On the road to Atlanta Rick overcomes a few setbacks. When he reaches Atlanta, he meets a young survivor named Glenn. Glenn takes him to a small camp of survivors where he is reunited with his wife, Lori, and his son, Carl.
The survivors try to live a normal life, but when a walker attacks the small group, they learn vital information. Rick's former police officer, partner, and friend, Shane, grows jealous of Rick's sudden return.
After Shane persuades Rick that the group needs to stay near Atlanta, Rick feels the group needs more guns. Rick and Glenn make a trip into the city limits to get more guns, but not without trouble. Lori is keeping a secret from Rick.
Lori's pregnancy stirs the group. Dale has speculations over the father. The survivors find a potential safe-haven, Wiltshire Estates, but they fail to see a sign at the entrance warning "All Dead Do Not Enter".
Otis, Carl's shooter, tells Rick that he knows where Carl can be treated. Upon arrival at the farm Rick is greeted by Greene Family; Hershel, his six children, and Otis's girlfriend, Patricia. Carl regains consciousness after receiving medical aid. Glenn has a spark with one of Hershel's daughters, Maggie. Hershel reveals that he is keeping walkers in his barn.
Tyreese kills Chris in revenge, and the survivors learn that one does not need to be bitten to come back as a walker. Rick visits Shane, Tyreese is abandoned, and Hershel finds his twin daughters decapitated.
Rick and Tyreese get into a fight which quickly turns physical. Rick says that if Carol dies it is his fault and Tyreese claims that Rick enjoyed cutting of Allen's leg. Andrea informs them that Allen has died. After shooting Allen, Rick passes out mysteriously.
Rick wakes up and Dale informs him that he is no longer their leader and tells that they have founded a committee consisting of himself, Rick, Hershel, and Tyreese. Rick walks outside and speaks to the group declaring, "We are the walking dead."
Rick attacks the doctor, Dr. Stevens, and is quickly sedated by Alice, Stevens' assistant. The Governor rapes Michonne for the second time with Glenn next door. The Governor informs Rick that he let Glenn free and knows everything about the Prison.
One of the cage fighters, Harold, is killed by another, Eugene. The Governor hires Michonne to fight with him. Eugene is quickly killed by Michonne. Martinez, the man who handed Rick to The Governor, comes to tell him they have to leave immediately.
A flashback of Shane and Lori having sex is shown. Glenn and Maggie's wedding are held. A handful of Prison survivors take a trip outside due to lack of weapons. Lori tells Rick they need to talk about Shane.
A little group is taken outside to bring a zombie inside, so Alice could develop a cure to zombie virus. Andrea assures Dale she and Tyreese are just friends. Carol commits suicide by letting the zombie bite her.
Rick faints due to the injury. Dale realizes they have to leave The Prison, and takes a couple of others with him, despite some of the survivors wanting to stay. Rick wakes up and states they could not do this. Michonne and Tyreese commit a counterattack, but Tyreese is captured by Woodbury survivors.
The Governor has captured Tyreese. The Governor brings him to The Prison and decapitates him in front of Rick and others. After failing to gain access in by this action, The Governor realizes Michonne is pointing a gun to his head.
Michonne finds The Governor, injures him but is able to flee. The Governor commits his final attack to The Prison and opens fire. Andrea returns to the Prison. The Governor gets desperate after losing a lot of men, and drives a tank over the fence. Everyone goes to get their families, and Rick finds someone pointing a gun to Lori's head.
The Governor commits his final attack on The Prison, killing almost every Prison survivor. Lilly kills The Governor after realizing she killed a baby. The rest of the Woodbury soldiers lock themselves up in The Prison while zombies take over the place. Rick and Carl remain to be the only survivors.
Carl saves his father and defeats a couple of zombies outside. He returns to Rick and states he can't protect anyone. Rick wakes up for a moment, to prove he is not a zombie. Carl puts his father's head on his lap and states he is scared.
Abraham reveals how his family died and Rick tells him about Woodbury. The group finds Morgan Jones, but his son has died and turned. Rick asks Morgan to shoot him, but instead he lets Duane roam freely.
Rick and the others are able to shake off the walkers for a moment. Ben seems to have signs of a mental disease. All survivors are gathered up and Rick tells everyone to leave immediatelly. Dale isn't satisfied, and is afraid of Rick possibly endangering them all again in the future.
Andrea finds Billy murdered by Ben in the forest. The group discuss about possibly having to kill the unstable Ben. A priest, Gabriel, shows up. Ben is later shot by Carl. As the survivors leave, they are watched by two men.
Dale reveals to the Hunters he was bitten earlier. They drag him to a field next to Gabriel's church. Dale serves as bait and the survivors have to get in the church, as the Hunters start shooting. Glenn is wounded, and Rick realizes they're being toyed with by the attackers.
Aaron, another survivor, is tied up by others. Everyone except Rick recommends to leave with Aaron to his place. On the way, they encounter Aaron's partner, Eric. Rick tells Abraham to shoot both of them if they were to try something.
The survivors discover a flare, which was shot by Heath, a supplyrunner. The other runner, Scott is seriously wounded. With new survivors' help, Rick and his people reach their new home; Alexandria Safe-Zone.
Rick meets one of the residents, Jessie's husband, named Pete. Pete acts violently against his family, which gets Rick worried. Later he beats Peter up and takes his gun out of the pocket, but is stopped by Michonne. Glenn and Heath encounter a new group outside the town.
Michonne amputates Morgan's arm, and they drag him to Rick's place. Some survivors are hiding there, and Jessie asks what they're going to do with other children and families. Rick simply answers they're not his children.
Michonne informs them that Morgan has died. The survivors try to reach Dr. Denise Cloyd's place. Jessie and her son Ron are killed off outside, as Rick and Carl abandon them. Douglas is bitten and starts to shoot haphazardly. One of the bullets takes a chunk out of Carl's face. He falls down and Rick brings his son to Denise's, asking her to save his life.
The Survivors clean up the Safe-Zone and mourn for those who have died. They start to discuss measures and actions that have to be taken for the future. Rosita leaves Abraham because he was cheating on her with Holly. Carl shows signs of being alive.
Glenn hears Nicholas's thoughts and attacks him. Glenn barely manages to get away and tells his family to lock themselves up in the bathroom. Nicholas points his gun at Glenn until Rick arrives making clear how wrong those actions are.
Michonne and Abraham encounter the unknown observer, introduced as Paul Monroe, and more commonly known by Jesus. He reveals he came from a big commuity, where almost two hundred other survivors supposedly live.
Rick stuns the new survivor fearing they might have been targeted by hostile survivors. Rick swears he is going to take everything the new community has if Paul is lying, which would basically mean the death of the other survivors' community.
Paul takes Rick and others inside the Hilltop Colony. Rick is introduced to Gregory, a man partially in charge at this place. A man named Ethan comes back from a failed mission and stabs Gregory. Rick tackles him and kills him immediatelly with his own knife.
The Hilltop Colony residents are shocked about the murder of Ethan. Paul starts to explain the situation regarding 'The Saviors', who keep the area clean from zombies but require half of Hilltops supplies as payment. Everyone agrees that Rick's group is able to defeat them. On the way to the Safe-Zone Rick states they can finally start living.
Rick's group encounter members of The Saviors on the way to the Safe-Zone. Three of them are killed and Rick tells the last one to go and pass a message on to Negan. They reach the Safe-Zone, and Maggie reveals she's pregnant. Later on Abraham and Eugene slip outside in hopes that they can restore their ammunition not knowing they are watched by a group of men.
During the search for ammunition machinery, Abraham is killed by the Savior Dwight. Carl finds Rick and Andrea in bed and learns that they are together. Many Saviors assemble in front of Alexandria Safe-Zone, holding Eugene hostage and demanding access inside. Eugene injures Dwight and Rick's group manage to kill a few Saviors, as Dwight and the rest retreat. Abraham's body is dragged to the safe-zone and Rick states that he doesn't know what to do next.
Rick tells everyone Negan is now in charge. Jesus is captured by Dwight but is able to flee. Carl hides in The Saviors' van, and kills several of them after he is discovered. He is stopped violently by Dwight until Negan tells him to stop and asks "is that any way to treat their new guest?".
Negan gives Carl a tour on The Saviors' base. Negan forces Carl to show him his eye socket and sing a song to Lucille. Negan then reiterates that The Saviors' every rule must be followed and then punishes one of the Saviors that had had a relationship with one of Negan's wives. Afterwards he tries to figure out what to do with Carl.
Rick and Jesus are escorted to Ezekiel, leader of The Kingdom. During the following audience with the "king" they discuss the problem of Negan and The Saviors. Suddenly Dwight enters the scene and reveals his intentions of wanting to help them take down their common enemy, but Rick doubts his true allegiances.
Jesus is able to catch up to Kal and prevents him from informing The Saviors of the resistance movement. Rick leads a small group of survivors to The Kingdom, and introduces them to Ezekiel. After a tense introduction, Michonne and Ezekiel bond as Ezekiel reveals his personal story.
Rick, Jesus, and Ezekiel bring their forces together at the The Kingdom. Negan arrives at the Safe-Zone early to collect their offering. He is approached by Spencer, who wants him to kill Rick and appoint him leader of the Safe-Zone. However, Negan dislikes his lack of courage and kills him.
Jesus, Ezekiel and his men, outrageously, interrupt Negan's execution attempt at Rick and his fellow survivors, and kill multiply Saviors as the rest and Negan retreat. Badly beaten Andrea is secured. Negan realizes they are going to war.