The Walking Dead Season 10 is laying the groundwork for Judith Grimes (Cailey Fleming) to inherit the ending that belonged to half-brother Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) in creator Robert Kirkman's comic books. In the book's final issue, a 20-plus year time jump reveals walkers are little-seen and bites have become increasingly rare. Carl is father to Andrea, the young daughter he shares with childhood best friend Sophia, and the book ends with Carl reading a storybook telling the tale of The Trials — an abbreviated version of the events captured in the first 192 issues of The Walking Dead — and the story of Andrea's grandfather, the legendary Rick Grimes.
In Season 10 episode 1, “Lines We Cross,” Judith is heard telling little brother RJ (Antony Azor) a story about “the brave man,” father Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), who they believe died in a bridge explosion more than six years earlier. In Season 10 episode 8, “The World Before,” when en route to Oceanside with mother Michonne (Danai Gurira) and the Hilltop's Luke (Dan Fogler), Judith takes a dutiful record of the journey, saying the book is filled with “our stories for the future.”
Judith's recordkeeping could be handed down to her own child when The Walking Dead comes to an end, putting Judith in the role her brother filled in the comic books. In the comics, Judith never survived beyond infancy; in the show, it's Carl who died prematurely midway through Season 8.
While Judith has become somewhat of a replacement for Carl on the television adaptation, showrunner Angela Kang noted in the past the wakizashi-wielding Judith is very much her own character.
“With Judith, she bears certain similarities to Carl. She’s also very much her own character as well,” she previously told EW. “She’s really spunky. She’s funny. She is an apocalypse native. That makes things a little different than a kid who remembers life before the apocalypse. What’s exciting about it is we get to have that feel of the Grimes kid who’s 10 years old, like we have in the comics, but we’ve really been enjoying finding Judith’s unique version of what that story is because she, again, has a very different background than Carl.”
Ahead of Season 9, where Fleming's aged-up Judith made her debut following the six-year time jump, executive producer David Alpert said he expects Judith to eventually become the series' new lead.
“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,” Alpert told The Huffington Post. “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.”
The Walking Dead Season 10 returns with new episodes Feb. 23, 2020 on AMC. For more TWD intel, follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.