All Of Us Are Dead Season 1 Episodes Ranked

"All of Us Are Dead" is a bonafide global smash. The South Korean zombie drama became Netflix's fifth most popular non-English series debut. There are many good reasons why the apocalyptic thriller has struck such a deep, resounding chord with audiences. From its rich exploration of Gen Z anxieties to universal themes of love and humanity, the Lee Jae-kyoo and Kim Nam-su co-directed series mines themes of death, loss, and grief in a way that feels very rooted in reality.

When a group of Hyosan students becomes trapped in their high school, they must combat more than bullying and everyday social pressures. As the virus outbreak rapidly spreads, they soon learn tough lessons about survival, trust, and true friendship. The government all but abandons them, and that's the hardest pill of all to swallow. Throughout the first season, bonds are tested, sacrifices are made, and humanity teeters on the brink of total collapse.

It's unlike any other zombie show you've ever seen and carries the same emotional urgency of the 2016 blockbuster "Train to Busan." In the swirling mass of blood, guts, and gore, there's a tremendous amount of heart oozing at the show's center. We had our work cut out for us in ranking the episodes, but we give it the old college try below.

12. Episode 1

Premiere episodes rarely do much to move the narrative needle. Episode 1 works overtime in world-building and setting up foundational thematic blocks as well as introducing ground zero of the zombie apocalypse and the central characters. A group of teenagers at Hyosan High School, including Yoon I-sak (Kim Ju-a), Nam On-jo (Ji-hu Park), and Lee Cheong-san (Chan-Young Yoon), struggle to balance class workload, burgeoning romances, and rampant bullying.

Lee Jin-su (Lee Min-goo) is being severely bullied on a rooftop when his injuries ignite a zombie-like condition. He is tossed over the edge, seemingly to his death, and his father, a high school science teacher named Lee Byeong-chan (Byeong-cheol Kim), comes to his aid. After taking him to the hospital, Byeong-chan realizes his son's condition is irreversible and kills him. Later, another student is bitten by a mouse kept in a cage inside Byeong-chan's office, and the infection begins to rapidly spread.

The very definition of a slow burn, the premiere is heavy on character development. There's little action or suspense, but that's to be expected. "All of Us Are Dead" invites you into the characters' pre-apocalypse lives in such a way that, when catastrophe does strike, you actually care what happens.

11. Episode 4

The fourth chapter demonstrates the dire situation and the notion that anyone can die in this world. After being arrested, Byeong-chan confesses how and why he created the zombie virus as a way to make his son stronger and able to fend off his attackers. The flashback sequences pluck the heartstrings in unexpected ways and further underscore the show's themes of bullying, suicidal ideation, and retribution. He may have had the best intentions, but Byeong-chan's actions cost his son and wife their lives. A swarm of zombies descends upon the police station, resulting in Byeong-chan getting bitten and sacrificing himself for Detective Song Jae-ik (Kyoo-hyung Lee).

In the school, the group hunkers down inside the broadcasting room, and Cheong-san and Su-hyeok (Park Solomon) plot a mission to retrieve a mobile phone in another classroom. They scale the wall outside and crawl through a window into the science lab. There, they encounter a zombie horde and become separated. Cheong-san stays back, eventually making his way to the principal's office where he witnesses Gwi-nam (In-soo Yoo) killing the principal. The episode ends in a scuffle and one helluva cliffhanger with Cheong-san's fate hanging delicately in the balance.

Episode 4 is a thrilling and tense entry. While zombies continue to prove a big hurdle, human beings prove to be just as threatening. Gwi-nam's obsession to conceal the murder fuels him for the entire season. As frustrating as he is, Gwi-nam makes for a great villain you absolutely love to hate.

10. Episode 3

Episode 3 is another installment in which humanity shows signs of decay. With the group, led by English teacher Ms. Park (Sang-hee Lee), locked in the broadcasting room, tensions boil over. Lee Na-yeon (Lee Yoo-mi), a rich student who harbors resentment for the poor, suspects her classmate Han Gyeong-su (Ham Sung-min) has been bitten after seeing a scratch on his hand. He claims he got the injury from a scuffle with a zombie outside the window, but Na-yeon will stop at nothing to confirm her bias.

Gyeong-su is then isolated in the next room. Ms. Park suggests Na-yeon confront him and apologize. Na-yeon approaches Gyeong-su to help stop the bleeding, but instead, she wipes a cloth infected with zombie blood on his wound, sealing his fate. Gyeong-su quickly turns and tumbles out of the open window. The group discovers the truth and condemns Na-yeon for her actions. Crocodile tears streaming down her cheeks, she dashes into the hallway, and Ms. Park quickly follows. They are presumed dead.

The third episode is one of "All of Us Are Dead's" most emotional and frustrating entries. But that's the point. The zombie apocalypse should be merciless. As we've seen in plenty of other zombie shows and movies, the worst in society are often the ones who last the longest. Possessing misguided beliefs, Na-yeon's fear and self-loathing are what ultimately cause her to ruin someone else's life. Later in the season, her true self is further exposed: She's a coward who doesn't know any better.

9. Episode 7

Able to detect oncoming rotters from safe distances, Choi Nam-ra (Yi-Hyun Cho) exhibits heightened senses. The group lures a mass of zombies into the music room by using the sound system and barricading themselves in. It's enough to clear the corridor, and the group dashes out the back entrance. They make their way to the rooftop only to find the door locked.

Kim Cheol-soo (Ji-ho Ahn), another Gwi-nam bullying victim, awaits the arrival of an incoming helicopter and claims there are no other survivors inside. The group fights off the throngs of zombies funneling up the stairs and comes face-to-face with Gwi-nam, newly revitalized as a half-zombie (or hombie) just like Nam-ra. It's a nail-biting sequence that almost makes you believe that Gwi-nam will either wipe out the group or get them killed. This is the first occasion Nam-ra proves a worthy adversary against him, grabbing him by the throat and tossing him down into a sea of zombies.

Elsewhere, On-jo's father Nam So-ju (Jeon Bae-soo) continues his journey to the high school, and the unlikely trio of Jae-ik, live-streamer Orangibberish (Lee Si-hoon), and auxiliary policeman Jeon Ho-chul (Park Jae-Chul) learn the value of intuitive thinking and teamwork. Once suicidal, Min Eun-ji (Oh Hye-soo) wields her newfound power as a hombie to exact revenge on those who crossed her.

Episode 7 is an important marker in the story. The students realize there are few others they can trust, while their bonds with each other strengthen in their collective trauma.

8. Episode 2

The first real earth-shattering shock for the group arrives in the second episode. When the cafeteria becomes overrun with zombies, On-jo and Cheong-san escape and hole up in a classroom with numerous other students, including Su-hyeok, Na-yeon, and On-jo's best friend I-sak. As the dust settles and they're able to catch their breath, it is revealed I-sak has been bitten.

On-jo grapples with the whereabouts of her father, and her next closest link to the world changes right before her eyes. The newly-transformed I-sak goes on the attack, but she's soon pushed out of a window. On-jo desperately clutches her best friend's hand and faces the biggest moral dilemma of her life. With flashbacks spliced into the scene, the viewer is given more insight into their friendship. It's not so easy to let go when it's someone you love. In the moment, she clings to the before times, and as the first turning point (of many), her journey from childhood to forced adulthood begins. Ji-hu Park's layered performance is enough to rip your heart out.

7. Episode 10

It would be difficult for anyone to muster up courage or a sliver of hope after the previous episode. With literally nothing else to lose, the group makes their way off the rooftop and onward to the auditorium, which lies close to a forested region just behind the high school. The group's journey is split between Episodes 9 and 10, with Cheong-san stumbling across his zombified mom. He lashes out at a classmate, and another horde of zombies pushes the group further into the woods. 

Once they make it to the auditorium, Nam-ra detects an unseen swarm of zombies that is shockingly revealed with a crack of thunder and a bolt of lightning. Making a mad dash for safety, the group takes shelter in a storage room and argues about their next move. After a democratic vote, they cobble together a movable barricade on wheels and attempt to push through the gymnasium to the closest exit. Two classmates pay a heavy price in the process. But in the episode's final moments, the auditorium door bursts open to reveal On-jo's father. These quiet character moments serve as a nice burst of hope amidst ongoing chaos.

6. Episode 12

The Season 1 finale ties up loose ends and presents several exciting storytelling possibilities. On-jo reels from the brutal death of her father and Cheong-san. She even goes back to the abandoned building, now covered in ash and debris, to finally say goodbye. The group sojourns on, following the train tracks that lead them to a group of armed guards. They are taken to the safe zone, given food, water, and fresh clothes. The group then faces severe scrutiny about what happened.

Episode 12 then jumps ahead roughly four months. Hyosan residents are under strict quarantine, and there's no end in sight. The safe zone has blossomed into a self-sustaining habitat, and reports indicate the epidemic is fully under control. At night, On-jo jumps the barbed-wire fence and goes for long walks in the surrounding countryside, hoping to come across Nam-ra. 

Upon seeing a fire in the distance, they return to the high school rooftop, where Nam-ra reveals that a host of other hombies are living nearby. The season closer walks a fine line between offering up a definitive ending and suggesting a fresh direction for a yet-to-be-announced second season.

5. Episode 5

In Episode 5, Gwi-nam finally gets his comeuppance 一 but not really. The resolution to the cliffhanger from Episode 4 immediately reveals Cheong-san was not injured when Gwi-nam hurled a large butcher knife at his back. Instead, the razor-sharp weapon clatters to the floor. The two scramble down the hallway and make their way into the library, where they brawl across furniture and scale several towering bookshelves.

Still wrestling for the cell phone, Gwi-nam nearly strangles Cheong-san to death. But moments before he loses consciousness, Cheong-san tosses the phone in the air, catches it, and stabs Gwi-nam right in the eyeball. Gwi-nam lurches back, blood streaming down his cheeks, and tumbles off the high shelf into a pit of flesh-eaters. As his flesh is torn from his bones, he barks hateful invectives and claims he'll kill Cheong-san if it's the last thing he ever does. Moments later, Gwi-nam transforms into a half-zombie, and the horde quickly shows little interest in continuing to eat him. He feels empowered, almost god-like, and saunters back into the hall to exact his revenge. The viewer may find this development utterly enraging, but the implications of a virus mutation take the series in a whole new direction.

4. Episode 8

During the stairwell confrontation with Gwi-nam, Eun-ji starts a fire in one of the classrooms, and the all-consuming blaze triggers the doors to unlock. The group finally breaks onto the rooftop, yelling and screaming for the now-departing helicopter to return. It doesn't, of course, so they make an SOS signal out of boards and other debris just in case. Down below, Na-yeon, who has taken shelter inside a storage room, meets a grisly fate at the hands of Gwi-nam. It feels wholly earned. Still, one wonders what her redemption arc might have looked like.

In the outside world, Ho-chul, along with the infant and toddler, returns in a giant tourist bus. In the previous episode, it was suggested he had abandoned Jae-ik and Orangibberish. This unlikely trio climbs aboard and screeches down the street, eventually crashing into Eun-ji. Jae-ik comes to her rescue just as a hail of bullets showers down upon them. A legion of well-armed rescuers emerges from the darkness and whisks them off to the safe zone.

With few bright spots of action and gore, Episode 8 feels like a filler episode in many ways. Nothing particularly jaw-dropping occurs, but it shifts several story pieces into place for the rest of the season.

3. Episode 6

Gwi-nam is in full-blown rage mode. After the main group uses the broadcast system to communicate with Cheong-san, they plot an escape up a central stairwell to the rooftop. Su-hyeok lingers behind as a distraction for a swarm of zombies but encounters a vengeful Gwi-nam. He refuses to give up Cheong-san's location, so Gwi-nam attacks. In a last-ditch effort, Nam-ra yanks him into a chokehold, but Gwi-nam takes a gnarly bite out of her arm. She barely manages to shove him out a nearby window. Her fate is sealed.

Nam-ra spends much of Episode 6 struggling with a zombie's impulse to feed. Much like Gwi-nam, she isn't dead, but she's not exactly alive. Her transformation makes her bloodthirsty, but it also bestows her with heightened sensory capabilities. Once in the music room, the group reunites with Cheong-san and records what could be their last words on a discovered camera. This moment is directly inspired by a real-life tragedy that occurred in 2014 in which a student aboard a sinking ferry filmed the catastrophe. Even without this context, it's one of the show's most searingly gut-wrenching moments.

2. Episode 11

The entire season builds to Onjo's reunion with her father. It's an appropriately hopeful moment, and it appears the teens finally have an adult figure to guide and nurture them. However, as the show has already demonstrated, you don't dare get attached to any one character. Within five minutes of their reunion, it is revealed So-ju has been bitten on his hand, and he sacrifices himself so the group can escape further into the woods.

Unlike many other popular apocalyptic series, "All of Us Are Dead" has high stakes, but it doesn't frivolously throw characters away. Character deaths are earned. When taking refuge in an abandoned building under construction, Gwi-nam finally tracks down Cheong-san. Gwi-nam takes a bite out of Cheong-san's arm, but Cheong-san forces Gwi-nam over a ledge. This gives him enough time to say goodbye to On-jo before slipping into the building and luring the zombies away so his friends can flee.

In epic fashion, Cheong-san confronts Gwi-nam in a final fight to the death. As the government bombs the city, Cheong-san grabs his archenemy around the waist, pulls him backward, and the two fall down an elevator shaft in a swirling wind of dirt and fire. It's a tragic end, and one you won't soon forget.

1. Episode 9

One sequence in particular makes Episode 9 the best of the season. A helicopter arrives to rescue the group and recover Byeong-chan's laptop — which contains the antidote to the virus. Over the radio, a message comes through stating how it's nearly impossible to tell the infected apart from asymptomatic carriers, as Eun-ji has attacked a friend and classmate out in the open. The rescue team is instructed to abort the mission and leave the students behind.

Bewildered and frightened, the group has now lost all hope. The last remaining threads of their sanity dissolve in a torrential downpour. They are exhausted and devastated, falling into fits of laughter and tears. It's a subtle character moment but easily the show's most resonant. With three episodes left to go, it's the final turning point for the characters. Even with the arrival of On-jo's father, it becomes crystal clear they have no one they can turn to or trust. As On-jo vows in the season finale, she will never ask any adult for anything ever again.