Sunday’s The Walking Dead sees a distraught Michonne (Danai Gurira) race after an unaccounted for Judith (Cailey Fleming), while the other half of 914, ‘Scars,’ revisits the past, set eight-something months after Rick Grimes’ (Andrew Lincoln) disappearance. Tonight’s story is entirely original and exclusive to the show, particularly when involving Judith, who long ago died as a baby in the comic books.
There Judith was similarly born of an affair between Lori Grimes and Shane Walsh, but did not survive past the prison, where baby Judith died alongside her mother during the Governor’s assault when one of his soldiers, Lilly Caul, shot and killed Lori as she fled while cradling her newborn. With her death, Lori collapsed and crushed her daughter, whose lifespan was just 10 issues.
This horrific outcome was touched upon in Season Four episode ‘Too Far Gone,’ when the Governor’s (David Morrissey) violent attack on the prison ends with Rick and Carl (Chandler Riggs) discovering Judith’s bloodied and empty baby carrier, believing her to be dead. The Grimes family would later be reunited when Judith was revealed to be in the care of Tyreese (Chad Coleman) and Carol (Melissa McBride).
Judith is now 10-years-old after the six-year time jump that followed Rick’s presumed death. Raised by Rick and Michonne, who both wholly accept the girl as their own despite the lack of blood ties, Judith is now a proficient and often independent survivor capable of handling herself when outside Alexandria’s walls.
She has since inherited a comic book storyline originally intended for late half-brother Carl, filling the role of unlikely confidant for jailed former Savior leader Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). This dynamic comes to a head in ‘Scars,’ when Michonne learns Judith’s bond with Negan runs deeper than she realized.
Creator and executive producer Robert Kirkman admitted in October he repeatedly tried to kill off Judith in the show, but relented and reversed course ahead of Season Nine.
“I tried to kill that damn baby that’s not even a baby anymore — I have pitched the death of Judith so many times it’s not even funny,” Kirkman said at New York Comic Con, conceding the aged-up Judith is now “a very fun character.”
“It’s cool having a kid running around,” Kirkman confessed before expressing regret for wanting “to kill her every season from Season Three on.”
Producer David Alpert previously teased Judith has an important role to play within the future the survivors are working so hard to build, saying in September, “I used to say Carl would grow up and have kids and that his kids would take over with all his grandkids, so obviously it can’t work like that. But Judith, she’s a little ass-kicker. I think it’s possible we could see Judith grow up and take over the whole team.”
Former Lori Grimes star Sarah Wayne Callies has since recognized Rick and Michonne as Judith’s true parents.
The Walking Dead premieres new episodes Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.