Over the past five years, fans of The Walking Dead have seen some truly disgusting things on their televisions, and I don't just mean Carl going through puberty. Each season has delivered one ridiculously disgusting showcase of gore after another, from the walker in the well to the sun-melted zombies that were one with the asphalt. But that’s not what we’re talking about here.

Effects maestro Greg Nicotero and the rest of the show’s creative team have said over the years that they’re just as interested in delivering a more subtle evolution of decomposition in the walker population as they are in hitting the excesses of grossness. We’ve rounded up an example from each season of The Walking Dead – as well as the prequel-ish Fear the Walking Dead – to show how the franchise’s average walkers have gone from fairly “normal” to hideously decrepit over time, leaving out those with obvious physical injuries or ones drastically altered by extreme circumstances. And considering how horrifying things are already, we can’t wait to see what these things look like in Season 12.

fear the walking dead
Fear the Walking Dead
Fear the Walking Dead hasn’t officially kicked off yet on AMC, so it’s definitely possible that some of the newly infected zomboids will more sick and frightening than the former female seen above, whom one might not be blamed for accidentally hitting on at a bar where zombies are allowed. But as things go, this stabbing victim looks like she could still be a human, which does make things more worrisome as far as the plot goes, since normal people might not be able to tell who’s infected or not. But for horror hounds, this is just a hot girl with blood on her face.

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 the walking dead
The Walking Dead: Season 1
While it’s not exactly clear how long Rick was in a coma at the beginning of the series, we know that by the end of Season 1, the walker plague had been happening for around 6 months, and it’d been two months since it went global. As well, it’s unclear exactly when Morgan’s wife Jenny was turned, though we know it happened during the initial outbreak. That said, she’s still pretty normal looking and a little too receptive, although her gauntness is more prominent. She’s been living the “good” life, I guess, and it was probably important to keep her looking fresh in order to stop Morgan from shooting her into non-existence.
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The Walking Dead: Season 2
Now we’re starting to get some wear and tear on the walkers’ faces and clothes. Since none of these people can adjust their fashions, their attire can sometimes be nastier than their faces. (Thankfully we don’t see the back side a lot.) And here we’ve got some blacked-out eyes, some facial lacerations, and general light decay happening. But you know the old saying: if you can still run a comb through your zombie hair and not have chunks of your scalp coming out, then you’ve still got some rotting to do. Okay, maybe that’s not an actual saying, but it’s about as real as the pleasant side of Andrea’s personality.

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The Walking Dead: Season 3
Oh yes, oh yes. We’re getting into some pretty harsh territory here. This guy somehow still has fairly white-ish teeth on top but has a lower jaw that would make a dentist weep. (Or cheer, if he/she was getting paid to work on it.) The top of the face is still mildly human, except for those expired-milky eyes, but that jawline is like old fruit. And that shoulder wound doesn’t look like it’d heal up properly no matter how much Neosporin and George Romero Band-Aids were at one’s disposal. Also, I’m not sure how decomposition makes someone’s nose look like a tight pair of testicles, but I’m no biologist.

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The Walking Dead: Season 4
While the blurry walker in the background looks like he/she has seen better days, this fugly creature in focus is where it’s at. We’ve got walker pattern baldness happening just above a face that no combover in the world could help to soften. The skin is breaking up all over the place, and that left eye socket looks like it just said “fuck it” when it woke up that morning. Add to that a completely disintegrated lower lip area that resembles that of someone who started chewing tobacco inside the womb. Talk about a spit take. He probably can’t tell how awful he smells with that quickly vacating nose.

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The Walking Dead: Season 5
Alright, alright, alright. The walker above has completely left the realm of “vaguely recognizable pile of foulness” and entered whatever it’s called when you try to stretch cheesecloth over old dog food. This guy can’t even be called flesh and bone anymore, as the bones are all showing through the skin, and what meaty parts there are exist solely to show through the sizeable gaps on the arms and chest. If you can even call that a chest. This is what I’d expect to find every time I’d go graverobbing (again), no matter when the person died. I only expect lipless grey skin and curdled spaghetti sauce.

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The Walking Dead: Season 6
Sound the angelic chorus! This nasty bastard is both the natural progression of a quasi-species that is immune to nutrition, as well as the grossest non-spotlight walker I can recall. And since he comes from Season 6 of the show, we’re not even quite sure where he’ll pop up, just that what guts he still has will be popping out of the stomach area all over the surrounding trees. The overly emaciated look reminds me of the “Sloth” victim from Se7en, only if someone got him mixed up with hamburger patties on the barbecue pit. But even though he’s nothing but messy viscera from the eyebrows down, I love that he’s still got “aging mobster” hair. Maybe he can comb it with his lower ribcage.

The Walking Dead Season 6 will hopefully deliver a plethora of increasingly disgusting walkers when it premieres on AMC on Sunday, October 11. Before that, though, Fear the Walking Dead will show us how it all began on Sunday, August 23.

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