It’s probably not surprising but Telltale’s The Walking Dead is one of my favourite video game franchises of all time. It’s the first video game that had a major impact on me and I still love playing the various games to this day.
If you’ve followed my writing work for a few months, you may already know I’ve ranked every character in the franchise and also ranked all of the episodes in the main series. Today, I’ll be ranking my twenty favourite moments in the entire franchise.
Before I start off with the list, some honourable mentions include: the drug store getting overrun, Abel’s interrogation, reuniting with Kenny, the Broken Toys finale and finally standing alongside David on the rooftop.
But anyways… here we go!
Number 20 – Saving Richmond.
Kicking off my list is the only time I’ll mention a moment from A New Frontier from here on out. While the game does have its strengths and flaws, it’s the worst season in my opinion and it doesn’t have as many iconic moments in comparison to the other games.
With that being said, I must admit I loved saving Richmond in the season finale, From The Gallows.
Overall, this determinant path was an enjoyable experience and I thought it was a great way to start the build towards the final scene of the season.
Despite the conflict they faced at Richmond, it was pretty moving that the outside characters did everything they could to save the town from the walkers.
The interactions with Kate and determinantly Clementine made the situation feel intense but there’s also some great humour thrown in there too. Also, while it’s a shame they were quick-time events, being able to take out walkers with an automatic rifle and also being able to drive the truck felt unique for the franchise.
Number 19 – Clementine’s first date.
While it’s technically cheating by having two moments, I absolutely loved both of the determinant date scenes involving Clementine and either Violet or Louis in Broken Toys.
Telltale did a fantastic job of developing Violet and Louis where they became arguably some of the best characters in the franchise, for me at least. Also, they did a good job of presenting the two characters as respectable alternative relationship paths for Clementine – assuming the player actually wanted to go down that route in the game.
Violet, a character who fears losing everyone she cares about, shares an intimate moment with Clementine where they dance – something the former reveals she always wanted to do with someone she cared about.
Louis, a character that’s always showcased his charm and humour, amusingly tries to learn more about Clementine as a person as they share their first official date.
Both of these moments were written superbly and felt wholesome. They were the perfect way for the player to share a moment with their preferred character as well as temporarily distract them from the doom and gloom that awaited them later in the episode.
Number 18 – The deaths of Katjaa and Duck.
As far as emotional moments go, this is certainly up there.
While the death of Duck had been expected for quite some time during the third episode, Long Road Ahead, his slow demise combined with Katjaa’s shocking death was a very impactful moment for many reasons.
Regarding the player, watching the situation unfold was initially emotional. Seeing the pair try to come to terms with what happened to their son and decide who should stop Duck from suffering anymore added to the tension.
However, Katjaa’s decision to commit suicide completely changed everything and turned a moment that was rather emotional to one of the most heartbreaking scenes in the franchise’s history.
In terms of the characters, particularly Kenny, this is the moment that acted as the catalyst of his damaged persona and breakdown of character. While we later see Kenny in an improved state, it’s this moment that completely changed him and resulted in irreparable damage to his mindset and character.
Number 17 – Teaching Clementine how to survive.
When you think of Telltale’s The Walking Dead, you think of Lee and Clementine. It’s moments like this that helped create such an iconic duo in gaming.
If it wasn’t for this moment, in particular, the franchise may have looked very different today. This experience is crucial for Clementine’s long-term development and these lessons play an important role later in the narrative.
Cutting Clementine’s hair is initially presented as a serious lesson but there’s a good amount of humour included to help ease the tension following the deaths of Duck and Katjaa.
Elsewhere, teaching Clementine how to shoot was important too. It helped paint the picture of how different this new world was, a place where everyone had to learn how to defend themselves.
Number 16 – Minerva’s final moment.
Minerva’s final moments were an incredible way to initiate the middle section of the final episode.
From the dark atmosphere to Minerva singing “Don’t be afraid”, the structure of this moment was simply phenomenal. Although the incoming herd was slightly confusing, I loved the visual of Minerva trying to get her revenge while walkers walked passed her.
If I’m being honest, I wish there were more moments like this included in the franchise. There are times in the game where it’s lacking that big moment that would help highlight this chilling atmosphere.
In addition, I have to give credit to Minerva’s voice actress, Cherami Leigh, for her acting during this scene. Both her singing and her emotional tone of voice fit this eerie atmosphere and it also made the entire situation feel intense.
Number 15 – The meat locker.
Purely from a narrative perspective, I’d argue Starved For Help is the best episode in the franchise and its moments like the meat locker that helps the episode stand out.
After discovering the horrific truth about the St Johns family, most of the group were sent to the meat locker which was superbly foreshadowed earlier in the episode by Mark.
The lighting was excellent, the lack of sound was a nice detail, and the eerie and claustrophobic atmosphere helped to create a more horrific situation. Also, this room played a crucial role in developing some of the core characters and it forced the player into making one of the most difficult decisions in the entire series.
Larry’s death was perfectly orchestrated and it was a clever way of identifying how players think in this world. While his fate remains the same, attempting to save Larry highlights this idea of clinging on to hope whereas siding with Kenny displays a sense of discouragement and pessimism.
The visuals across this entire moment were faultless and I absolutely loved the impact that Larry’s death had, in particular.
Number 14 – Brody’s deaths.
There are so many fantastic moments to choose from in the final season but I feel like Brody’s death gets overlooked at times. While her character wasn’t spectacular, her final few moments will always stick with me.
Unlike Marlon, I liked how she always regretted her actions when it came to Sophie and Minerva and her big reveal also played a crucial part in Marlon’s downfall.
The level of detail that was put in really doesn’t receive the recognition that it deserves. From the difference in the dilation of Brody’s pupils to the phenomenal voice acting by Hedy Burress to the chilling noises after she turned, everything about the moment was exceptional.
Following a pretty disappointing season in A New Frontier, Telltale had to get everything right about this episode to keep fans excited about the franchise and carry on playing the final few episodes.
It’s moments like Brody’s death that helped Done Running become one of the greatest episodes in the franchise, at least in my opinion.
Number 13 – Clementine fights for her life.
It’s taken a while but season two finally gets featured in this list and it starts off with Clementine fighting for her life in the opening episode.
If you thought the meat locker in season 1 felt claustrophobic and cramped, this moment in the shed takes those words to a whole new level. Personally, I don’t think Telltale could have done a better job here of presenting just how far Clementine has come in this universe.
Watching her take down the walker with whatever she could find combined with her iconic line, “Still. Not. Bitten.”, when the cabin crew found her was an exceptional way of demonstrating her development from the end of season one to the start of season two.
However, what makes this moment stand out to me is the part beforehand where Clementine literally SEWED HER OWN ARM. This entire segment felt spine-chilling and was exactly what the season opener needed to get people talking.
It’s moments like this that helped Clementine become such a beloved character in the franchise.
Number 12 – Clementine never died.
“What you doin’ there goofball?”
No five words could ever make fans feel more emotional. As far as happy moments go, the reveal of Clementine’s fate is one of the best in the franchise.
Unsurprisingly, the final ever episode Take Us Back features regularly and this reveal is the first of the lot. While her “death” was delivered well, it felt like a massive breath of fresh air seeing someone so beloved receive a happy ending – especially in a distressing universe.
Having Alela Diane’s song Take Us Back fade out just before the big reveal was an amazing touch that helped set the scene and Clementine’s conversation with AJ was the perfect way to set the tone.
The only criticism I could give is the fact that it’s a one-time moment. No matter how many times you replay this episode, the impact of Clementine’s fate reveal will never be the same as the first time playing. However, that shouldn’t take away from the brilliance of this moment.
Number 11 – Meeting the Stranger.
Meeting the Stranger in the season one finale just misses out on the top ten. The voice acting was amazing, the environment was creepy, and it determinantly plays a crucial role in Clementine’s character development.
Although choices in Telltale’s games are inconsistent, this meeting does the perfect job of highlighting the consequences that choices can have on other people. While the decision of stealing or leaving the car supplies didn’t play a major role, it was interesting to see how the overall group’s decision resulted in the Stranger’s downfall along with Lee’s death.
In addition to this, while the aforementioned choice didn’t have a significant impact, I loved how so many different past choices were brought up to criticise Lee and his treatment of Clementine. The writing for this moment deserves a lot of praise because it does an excellent job of perceiving all of the evil things we, as the player, have done.
Number 10 – The campfire discussion.
Kicking off the top ten is none other than the campfire scene that took place during the season two finale.
Taking into consideration the amount of chaos that occurred throughout season two, this particular moment was a complete breath of fresh air and finally gave the player some time to relax. There was little drama, no tension and no arguments either, just survivors talking and having a good time.
It did a good job of reminding the player of Clementine’s innocence in this world and also does an excellent job of building on Kenny and Jane’s characters. Elsewhere, while they later become detestable, Bonnie and Mike arguably play the most important role in making this overall moment feel so wholesome and positive.
Also, the writers deserve credit for the structure of this moment, particularly with Luke and Bonnie. If you were to play through the moment, you’ll probably realise nothing out of the ordinary. However, if you take a closer look, you’ll see that Luke is sitting next to a “danger” sign while Bonnie is sitting next to “danger” and “warning” signs – foreshadowing their deaths the following day.
Number 9 – Lee and Andy fight to the death.
Personally, I absolutely love “fight to the death” narratives and the one that took place in Starved for Help between Lee and Andy was executed superbly.
Some sort of encounter had been teased earlier in the episode, and I loved the pay off for both characters. On one hand, there’s Lee, a man seeking vengeance following the St John’s torture of his group. On the other hand, there’s Andy, a man that’s fighting with nothing left to lose after his family’s horrific secrets are exposed.
Personally, I thought this fight strengthened the overall narrative and the way it was structured fit both characters and their personalities well.
On the topic of personalities, I loved Lilly’s minor detail in this scene. Depending on your earlier choice in the meat locker, Lilly will either save your life or leave you to die which excellently highlights the implications that choices can have on different people.
Elsewhere, the visuals were simply outstanding. The raging weather and dark atmosphere represented the chilling and intense encounter that was taking place.
It’s moments like this that I can’t wait to experience once again in the Definitive Series.
Number 8 – One final moment with Lee.
It seemed obvious Lee was going to show up in one way or another in The Final Season and the implementation of his return in the penultimate episode was incredible.
Before going into detail on the moment itself, I loved the way in which the writers structured Broken Toys. The narrative flowed well and their decision to insert Lee’s final appearance before the big encounter with the Delta felt right. His presence was included to offer a sign of hope and the reason his words felt so impactful is because of the fact that the invasion took place minutes after.
Considering what I said earlier about Lee teaching Clementine about survival, the decision to have their final moment together on the train was right. Like Clementine said, the train is where their journey properly started and it’s fitting that it technically ended there too.
Putting that into perspective, the transition of the young Clementine to the older Clementine was fantastic, especially when she embraced Lee. It was the type of moment that I never knew I wanted yet I’m glad it happened at the same time.
Number 7 – Carver’s brutal death.
The perfect ending to a perfect villain.
Although his presence in season two was annoyingly limited, Carver still established himself as arguably the franchise’s best villain as well as one of the game’s greatest characters. Considering how well he was written across season two, I don’t think this moment, in particular, could’ve been improved in any way.
Even in the face of death, Carver never changed or begged for forgiveness. He maintained his hardened persona, even going to the lengths of frustrating Kenny and Rebecca, and accepted everything that was about to happen to him.
His death was brutal but also fitting at the same time. Telltale’s The Walking Dead has a habit of giving characters poor exits but Carver’s death was a home run.
Elsewhere, this death played a big part in developing Clementine’s character, in particular. As Carver put it, she wasn’t afraid to “look it right in the eye” unlike most of the group and small details like Clementine flinching helped make the scene feel realistic and intense.
Number 6 – The end of Marlon.
In my opinion, Marlon is the best one-episode character in the entire franchise and his final moment in the game was amazing.
After he murdered Brody, I wasn’t too sure how Telltale was going to conclude the episode but they somehow managed to exceed my expectations. Watching Marlon try to manipulate his friends into siding with him was interesting to see and from a narrative perspective, I loved seeing both Louis and Violet stand up for Clementine.
Similarly, with the Lee vs Andy fight, the environment significantly improved this situation. The dark visuals and the stormy environment helped make this moment feel dramatic and tense. Also, the sounds of thunder and Rosie’s barking was utilised superbly during the interactions to further create a distressing atmosphere.
The only bit of criticism I have for this moment is the way in which Marlon’s death was executed. While it was one of the most surprising moments in the franchise, I didn’t like how AJ essentially teleported behind Marlon to kill him. It would’ve been better if he ran off after Marlon got his gun only to return minutes later to kill him. Despite this, it doesn’t take away from the brilliance of this moment.
Elsewhere, Ray Chase deserves a lot of credit for his work in this scene, in particular. The way in which he spoke during this scene was really effective and it still gives me chills when I play the episode. In my opinion, with the exception of my number one spot, his acting and delivery in this moment is the best I’ve seen in the entire franchise.
Number 5 – Reaching Wellington with Kenny.
Kicking off the top five is another moment from No Going Back where Kenny and Clementine arrived at Wellington.
The concluding story for this path was exceptional and unsurprisingly what makes this moment stand out is the phenomenal acting on display. I’ve already mentioned Melissa Hutchison’s amazing work in this list and, in my opinion, Gavin Hammon‘s acting here is his best work in the franchise.
While I’ve praised other moments for a big event happening, it’s the conclusion of this story that I’ll always cherish and remember. Kenny, a broken man who has tried to face his demons for years, makes the noble request of leaving Clementine and AJ at Wellington. Despite losing everyone in his life, his desire of keeping the pair safe is a great reminder of how a good man still exists within him.
Regardless of the decision you make, both paths are very emotional with some memorable quotes included too. Also, both options are a fitting way for the story to end. On one side, Clementine and AJ stay safe for years at Wellington and on the other side, Kenny teaches Clementine some crucial lessons as she grows older.
Finally, what initially stood out to me is the fact that for the first time in the franchise, there was a feeling of achievement. Season two started off with Christa’s desire to find Wellington and it determinantly concluded here with Kenny and Clementine discovering it.
Number 4 – Clementine and AJ fight for their lives.
The last moment from The Final Season to feature in this list comes from one of the final moments in the game where Clementine and AJ fight for their lives in the barn.
This had everything you could ask for. A dramatic and inspirational narrative, incredible voice acting, a thrilling soundtrack, and also the franchise coming full circle.
This moment deserves praise for a lot of reasons but one underrated detail that should receive more attention is the fact that this happened in James’ barn. In Broken Toys, his barn was used as a symbolism of hope in regards to walkers but the events of Take Us Back completely contradicts his beliefs about them. It’s a nice way of allowing the player to see both sides to walkers since it better allows them to think about their own opinions and beliefs.
Elsewhere, the constant switches between playing as Clementine and AJ was a great addition. To me, these initial switches felt like a ‘passing of the torch’ moment where AJ was finally adjusted to this world and no longer relied on Clementine’s guidance.
The writers clearly highlighted this idea with AJ effectively using Clementine’s technique to take down walkers. Also, once the fight was over, he rejected Clementine’s wishes and tried to save her life.
On the topic of saving her life, the “final” conversation between the two was very emotional and it was one of the few times I cried at a video game. Also, while this moment shares the same problem as the reveal of Clementine’s fate, the acting on display is faultless and keeps me invested, even though I already know she survived.
Number 3 – Armed With Death.
This is, hands down, one of the most thrilling moments I’ve ever had the luxury of playing through in a video game.
Despite being the shortest moment in this list, there are so many reasons why “Armed With Death” is cherished amongst the fans.
From a story perspective, Lee’s combat against the walkers at the Marsh House is noble and inspirational. After being bitten in the previous episode, Lee becomes a man with nothing to lose and risks his remaining time on earth to save the life of Clementine. He no longer cares for his own safety, coming up against his own murderer, and his determination to clear through the herd makes this moment stand out.
The soundtrack is exceptional, the environment reflects the situation perfectly, and the level of detail here deserves so much more praise. Lee slashing his own hand to hold a glass shard was a lovely touch if you decided to keep his arm. Additionally, as I mentioned previously, Lee determinantly getting bit again helped make the situation feel realistic and intense.
Number 2 – Kenny and Jane fight to the death.
As I’ve mentioned previously, I love “fight to the death” scenarios and the one between Kenny and Jane in the season two finale just misses out on the top spot. It’s one of the defining moments in Telltale’s The Walking Dead.
I really liked both characters which made this moment more thrilling and watching the fight break out from an outside perspective was interesting to see.
This perspective is one of the reasons why I prefer this fight over the one between Lee and Andy. Although it doesn’t change anything, the different choices included makes the scene more realistic and it’s a nice way of showing who you prefer between the two characters since your choices can distract them in the fight. Also, the level of violence in this fight helped display the hatred that these two characters had for one another.
Finally, there’s the choice. Shoot Kenny? Or look away as he kills Jane? It’s one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make in a video game and is another reason why I hold this moment in high regard.
Away from the fight itself, there are so many different layers included that helps make this scene stand out further. For example, the soundtrack fit the theme perfectly and it still gives me chills when I replay this moment. Also, I’ve always wanted to see The Walking Dead explore the winter and watching this entire episode play out in a snowy environment was great to see.
Number 1 – The death of Lee Everett.
Here it is. It’s fair to say that this moment is probably number one for most people that have played this game. It’s strange calling an iconic video game death my “favourite moment” in a franchise but everything about Lee Everett’s death was simply perfect.
This moment was the ideal way for Lee to die and it was also the right way for the story to end.
Throughout the season, Lee and Clementine developed a historic relationship and watching it come to an end here was heartbreaking. This moment was the first time I ever cried at a video game and I wouldn’t be shocked if this applied to other people too.
The dialogue, references of previous choices, and also the final decision made this moment one rollercoaster ride of emotions.
It’s not exactly surprising, but Melissa Hutchison and Dave Fennoy’s acting here is the best the franchise has ever seen. Personally, their acting was one of the best performances I’ve ever seen overall and not just in a video game. I wish it was possible to watch the duo act out this scene as they did back in 2012.
Also, with the Definitive Series launching next month, this is the moment I’m looking forward to the most. I’ve experienced Lee’s death in the original and collection art styles and playing through this entire scene in the graphic black style should be enjoyable.