Throughout the entirety of The Walking Dead, many viewers have expressed their desire for at least a few F-bombs on the show — but with AMC being a cable TV network, they’re pretty strict when it comes to profanity. However, this week’s episode of The Walking Dead finally makes an aggressive F-bomb loud and clear.
While most networks allow most of the “seven dirty words” that George Carlin listed in his 1972 “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television” monologue, a line has always been drawn at the F-word. Breaking Bad was restricted to a limited amount of swear words per season, but it was fine without the F-word. Then there’s The Walking Dead, which has suffered a bit from its censorship. The comics detail a far more graphic world where the F-word is commonly used, especially by the recently returned Negan, who makes it one of his trademarks. It made sense in the beginning of the show for there to be a lack of obscenity, but as time went on and many survivors became hardened by the rough environment, it seemed questionable how every character’s language was angelic.
Back in Season 9, Episode 4, The Walking Dead seemed to have dropped its first F-bomb, but fans weren’t entirely sure. It was spoken by Daryl (played by the recently injured Norman Reedus), who grunts and mumbles so much that it was difficult to confirm if he actually said it. But thanks to the power of subtitles, viewers confirmed that he said it while ranting to Rick: “…and you sure as f**k wouldn’t have found any of us.” That was the first time the show aired a character using the swear word, but behind the scenes and DVD exclusive scenes showed Rick using it in the final scene of Season 4 and again in Season 6. There’s also an uncensored version of Negan’s introduction that makes his character more appealing to comic readers.
Now in Season 11, there’s an F-bomb that’s even clearer and more satisfying. In “Trust,” Lance Hornsby and a crew of Commowealth soldiers are under the impression that Maggie stole his weapons cartel and took part in Riverbend’s massacre. He questions her son Hershel Jr. for information and is met with hostility by Elijah, Maggie and Daryl. Of course, the Commonwealth soldiers are already prepared to attack, so Daryl responds to Lance with a very definite “Tell them to drop the guns or something really f*g bad happens.”
Daryl’s F-bomb was met with excitement by fans, especially those who have been disappointed by The Walking Dead’s watered-down dialogue. The show is known for its blood, gore and raw visuals when it comes to death, yet there’s no reflection of that in its language. According to FanFest, AMC had a policy that was dropped before Season 8 where The Walking Dead was allowed two F-words per season, which was utilized in Season 3 of Fear the Walking Dead and partially in The Walking Dead: World Beyond. So it seems the main series has been a little afraid of getting out of its comfort zone.
It could also be that the show is in the last season and doesn’t have that much to lose anymore. Dropping an F-bomb here and there isn’t going to hurt in the long run because there’s no long run anymore. But its use of profanity in “Trust” is so much more impactful because of how rare it is. Daryl spitting swears at Lance shows the anger he reaches when someone threatens the people he cares about the most, and maybe that realization makes The Walking Dead’s lack of casual swearing worth it.
To see Daryl drop the F-bomb, watch The Walking Dead Season 11, Episode 15 on AMC+. The Walking Dead’s Season 11B finale airs next Sunday at 9 pm ET, and is available to stream a week early on AMC+.