Season 2 Poster
The second season begins with Rick and his group of survivors leaving Atlanta. They decide Fort Benning will be their next destination. Along the way, they encounter a traffic jam of abandoned vehicles on I-85. The group loots several vehicles and as a large horde of walkers approaches, is forced to hide under the vehicles. Carol's daughter, Sophia, chased away from the highway by two of the remaining walkers, runs off into the woods. Carl is accidentally shot during a search for the missing girl. The remaining group deals with interpersonal relationships while various searches for Sophia are performed. Otis, a hunter who shot Carl, leads Rick and Shane to a large, isolated farm owned by a veterinarian named Hershel Greene. The remainder of Rick's group moves to the farm while Carl recovers. The group tries to co-exist alongside Hershel's family, but dangerous secrets and disagreements over leadership cause tensions to rise. Daryl leads the initiative to search for Sophia and becomes close to Carol as a result. Glenn builds a romantic relationship with Hershel's daughter Maggie and discovers that Hershel's barn is full of walkers, many of whom in life had been Hershel's friends and relatives. When Shane forces the walkers out of the barn, and the group opens fire, Sophia appears as one of the undead, and Rick shoots her.
The bonds of the group are tested in the aftermath of the showdown at the barn. Carol, in her grief, withdraws, as does Daryl, who claims that the group is "broken". Hershel, reacting to what has happened, orders Rick and his group to leave immediately, before disappearing to grieve for his family. Rick and Glenn go searching for Hershel and discover him drinking heavily in a local tavern. After trying to persuade Hershel to return, two other men enter the bar — survivors from another group. They tell Rick that Fort Benning has been overrun, and the two men insist on moving onto Hershel's farm, only to be repeatedly turned down by Rick. The situation rapidly turns violent, and there is a brief, bloody gunfight that leaves the two new arrivals dead. The dead men's former group quickly finds and opens fire on Rick, Hershel, and Glenn. The noise of the firefight attracts a large horde of walkers, and in their desperation to get away, the other group of survivors leaves Randall, one of their members, behind. Rick cannot stand the thought of leaving him to be killed by walkers, so the three blindfold him and take him to the farm.
With the secrecy of the farm possibly compromised, Rick decides to drive Randall into the countryside and abandon him. When a disagreement with Shane botches the plan, Rick decides to bring Randall back for execution instead. Hershel's daughter Beth tries to kill herself in order to escape a seemingly hopeless situation. Carol, done with mourning, and with new resolve, does her best to bring Daryl back into the fold. The group deliberates over Randall's fate and despite Dale's protests, decides to execute him. Carl is found watching Rick as he prepares to execute Randall. Dale is fatally wounded by a walker on the farm, indirectly caused by Carl, who had previously seen the walker stuck in the mud in nearby woods and did not kill it because he did not see the walker as any harm to anyone. Daryl euthanizes Dale as an act of mercy. After Dale's funeral, the group decides they need to rediscover their humanity. They conduct a search for Randall, whom Shane had secretly released and killed nearby. Daryl and Glenn, who discover that Randall died of a broken neck and was not bitten or scratched by walkers, come to the realization that the dead can reanimate without having previous exposure to the walkers. Shane uses the search for Randall as a plot to silence Rick, but the plan backfires, and Rick is faced with killing Shane. After Shane dies, he reanimates, and Carl shoots him in the head.
The gunshot attracts a large horde of nearby walkers, and Rick and Carl are forced into the barn for safety. They ignite the barn after drawing walkers inside, both to draw attention and to save themselves. In the cumulative battle to save the farm, Jimmy and Patricia are killed, Andrea is left behind, and the RV is lost. Andrea attempts to survive on her own and is later rescued by a mysterious hooded person with a sword, leading chained, armless, walkers.
The remaining survivors – Rick, Lori, Carl, Glenn, Daryl, Carol, T-Dog, Maggie, Beth, and Hershel – regroup on the highway but are forced to make camp due to a shortage of gas. Frustrated, Rick reveals the truth behind Shane's death and what Dr. Jenner whispered to him at the CDC: whatever the plague is, they all carry it and will return as walkers upon death, even if they are not bitten or scratched by a walker. A large prison looms in the distance as the season ends.