Summary List Placement
Let’s start with something simple if you haven’t been watching in a while. Rick Grimes hasn’t been on this show since season nine.
Rick (Andrew Lincoln) hasn’t been on the show since season nine, episode five.
If you’re tuning in because you’re hoping Lincoln will show up, it’s probably best to hold your breath.
On his final episode, Rick was carried away on a Civic Republic Military helicopter with Anne/Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh) to an undisclosed location, never to be seen again. We’re currently waiting for his story to be told in a “Walking Dead” movie.
Michonne (Danai Gurira) has also been gone since the end of season 10.
The last time we saw Michonne, she found clues that Rick may still be alive more than six years after his disappearance.
His name, along with recent drawings of Michonne and Judith, were etched into a phone with the phrase “believe a little longer.” More surprisingly, his famous cowboy boots were left behind.
In Gurira’s final episode of “TWD,” Michonne went in search of Rick and found herself face to face with a mysterious caravan of people.
Who were they?
At the time, showrunner Angela Kang told Insider via email that they “coordinated with [“TWD” universe chief] Scott Gimple on what he needed the end point in the episode to be in order to set up the handoff to the TWD Universe.”
Most of the cast you may remember are gone.
But he’s not the only long-time cast member to depart. Tom Payne and the show came to a mutual decision for him to leave when he became “bored” that they weren’t giving his character, Jesus, anything cool to do despite the character having a pretty large role in the comics. His death was used to introduce the Whisperers, a group that wore the skin of the dead over their faces to blend in with zombie hordes.
Tara, Enid, and Henry were the largest casualties on season nine when the Whisperers attacked.
Siddiq was murdered by a Whisperer in a pretty great twist from the comics.
Judith is basically the new Carl.
After Rick left “TWD,” the show jumped about six years into the future and gave us a slightly more grown-up Judith (Cailey Fleming).
Fans quickly embraced the witty and adorable firecracker who seemed like the perfect mix between the two people who raised her, Rick and Michonne. (A reminder that Judith is most likely the biological daughter of Rick’s late wife Lori and his late, former best friend Shane.)
We’d be surprised if Judith doesn’t get Carl’s comic-book ending.
Rick and Michonne had a kid.
He’s named R.J. (Yes, it stands for Rick Jr.)
The saddest part is that Rick isn’t even aware he has a son with Michonne. She had R.J. after Rick went missing.
With Michonne gone, Daryl, Rosita, and the other Alexandrians have watched over R.J. and Judith as their own.
When Rick left, a new roster of characters joined the show to fill the void.
The newer group consists of Magna, Yumiko, Kelly, Connie, and Luke.
Maggie’s back after originally leaving the show on the same episode Rick did.
Maggie (Lauren Cohan) made her return on the season 10 finale (which now feels so long ago).
In 2019, AMC announced Cohan would reprise her role as a series regular on the show’s 11th season.
Maggie didn’t return alone. She’s back on “TWD” with her and Glenn’s son, Hershel, who’s now a lot older. From what we’ve seen of him so far, he seems as mischievous and resourceful as his late dad.
Years after bashing in Glenn’s head, Negan’s hanging out with the good guys, but no one’s fully forgiven him for what he’s done.
If you tuned out of “TWD” years ago when Negan killed Glenn and Abraham (or when season eight more or less became the Negan show), you’ll probably be surprised to see Negan living sort of peacefully with the survivors he traumatized in the past.
Sure, he’s living at Alexandria, but no one has forgotten that he killed Abe and Glenn.
The show has done a lot to redeem his character — he saved Judith at a dire moment and he was integral to the Whisperers’ defeat — but he isn’t a respected member of the community.
Carol tried sending him off to live in a cabin on his own, but he came back to tough it out and try to make things work. So far, he’s still doing grunt work in Alexandria.
Carol let Negan out of jail and enlisted him to kill the leader of the Whisperers, Alpha.
On season 10, Carol told Negan that if he took out Alpha quickly she’d help clear his name in the community. That didn’t happen (and she was likely never planning to stay true to her word).
Carol’s decision led to Negan going undercover with Alpha and the Whisperers and helping them burn down the Hilltop community. Unsurprisingly, that didn’t sit well with the rest of the survivors in Alexandria or the Hilltop either. In their eyes, Negan was back to his old tricks and didn’t learn anything from being locked up in a cell.
That’s not exactly true, but it’s not like Negan has a long list of friends to vouch for him.
Maggie and Negan have a lot of beef, and rightfully so.
Negan killed Maggie’s husband Glenn right in front of her eyes and the two have never exactly had a conversation about that.
To make matters worse, Maggie used to oversee the Hilltop before departing from the show. Since returning on the season 10 finale, she was pretty horrified to learn her community, where Glenn was buried, was destroyed in part by the man who killed him.
This is important to remember. The idea of whether or not Negan and Maggie can co-exist in a community together will play a central role on the show’s final season.
There’s a group of people, named the Reapers, who are after Maggie’s people.
We don’t really know much about them or their motives, but Maggie said they’ve been killing her people in pretty brutal ways.
We do know one of their leaders is named Pope. Thanks to some new photos from AMC, we know Pope is played by Ritchie Coster, who will appear on season 11, episode four.
Daryl was given a love interest recently named Leah.
After 10 seasons of letting Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) ride solo in the zombie apocalypse, the writers put him in a romantic entanglement with a mysterious woman named Leah (Lynn Collins). Fans who have ‘shipped Daryl and Carol (Melissa McBride) or Daryl and Connie (Lauren Ridloff) for years weren’t exactly happy about this.
Showrunner Angela Kang told us she wasn’t trying to troll the fans with Leah’s introduction. Still, it felt like an odd narrative choice to introduce a love interest this late into the series after “TWD” avoided pairing him with anyone for 10 seasons and some fans have read Daryl’s character asexual.
Leah vanished from Daryl’s life after giving him an ultimatum to choose her or his family. Daryl wasn’t prepared to ditch the only family he ever knew for a woman.
In the end, he wound up with Leah’s dog, the fan-favorite canine named Dog.
We feel like Leah’s going to pop back up into the picture on the final season. Maybe she misses her dog.
Daryl gave Leah’s knife to Carol.
If Leah comes back into the picture and notices another woman has the knife she left with Daryl, she may flip, especially if Leah assumes something has happened to Daryl and mistakenly blames Carol.
Though she’s more than capable of taking care of herself, Carol could potentially be in harm’s way. (Personally, we wouldn’t want to make Carol upset. We know what happens when you cross her.)
Daryl and Carol’s friendship is currently rocky.
The two besties are currently at odds, after a shouting match left them upset with one another. We can’t imagine that rift will last long.
The duo are getting their own spin-off series in 2023.
I’m sure they’ll patch things up at some point this season if and when one of the two gets into danger.
Connie is alive and ran into Virgil.
Connie (Lauren Ridloff) was thought to have died in a cave-in on the season 10 premiere. It turned out that she survived and was wandering around for the entire season. (In reality, the show accommodated Ridloff’s filming schedule for Marvel’s “Eternals” movie.)
On the finale, she ran into Virgil, who was last seen at Oceanside on the season 10 finale.
Kang previously told Insider they have a big episode planned for her on season 11. Connie’s sister Kelly (Angel Theory) has been holding out hope that she’s alive. The season 11 trailer teased that Kelly will discover Connie’s notebook in the woods in the first eight episodes of the season.
Eugene is trying to meet up with the supposed love of his life.
Eugene (Josh McDermitt) has been speaking with a mystery woman named Stephanie by radio. On season 10, the two planned a time and date to meet.
On season 10, episode 14, Eugene asked if anyone would kindly escort him on his adventure to hopefully find Stephanie and forge a potential alliance with her community.
Ezekiel and Yumiko stepped up to join him on his excursion.
Ezekiel has cancer.
On season 10, Ezekiel (Khary Payton) revealed he had thyroid cancer, something which ran in his family.
He decided to travel with Eugene to the Commonwealth. We’re hoping they may be able to help treat him if they have the proper tools and medicine at their disposal.
“TWD” introduced a new character from the comics, Princess, last season. She felt like she embodied all of us in 2020.
Princess immediately became a fan favorite when she was introduced at the end of season 10, episode 14.
The character spent most of the zombie apocalypse in isolation by herself until she met and made friends with Yumiko, Ezekiel, and Eugene.
Princess felt extremely relatable to those who were self-quarantining alone for months on end in 2020.
Eugene’s plan to meet Stephanie wound up getting him and his friends captured by a group of Stormtrooper-looking soldiers.
When we reunite with them, they’ll be on their way to the Commonwealth, a location from the comics, which you can read more about here.
Heath was taken by the CRM.
A 2018 episode of “Talking Dead” confirmed Anne’s junkyard escape vehicle was the very same RV Heath was last seen driving before mysteriously disappearing on season seven, episode six.
In 2018, I asked Kang whether or not Heath was also taken by the helicopter which whisked Rick away and if Anne traded him to the CRM for supplies.
“That was kind of the intention that we had in the back of our heads this whole time,” Kang told me of whether or not Anne traded Heath to the helicopter people. “Even back in that season where, you know, we had to write the wonderful Corey Hawkins out because he had huge opportunities in the feature film world… those seeds were already set there.”