The Walking Dead television universe is like a horde of zombies: it seems to get bigger every time you look away from it. What started as an adaption of Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore’s genre-redefining comic of the same name has mutated into a massive franchise composed of multiple mainline series and spin-offs that play out at different points on an ever-expanding shared timeline. This can make it hard for newer fans to know which order to watch the shows in. Here is our breakdown of the watch order of The Walking Dead universe.
All The Walking Dead Shows in Chronological Order
This guide is tailor-made to outline the best possible order to watch every season of every series set within The Walking Dead universe. The official timeline of The Walking Dead can be hard to follow since the various entries in the franchise were not released in chronological order. This often results in situations where characters introduced in one series cross over into another, usually leaving viewers who haven’t watched their debut series wondering why any The Walking Dead fans who happen to be in the room are suddenly cheering.
Here is an outline of the chronological order of The Walking Dead. This will be followed by a more in-depth breakdown of why each installment is placed where it is, so keep reading if you want a more thorough explanation of why you should watch the series in this order.
- Fear the Walking Dead seasons 1 – 3
- The Walking Dead seasons 1 – 8
- Fear the Walking Dead season 4
- Tales of the Walking Dead season 1
- The Walking Dead season 9
- Fear the Walking Dead season 5
- The Walking Dead season 10
- The Walking Dead: The World Beyond seasons 1 – 2
- The Walking Dead season 11
- Fear the Walking Dead seasons 6 – 8
- The Walking Dead: Dead City
Fear the Walking Dead Season 1-3
The first of many The Walking Dead spin-offs, Fear the Walking Dead debuted nearly half a decade after the first episode of The Walking Dead aired. However, its first three seasons take place during the months when The Walking Dead’s main protagonist, Rick Grimes, is lying unconscious in a hospital. Chronicling the beginning of the zombie outbreak that drives the franchise’s plot, Fear the Walking Dead’s first three seasons follow the Clark family as they witness the end of civilization and learn how to survive in a world where the dead hunt the living.
The Walking Dead Seasons 1-8
The first eight seasons of The Walking Dead tell a reasonably self-contained story that feels almost quaint in hindsight. Kicking things off the moment Rick Grimes wakes from his coma, the bulk of The Walking Dead’s eleven-season run sees Rick and the group of survivors that form around him fight for survival against zombies, the merciless forces of nature, and less-than-scrupulous survivors like the one-eyed Governor and the baseball bat-brandishing Negan.
Fear the Walking Dead Season 4
“Fear the Walking Dead’s fourth season was a massive turning point for the spin-off. Not only was there a lengthy time skip that ensured that Fear the Walking Dead was no longer a prequel, but it also gradually “retired” the Clark family and established the extremely popular The Walking Dead regular Morgan as the series’ new protagonist. This opened the door for other inter-series crossovers and cemented Fear the Walking Dead‘s status as a “legitimate” continuation of The Walking Dead universe in the eyes of many fans.
Tales of the Walking Dead Season 1
Tales of the Walking Dead is a six-episode anthology series that recounts six unique, standalone stories. While five of the stories follow original characters that have little to no influence on the greater mythos of the franchise, the third episode, “Dee,” acts as the origin story for Alpha, the ruthless and charismatic leader of the primitivist, zombie skin-wearing cult of survivors known as the Whisperers, who go on to become some of the deadliest foes Rick and his group ever face.
The Walking Dead Season 9
The ninth season of The Walking Dead picks up after a roughly a year-and-a-half time skip and is pivotal to Rick and his group’s story. The early episodes of the season chronicle the fallout of Rick and the people of the Alexandria Safe-Zone’s war against Negan, focusing on Rick’s efforts to keep the fragile alliance he and the leaders of other survivor communities have forged from falling apart. While the first few episodes of this season are surprisingly light-hearted, things turn dark when the Whisperers make themselves (and their terrifyingly effective form of guerrilla warfare) known.
Fear the Walking Dead Season 5
The fifth season of Fear the Walking Dead continues the story of Morgan and what little remains of the Clark family as they set out to use the resources they acquired at the end of the previous season to establish a humanitarian network and help any survivors they come across. This season introduced yet another familiar face from The Walking Dead to the main cast, the Governor’s redemption-seeking lieutenant Dwight. This new addition further strengthened Fear the Walking Dead’s connection to the series it spun off from.
The Walking Dead Season 10
The Walking Dead’s penultimate season continues the storyline set up in season 9, with the Whispererers declaring all-out war against Rick and the fledgling civilization he helped bring together. Forced into battle against an enemy force unlike any they’ve faced before, Rick and his group’s bonds are tested as they fight to protect their new home from utter destruction. Adding further drama into the mix is the return to prominence of a seemingly repentant Negan and the surprise emergence of a new survivor community, the Commonwealth.
The Walking Dead: The World Beyond Seasons 1 – 2
The Walking Dead: The World Beyond shifts gears away from the grander, grittier narratives that define The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead by focusing on a group of teenagers living in a larger, more secure community of survivors nestled in the heartland of Nebraska. This series follows a mostly self-contained coming-of-age story that explores how a generation of kids has learned to live in the zombie apocalypse. However, it also establishes the existence of the Civic Republic, a militant group of survivors who have previously made contact with both The Walking Dead’s Rick and Fear the Walking Dead’s Althea.
The Walking Dead Season 11
The eleventh and final season of The Walking Dead brings the series that started it all to a solid conclusion. The story of this last season follows Rick and his allies’ attempts to keep the well-supplied but authoritarian Commonwealth from exerting its influence over their loose-knit community of communities, all while tying up many of the series’ unresolved narrative threads and laying down the groundwork for future spin-offs.
Fear the Walking Dead Seasons 6 – 8
Fear the Walking Dead’s sixth, seventh, and eighth seasons diverge further from the franchise’s narrative status quo by exploring the aftermath of the nuclear meltdown that capped off the fifth season. Left without a home in the aftermath of the devastation, the cast of Fear the Walking Dead is forced to contend with zombies, radiation, and yet another menacing, potentially franchise-spanning foe, the murderous network of survivor communities known as the Pioneers.
The Walking Dead: Dead City
The most recently released spin-off in the franchise’s ever-growing supply, The Walking Dead: Dead City, follows Negan and Maggie as they journey into the ruins of Manhatten to rescue Maggie and Glenn’s kidnapped son Hershal.While this spin-off doesn’t set up any future installments, it does serve as a satisfying coda for the complex and compelling relationship between Maggie and Negan.
- This article was updated on September 12th, 2023