Despite being only the third episode in the season, “Thank You” gave longtime “Walking Dead” viewers quite a scare. As it reached its end, survivors Nicholas (Michael Traynor) and Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun) end up surrounded by a crowd of walkers, leaving them no choice but to seek refuge atop a dumpster. Now trapped among a sea of flesh-hungry zombies, the two men assess their options. Nicholas decides to shoot himself and, in doing so, sends himself and Glenn careening to the ground below. The framing of the scene leads viewers to believe that the latter has perished, but as we learn in “Heads Up,” he wisely slid beneath the dumpster.
Though this strategy worked wonders for Glenn, allowing him to live up until Season 7, Reddit user MynameisntWejdene described his escape as a negative turning point for “The Walking Dead.” “That scene was the very first symptom of this sickness to always surprise/shock the fans instead of telling a great storyline,” they wrote, explaining that fake-out deaths became a storytelling crutch for the series from that point on. HattyTWD16 adds, “It was a stunt and done for shock,” and Minimalistmacrophage explains that “Dumpstergate” and similar events “were done to retain, surprise or appease comic fans.”
Given its pop-culture prevalence, the debate over when exactly “The Walking Dead” began its fall from grace will rage on for decades to come. Within these discussions, Glenn’s dumpster dive is more than likely to emerge at least once, seeing as it continues to rile up fans all these years later.