Rick, a police officer from Kentucky, is shot in the line of duty. He wakes up a month later in an abandoned hospital and is attacked. He decides to leave and goes home to find it ransacked. A boy, Duane, knocks him out by hitting him over the head with a shovel, thinking he is one of the zombies. Duane and his dad, Morgan, have taken up residence in the neighbor’s house, figuring it was safer than going to the big cities as broadcasts suggested. Rick takes them to the police station to get guns and a car before he heads to Atlanta to find his wife (Lori) and son (Carl). On the road, the car runs out of gas, but Rick finds a horse to get him the rest of the way. Unfortunately, they are swarmed when they enter the city. Glenn comes along and gets him out and to camp outside the city. Lori, Carl, and his partner, Shane, are there to greet him. Shane shows him around and introduces him to various people. Dale warns Rick that Shane is interested in Lori. Rick and Shane go out hunting, but only find a zombie eating a deer. They decide that the meat probably isn’t good. Lori, Donna, and Carol are coming back from doing laundry when they are attacked by a zombie. Dale cuts off its head with an axe. Early the next morning, Rick tries to convince Shane that they should move away from the city. Shane is determined to stay, thinking help will come to the cities first. Rick insists that everyone have guns. Jim, a man who escaped Atlanta but lost his entire family, gives them the location of the nearest gun store. Rick and Glenn cover themselves in zombie blood and guts hoping it will make the zombies think they are like them. They make it into the store and out with a cart full of guns and ammo, but narrowly make it out of the city as rain washes off the zombie smell. Three weeks later, Shane and Rick are impressed with how much everyone is improving their shooting. Carl is given a gun with the understanding that it is for emergencies only. The weather keeps getting colder and tension between Rick and Shane grows. One night, zombies attack the camp. Amy is killed and Jim is bitten. Dale tries to comfort Andrea, who just lost her sister. Jim asks to be left to run so that he can have a chance at joining his family. Shane still refuses to move the camp, but Rick starts pushing more. Shane punches Rick. Lori slaps Shane and tells him to stay away. Shane takes off and Rick follows. Shane explains that he can’t live like this anymore. He points his gun at Rick and tells him he wasn’t supposed to come back. Lori would be his eventually. Carl Shoots Shane.
Lori remembers the ride down to Atlanta with Shane. She gave into her loneliness and slept with him. Dale asks Rick to be the group’s leader to increase the feeling of safety. They are all ready to move to somewhere safer and take off in Dale’s RV. While clearing cars off the road, they meet Tyreese, his daughter Julie and her boyfriend, Chris. Rick gives them food and offers to let them join them, but Tyreese refuses. Eventually he decides to join the group. He and Carol seem to hit it off. While driving through the snow, they find a neighborhood called Willshire Estates. The decide to stay the night in one of the houses and search the others in the morning. Donna finds some spare blankets and starts handing them out. She finds Dale and Andrea having sex. Originally, this didn’t mesh with her Christian values, but now she is just glad that they are happy. The next morning, Rick goes to get a gun for Tyreese and sees a sign saying that everyone inside the development is dead. He runs back and hurries everyone to the camper. Donna doesn’t make it and her husband, Allen, has to be convinced to live because of his twin sons. The group continues down the road, but is low on food. Rick, Tyreese, and Carl go hunting, but Carl is shot by a man named Otis. Rick wants to kill him, but Tyreese points out that Carl is still alive. Otis leads Rick (carrying Carl) to a farm and Hershel, who has experience patching up animals. Tyreese gets the others to the farm. Hershel is able to stop the bleeding and has his daughter, Lacy, show the newcomers around. Rick worries about Allen’s depression since Donna’s death. Rick asks about the group staying in the barn. Hershel explains that is where they keep the dead ones. Rick is infuriated until Tyreese points out that it is Hershel’s home and the old farmer believes that their might be a cure. Glenn tells Maggie (Hershel’s daughter) his fear of being alone. They decide to have sex. Rick starts shooting practice again, but Hershel stops them because they are shooting towards an abandoned house. A zombie appears, so Hershel and his kids, Lacy and Arnold, help him get it into the barn. However, in the process, the zombies escape and the kids are killed. Hershel admits Rick was right about the zombies. Allen tells Rick that he is going to do his best to raise his kids for Donna as they clean out the barn. Rick asks Hershel if they can stay in the empty rooms in the house. Hershel freaks out and tells Rick that they need to leave. Glenn stays to be with Maggie. The group spreads out to find food, shelter, and supplies. Dale finds a prison.
Rick, Tyreese, and Andrea start clearing out the prison yard while the rest of the adults check between the two outer fences. Allen watches from the top of the RV while Julie and Chris babysit the younger kids. They burn the zombie bodies and spend the night outside the fences, hoping they will be able to fix the gates soon. The Next day, Rick and Tyreese make their way through the prison looking for food. They find the cafeteria and four prisoners inside. The entire group is invited to share meatloaf with Axel, Thomas, Andrew and Dexter. Afterwards, Dexter shows them around. The two groups agree to sleep separated. Lori is especially upset that Dexter murdered his wife and her boyfriend. Rick and Dale bring Hershel and his family to join them at the prison. Julie and Chris have sex and then plan to shoot each other. Chris pulls the trigger too fast and kills Julie. Tyreese waits for Julie to become a zombie se he can talk to her. Chris shoots her in the head. tyreese kills him. Rick tells everyone the lovers killed each other in a suicide pact. Rick realizes people without bites still become zombies. Rick takes off and says he’ll be back the next day Maggie and glenn tell each other about their lives and find a barber shop. Lori complains about Rick not paying attention to her. Maggie shows her little sisters, Rachel and Susie, where the barber’s room is. Glenn, Andrea, Tyreese, and Billy (Hershel’s youngest son) go to clear out the gym, but Tyreese is overrun by zombies and the others are forced to retreat. Rick digs up Shane’s grave to find he has become a zombie. He shoots him in the head, confirming they might all be infected. Hershel searches for Rachel and Susie and finds them decapitated. Lori accuses Dexter of killing the girls and they lock him up. Rick returns and immediately goes to the gym to find Tyreese alive and all the zombies dead. Rick confronts Dexter, who says he is innocent. Allen explains death to his sons. Andrea is attacked by Thomas and he slices her cheek and ear lobe. She manages to get away. Billy blames Hershel for his sister’s death. Hershel beats him. Dexter and Andrew make plans to raid the Administrative block for guns. Glenn, Dale, and Axel try to come up with a way to kill zombies through the fences. When Andrea runs outside with Thomas following, Rick realizes he killed Rachel and Susie. Tyreese has to stop Rick from beating him to death. He decides he will hang him. Rick releases Dexter. Patricia tires to help Thomas, but he uses the opportunity to try to kill her. Maggie shoots him several times to kill him. They throw his body out to the zombies. Dexter and Andrew show up armed telling Rick they need to leave the prison.
Rick asks Dexter where he got the guns from. He explains that they didn’t tell the group about block A, where all the weapons were kept. Zombies start attacking and Rick starts yelling out orders. During the chaos, he shoots Dexter in the head. Tyreese is the only one who saw, but Patricia (who was helping the criminals) is the only one upset. Otis is returning with his horse and cart, but with all the commotion, there isn’t anyone to open the gate for him. Michonne saves him with her katana and asks to stay in the prison. Rick agrees if she gives up her weapons, but won’t allow her chained zombies. She slices off the heads of what used to be her boyfriend and his best friend and hands over her weapons. Rick grabs a few people to clear out block A. They split up into two groups to cover more ground. Tyreese and Dale find a generator. Allen is bitten and Rick cuts off his leg to try to keep the bite from killing him. They get him outside to Hershel who tires to stop the bleeding. Tyreese goes to the gym and finds Michonne, who goes down on him. Carol sees the whole thing happen. She kicks him out of her cell that night. Glenn and Maggie spend the whole day together. Hershel says he doesn’t care as long as she’s happy. Michonne kisses Tyreese as he moves into his new cell. Rick and Lori find Carol has slit her writs. Rick goes to tell Tyreese, but finds him with Michonne. Rick and Tyreese get into a huge fight that ends when Andrea tells them Allen died. Rick shoots him then passes out for more than a day. Carol is there when he wakes up and she kisses him. Rick pushes her away and she leaves. Dale comes to tell Rick that they, Tyreese, and Hershel are the new committee that will lead the group together. Rick agrees it is a good idea. Hershel is hurrying everyone outside to plant seeds. Rick comes out and tells them that he is in his right mind. The world has changed and will not go back to the way it was. Tyreese argues that they are trying to rebuild civilization. Rick points out that they have to adjust or they will die. He will do anything to keep them safe, but they are all living on borrowed time.
The group continues to clear out the rest of the prison and plan on spreading the living quarters out. Glenn and Maggie find riot suits and Glenn comes up with an idea to cyphen gas to work the generator. He arrives in a suit and brought one for Rick. The others distract the zombies to let them out of the gate. While they are getting the fas, they see a helicopter crash in the distance. Rick goes back to the prison to tell people what is going on while Glenn hot wires a car. Michonne, who stole back her sword, goes with them when Glenn pulls up. Carol tells Lori that she wants to marry her and Rick. Lori refuses and Carol is upset with her. Rick, Glenn and Michonne make it to the helicopter, but no one is there. They realize there must be another group close by. Tyreese and Axel wait for them at the prison gate. Everyone at the prison is having trouble trying to sleep, worried about the members that are still outside. Rick, Glenn, and Michonne are ready to turn back when they see Woodbury and start coming up with a plan to avoid the zombies that have been following. Lights turn on and the Woodbury residents appear to kill the zombies. They take all the weapons before introducing the Governor. He takes them to a private room to talk while people in a stadium below watch two people fight while surrounded by chained zombies. Rick sticks with Michonne’s story that they have been walking since the outbreak started. The Governor doesn’t believe him and cuts off his right hand. Michonne bites the Governor’s ear off. He has Glenn taken to a room to be chained up. Rick is taken to Dr. Stephens to stop the bleeding. Michonne is tied up and the Governor plans to rape her everyday until she kills herself. Rick wakes up to his hand being gone and tries to get up. Dr. Stephens and his assistant, Alice, have to sedate him. The Governor goes home as the sun comes up. he feds his zombie daughter rick’s hand and then watches his fishtanks full of zombie heads. Glenn is catatonic, so the Governor puts him next to Michonne’s garage-like cell and pays her a visit. Rick wakes up and the doctor explains that he is only supporting the governor to stay alive. The Governor, Philip, comes in to tell Rick that he will be joining the fight. Glenn was let go because he told them about the prison. Andrea spots someone in riot gear returning to the prison. They get the gates open for Dale to drive the RV to go out and get Tyreese. He lost their trail and came back. The Governor guessed from the riot gear that they were at a prison; Rick’s reaction confirmed his suspicions. They are hoping to get a location out of Glenn or their other residence.
Rick is fixed up by Dr. Stephens and his assistant, Alice. Glenn is still in a storage unit. When one of the Governor’s fighters, Eugene, kills the other for knocking out his teeth, he makes a deal with Michonne. She goes back on her end and in the arena cuts off Eugene’s head before killing all the chained zombies. Martinez comes to the infirmary to help Rick escape. They get Glenn out of his new garage and go to get Michonne. Alice and Dr. Stephens join them. Michonne decides to stay as they are climbing over the fence. She tortures the governor until two men find her. She meets Rick and the others at the Helicopter in the morning and they start moving. WHen they get back to the prison, the gates are open and the yard is overrun by zombies. Dale and Andrea have been in the RV and use the extra help to get to the guard tower. Everyone else gets inside and Rick gives a quick explanation. Tyreese keeps him from going back out into the zombies. They spend the next few days clearing out the zombies and burning the bodies. Glenn asks to see the female ones before they burn them. Rick and Tyreese make up. While talking, they realize Martinez is missing. Rick takes the RV to keep him from going back to Woodbury. He runs him over and then gets out to confront him. Martinez says he was only going to bring the good people, but Rick doesn’t believe him and kills him. Back at the prison, Rick calls a meeting to discuss what happened. Glenn and Maggie get engaged.
Lori tires to tell Rick what happened between her and Shane, but he stops her because he already knows and doesn’t want to hear it. Tyreese, Andrea, Michonne, Glenn, Maggie, and Axel set out in the RV to find the Nation Guard base the Governor’s people have been using for supplies. After a few days, they find it and load up a truck with supplies. THey blow up the gas pump before they leave. They also stop at a WalMart to gather useful things (food, a crib, etc.). People from Woodbury confront them and Glenn approaches them, hoping to talk his way out of it without involving Maggie. They shoot glenn. Andrea and michonne kill the men. Maggie takes off Glenn’s riot suit to find that he is mostly fine. Lori goes into labor just before dark. Billy and Dale go to get gas for the generator because they are down to half a can. Dale is bit in the leg. The group returns and gets him to the infirmary just after Judith is born. Rick cuts off his leg and Alice closes the wound to keep him alive. Rick and Andrea start teaching people how to shoot again. Dale worries that Andrea wants to sleep with Tyreese. Lori and carol start talking again, but Carol doesn’t think anyone is really her friend. Alice has been keeping zombies tied up to study and Carol uses it to kill herself. Car tries to help Sofia through mourning. Andrea and Tyreese make Dale a peg leg. She tells him she loves him and doesn’t want to sleep with Tyreese. Rick decides to let the zombies at the gate pile up as defense. The Governor arrives in a tank.
The Governor is found by the guards after being tortured by Michonne and they get the drunken former army medic, Bob, to help him. A few weeks later, they hear the explosion at the National guard base. They find their men dead at the WalMart. The Governor sends men to follow the tracks to the prison. He decides to wait a few weeks before they attack. he tells his people that Ricks’s group is the threat that is attacking them and maimed him. They arrive at the prison and Andrea starts picking them off from the tower. They retreat. Axel, Rick and Andrea were all injured. Michonne takes Tyreese to scare the Governor from returning, but Tyreese is captured. Michonne goes back for him and is captured in the process. Andrea, Dale, Glenn, Maggie, and all the kids (except Carl and Judith) leave. The Governor uses Tyreese to try to get access to the prison, but Rick knows it would kill them all. The Governor cuts off his head and goes back to his people to say Rick shot him. WHen they attack the prison again, Billy starts picking off the Woodbury residents from the tower and uses a grenade. The rest shoot a them from strategically placed cars. Andrea and Dale return in the RV to help. The Governor has them drive the tank over the fence. Rick tells them to get to the truck. he finds Lori with Alice holding a gun to her head (their plan in case the Governor found them first). Alice dies helping them get outside. Lori and Judith are shot in half, but Rick and Carl keep running. The girl that killed Lori and Judith, Lily, kills the Governor after she realizes what she did. Rick has to tell Car that his mom and sister didn’t make it.
Back during the winter, Morgan when out to get his son a Christmas Present. He gives him a gameboy and batteries. He still feels bad about stealing, but know she can’t help it.