The holiday season is the time to sit down and really think about the things that are important in life, whether it's family or friends or just a good old-fashioned turkey dinner. For fans of The Walking Dead, however, the holiday tableaux might be a little bit different. In place of a group of family and friends, there might instead be an alliance of folks from all different walks of life joined together in case of a sudden zombie apocalypse. In place of turkey with stuffing, there might be dried opossum and mystery cookies. In place of telling of traditional Thanksgiving tales, there might be recaps of favorite episodes. Frankly, a Walking Dead Thanksgiving sounds like it could be a whole lot of fun, and why not? There are plenty of reasons to be thankful for The Walking Dead this year. Here are nine of the biggest.

Andrew
Rick Shaved
Andrew Lincoln/Rick’s beard was practically a character of its own. In fact, the first five seasons of the show can be seen as a coming of age tale for Rick’s facial hair. What began as a few stray hairs on his cheeks grew out into a bushy mess of gray and brown that threatened to swallow up his face.

Quite aside from the likelihood of a whole new strain of the zombie virus mutating in that mess, the risk of Daryl accidentally killing Rick by mistaking the beard for a particularly scraggly forest critter for eatin’ was becoming all too real. Thankfully, the beard is now gone due to access to the bathroom facilities at Alexandria. The only shame is that The Walking Dead missed out on the chance of sponsorship from Brillo. It’s not every show that will obscure the lead’s face with something resembling steel wool scrub pads.
Carol's
Carol's Cookies
While some of the characters have struggled to deal with the sudden safety of Alexandria after their months on the road, Carol Peletier positively blossomed within the walls of the latest refuge. Not only did she manage to escape any PTSD or restlessness, but Carol buttoned herself into sweater sets and khaki pants to bake cookies and keep an eye out on the Stepford families of the settlement.

Daryl may have been guttin’ varmints on the front porch and Rick may have been waving guns in the middle of the streets, but Carol was by far the most dangerous new arrival. Crossbows and revolvers have nothing on Carol’s cookies, and Carol has been kicking ass and crossing lines since she first passed through the walls of Alexandria. She’s a wild card with a killer’s instinct and recipe box, and it’s awesome.
Glenn
Glenn Survived
One of the most shocking plot twists of Season 6 was the apparent death of longtime survivor Glenn Rhee. The Walking Dead then rather shamelessly toyed with the hearts of fans for weeks by delaying the reveal of whether or not Glenn had somehow survived the horde of zombies swarming him as he lay trapped beneath a fresh corpse.

As it turns out, Glenn is alive. Huzzah! Of course, Glenn turning up without much more than a face full of Nicholas’ blood and a serious case of the thirsties from what had looked to be his gruesome death doesn’t mean that he’ll survive the rest of the season. Honestly, with the traditionally grisly winter finale swiftly approaching, Glenn may not even survive the next episode. Still, fans can rejoice in the fact that Glenn is still alive for the time being.
Daryl
Daryl Is Still An Outdoor Cat
Daryl Dixon is a fan favorite for sure, and years of popularity have seen the former vaguely-racist redneck softened into a rough-around-the-edges guy with a heart of gold. His outsider status has been slowly receding as the seasons passed and he formed bonds with other characters, and the immersion into the settlement at Alexandria had the potential to turn Daryl Dixon into a civilized and much less interesting character.

Fortunately, even the safety and security of Alexandria was not enough to tame Daryl into a model citizen, and he remains more comfortable in the woods, huntin’ anything and everything with his crossbow, than in a suburb with all of the stale pasta that he can eat. Would it be so bad if Daryl took a shower and trimmed his bangs out of his face? No. But he’s an outdoor cat through and through.
Rick
Rick Tolerates No Fools
Rick showed some signs of assimilating into the culture at Alexandria, but it turns out that pre-zombie apocalypse Deputy Grimes has forever been replaced by the power of the Ricktator, and it’s pretty glorious. Andrew Lincoln has mastered the expression that is a terrifying combination of brilliant and psychotic in extreme situations.

He’s seen too much and done too much by the time that the group comes to Alexandria that there aren’t enough blonde moms and shaving kits left in the world to keep him from staging a coup as soon as possible. The zombie apocalypse is no time for polite society, and Rick tolerates no fools when it comes to the survival of himself and his family.
Morgan
Morgan And Father Gabriel Are Both Alive
Starting in Season 3, The Walking Dead began a troubling pattern when it came to minority characters. As soon as one black guy would be introduced, the previous black guy would die in some horrible way. From T-Dog to Oscar to Tyreese to Bob to Noah, there has been a revolving door of black male characters not surviving. It’s felt like only a matter of time before either Morgan or Father Gabriel bite the dust.

Thankfully, that has not yet been the case. Of course, Father Gabriel does deserve some serious karmic comeuppance for his actions, and Morgan is a smidge too awesome to be killed off any time soon, but the current status quo of two living black guys who don’t watch the show and therefore don’t know about the curse is a nice change.
Renewed
Renewed For Season 7
What with all of the worrying about characters being eaten alive and/or turned into zombies, The Walking Dead is stressful enough to watch on a weekly basis without having to worry about whether or not it has a future beyond the current season.

Luckily (and unsurprisingly) for fans who may be faint of heart, The Walking Dead received an early renewal for a seventh season. It will be back for at least one more year of sleepless Sunday nights and crazy cliffhangers, which is good, since some of the comic book's best moments have yet to make it to the live-action world.
Still
Still Half A Season To Go
Season 7 is still a ways off, but fans can rest easy – well, easier – knowing that there is still half of Season 6 waiting to air. The winter finale is only a few days away, and the last bits of new material for 2015 will be hitting the airwaves all too soon.

With a handful of episodes waiting in the early months of 2016 to pay off on whatever horrifying cliffhanger the winter finale will deliver, fans won’t need to worry about running out of plot twists for a while yet. A hiatus may be approaching, but the end is certainly not nigh for Season 6.
Negan
Negan Is Finally On The Way
For years, whispers of a new villain bigger and exponentially badder than any others have been spreading. He's a villain of comic lore who has the potential to eclipse Gareth the Termite, Joe the Claimer, and even the Governor on the evil scale in the Walking Dead universe. That villain is Negan, a madman with a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire that he calls Lucille. Spoiler warning: Negan does some nasty things with Lucille.

Thankfully for fans weary of cardboard villains a la the Wolves, Negan is finally on the way. Jeffrey Dean Morgan has been cast in the role, and Negan should be bringing Lucille and no doubt something especially awful to Rick and Co. by the end of Season 6. It’s going to be great.

The Walking Dead airs on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on AMC. Head to the next page to tell us what you're most thankful for involving this show.
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