The Walking Dead isn’t really known for happy endings: episodes and seasons typically end with a lot of death and destruction, from Glenn’s face getting bashed in to that sad main character death in the series finale.
But sometimes, the group gets glimmers of hope and happiness. Despite the series finale having aired, the story is far from over for many of the characters who will go on to star in various spin-offs. For others, their happy endings left fans satisfied with the stories should the characters never appear in the franchise again.
Eugene never quite fit in: it’s one of the saddest things about Eugene from The Walking Dead. He knew he had no value as a physical fighter, so instead, he used his wit and intelligence to get as far as he did. This initially involved lying to not only Abraham and Rosita, but the whole group.
He went through a lot of ups and downs, as he recalled during his trial. But in the end, Eugene finally came into his own. He gained confidence, learned to defend himself both physically and mentally, and finally found the partner he had been yearning for in Max. In the end, the two were not only still together a year after the events that occurred, but they also had a daughter named Rosie. It was sweet to see Eugene finally experience the happiness he deserved.
As Daryl mentioned to Connie in their final scene together, she appeared to be genuinely happy. She was residing in one of the communities and working as a journalist, continuing to follow her passion. Unlike at the original Commonwealth, however, there is likely far less investigative journalism required and more fun news stories to help uplift residents.
While fans did not get the romantic connection between Connie and Daryl that many had been hoping for given their electric chemistry, they remained friendly and flirtatious. It appeared Daryl even learned more sign language, while Connie seemed content to be on her own.
Carol had her moment with Daryl in the final episode, with both sharing tearful goodbyes as Daryl set out on a journey to learn more about the outbreak and what caused it. They declared one another their best friend, and, for the first time, fans got to hear Daryl say “I love you” to which Carol replied with an emotional “I love you, too.” Not going with Daryl on the journey could end up being one of the worst decisions Carol made on The Walking Dead, but it may also be the safest.
Nonetheless, Carol stayed at the Commonwealth and worked as director of operations, filling the role previously held by Lance Hornsby. She ran things the way she wanted to and was clearly doing a good job at it. She finally seemed happy and content, not having to put on a mask like she had so many other times. She could seemingly finally be her true self without having a guard up.
Ezekiel was never the same after the battle with the Saviors and losing Shiva. He lost all his confidence as a leader and willingly stepped into the background. He found a renewed purpose working with animals once he joined the Commonwealth and was cured of his cancer, which gave him an even greater sense of hope and purpose that there was a reason he was saved.
In the final episodes of the series, Ezekiel stepped up to the plate numerous times, putting himself in the line of fire to save others and instilling hope for a better future with impassioned speeches. It was the Ezekiel fans and the group had come to know and love coming back to life. This was solidified with his appointment as governor of the new Commonwealth, putting Ezekiel back into a position of power in a community that he could once again be proud of.
Mercer was in charge at the Commonwealth but was never confident enough to do anything beyond what Pamela and Hornsby directed him to do. He was the muscle and didn’t think he could make a difference beyond that.
But in the final episodes, he flipped the script, joined the others, and, thanks to inspiration from Eugene and his sister Max, gained the confidence that he could make a difference and lead the entire community. That he did as lieutenant of the new Commonwealth, a position he clearly embraced and was respected in. Plus, he and Princess were clearly back to a loving relationship, giving him a happy ending on all fronts.
Yumiko was pleased to finally be reunited with her brother Tomichi, who she assumed had perished long ago. Not only did she get her family back, but she also reignited her flame with Magna. Before the two could exchange words, Magna pulled Yumiko in and kissed her, beginning a beautiful partnership between the two once again. Theirs was a relationship that deserved more screen time on The Walking Dead, but at the very least, fans got to know that it was resumed and they were to be together.
It was one of many love stories that came out at the end of the series. Fans were happy to see both not only forgive one another but also come back together to celebrate a new life filled with hope and love.
Fans were worried after the penultimate episode that Judith might perish after being shot by Pamela. But following swift action by Daryl and the others, including a blood transfusion from her uncle, she survived.
While Judith still didn’t get reunited with her parents and had to say goodbye to Daryl, too, she still had hope that she would one day see them all again. She seemed happy to be back in Alexandria with her brother RJ and the other kids. In her final moments, she was reunited with her good friend Gracie, and the pair shared a beautiful, smile-filled embrace that made it seem as though what was happening beyond the walls didn’t really matter.
Daryl’s happy ending wasn’t so much a traditional happy one like the others. He still preferred to be out on his own and was on a mission. However, he was clearly happy to see others he loved, like Carol, Connie, and Judith, be happy. He also found hope in the realization that Rick, the best friend he lost all those years ago, might actually be alive.
Feeling settled that the communities were all running well for a year and happy to take on another challenge, Daryl was as happy as he had ever been on the show. He knew he played a major role in making it all happen, and that was a greater satisfaction than he had ever felt in his life, both pre- and post-apocalypse.
Gabriel might have lost his once love and close friend Rosita, but he also had the chance to say goodbye. As a priest, he recognized that death was a part of life. He was also able to make a split-second decision that helped him shed some of the guilt he had held for years after leaving his parishioners outside of the church to die when the world fell. He let the Commonwealth residents back into the community, against Pamela’s demands, even knowing he could be killed for doing so.
In the time jump, Gabriel is clearly joyous, continuing as a man of faith and taking on the fatherly role for Coco. He felt a sense of redemption and the renewed faith in God that he had been seeking for so long. Gabriel had one of the greatest redemption arcs on The Walking Dead.
Negan might not have been completely free of guilt for the horrendous things he had done in the past. But he felt some sense of relief in finally apologizing to Maggie for what he did to Glenn. This was clearly a weight off his shoulders, even if she explained how she could never forgive him. But he finally knew that she understood and believed that he had changed.
It’s presumed he decided to live at Hilltop with his wife Annie and unborn child. There might still be a lot of work to do for Negan to truly forgive himself, but compared to the position he was in throughout the final seasons, he was happier than he had been in a long time without having to be a tyrant to get there.
NEXT: 10 Biggest Differences Between The Walking Dead Show And Comic Endings