The Walking Dead Series Finale Ending Explained (In Detail)

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Warning: Spoilers ahead for The Walking Dead’s series finale.After more than a decade of brutal deaths, undead action, and post-apocalyptic drama, this is how AMC’s The Walking Dead series finale explained what happened to the survivors. Though the zombie apocalypse promises to “Rest In Peace,” The Walking Dead‘s series finale proves neither peaceful nor rested. Much of the concluding episode resolves The Walking Dead season 11’s Commonwealth arc, with Daryl Dixon joining Mercer and the rest of their friends in wresting the community from Pamela Milton’s clutches. The final minutes of The Walking Dead then shift to larger matters – setting up AMC’s forthcoming spinoffs, pairing up protagonists, dropping major cameos, and plenty more.

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As much as the long-awaited The Walking Dead series finale brings stories to a close, a slew of new chapters are laid open for the future. “Rest In Peace” not only paves the way for Daryl Dixon, The Walking Dead: Dead City, and the Rick Grimes and Michonne spinoffs, but also makes major mythology swings that will inevitably have massive repercussions across all three projects. The Walking Dead may be over, but “Rest In Peace” becomes a somewhat misleading title by the time credits are rolling. Here is how The Walking Dead ends, and how The Walking Dead‘s future begins.

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How The Walking Dead’s Heroes Beat Pamela & Save The Commonwealth

Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon in Walking Dead season 11

The rapid pacing of The Walking Dead‘s final battle means the finer points of Pamela Milton’s defeat, such as how the heroes infiltrate Pamela’s grounds, are left somewhat vague. The Walking Dead series finale explained the assembled protagonists are secretly ushered into the Estates – a wealthy, gated district where Pamela and her inner circle have taken refuge, condemning the remaining thousands of Commonwealth citizens to death – through Mercer’s remaining influence among the armored Commonwealth soldiers. Thus, Tomi is able to save Judith’s life, and Mercer can launch his mutiny from inside.

The biggest tide-turner is Daryl Dixon’s speech, which was originally delivered by Rick Grimes in the original The Walking Dead comics. Borrowing Rick’s immortal “we are NOT the walking dead” line, which means that life brings hope for the future and that the dead should be the living’s only enemy, Daryl convinces both sides to lower their guns. Pamela Milton loses her military backing, and the fight is effectively over. Gabriel then opening the gates of the Estate and allowing desperate citizens refuge marks a touching callback to his backstory, bringing redemption for the congregation Gabriel abandoned outside his old church, and highlighting his enormous character growth.

With Pamela Milton canceled, the zombie herd plaguing the Commonwealth remains the only immediate threat in The Walking Dead‘s series finale. Because variants are impossible to shepherd like regular zombies, the survivors force a truck through the horde to collect gas from a fuel depot, which they place underneath the Estates and ignite after luring the zombies there using music – a neat tribute to the fallen Luke, who employed the same tactic against Whisperers in The Walking Dead season 10. The Walking Dead series finale explained that blowing up the Estates symbolizes a change of social regime in the Commonwealth, with the rich no longer leeching off the masses.

Why Maggie Leaves Pamela Alive In The Walking Dead

Lauren Cohan as Maggie and Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan in The Walking Dead

Maggie and Negan yo-yo their way through a whiplash The Walking Dead series finale. Initially, Negan wants to sacrifice himself for the greater good of the group by assassinating Pamela personally. Although undoubtedly similar, Negan’s motivation here is different compared to when he killed Alpha. Silencing the chief Whisperer was Negan’s vain attempt to win acceptance in Alexandria, but by shooting Pamela, Negan intends to draw the ensuing heat away from Maggie and the others. Echoing The Walking Dead season 11’s Outpost 22 incident, The Walking Dead series finale explained Negan is once again willing to die in the name of protecting the people he once terrorized.

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Maggie refuses to let Negan go alone, and two unique factors are at play here. On one hand, Maggie is learning to accept Negan as a changed man; on the other, Lauren Cohan’s character is likely seeking to avoid Negan and Annie’s son growing up without a father the same way her own son grew up without Glenn. Ultimately, killing Pamela becomes a moot issue. Despite having a clean shot, Maggie and Negan voluntarily stand down once the situation swings in Mercer’s favor, backtracking on Negan’s previous claim a still-breathing Pamela would always be a problem. This decision is inspired by Negan’s own fall from grace.

Telling Maggie, “Hell, a person like that… it’s a fate worse than death,” Negan is tacitly admitting how being made to live with his crimes was a greater punishment than if Rick Grimes had killed him. The Walking Dead series finale explained these words proved enough to stay Maggie’s hand and explained why she puts a bullet through a dead Lance Hornsby when Pamela tries to take her own life. Pamela’s attempt to get eaten by her former assistant’s reanimated corpse is a moment of symbolic reflection upon her sins – death via a man she looked down upon for so many years.

What Happens To Rosita In The Walking Dead Series Finale

Rosita jump in Walking Dead

The final episode of The Walking Dead is a surprisingly bloodless affair, with casualties kept to a minimum. To the surprise of no one, Jules perishes almost immediately, and Luke soon follows when a leg amputation fails to save him. The biggest casualty in a mostly deathless The Walking Dead series finale, however, is Christian Serratos’ Rosita. The Walking Dead series finale explained the injury happens off-screen, leaving the specifics of Rosita dying in The Walking Dead somewhat ambiguous, but the bite occurs as she, Gabriel, and Eugene flee from the Commonwealth’s children’s home after rescuing Coco. Despite mounting an epic fightback, Rosita receives a chomp on her back.

After falling from a surprisingly sturdy pipe, she was swarmed by undead. She keeps this dark secret to herself, most likely to avoid distracting the group before the Commonwealth takeover is completed, but also to enjoy some precious last moments with her daughter and their “found family.” This entire scenario adapts Andrea’s death from Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead comic books. The moment was sad and one of the most depressing as the show rolled to an end, but also sweet. Not only did Andrea get bitten while fighting off encircling zombies, she impressively kept the injury hidden just long enough to fulfill her goal and reunite with her family.

Related: Walking Dead Season 11 Hints At A Major Variant Origin Clue

Rosita’s final conversations with Eugene arguably deliver the biggest The Walking Dead series finale gut-punch. Both characters tell each other “I love you” when Rosita reveals her impending death. For the sake of clarity, the meaning here is purely platonic, rather than a last-minute confession of romantic feelings. On her literal deathbed, Rosita admits, “I’m glad it was you at the end” as she and Eugene sit alone together one final time. The Walking Dead series finale explained these last words cement the unbreakable bond between Rosita and Eugene, who debuted together in The Walking Dead season 4. More than even ex-lover Gabriel, Eugene is the person Rosita wanted by her side as death approached.

One Year Later – What Happens To Every Character After The Walking Dead Ends

The walking dead season 11 ezekiel maggie and daryl

The Walking Dead series finale explained the future with a time jump, leaping one year ahead from Pamela Milton’s arrest and the Commonwealth estate fireball. Ezekiel has been appointed the Commonwealth’s new Governor. Not only does this pay off Khary Payton’s rousing speech ahead of The Walking Dead series finale’s closing battle, it marks the completion of Ezekiel’s character arc after he refused to become a leader again following the Kingdom’s collapse. The now-Lieutenant Mercer is Ezekiel’s right-hand man, while Carol operates in the “Lance Hornsby” role of Director of Operations.

Eugene and Max remain a heartwarming couple and have a child named Rosie – after Rosita – and although Eugene was spotted rescuing kids from the Commonwealth children’s home, this youngster seems to be his biological daughter. Romance is rife, with Yumiko and Magna, Mercer and Princess, and Lydia and Elijah all still together, but one long-teased coupling has sadly not come to pass. The Walking Dead‘s final scene between Daryl Dixon and Connie shows a flirtatious, friendly bond, but no indication of an official relationship. Connie’s “how’s the frontier?” line implies this lack of romance is down to Daryl being a nomad and not settling in one community.

Aaron, Jerry and Gabriel all reside in Alexandria, with the latter taking custody of Coco following Rosita’s death. Negan’s present to Judith implies he, Annie and their new child also live at Hilltop, or at least close enough to bring gifts. The compass itself is a callback to The Walking Dead season 9, in which Negan stole Judith’s compass during his prison escape before later offering to return it. Suspecting Negan needed help finding his way, Judith allowed him to keep it. Finally handing the compass back indicates Negan has now settled on his new direction.

Related: Every Time Negan Redeemed Himself In The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead series finale explained Maggie is the leader of a rebuilt Hilltop community that, like Alexandria, has made significant advancements in construction during the time jump, but Oceanside’s status is largely ignored by The Walking Dead‘s series finale. Luke and Jules previously revealed the sandy community had been attacked by the Commonwealth, but the location’s only mention comes from Eugene, who looks forward to Coco swimming there. This line could potentially confirm Oceanside remains active when The Walking Dead ends.

The Walking Dead’s Massive Rick & Michonne Cameos Explained

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes and Danai Gurira as Michonne in The Walking Dead

After months of feverish speculation, AMC’s The Walking Dead series finale drops two huge cameos, with Andrew Lincoln returning as Rick Grimes, and Danai Gurira reprising her role as Michonne. Not only do their respective scenes take place in separate locations, each happens during a completely different time period. Rick’s scene sits somewhere between his The Walking Dead season 9 exit, and Michonne’s own departure in season 10. Wearing a Civic Republic jacket and carrying few supplies, Rick Grimes is very clearly a prisoner of the CRM, the Civic Republic Military.

Though the helicopter-flying organization evidently saved Rick’s life after The Walking Dead season 9’s bridge explosion, he is now desperately trying to escape their captivity. That in itself is curious, since the CRM’s typical approach to runaways in The Walking Dead: World Beyond and Fear The Walking Dead has been to shoot them. For reasons as yet unknown, the CRM must believe Rick is useful enough to warrant keeping him alive, and this is implied through both Jadis in The Walking Dead: World Beyond season 2, and the familiar tone behind the detached loudspeaker voice in The Walking Dead‘s series finale.

The Walking Dead series finale explained the iPhone and boots Michonne discovered in The Walking Dead season 10 were thrown onto the ship by Rick shortly before he was recaptured, likely in the vague hope his friends might discover them. This boat must have subsequently found its way to Virgil’s island where Michonne did indeed happen across the items Rick left behind. Many years may have passed in AMC’s The Walking Dead timeline since Rick’s failed CRM escape, and anything might have happened to him during that time. Fortunately, Rick’s smile confirms the CRM will feel stupid when they find out who they’re screwing with.

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The Walking Dead series finale explained Michonne’s The Walking Dead return comes later in the timeline than Rick’s, likely happening concurrently with season 11’s ending. Wearing unusual armor and separated from her companions, Michonne is still hunting her lost husband. These parallel cameos establish a path for Rick & Michonne’s The Walking Dead spinoff series. Rick Grimes is either still captured by the CRM or on the run. Michonne has evolved into an even tougher warrior than before. How the pair reunite, and how the CRM’s influence bleeds into Alexandria, Hilltop, and the Commonwealth, will be at the forefront of their new narrative.

The Walking Dead Series Finale Reveals Why Daryl Travels To France

Norman Reedus as Daryl In The Walking Dead with greasy hair toting weapons through the scraggly woods

The aforementioned conversation between Daryl Dixon and Connie in The Walking Dead series finale explained Norman Reedus’ character has been roaming between communities looking for potential dangers, and maybe even signs of Rick Grimes now that Judith has admitted Michonne found evidence of his survival. Maggie then turns to Daryl for a discussion about the “future,” suggesting they discover more about the wider world. She refrains from specifics, but The Walking Dead implies Daryl’s task in his upcoming spinoff is to learn about the virus, the variants, where Rick and Michonne are, and anything else he can dredge up.

This neatly explains why Daryl would end up in France during his spinoff series, since The Walking Dead: World Beyond revealed this was where the virus was born. This teases the potential for a crossover between all upcoming The Walking Dead spinoffs. If Maggie wants to learn more about the zombie apocalypse, France is undoubtedly where Daryl must go. Intriguingly, Daryl promises Judith he will bring Rick and Michonne home if he finds them, with Daryl now more likely to get involved in rescuing Rick from the CRM.

How The Walking Dead Teases Maggie & Negan’s Dead City

Lauren Cohan as Maggie and Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan in Walking Dead

Even though she declines to pull the trigger on Pamela Milton, The Walking Dead series finale’s Maggie and Negan tandem lays the foundations for their spinoff adventures in The Walking Dead: Dead City. Despite their rocky relationship, Negan is now the person Maggie will turn to first when an especially difficult challenge arises and no one else can be sent to handle it. The Walking Dead series finale explained Morgan and Cohan’s characters have officially become The Walking Dead‘s special-ops duo, which begs the question of what threat could possibly be big enough to make Maggie and Negan visit New York for The Walking Dead: Dead City.

Related: The Walking Dead’s Zombie Outbreak Virus Origin Explained

In tribute to Steven Yeun’s Glenn, Maggie confirms outright forgiveness for Negan is off the table, despite admitting she respects his quest for atonement and recognizes his genuine remorse. Maggie and Negan’s The Walking Dead series finale confession scene replays an earlier moment from season 11, in which Maggie admitted she was finally beginning to trust Negan. Regardless, the scene also definitively rules out the prospect of outright forgiveness, and this caveat ensures Glenn’s death will never be glossed over in The Walking Dead.

The Walking Dead Series Finale Sets Up Variants For A Big Future

Variant zombie glass smash in Walking Dead

After The Walking Dead‘s penultimate episode introduced variant zombies to any remaining protagonists blissfully under the impression the undead was slow and stupid, “Rest In Peace” sets up this evolved breed for a massive future in the wider Walking Dead franchise. In a neat homage to The Walking Dead season 1, a variant zombie uses a rock to smash through the glass door of a Commonwealth hospital, forcing the survivors to flee. When Rosita later climbs a car to escape a horde, zombies follow her onto the vehicle.

The Walking Dead series finale explained that the survival tactics used thus far have become redundant, making the zombie apocalypse an unpredictably dangerous landscape once again. Even Mercer’s grand plan to destroy the Commonwealth horde is designed around the fact variants cannot be led away. In acknowledgment of this startling revelation, The Walking Dead ends with Maggie deciding her people must learn more about the world, and while her mission statement does not refer to variants alone, neither is she talking about sightseeing. Implicitly, one of Daryl’s tasks is finding out why the dead are changing.

The arrival of variant zombies in The Walking Dead has sparked questions for the main group, completely altering how they perceive the undead threat. Moreover, the rapidly-increasing prevalence of variants among the zombie population suggests this new type of walker will only grow in number. Variants play a relatively small role throughout “Rest In Peace,” and many mysteries remain unsolved regarding their presence. The Walking Dead series finale explained that can only mean Daryl, Rick, Michonne, Maggie and Negan will be forced to tackle the climbing dead, the intelligent dead, and the running dead when The Walking Dead continues.

Next: The Walking Dead Properly Names A New Variant Zombie Type

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