe how much of an impact this episode has actually had on me but it shows how perfect this entire scene was as well as their relationship together. It was the best possible way for Lee to pass the torch to Clementine.
For what it’s worth, these are my overall scores for each season in the franchise, based on my episode scores:
- Season 1 – 90%
- Season 2 – 78%
- Season 3 – 58%
- Season 4 – 88%
* – It’s worth mentioning that seasons 1-3 are calculated from five episodes while season 4 is calculated from four. Without each worst episode, season 1 would’ve scored 95%, season 2 would’ve scored 85%, and season 3 would’ve scored 63%.