How Will The Walking Dead End?

By now, we have probably all seen the explosive and shocking season 7 opener. For most of us, perhaps the revelation of precisely whom Negan killed did not come as a surprise (don’t worry, I won’t spoil it). Since last season, I think there has been a general feeling that The Walking Dead had become stale and formulaic.  I started to think about how the show might eventually end.

The video above is the moment where Rick wakes up in hospital in season 1 episode 1.

In addition of the brutal psychopath that is Negan has renewed the show. Already, with just one episode of season 7 broadcast, the show has been renewed for an eighth. However, I’m still thinking about how the show might eventually end. It can’t go on forever. Either the actors or the audience will eventually bored. I hope that comes before it jumps the shark. Anyway, here are several ways I perceive the show ending.

how will the walking dead end
Source: AMC. Fair Use

Happiest Ending: A Retro-Engineered Walker Virus

We have known since the beginning of season 2 that the cause of the Walker condition is a virus. It infects us all; we don’t have to be bitten by a Walker to turn. Anyone who dies, no matter the cause, will become a Walker. I see potentially a small band of researchers deep in some military bunker somewhere breaking down the genes and engineering a new version that encourages Walkers to attack only other Walkers. This will not bring people back, but it will lead to wiping out the Walkers. These same scientists have also developed a vaccine or a cure for the virus for the living. What remains of our heroes form a colony in the new post-walker world.

Most Miserable Ending: Rick is Alone, No Hope, Commits Suicide

A more personal ending would see a cliffhanger in which Rick sits atop an overturned bus or lorry, or a rock or something. A large group of Walkers surround him. Amongst them are what remains of his friends and family – they are all Walkers. Rick knows he cannot escape now. There are too many of them. He’s out of food and water. In his hand is a police issue revolver with just one bullet. Rick looks down at the gun, then looks out at the crowd. The scene fades to black and we hear a gunshot.

Ending Most Likely To Lead to a Revival: The “Rinse and Repeat” Waiting Game

Ultimately, this means our group finds a safe place that doesn’t subsequently become unsafe. A prison maybe (oops no, done that one!) or an island or something where Walkers can’t get to them. There is no cure, but enough time passes that the overwhelming majority of Walkers putrefy and are no longer able to chase humans. Eventually, our group leaves the isolated sanctuaries to start anew. This is a kind of 28 Weeks Later scenario that leaves open the potential for a spin off in the future. The Walking Dead +20 will perhaps see the children of some of the characters we know from the main show with some survivors from the current show reprising their roles. This might require a 20-25 year gap for it to feel new again. Remember, the graphic novels have never stopped.

Doing What Everyone Else Does: The Cliff-Hanging Open End

How many zombie books, TV shows and films have a conclusive ending? Some of the giants of the genre have open ends that finish on a cliffhanger, typically no more conclusive than our heroes escaping to somewhere else. I’ve discussed ending a zombie story before while writing Dead Heat. I’ve never been happy with this type of ending but understand that such a global calamity would be difficult to tidy up. I go by the philosophy that zombie stories do not end, merely that the protagonist(s) survive(s).

That’s my 2p worth anyway. Do you dear readers have any other suggestions?

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8 thoughts on “How Will The Walking Dead End?

      1. I was joking! But, hey, why not? I haven’t seen the episode in question but have read several (rage-filled) reviews. I think I stopped watching after Season 5. Not sure why. I guess I could see that they were stretching it out then. Can’t imagine them stretching it out another whole season. (shrugs) I do like your idea of someone coming up with a virus vaccination or something. There has to be some hope for them, otherwise, why keep watching?

      2. Absolutely I can understand why people gave up, but I do think Negan is the fresh blood it needs to put it back on track.

        It has already been renewed for season 8 apparently.

      3. Yeah, that’s the thing. I just can’t imagine a whole Season 7. And then 8?! What on earth are they going to do? Unless they have an alien invasion planned, I just don’t see how it just won’t be the same all over again. (shrugs) I’ll probably pick up watching again, but only if there’s absolutely nothing else to watch.

  1. Matt

    It’s gonna be either the suicide one or a hopeful community ending. The others kind of undermine the message of The Walkig Dead. However, I feel that the show has just jumped the shark for the general public. I got fed up with the show I. Season 3 but the way in which the show has become purely a season long tease for big events at the finale and season openers has broken a lot of people’s patience. What really did it was the explicit level of violence in this episode though. The way they drew out the reveal and then had such a graphic murder is the clearest sign of what it has become. It doesn’t tell a story anymore.

    1. Yeah, that was becoming apparent. In the first season, you had the whole subtext between the sheriff and his deputy – that added a lot of tension. Then there was the gal with the sword and her backstory, and all the rest. There was a lot of human drama mixed in with the killings, but now…all that drama is gone. Maybe they can get it going again, like you said, but I think it is on its last legs.

      1. You’re both right. The subtle nuances of character are lost. Seasons 1 and 2 were full of great drama mostly centred on Rick and Shane and the latter’s increasingly unhinged behaviour before his eventual death. Even with Michonne. As great as she is, I get the impression she’s not half the character she is in the graphic novels.

        Do either of you watch Fear The Walking Dead? It’s more character driven than TWD, set on the other side of North America. As Darabont is involved in this, it may end up being more along the lines of his vision for the show before they got rid of him at the end of season 2.

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