(WARNING: This article contains spoilers for the full series of The Walking Dead)
It seems at least once a season an animal of some sort meets a horrible fate on The Walking Dead. Season 7 is now no different, as viewers watched a deer be torn apart by walkers in the show's most recent episode, "Say Yes." While each death of a human hero throughout the series is an emotional gut punch, the death of an animal can be just as affecting, especially since — unlike humans — the animals have no way of defending themselves from attack.
Let's take a look back at the unpleasant fates we have seen many animals suffer in The Walking Dead's post-apocalyptic world.
While attempting to track down his family in the series' early episodes, Rick commandeers a horse he comes across. Seven seasons in, the shot of Rick riding alone down an abandoned road remains one of the most iconic shots in the history of The Walking Dead. Sadly, the horse is the first to fall victim to the show's animal curse.
Riding into the initially empty-looking city, Rick 'rounds a corner on his steed, coming face to face with a herd of walkers. He turns to flee, but his confronted by another herd. The sound of the horse's galloping hooves draws more walkers, leaving Rick surrounded. Rick falls off, with the walkers dragging the horse down to tear it apart. The poor animal's corpse is seen briefly in the following episode.
The 'Oh My God, They Shot Carl!' Deer
While Rick, Shane and Carl search for the missing Sophia in the first episode of Season 2, the trio stumble upon a wild deer. As Carl approaches the animal, a gunshot rings out, with the bullet passing straight through the deer and into Carl.
While Carl survives the ordeal thanks to Hershel's intervention, the deer was not so lucky.
The Greene Farm Chickens
The chickens raised on Hershel's farm were being used as food for the walkers that were kept in the barn. Poor little chickies.
The Other Animals On Hershel's Farm
Aside from the chickens, we know that Hershel kept a few horses, and possibly other livestock. The animals most likely became zombie food when the farm was overrun. If they did survive they either became feral or starved to death following the departure of their human caretakers.
The Prison Piglets
In the early episodes of Season 4, Rick is focusing his efforts on long-term survival at the Prison, learning the ways of farming from Hershel. The prison's growing farm includes a pen holding a mother pig and her five piglets.
The mother pig — named Violet by Carl — falls ill and dies, coinciding with a mysterious illness breaking out among the prison's human residents. In hopes of stopping the spread of disease, while also improving the prison's defenses, Rick kills the remaining piglets and feeds them to the walkers outside. This distracts them long enough for Glenn and Sasha to mend the collapsing fence.
Flame, Michonne's Horse
Flame, found by the survivors sometime between Seasons 3 and 4, was a horse often ridden by Michonne on her excursions outside of the prison. While her death happens off-screen, Flame's disemboweled corpse is seen in the aftermath of The Governor's assault, heavily implying that she was killed by walkers.
While the group is traveling early in Season 5 of The Walking Dead, they come under attack by a pack of domestic dogs gone feral. Sasha shoots the dogs, who are then cooked and eaten by the Survivors. Only Noah seems troubled by this.
While the group are waiting to be let inside Alexandria, #DarylDixon shoots and kills a possum with his crossbow. As the gates open, Daryl proudly displays the dead animal and declares that he has brought dinner.
After the group has begun settling in, Aaron enlists Daryl's help to track and capture Buttons, a wild horse seen roaming outside the walls of Alexandria. While the horse proves quite elusive, Daryl's skills allow the pair to track Buttons to a nearby field. Unfortunately, walkers soon emerge. While they try to save Buttons, Daryl is distracted when Aaron is attacked, and the time it takes to help him is long enough for the walkers to take Buttons down. Aaron is forced to mercy-kill the horse with a shot to the head. Horses have really terrible luck on this show.
One second we see a tortoise happily wandering along the forest floor as Enid approaches. The next second the poor thing's shell is smashed open and she is eating it raw. Eew.
Tabitha The Goat
Tabitha was a goat belong to a man named Eastman, from whom Morgan learned his "All Life is Precious" philosophy. While Morgan rescues the goat from walkers once, she is not so lucky a second time. Escaping the cage she was being kept in for safety while both Morgan and Eastman were away from the house, Tabitha is caught and devoured by walkers.
The 'Oh My God, Did Rick Just Die?' Deer
Deer, it seems, are either unlucky or very lucky for the Grimes family, depending on which way you look at it. While climbing an old ferris wheel to shoot a deer for Michonne, Rick falls into a crowd of walkers, and for a few heart-stopping moments, it appears as though he has been devoured. Thankfully, Rick was hiding and the #zombies were only eating the deer.
Still, its not all doom and gloom for animals in The Walking Dead. The horses at The Kingdom seem to be doing well so far, as do their zombie-fed pigs. However, its hard to argue that the odds have been stacked against the animal kingdom so far.
Good luck, Shiva.
What other animals do you think could make an appearance on The Walking Dead?