Warning: spoilers ahead for The Walking Dead season 11, episode 23.
Judith looks set to replace her father, the mythical Rick Grimes, in the upcoming The Walking Dead finale. The Walking Dead season 11 marks the final run in AMC’s zombie apocalypse TV phenomenon, and speculation is rife as to exactly how the story ends. One especially huge question mark hangs over the fate of Cailey Fleming’s Judith Grimes, who takes a bullet intended for Maggie in “Family.” The Walking Dead‘s penultimate episode ends with Judith barely clinging to consciousness as Daryl Dixon carries her toward the Commonwealth’s nearest clinic.
Assuming she somehow survives her injury, the stage is set for Judith to assume her father’s role from Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead comic ending. In the source material, the Commonwealth uprising threatens to boil over into all-out war. Rick stands among the violent throng and delivers a stirring speech concerning the importance of cooperation and building for the future. A peaceful resolution is found as both sides back down. Judith Grimes could take that role in The Walking Dead season 11. Once the onrushing zombie horde and its variant walkers are dealt with, Judith may provide the voice of reason that stops the Commonwealth descending into civil war.
The Walking Dead Season 11 Has Been Teasing Judith For Something Big
Since The Walking Dead season 11’s final block began, each episode has been prefaced by a narration from Judith Grimes, and Judith’s underlying message in each intro is one of hope, togetherness, and building something better. These are values Rick Grimes championed when he spared Negan in The Walking Dead season 8, and that Carl Grimes gave his life upholding. Judith has shown a noticeable interest in her family’s moral teachings throughout The Walking Dead‘s final episodes, and could be building toward a coming moment when she rises above the violence and implores the masses to find a peaceful solution – just as her father does in the comics.
Another big clue that Judith Grimes will play Rick’s comic role in The Walking Dead‘s final episode comes via the opening scene of “Family.” As the main gang prepares to leave Outpost 22 and head for the Commonwealth, Judith stops to grab the Alexandrian legal charter instead. This legal framework once served as the foundation of civilization between Alexandria, Hilltop and Oceanside, but pretty though the calligraphy may be, this slither of paper has precious little use on the battlefield. The only reason Judith would stash the charter in her bag is to show the Commonwealth and Alexandria they can work together instead of riddling each other with bullets.
Why Judith Is Perfect For Rick’s Walking Dead Ending Role
Because Andrew Lincoln has been absent since The Walking Dead season 9, Rick Grimes is highly unlikely to bring the Commonwealth peace, even if he does return in the final episode. Assigning that role to Judith, his daughter, forges a poetic sense of legacy, and a tacit authenticity to Robert Kirkman’s comic books. Rick’s son would have been the ideal candidate for this position had The Walking Dead not killed Carl off so early, but Judith delivering Rick’s huge “we are NOT the walking dead” speech works almost as effectively as a means of weaving the Grimes family’s spirit into The Walking Dead‘s ending.
Judith Grimes’ life may be under threat when The Walking Dead‘s series finale begins, but that only makes Rick’s daughter an even better candidate to bring the Commonwealth peace. Albeit accidentally, Pamela Milton shot a child to protect her lofty position atop the Commonwealth, and no amount of political spin will make that play well with citizens. The Walking Dead‘s survivors will grow even more determined to end Pamela after witnessing Judith’s life-threatening injury. If Judith herself makes a plea for cooler heads, however, the fighting may cease. If even an injured child can be rational and merciful, the likes of Mercer, Maggie, and maybe even Pamela can follow.
The Walking Dead’s Series Finale Can Set Up Judith’s Future
Since Cailey Fleming took over the role in The Walking Dead season 9, Judith has repeatedly proven herself as an extraordinarily capable survivor. Not only does Judith retain her child-like sense of right and wrong, Rick’s daughter is also incredibly useful in a fight, tactically astute, and more level-headed than most of the adults she encounters. Beyond any doubt, Judith has demonstrated her credentials as a future The Walking Dead leader in the making, and Daryl allowing her to join the Commonwealth assault mission serves as testament to her maturity.
If a half-injured Judith Grimes stands tall as the Commonwealth revolutionaries go to war against Pamela Milton’s loyalists and delivers a stirring speech that unites both sides behind a common cause, The Walking Dead will effectively cement Judith as the apocalypse’s “new Rick Grimes,” irrespective of her tender years. Judith will rapidly become the figure survivors turn to in The Walking Dead, and if season 11’s ending involves a time jump that brings the character into her mid-late teens, audiences may even see Judith occupying an official leadership position among her people. Far too long has passed since a Grimes led the way in The Walking Dead.
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The Walking Dead concludes Sunday on AMC.