5 Reasons Why The Pilot Remains TWD's Best Episode To This Day

5 Reasons Why The Pilot Remains TWD's Best Episode To This Day
Image credit: AMC

With Days Gone Bye, Frank Darabont proved once again that he is a true horror mastermind.

Can you believe it was over 13 years ago that AMC's The Walking Dead premiered? Many of us remember that day as if it were yesterday, because the pilot of the post-apocalyptic horror drama, titled Days Gone Bye, became the experience burned into our minds.

To this day, the majority of fans consider S1E01 the best episode of the 177 installments of The Walking Dead and the best pilot ever made for television. And they have a very good reason for thinking that way. At least five reasons, to be exact.

1. Frank Darabont

The Walking Dead Season 1 was the only run and written by Frank Darabont, known for his legendary horror adaptations like The Shawshank Redemption and The Mist. On top of that, Days Gone Bye was the only episode directed by Darabont and it certainly set a high bar for the show going forward.

Unfortunately, due to some behind-the-scenes shenanigans, the showrunner was fired during Season 2, which many viewers believe contributed to the show's eventual downfall.

2. Bigger Budget

The first season of The Walking Dead is special not only because of Darabont's active involvement and the shorter running time (only 6 episodes). It was also the chapter with the biggest budget and the best visuals. Beginning with Season 2, AMC drastically reduced its spending on the show, which likely contributed to Darabont's departure.

3. Universe Introduction

While we had seen many zombie movies and shows before, the universe introduced by Days Gone Bye has become something unique and captivating even for those who were never big fans of the genre.

The episode completely changed the way viewers looked at the zombie apocalypse, created the never-ending hype around the theme, inspired many zombie projects, and set some rules that became the new canon of the genre.

4. Rick Grimes

The best idea of the pilot was to show the tragedy from the point of view of the character who had just come out of the coma. As sheriff's deputy Rick Grimes walks through the corridors of the hospital and sees more and more horrors unfolding before him, it sends chills down your spine.

With this powerful opening, it is no wonder that Rick became one of the most iconic characters on the small screen and remained a fan favorite until the very end of the series.

5. Horror Ambience

The surprising but ingenious creative decision for the pilot episode was to step away from the usual zombie tropes and instead of life-and-death fights and action, show the post-apocalyptic world in a psychological thriller fashion, with bleak colors and slow pacing.

This allowed Darabont to create an atmosphere of pure horror, where everything that happens on the screen makes the viewer's hair stand on end. Bodies lined up in sheets in the hospital parking lot, Morgan Jones' heart-wrenching story, and an iconic legless walker that Rick kills out of pity have all become timeless classics, giving us emotions that few episodes could offer later.

Do you agree that Days Gone Bye is the best episode of The Walking Dead?