The Walking Dead's Big Callbacks And References From The Season 8 Premiere

negan season 8 premiere the walking dead
(Image credit: Image courtesy of AMC)

Warning: spoilers ahead for the Season 8 premiere of The Walking Dead, called "Mercy."

The Walking Dead finally returned to the airwaves for Season 8 with a very special episode. The Season 8 premiere of The Walking Dead also happened to be the 100th episode of The Walking Dead, and the show found some special (if somewhat subtle) ways to celebrate the milestone. There were a number of callbacks and references to days gone by in "Mercy" that longtime fans can enjoy. Read on for some of the greatest callbacks we caught in the Season 8 premiere!

the walking dead 100th episode carl

(Image credit: Image courtesy of AMC)

Carl Searched For Gasoline

One of the most iconic scenes of The Walking Dead to date came way back in the very first episode, when Rick ventured out into the wasteland of the zombie apocalypse in search of some gas. The camera panned over abandoned cars and scattered debris, including a child-sized bicycle. He peered into a car to take a look at a dead body propped up in the driver's seat. When Rick heard footsteps, he dropped down to his belly, took off his hat, and looked underneath a car. In "Mercy," a scene progressed almost exactly the same way, except with Carl as the Grimes in search of gasoline. There was even an abandoned kid's bike. Carl didn't have to shoot a zombie girl in the face, but the scenes were otherwise very similar.

negan season 8 premiere the walking dead

(Image credit: Image courtesy of AMC)

Negan And Gabriel Trapped

The end of the first episode of The Walking Dead saw a desperate Rick trapped in a tank with hordes of zombies around and on top of the tank. The camera panned out in an aerial shot to show just how many Walkers were on the scene and just how screwed Rick was, if not for that voice calling him a "dumbass" over the radio. Well, "Mercy" ended in the present with Negan and Gabriel trapped in a trailer much like how Rick was trapped in a tank, and the camera pulled out with an aerial shot exactly like the one at the end of the series premiere. Unfortunately for Gabriel, he was left with Negan rather than a helpful voice over the radio, and he's probably in for a rough time courtesy of Negan.

the walking dead old rick season 8

Rick Woke Up In Bed

"Mercy" featured a scene of Rick waking up very suddenly in a bed, looking momentarily confused about where he was and how he got there. A vase of flowers stood on his bedside table. The scene (which was teased in the trailer for Season 8) was so incredibly similar to the scene in the premiere when Rick woke up from his coma that some fans were speculating that the glimpse of Old Rick meant that the show would reveal the entire series to date had been a coma dream. Luckily, that theory has been debunked, but the staging of Old Rick waking up definitely seems like an homage to how Rick woke up back in the beginning after the car chase and shootout.

carol flowers season 8 premiere the walking dead

Carol Looked At The Flower

This callback doesn't go as far back as the series premiere. Instead, it goes back to that fateful Season 4 episode that saw Carol cross a line that few of us could have imagined in earlier seasons. Faced with the reality that young Lizzie was too dangerous to be kept around people after she killed her younger sister, Carol told Lizzie to look at the flowers and then shot the little girl in the head. Carol clearly hasn't forgotten what she had to do, as she looked somberly at the graffiti of a flower on the bridge where she and Tara were waiting for the Walker horde to approach. We can guess what she was thinking as she looked at that flower.

the walking dead shane

Negan Channeled Shane

This next reference was quite easy to miss and could have almost been sheer coincidence. Negan said "Let me ask you somethin'" to Rick, which was a line reminiscent of Shane's repeated comments of "Let me ask you somethin'" and "Let me tell you somethin'" back before Rick killed him in Season 2. The Walking Dead executive producer and "Mercy" director Greg Nicotero confirmed to that the line was indeed an nod to the not-so-dearly departed Shane. It wasn't quite as obvious as Rick waking up or Carl searching for gasoline, but it was still a fun reference to a character who helped make the show the hit it is today.

New episodes of The Walking Dead air on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on AMC. Check out our picks for the funniest moments of the Season 8 premiere, and don't forget to take a look at the trailer for next week's episode.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).