Warning: The following contains spoilers for The Walking Dead season 11. For those viewers who have given up on The Walking Dead but still hope to catch the series finale, here’s everything to know before jumping back in. AMC’s hit series is winding down to a close after a 12-year run, and with so much that has happened over the years, catching up on everything in time can be a rather daunting task. Familiar faces have left only to be replaced by new ones, villains have risen and fallen, and the stakes are higher than ever. Here is everything viewers absolutely need to know for the Walking Dead series finale.
While The Walking Dead has maintained millions of loyal followers, its viewership deeply decreased during the seventh and eighth seasons. Redundant storylines, one-dimensional villains, and disregard for the canon set forth by the comics are just some reasons why fans called it quits on the apocalypse series. However, the final seasons — and the series finale in particular — aimed to bring some fans back for The Walking Dead‘s conclusion. On top of finishing off several story arcs, the Walking Dead series finale will be setting up three major spinoffs, featuring characters like Maggie, Negan, Daryl, Rick, and Michonne.
At Least Eight Years Have Passed Since Season 8
While most of The Walking Dead has progressed in a typical linear fashion, season 9 brought two major time jumps; the first two years into the future, and the second, six years. The time skips were likely used by the then-brand-new showrunner, Angela Kang, to counterbalance the slow pace of the previous seasons that had caused some audiences to abandon ship. The time jumps saw a somewhat-grown and mature Judith Grimes, a more developed Alexandria with Michonne at the helm, and an entire network of communities known as The Alliance has been built — and now lies in the hands of the newest villain, the Commonwealth.
Negan Was Captured By The Alliance And Turned Tentative Ally
Many who gave up on The Walking Dead would likely most recognize Negan as the bat-wielding, sarcasm-spewing leader of the Saviors. However, time has certainly evolved him; after the Saviors were defeated, Negan was taken prisoner and returned to Alexandria. Negan spent several years in the Alexandrian prison, and was greatly mellowed by his time there. While many — particularly Maggie — do not trust him, Negan, now redeemed on The Walking Dead, has proven to be an ally several times since his release from his punishment. With a new wife, Annie, and a baby on the way, Negan may seem like a new man. However, his villainous past never leaves the minds of those around him — Negan’s included.
Carl Grimes Faced An Early End
Instead of seeing the happy future he dreamed of, the eldest Grimes child died in The Walking Dead season 8, episode 9, “Honor,” due to a Walker bite sustained while saving a new ally named Siddiq. Unfortunately, the bite was in his rib cage, making amputation impossible — despite all he’d previously survived, there was no way out this time. Carl held out for an impressively long time before turning and chose to take his own life before the inevitable came to pass. While his passing brought a tear to even Negan’s eye, it marked a serious change for the future of The Walking Dead.
The death of Carl Grimes was one of the biggest reasons audiences dropped off of The Walking Dead, and the series took a bit of a ratings nosedive in the aftermath, making Carl’s death one of Walking Dead‘s biggest mistakes. It was a major deviation from the comics, where Carl survived until the end to usher in a new era. Judith now carries the torch of hope — and the iconic hat — for her older brother, reminding the group of Carl’s hopes for the future whenever they stray from their path.
Rick Grimes Was Abducted By The Civic Republic Military
In a dramatic moment in The Walking Dead season 9, episode 5, “What Comes After,” Rick Grimes sacrifices himself by exploding a bridge to prevent a horde from reaching his loved ones — a bridge he was still standing on. While the Survivors believed that Rick died in the explosion, he was actually rescued — and subsequently abducted by — The Walking Dead‘s Civic Republic Military, who whisked him away via helicopter to an unknown location. It’s unknown still if Rick will be making an appearance in the Walking Dead series finale, but the aftermath of his abduction is set to be its own spinoff.
The Survivors Have Joined Forces With Several New Groups
Over the years, the Survivors have banded together with new communities, all to varying degrees of success. Hilltop, newly under the command of Maggie Rhee, and Ezekiel’s Kingdom, all banded together under the Alliance. Oceanside, a community of women and children, and a mysterious group under the leadership of a woman named Georgie, slowly became allies. These alliances have brought many fresh faces to the group, as citizenship between the communities has been fluid. Some allies, however — like the Scavengers, whose leader was instrumental in Rick’s kidnapping, and the Commonwealth — were not who they first appeared to be.
Michonne Has Left The Group
In the aftermath of Rick’s Walking Dead disappearance, Michonne was left to run Alexandria and raise their children — Judith and Rick Jr., or RJ — on her own. However, after Michonne discovered Rick’s boots and a drawing of herself and Judith among scavenged gear in season 10, episode 13, “What We Become,” she is convinced he is still alive. Entrusting her children to her fellow Survivors in Alexandria, Michonne has left the group behind in search of her love. While the concept is incredibly romantic, her departure leaves the Survivors down one katana-wielding ally in the final fight for their lives.
The Civic Republic Military Are A Looming Threat
When it comes to villainous groups, the CRM makes Walking Dead‘s Commonwealth look like child’s play in comparison. The CRM, led by Major General Beale, are an international organization of great strength. They possess advanced vehicles, such as helicopters, advanced weaponry, and a well-organized militia. Using their helicopters, the CRM collects the living to either use as test subjects or assets for survival. The CRM has appeared in both Fear the Walking Dead and The Walking Dead: World Beyond, and will likely play the main villain of several of the upcoming spinoffs.
While there is no direct connection between the Commonwealth and the CRM yet, the connection could lie in one man — Lance Hornsby. As the Deputy Governor of the Commonwealth, Hornsby had his hands in all sorts of shady dealings, up to and including kidnappings and murders. Though Hornsby was ultimately ended by Carol’s arrow, he alluded to his connections before his death — connections who just might turn out to be the CRM, making the CRM’s return in the season 11 finale possible.
The Commonwealth Was Not What It Seemed
On the surface, the Commonwealth was perfect; it had comforts the Survivors long thought were gone, safety, and plenty of food to spare. Inside the Commonwealth’s walls, it seemed the apocalypse had never happened. Behind the curtains, however, shady dealings were creating a distinct caste system. The Milton family — Pamela Milton and her now-deceased son, Sebastian — who rule over the Commonwealth would go to any lengths to keep their power intact and maintain the status quo. Throw in Commonwealth soldiers that dress like Stormtroopers on top of sneaky politicians, and the Commonwealth makes for a unique villain.
After following a mysterious woman named Stephanie whom Eugene met over CB radio, the group found a community that promised utopia and aid in rebuilding Alexandria. In the end, it all turned out to be a lie and a bid for power. When the Survivors inside stood up against the corrupted powers, the Commonwealth didn’t hesitate to strike back. Rebellion is contagious, however, as the Survivors’ efforts have led the Commonwealth’s citizens to fight back alongside them. For their part in the upheaval, most of the Survivors have been kidnapped and shipped off to a Commonwealth labor camp in The Walking Dead.
An Act Of Rebellion Has Eugene Tried For Murder
When Eugene and his girlfriend, Stephanie (who turned out to really be a woman named Max, Pamela’s right-hand woman) staged an act of rebellion in The Walking Dead that blasted Sebastian for the true weasel he was, utter bedlam broke out. During the fallout, which included several Walkers rampaging through the city, Eugene shoved Sebastian to the Walkers in order to save Max. When that resulted in Sebastian’s death, Eugene was ultimately found guilty of murder and set to be executed. However, Max’s brother, Mercer, who leads the Commonwealth military, sided with the brewing rebellion and freed Eugene. Inspired by Eugene’s bravery, Mercer is now leading a military uprising against Pamela Milton.
The Commonwealth Has Left The Survivors In A Tough Place
Going into the Walking Dead series finale, the villainous Commonwealth has done a number on the Survivors; many familiar faces have just reunited after staging a rebellion at a Commonwealth labor prison, most of the children are missing, Eugene has just escaped execution for the murder of Sebastian, and Judith has suffered a life-threatening gunshot during an uprising against Pamela Milton. Those outside the Commonwealth, including Aaron, Jerry, and a recently-bitten Lydia, are still feeling its presence, as Oceanside and other communities are being cleared out and left on the run. The heroes of The Walking Dead are scattered, and while the Commonwealth’s power may be diminishing, the battle has yet to be won.
Walkers Have Started Evolving
For a few story arcs, The Walking Dead was much more focused on the human villains than the undead. While the haunting Whisperers — who donned Walkers’ faces to walk among their ranks — shifted some of that attention back onto the hordes, it was nothing compared to the Walkers the group finds themselves up against now. These new Walking Dead variant zombie Walkers, it seems, now have the ability to scale walls, use tools, and fight back against the living — a truly dangerous combination. The end of The Walking Dead season 11, episode 23, “Family,” sees multiple members of the Survivors — including Carol, Eugene, Ezekiel, and Gabriel — fighting to keep these evolved Walkers at bay while Daryl rushes Judith toward aid.
Next: Daryl’s The Walking Dead Spinoff Needs Connie (If She Survives)