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The Walking Dead Ending Explained: Everything We Need to Know!
We are the ones who survive.” Judith Grimes (Cailey Fleming) disclosed the secret phrase shared by her parents, Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Rick Grimes, in The Walking Dead’s “Rest in Peace” series finale on Sunday (Andrew Lincoln).
The line comes from Rick in “Try,” a Season 5 episode of The Walking Dead penned by now-showrunner Angela Kang. Rick proclaims of his tried-and-tested crew of zombie apocalypse survivors upon his arrival in the Alexandria Safe-Zone: “We know what needs to be done, and we do it.” We are the ones who survive.”
Spoiler alert: Lincoln and Gurira make a special cameo in the last minutes of The Walking Dead’s series finale, in a five-minute epilogue finishing “Rest in Peace.” The closing sequence of the show shows what happened following Rick’s disastrous helicopter journey in Lincoln’s penultimate episode, Season 9’s “What Comes After,” as well as what happened to Michonne, who hasn’t been seen since Season 10’s “What We Become.” Michonne has been on a journey to find Rick and return him home to their children, Judith and Rick “RJ” Grimes Jr. since she left (Antony Azor).
“The show has always been about Rick Grimes’ journey. “You can’t really finish up The Walking Dead’s tale without Rick Grimes,” series executive producer and episode director Greg Nicotero tells ComicBook exclusively. “It just didn’t feel right, or honest.”
The Walking Dead Ending Explained
Rick was critically injured after blowing up a bridge to save his family and friends from a walker horde when we last saw him. The sequence indicates Rick is a “consignee” of the CRM, explaining what happened to him after he was flown away aboard a Civic Republic Military helicopter with Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh).
Jadis confirmed on The Walking Dead: World Beyond that she gave Rick to the CRM in exchange for a new life and admission into the Civic Republic, a hidden civilization of 200,000 survivors living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Rick’s filthy work clothes and kill stick weapon indicate that he works for a Civic Republic Cull Facility, which are decontamination centers where workers carry out mass cullings to rid entire states of walkers. Silas Plaskett (Hal Cumpston) was one of these workers on Season 2 of World Beyond before getting promoted to soldier.
Nicotero notes that the show’s creators “went back and forth quite a bit” on whether to finish The Walking Dead with Rick because “we don’t want to interfere with the character arcs” of the show’s existing ensemble of primary characters. “We didn’t want to do that, so we didn’t want them to be fighting zombies and then Rick Grimes steps up to save the day.”
“We wanted to fulfill the story arc that the writers had established over the last 30 episodes or so [of Season 11], but we couldn’t finish The Walking Dead with Rick Grimes being whisked away in a helicopter and never mentioned again,” Nicotero explains. “So it was critical for us to sort of finish out the program the way it started, which is showing who this person is and where he is on his path.”
Rick’s journey continues in the Rick & Michonne spin-off series on AMC and AMC+, which is characterized as an “epic love story” reuniting Rick and Michonne. Scott M. Gimple, AMC’s Walking Dead Universe’s chief content officer, will serve as showrunner on the series he created and executive produces with Lincoln and Gurira.
Lincoln and Gurira made a surprise appearance and declaration during the flagship show’s last San Diego Comic-Con panel in July: the big-screen Walking Dead movie trilogy in development since 2018 was dead. “Richonne” would continue on the small screen, with Rick and Michonne’s adventures continuing in a six-episode first season planned to broadcast in 2023.
Just two weeks later, Lincoln and Gurira reprised their roles, filming the final episode-ending epilogue in secret months after the eleventh and final season wrapped. “That sequence was shot on August 8th and 9th of this year.” “We finished Walking Dead on April 1st, I believe,” the director says. “And then Scott Gimple wrote it, and Andy and Danai both had a lot of input on it.”
So it was a fantastic opportunity for me to be on the ground with Scott Gimple again, as he had not been the showrunner of The Walking Dead for the previous two seasons.” “The concept really was that it was intended to be these short, small impressionistic images that remind us that Rick is still alive and he’s still striving to go home, and Michonne is out there and she’s still fighting to find him,” Nicotero said of the Rick & Michonne spin-off.
As they narrate the scene, Rick and Michonne’s voiceovers grow entangled, both writing letters to their loved ones back home: Rick’s letter to Michonne, and Michonne’s letter to the Grimes children. Across 11 seasons, 12 years, and 177 episodes of The Walking Dead, the montage pays tribute to the dead and the living loved and lost.
“And right now, they’re thinking about each other, and they’re thinking about the people they love and the people they’ve lost,” the filmmaker says. “And to do that, and to know that the reason they are still fighting is because of the people they have lost and the ones they love.” That was the crux of the matter. And I have no doubt that we captured that energy, as well as the spirit of moving forward to see what the world has in store for them.”
Michonne, the katana-wielding warrior, rides on horseback into a gorge overtaken by a horde of the undead. A black CRM helicopter, similar to the one that took Rick away from his family more than six years ago, thwarts Rick’s escape attempt on a riverside outside the Civic Republic.
“Yours, Grimes.” You have been found and ordered to surrender. “Remain in place with your hands up,” the pilot instructs a rebellious Rick as the helicopter hovers overhead. “Rick, hurry up. “As she said, there is no escape for the living.”
Rick beams. “We’re the ones who live,” Rick adds as we fade out to white. The Walking Dead concludes at the Commonwealth with Judith and RJ Grimes looking forward. “We get to restart,” Judith says to her younger brother. “We are the ones who are alive.”