Running low on gas on a deserted Georgia highway, Sheriff's Deputy Rick Grimes pulls his police cruiser past overturned cars to a gas station. Vehicles, corpses, children's toys, and abandoned campsites litter the ground; a handmade sign hanging at the station reads "NO GAS." As Rick searches, he hears something and ducks down, glimpsing the slippered feet of a little girl beneath a car as she picks up a teddy bear on the ground. He calls to her until slowly she turns around to face him. He tells her not to be afraid, but it appears he should be the one who's nervous. Her lips and right cheek have been torn away, exposing raw teeth and muscle. Rick's face falls as she starts toward him, growling. She approaches faster and he steps backwards, draws his gun, and shoots her in the head.

The next scene flashes back to before the apocalypse, with Rick and his partner and best friend, Shane Walsh, eating hamburgers and fries in their cruiser while they joke about the differences between men and women. When the conversation turns to Rick's wife Lori, he turns somber. He shares that they've been fighting lately, and says that Lori accused him that morning of not caring about his family in front of their son, Carl. "The difference between men and women?" Rick muses. "I would never say something that cruel to her — especially not in front of Carl."

An APB from neighboring Linden County reports a high-speed pursuit in progress, explaining that there are two men, armed and dangerous, in the car being chased. Rick and Shane dump their food and rush to the scene, where they lay down a spike strip and meet up with their co-workers, Lam Kendal and Leon Basset. As they all wait for the car, the youngest officer, Basset, muses about their chances of getting on a police chase reality show. Rick tells him to focus, and worry about having a round in his gun chamber and the safety off. Basset sheepishly checks his gun while Shane muses that it would be "kinda cool gettin' on one of them shows."

The car approaches, pursued by two more cruisers containing the Linden County Sheriff's Department officers. The vintage car with the suspects inside speeds over the spike strip, shredding the tires. It loses control and flips off the road, rolling several times before coming to a rough stop upside down in a field. "Holy shit," mutters Shane, his gun cocked as the officers descend on the vehicle.

Rick carefully approaches the overturned car. The first man emerges from the vehicle and immediately starts shooting at the officers. Rick yells at him to drop his gun, but the man shoots directly at Rick and hits him in the chest. Shane kills the gunman as Rick falls to the ground. The second man emerges from the vehicle brandishing a rifle, but one of the Linden County officers shoots him in the chest and kills him. "I'm alright!" Rick shouts, winded, the gunman having shot his Kevlar vest. Shane approaches Rick as he pulls himself off the ground.

"Shane, you do not tell Lori that happened! Ever!" Rick commands Shane after the firefight. His back turned, he fails to notice a third gunman crawling from the backseat of the car. The man fires and hits Rick in the side, where his vest does not protect him. He falls to the ground bleeding, and Shane kills the third man before rushing to Rick's aid. He commands Rick to stay with him, barking at Leon to call an ambulance.

Shane delivers flowers to Rick in the hospital, but Rick isn't fully conscious or at all aware of what's going on. He wakes in the hospital room talking to Shane about his spoon collection, unshaven, sweaty, and dehydrated. Alone, he calls for Shane, then notices the flowers have wilted and died, the beep of the machines has stopped, and the clock on the wall is a completely different time than in his vision. He pulls himself weakly from the bed and collapses to the ground, calling out weakly for the nurse — but no one comes.

He stumbles into the bathroom, guzzling water directly from the tap before he heads for the door. He stumbles into a gurney that blocks the entrance to his room, but he pushes it aside and continues. The hallway is dark and disheveled, with lights flickering and wires hanging from the ceiling. He goes to the nurse's station and tries the phone: it's dead. He finds a set of matches and strikes one, looking for anything else worth taking from behind the desk.

A flickering light draws his attention, and through a doorway, Rick sees the ravaged body of a nurse missing most of her skin. His eyes can't believe what he's seeing and he backs away, confused and afraid. Further down the hall, the walls are covered in blood and riddled with bullet holes. A double door leading into the cafeteria has been chained shut, a message scrawled across in black paint: "DON'T OPEN/DEAD INSIDE." A woman's hands, her fingernails dirty and broken, reach through the cracks and fiddle with the padlock and chains. Terrified, Rick stumbles backwards.

He tries the elevator but it's dead, so he exits through a dark stairwell that reeks of rotting flesh. He chokes on the smell as he lumbers down the stairs, lighting matches until he finds the burnt out exit sign.

A door opens to the back of the hospital and the loading bay. When Rick's eyes adjust to the sunlight he sees hundreds of decayed, rancid, fly-covered bodies wrapped in sheets and arranged in rows and piles. He leaves the hospital and stumbles up a hill. There's a military helicopter, sandbags, and other signs of a military cordon, but everything has been abandoned.

He wanders down the road in his hospital gown, spotting an overturned bicycle in a park. As he reaches for it, the body of a woman — badly decayed, her legs and lips missing — turns and reaches for him, pathetically moaning in hunger. He falls over, disturbed, before he speeds away on the bicycle.

Rick arrives at his home to find the front door ajar and the house deserted. Sobbing on the floor, he calls out for Lori and Carl, questioning if any of this is real or if he's dreaming.

He heads back outside the house and sits on the steps, then spots a man stumbling down the road and slowly lifts his hand to wave and get his attention. But a young boy creeps up from behind and hits Rick across the face with a shovel. "Carl, I found you", Rick mutters.

"Daddy I got this sumbitch! I'm gonna smack him dead!" the boy screams. The boy's father, Morgan Jones, approaches the stumbling man and shoots him in the head, then walks toward Rick and points the gun in his face. "What's that bandage for?" Morgan asks him, cocking the gun and telling him, "You tell me, or I will kill you." Rick passes out.

He wakes up with his arms and legs tied to a bed. Morgan's son, Duane, stands guard with a baseball bat. "Did you get bit?" Morgan asks Rick stiffly, having changed his bandages though Rick's gun-shot wound has mostly healed. "Just shot, as far as I know," Rick says. Morgan checks his forehead and says if he had "the fever" it would have killed him by now, so he sets him free of the bedposts with a switchblade and offers him a seat at their dinner table. They have canned beans. Rick recognizes the home they're in as his neighbors', Fred and Cindy Drake's, forcing Morgan to admit, "It was empty when we got here." He tells Rick not to look out the window and let out the light, before he begins to explain the story of the Outbreak and the following months to a confused and disoriented Rick for the first time.

"I never should have fired that gun today," Morgan says. "The sound draws 'em. Now they're all over the street." Rick accuses Morgan of shooting a man in cold blood. "It was a Walker," Morgan corrects. He adds that they get more active after dark sometimes.

After Duane insists they give blessing "in such crazy days" before they eat, Morgan explains to Rick that the man he shot would have tried to eat them. "One thing I do know, don't you get bit," Morgan says. Bites kill, he explains, and then you become one of them. "The fever burns you out. But then after a come back."

"Seen it happen," Duane adds solemnly.

Before bed, the trio are talking about Rick's son, Carl, and Rick settles a bet between father and son over whether or not he's a bank robber. "Sheriff's deputy," Rick laughs.

A car alarm goes off outside and they turn off the lights. Rick and Morgan peer out to the street through heavy covered windows and boarded up doors. The street is filled with walkers, drawn by the noise of the alarm. When a woman wearing a nightgown appears, Duane runs away crying. Morgan comforts his son while Rick stares at the woman through the peephole at the front door. The woman walks up the front steps, looks around, and tries the door handle.

"She died in the other room on that bed," Morgan says, "I should have put her down. I just didn't have it in me. She's the mother of my child."

The next morning, Rick, wearing a white t-shirt and jeans borrowed from either Morgan or Fred Drake, walks outside in a riot mask, carrying a baseball bat. Morgan is teaching him how to kill walkers. "We're sure they're dead? I have to ask," says Rick, approaching a walker near the stoop. "They're dead." Morgan assures him. "Except for something in the brain. That's why it's gotta be the head," he says.

Morgan and Duane exit the house with Rick, and a walker gets up from leaning against a fence. Rick swings the bat, beating the walker down until it stops moving, and aggravating his gunshot injury in the process.

After practice, Rick tells Morgan he thinks his wife and son are still alive when the trio returns to his house. He found empty drawers in the bedrooms, he explains, and the family pictures and photo albums were gone. "Photo albums," Morgan laughs, getting emotional over the memory. "My wife, same thing. There I am packing survival gear; she's grabbing photo albums."

"They're in Atlanta, I bet," Duane offers. Morgan explains that the government was telling people to head to a refugee center there with military protection and food, before the broadcasts stopped. The Center for Disease Control — where they're rumored to be working on a cure — is also in Atlanta.

Rick, Morgan, and Duane head to the King County Sheriff's Department, where they luxuriate in hot showers thanks to a still-operating back-up generator. Morgan tells Rick that his family was headed to Atlanta amid absolute panic. "The streets weren't fit to be on," he recalls. He explains that he and his son never got to Atlanta because they got "stuck" after his wife got bit, and after she died they just stayed hunkered down at the Drake's home. Afterward, Rick packs a duffel bag with guns and gets a change of clothes — his sheriff's uniform — from his locker. He hands Morgan a rifle and some ammunition.

Loading the weapons into the trunk of his cruiser, Rick prepares to set off for Atlanta. Morgan says he'll follow in a few days, once Duane has learned to shoot, so Rick hands Morgan a walkie-talkie. But is has a low battery, and he tells Morgan to turn it on every day at dawn to make contact.

Morgan leaves Rick with a warning: "They may not seem like much one at a time," he says, "But in a group, all riled up and hungry? Man, you watch your ass."

The farewell is interrupted when Rick spots Leon Basset, who has turned into a walker. Basset claws at the chain link fence separating them, and while Rick admits he didn't think much of the young officer, he won't leave him like this. He shoots him in the forehead, putting him down, before he and Morgan drive away from the sheriff's department in opposite directions.

Back home, Duane is covering the windows before dark, and Morgan heads up to the attic carrying Rick's rifle. He looks at old photo albums and pictures of his wife. Tearfully, he positions the rifle facing the street and begins shooting walkers. He commands Duane to stay downstairs when his son gets startled by the gun shots. "Come on, baby," he says, hoping the noise will draw his wife into view. But when she appears, he breaks down, still unable to shoot her.

Rick returns to the park where he found the legless walker, and when he finds her again she reaches for him futilely, unable to attack and satiate her endless hunger. "I'm sorry this happened to you," Rick says, shooting her in the head and putting her out of her misery before he heads back to his car.

En route to Atlanta on Highway 85, Rick sends out a broadcast on his cruiser's CB radio. In a camp outside the city with an old man perched atop an RV with a pair of binoculars, a group of survivors receives the transmission. A young blonde girl in pink rushes to the CB, but can't get a reply through. Shane, Lori, and Carl are among them, but they don't recognize Rick's voice over the garbled transmission. By the time Shane takes over the CB controls and introduces himself, Rick has left the emergency broadcast channel.

Lori voices that she's been saying for a week that they should put signs up on the highway warning people away from the city, and volunteers to go on her own, but Shane argues that venturing out is too risky. Lori walks off, fuming, and Shane goes after her. "You can be pissed at me all you want; it's not gonna change anything," he tells her.

Inside Lori's tent, Shane tells her that she can't run off half-cocked; that she needs to keep it together for Carl, who has lost so much already. Lori agrees, and they kiss passionately before Carl interrupts them. Lori promises him she's not going anywhere and tells her son to go finish his chores. He runs off smiling.

Rick's cruiser runs out of fuel, so he abandons his car on the highway and heads out on foot with a gas can, making sure to grab the Grimes family photo he keeps above his rear-view mirror and stashing it in his jacket pocket. He approaches a farmhouse looking for gas, where he makes the grisly discovery that a man has shot his wife and committed suicide. 'GOD FORGIVE US' is written in blood on the wall.

Rick tries to locate the keys of the pick-up truck parked in their driveway, but finds a horse on their property instead. He saddles up and rides the rest of the way to Atlanta, but it's nothing like Morgan described it. Hundreds of burned out cars trying to leave the city have stalled out on the other side of the freeway, while the road into the city is completely deserted.

Nonetheless, he continues to ride in to the devastated metropolis, with no other leads on his wife and son. He searches the streets on horseback, finding an overrun military blockade and more burned out vehicles. Two ravens peck at a dead animal. He awakens a few walkers along the way, so he and his horse speed up to a trot as he looks back to see them emerging from buses and alleys.

Rick hears a helicopter pass overhead, catching the reflection in a windowed skyscraper. He tries to follow it, but leads himself and the horse straight into a horde of hundreds of walkers. The undead swarm them, toppling him as the walkers devour the horse. While the walkers are distracted, Rick scrambles underneath an abandoned tank, but more walkers come after him and grab at him from both ends.

Rick shoots several of them, but more just keep coming. In desperation, he places the gun to his temple. "Lori, Carl, I'm sorry," he says — but looking up, he sees an open hatch underneath the tank and crawls inside just in time.

He catches his breath and takes the gun of a zombified soldier that appears dead inside the tank. But the movement awakens him, and the soldier turns to bite Rick. Terrified, Rick shoots, and a deafening echo reverberates inside the repressed air of the tank. Disoriented, he notices that the top hatch of the tank is open. He claws his way to the top and lifts his head out to stop the ringing in his ears. He spots his bag of guns, but walkers see him. They begin climbing the tank to get at him, but Rick seals himself inside, with no idea what he'll do next. Walkers bang on the hatch, unable to get in, while others still devour the horse.

Rick holds the soldier's pistol to his forehead, sweating. The tank's radio crackles. "Hey you, dumbass," a voice says. "You in the tank. Cozy in there?"

Other Cast Co-Stars Jim R. Coleman as Lam Kendal Linds Edwards as Leon Basset Keisha Tillis as Jenny Jones Uncredited Addy Miller as Little Girl Walker Blade as Siggard's Family Horse L. Stephanie Ray as Camp Survivor Frances Cobb as Camp Survivor Samuel Witwer as Tank Walker Joe Giles as Atlanta Suited Walker Mike Kasiske as Black Suited Walker Melissa Cowen as Bicycle Girl Walker Max Calder as Baseball Bat Walker Brian Stretch as Tank Walker Charles Casey as Walker Cody Rowlett as Walker Kristen Sanchez as Walker Sonya Thompson as Walker Larry Mainland as Walker Steve Warren as Walker Gary Whitta as Pajama Walker Joe Hernandez as Walker Under Tank Shannon Brinson as Female Gas Station Walker Tommie Mack Turvey as Unnamed Criminal 1 Chick Bernhard as Unnamed Criminal 2 Brent Bernhard as Unnamed Criminal 3 Erin Leigh Bushko, Carl Cunningham, Jevocas Green, Alexyz Danine Kemp, Ryan Kightlinger, Derrick McLeod, Christoph Vogt, Scott M. Yaffee as Walkers Deaths Summer Criminal Criminal Criminal Hannah (Zombified) Leon Basset (Zombified) Siggard's Family Horse Reception Nancy DeWolf Smith from The Wall Street Journal said that the "pilot episode [is] so good that it has hooked even a zombie hater like me." She said that what made the show so good was that it feels real and looks cinematic.[1] Heather Havrilesky of included the show on their list of 9 new TV shows to not miss, giving it a grade of "A", with the author saying "A film-quality drama series about zombies? Somebody bite me!"[2] The show currently scores 85 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 25 reviews, indicating Universal acclaim.[3] The pilot received 5.3 million viewers.[4]

Trivia First Appearance of Rick Grimes, Shane Walsh, Lori Grimes, Lambert Kendal, Morgan Jones, Duane Jones, Dale Horvath, Amy, Carl Grimes, and Jenny Jones. First (And Last) Appearance of Summer and Leon Basset. Last Appearance of Hannah.

When Rick goes through the gas station in the beginning of the episode, he passes by a couple of corpses sitting in abandoned cars. The bodies remain dead although in a deleted scene, it appears that they both are stationary zombies.See video at 1:45 It also appears that zombies were supposed to start chasing Rick at the gas station, as seen at the end of this behind the scenes video. The Walking Dead has the most watched TV premiere in AMC's history. The episode's title is based on Volume 1: Days Gone Bye, the collection of The Walking Dead comics that contains the first six issues of the comic book series. The name of the episode, Days Gone Bye, may refer to the fact that many days had gone bye since Rick has been in a coma, coupled with the notion that the days of old, before the Outbreak, are gone forever. Laurie Holden (Andrea) does not appear in the episode, but she is still credited as a main cast member. Steven Yeun (Glenn) does not physically appear in the episode, but his voice is audibly heard over the radio in the tank Rick is trapped in the end of the episode. The story of Hannah (the Bicycle Girl Zombie) was told in the Webisodes. The tank that Rick climbs into is an obsolete British Chieftain, which was never used by the U.S. military, visually modified to represent an M-1 Abrams. Usually Centurions, another obsolete British tank, are used in movies to 'play' the Abrams but it is possible that the producers chose the Chieftain because it has a hatch on the underside of the hull, which the Abrams does not. The song that plays at the end credits, as the camera pulls back from the tank to reveal the street covered in walkers, is "Space Junk" by Wang Chung. "The real villains in The Walking Dead are the living, and the real horror isn't the death that comes from the teeth and nails of zombies but the moral compromises made to avoid that fate. It's a survival story in the truest and bleakest sense, a story of the triumph of surviving an impossible situation, and the devastation of what that survival does to you."[5] This is the first episode to feature the same name as a Volume of the Comic, being proceeded by Made to Suffer and This Sorrowful Life. Differences between the episode and comics makes 18 comparisons between the comic and the episode Days Gone Bye.[6] Below are significant differences between the first episode and the comics:

There is no introduction with Rick shooting a child zombie or Rick and Shane talking in the squad car in the comic. The comic begins with the highway shoot out.[7] Shane is shot in the hand by the criminal in the comic.[7] In the comic, Rick has no vision of Shane visiting him in the hospital.[7] In the comic, Rick changes into street clothing in his hospital room before venturing out of the hospital.[7] In the comic, Rick opens the hospital door to the room which is boarded up and confronts a zombie for the first time. The zombie lunges at Rick, and both fly out an exterior door. The zombie is partially decapitated on the stairs going down to the street.[7] In the comic, Morgan does not worry about Rick's wound. In this episode, Morgan is concerned it is a bite, so he threatens Rick.[7] There is no visit from Morgan's wife in the comic.[7] Rick, Morgan, and Duane visit the sheriff's office at night in the comic, instead of during the day in the first episode.[7] Rick does not know, and does not kill, the walker through the sheriff's office fence in the comic.[7] Similarities between the episode and comics Below are significant similarities between the first episode and the comics: In both the comic and the episode, Rick finds a bike with a dessicated zombie woman next to the bike.[7] In both the comic and the first episode Rick returns to kill the dessicated zombie after stocking up on guns and ammo at the sheriff's office. In the comic he drives a car to her, but in the episode it appears he walks.[7] In both the comic and the episode, Duane hits Rick over the head with a shove