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Every Time We’ve Seen a Helicopter on ‘The Walking Dead’

The Walking Dead has never shied away from helicopters on the show. For the entire run of the series, writers have often used helicopters to instill a sense of mystery, but they have never really served a greater purpose to the plot. However, in the closing moments of last night’s episode “The Big Scary U” it appeared that may be about to change. We saw Rick walking off on his own to put another peg of his plan into motion when he hears and sees a helicopter flying overhead and he looked just as confused as we all were.

rick twd helicopter

For seasons, The Walking Dead has been teasing helicopters so we thought we’d take a look back at their appearances thus far and just what exactly the latest addition could mean!

The First Helicopter

The Walking Dead featured a mysterious chopper in the show’s pilot back in 2010 when Rick catches a brief glimpse of one in the reflection of a building. He tries to chase it down on his horse but finds no success. Instead, he ends up encountering the herd of walkers in the city and ends up in the tank where he is saved by Glenn. So, in a way, this helicopter is what brings Rick to the group and kicks off the whole series.

Leader of the Pack Helicopter

helicopter walking dead season 2

At the end of season 2, we see another helicopter flying over Atlanta, which catches the attention of the walkers and leads them out of the city where they would eventually overrun Hershel’s farm.

Welcome to Woodbury Chopper

In season three we were given a pretty big helicopter reveal regarding the state of the military in the apocalypse. We briefly met three soldiers flying around in a chopper before it encountered some serious mechanical failures and crashed in the woods. This crash is what would introduce us (and Andrea and Michonne) to the Governor and the Woodbury storyline. All of the surviving soldiers were killed by the Governor and his men.

The Grocery Store

In Season 4’s “30 Days Without an Accident” Daryl, Michonne, Sasha, Tyreese, Glenn, Zach, and Bob all go to the Big Spot for a supply run. While it all seems safe on the inside, there is actually an extremely compromised helicopter on the roof, which ends up allowing walkers to fall through the ceiling putting the group in a dangerous situation. Much like in season 3, it also was a military helicopter.

The Junkyard Helicopter

Most recently, eagle-eyed viewers spotted a flying object in the background of a scene with Rick and the Junkyard community. Nothing was ever said or mentioned about the helicopter between the characters so a lot of viewers assumed that it was just an editing error. However, the shot is clearly on a green screen so the chances of this being an editing error are very slim, meaning that fans were meant to spot it.

Pollyanna McIntosh who plays Jadis on the show was asked about the possible chopper by the Huffington Post last year:

 “I can’t say anything. You either talk about a studio screw-up or you talk about a possible thing that might be part of a story, so either way I’m not doing the show justice.”

While her coy answer didn’t provide much, it’s easy to assume that perhaps the latter part of her answer was the truth after last night’s reveal.

All Out War Chopper

Animated GIF

After splitting up with Daryl, Rick is walking alone, presumably to Jadis and the Junkyard, to start the next phase of his All Out War plan. “Are you sure about doing it?” Daryl asked right before he left, insinuating that there was some sort of risk involved. Not to mention Rick being spotted by someone that certainly looks to be a Junkyard resident only further confirms this theory. Jadis sold out Alexandria to the Saviors in the season 7 finale so Rick going to try and sway them back to his side would probably not be a plan that many would support. However, if Jadis and her group have a helicopter then perhaps Rick’s risky plan could pay off.

The helicopter could also signal another looming threat that none of our current groups even know about, which would be an interesting twist while everyone is literally in the midst of their own war with each other. Some thought that maybe the helicopter has something to do with the Fear the Walking Dead crossover event that Kirkman teased at New York Comic-Con.

Another theory is that the helicopter is just a reference to the pilot. Kicking off the eighth season with the 100th episode of the series, viewers were promised a season full of easter eggs and callbacks, however, this just seems too intentional to not be vital to the story. Perhaps for the first time, something will come of these helicopters that will be integral to the plot and it would be fitting to finally get some answers in this landmark season.

What are your thoughts on the helicopters in the show and more specifically, the one from last night’s episode?


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Casey is a TV junkie currently living in Raleigh, NC. She studied Writing & Media Communication at James Madison University (go dukes!) and currently works in the pharmaceutical field. Constantly wanting to talk about television and learn more about her favorite shows led her to discovering the joy of recaps. From there, she combined her love of TV and writing to become a recapper for FanFest.