The Walking Dead concluded after 11 seasons and 12 years with a montage that included the phrase “the end is just the beginning.”
This is all part of AMC’s master plan to launch The Walking Dead Universe, a concept that already exists between four shows: Fear the Walking Dead, which is entering its eighth season as the flagship, Walking Dead: World Beyond, and Tales of the Walking Dead, an anthology.
But its upcoming slate of spin-offs, whose presence dominated the ostensible series finale, is what rendered the conclusion of the main show so hollow, given that we knew virtually everything that could not occur.
Following are spoilers for the finale.
In the grand scheme of The Walking Dead, the final conflict was…rather minor. There is a happy ending for everyone except for Luke, Luke’s girlfriend whose name I cannot recall, and Rosita, whose slow death from a bite is likely the only truly emotionally impactful moment of the finale.
But even that felt cheap, as if Rosita had to be sacrificed because a major, but not too major character had to die in the finale, and characters such as Carol, Daryl, Negan, and Maggie were eliminated from consideration. Rosita, Eugene, Aaron, and Gabriel then participated in a game of spin the bottle, and Rosita lost. In all fairness, she significantly outlived her comics lifespan, in which she was to be impaled on a Whisperer pike. Ezekiel avoided the same fate and became the Commonwealth’s governor, which I thought was a satisfactory conclusion.
Everything else? Eh.
The Rick and Michonne finale stinger, which featured new footage (yay! ), felt antithetical to a series finale, given that the show’s two most important characters will be returning for more.
The awkwardly reshot scenes with Daryl and Carol, now that Carol will not be joining his spinoff, ended with him riding off on a motorcycle, so we have no idea how he will arrive in France for his spinoff. I assume he will not arrive by bicycle.
Maggie and Negan’s conversation about her inability to forgive him was meant to be impactful and emotional, but it was undermined by the fact that they are going to star in a spin-off together in Manhattan, where they have to rescue their kids or something. This interaction was odd because it was unplanned, but we are aware of what will occur.
The Walking Dead is not only not ending, it is multiplying, with nearly all of its primary characters serving as vessels. It is eliminating a large number of minor characters, but they may still appear in cameos, in the anthology series, or who knows, even get their own spin-offs in the future. I fully anticipate a “Judith Grimes” series in the future.
Every time I mention The Walking Dead, I receive the same response: “Wait, I thought that ended five years ago.” But after 11 years, AMC is dead set on getting another 10 years out of it, which hurts the creative potential and execution of the series finale a lot. As the series fractures, there is no reason to rejoice or lament; all that remains is to wait until The Walking Dead seasons 12-1, 12-2, and 12-3.