7 Biggest Ways Walking Dead Has Already Retconned The Main Show’s Ending

Summary

  • Retcons in The Walking Dead universe are common, altering characters’ arcs and core zombie lore.
  • Daryl Dixon’s spinoff contradicts the storyline of his departure from The Walking Dead.
  • The portrayal of Maggie and Negan’s feud in The Walking Dead: Dead City contradicts their progress in the main show.


The Walking Dead ended with many characters already set to embark onto spinoffs, which has caused quite a few instances of retconning to the flagship show’s series finale. In The Walking Dead‘s final episode, a hopeful overtone was present with Alexandria, Hilltop, and a new Commonwealth rebuilding, Daryl heading off to search for Rick, and characters finding stable roles in new jobs. In terms of threats, The Walking Dead thwarted the main antagonist group with a takeover and all communities were seemingly defensible from walkers.

However, with subsequent spinoffs such as The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon and Dead City, survivors were shown in new locales that challenged some of the established lore of the franchise. Retcons in The Walking Dead universe aren’t new. For instance, Alpha’s origin story was altered in Tales of The Walking Dead, changing her from the creator of the Whisperers to someone who overthrew the original leader and took over. Therefore, whether undoing an individual character’s arc or re-calibrating the core zombie lore of the franchise, The Walking Dead‘s retcons are often blatant.

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7 Daryl Dixon Leaving The Commonwealth Achieved Nothing

Daryl reveals he didn’t find out anything new while away from Alexandria

Daryl Dixon holding his crossbow in The Walking Dead Daryl Dixon episode 5

In Daryl’s final moments on the main show, he said goodbye to Judith and that while he’s gone he’d find Rick and Michonne and bring them home. This was in addition to Daryl’s reason for leaving The Walking Dead to go to France, namely Maggie asking him to scope out the wider areas to learn more. However, in the pilot of Daryl’s spinoff, he said, “I went out looking for something, and all I found was trouble.” This suggested that his excursion away from Alexandria and the new Commonwealth was pointless from a story perspective and only a means to get him to France for the spinoff.

6 Maggie & Negan’s Feud Wasn’t Settled After All

Their feud is a core element of The Walking Dead: Dead City

It’s no secret that Maggie and Negan have a long-running feud since Negan brutally bludgeoned Glenn in the season 7 premiere. However, over the course of the rest of The Walking Dead, Negan slowly became a part of Alexandria and even helped take down Alpha during the Whisperer War. Additionally, he saved Judith during a snowstorm and helped rescue Hershel from the Commonwealth. All this led to Maggie extending hospitality to Negan and his wife Annie in the finale by admitting that he “earned [his] place.” She also stated she didn’t want to hate Negan anymore.

However, from the very beginning of The Walking Dead: Dead City, Maggie was angry and vengeful like she was when she returned after leaving The Walking Dead in season 9. While this was a blatant undoing of the slow progression to get to a point where Maggie would be even somewhat okay with Negan living in her community, it was necessary given the angle Dead City took. If Maggie’s distaste for Negan was resolved, the Croat wouldn’t have been able to leverage it to get her to covertly bring Negan to the ex-Savior in exchange for Hershel’s safe return. This would’ve made Negan and Maggie’s team-up unlikely.

5 Variants Don’t Exist (According To Dead City)

Variants were first introduced in The Walking Dead

Walking Dead Dead City Variant Zombie

The variant confusion in The Walking Dead universe has been around since season 1 when Morgan’s turned wife showed signs of intelligence, such as remembering her home. From then, the show ignored this seemingly until season 11 with the aptly named episode “Variant,” where a climber zombie variant was shown. These zombies showed much greater critical thinking skills, such as when one grabbed Lydia’s weapon to prevent her attacks or when one climbed over a fence instead of into it like typical walkers.

Additionally, The Walking Dead: World Beyond post-credit scene showed the main show’s Dr. Jenner explaining that variants originated from France by means of science. However, Dead City‘s mutant sewer zombie refuted this. When Maggie and Ginny were in the sewers, they came across this grotesque amalgamation of numerous zombies. The explanation there was that the “hotboxing” of the dead to sustain Croat’s walker-fueled methane power supply melted the undead bodies together. By denying any variants in the show so far, The Walking Dead confused its own walker rules by indicating walkers cannot evolve, despite the clearly advanced ones seen in season 11 of the main show.

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4 Daryl Dixon Proves Variants Are Man-Made

The Walking Dead suggested variants evolved and weren’t made

To add to The Walking Dead‘s inconsistencies created by variants, Daryl Dixon‘s variants were all modified by humans. The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon also revealed how zombie variants are made, namely by using their decapitated heads. While Genet’s villain plan involved injecting walkers with some kind of scientifically altered serum to transform them into stronger and speedier variants, The Walking Dead suggested traits like this simply evolved over time.

After Aaron and the others’ encounter with the climbers, it became clear that walker variants could differ. Their differences seemed linked to abilities, such as dexterity, intelligence, speed, and strength. Daryl Dixon‘s enhanced walkers coincided with The Walking Dead: World Beyond‘s reveal where one French person accused French scientists of creating the virus that caused the outbreak and the different “variant cohorts“. While this didn’t explain how all variants were made, Daryl Dixon all but confirmed that zombie variant traits get created and aren’t products of evolution.

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3 Negan Abandoned His Family (Despite His Season 11 Promise)

Annie and Joshua are not present in The Walking Dead: Dead City season 1

Negan with his hand on Annie's back in a scene from The Walking Dead

In The Walking Dead season 11, after Annie was introduced and her pregnancy revealed, Negan expressed excitement about being a father and a deep desire to keep his family safe. Additionally, Negan also made a promise to Annie that he would never do anything to risk her and their child’s lives. However, his abandonment of Annie and Joshua in The Walking Dead: Dead City didn’t align with this. While Negan explained why he and his family were separated, it had holes.

Negan recounted how Annie was brutally attacked by a group of men, so he sought revenge and became a fugitive on the run from the New Babylon marshals. He sent his family to Missouri so they could avoid a life on the run. However, he didn’t seem to prioritize returning to them and ended up caring for Ginny, an orphaned girl. Either Negan believed Annie and Joshua were safer without him, or he was ashamed of the brutal act he committed, even if only in reaction to the harm done to Annie. Both options undermined Negan’s season 11 promise to avoid risking them and his desire to be a father.

2 Hilltop’s Recovery After The Whisperers Was A Lie

The Walking Dead ending showed Hilltop rebuilt

The Walking Dead season 11 ending showed Hilltop as rebuilt after the fire during the Whisperer War. However, at the beginning of Dead City, Maggie confirmed that Hilltop was rebuilt elsewhere. This raised why a rebuilt Hilltop was shown in its original location in the main show’s finale if the Whisperer War justification was still being used. While it’s possible the damage to Hilltop was worse than originally thought, this change seemed more for the sake of convenience. Moving Hilltop was more logistical for Maggie and Negan’s spinoff, since it’s in New York and not Virginia, where the original Hilltop was located.

To make details around Hilltop even more contrived, the optimistic ending about community-building and the future was undercut by Hilltop being moved to The Bricks, an abandoned factory in either New Jersey or New York. In the main show’s finale, Maggie told Carol and Daryl that she was thinking about the future and that “there’s a lot out there to find out about.” This could explain her moving her community to The Bricks, but it undermined the theme of togetherness instilled by the end of the main series between the communities, making a more unified alliance more challenging for the future.

1 Negan’s Savior Days Were Reframed In Dead City

Negan retcons some aspects of his Savior era in The Walking Dead: Dead City

Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan in The Walking Dead and Dead City

There’s no denying that Negan’s redemption in The Walking Dead was genuine. However, all his sincerely good deeds after his imprisonment in Alexandria didn’t erase what he had done while leading the Saviors. Granted, some of the brutality inflicted by the Saviors wasn’t at his own hands, like Simon having Jadis’ people killed, but he was still the leader of the group. Additionally, in season 11, Negan told Maggie he regretted not killing all of her group that night in season 7, episode 1, as it could’ve protected his people. This indicated that, given the change to redo, he would’ve killed more than Glenn and Abraham.

However, The Walking Dead: Dead City had Negan admit he was a monster only when needed and put on a show to protect his people. Excusing his actions as a way to protect the Saviors and eliminating all enjoyment seemed like a forced way to rewrite his bad actions as having positive intentions. In moments like when he gutted Spencer or tested Rick to cut off Carl’s arm, he exercised control and showed signs of enjoyment. Diminishing his bad actions as solely something he had to do also muddied his own redemptive arc. It’s intriguing to see how any future retconning alters The Walking Dead‘s established stories.

The newest spinoff The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live premieres on February 25, 2024, on AMC and AMC+.

The Walking Dead Season 11 Poster

The Walking Dead

Release Date
October 31, 2010

Cast
Steven Yeun , Andrew Lincoln , Chandler Riggs , Laurie Holden , Jeffrey DeMunn , Sarah Wayne Callies , Melissa McBride , Norman Reedus , Jon Bernthal , Iron E. Singleton

Seasons
11

Season List
The Walking Dead – Season 1 , The Walking Dead – Season 2 , The Walking Dead – Season 3 , The Walking Dead – Season 4 , The Walking Dead – Season 5 , The Walking Dead – Season 6 , The Walking Dead – Season 7 , The Walking Dead – Season 8 , The Walking Dead – Season 9 , The Walking Dead – Season 10 , The Walking Dead – Season 11

Story By
Tony Moore, Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard

Streaming Service(s)
Netflix , AMC Plus

Franchise(s)
The Walking Dead

Directors
Greg Nicotero

Showrunner
Frank Darabont , Angela Kang , Scott M. Gimple , Glen Mazzara