How The Walking Dead Ends in Final Episode

Warning: do not read this story until you've watched The Walking Dead series finale, "Rest in Peace." On Sunday night, The Walking Dead ended just as it started: with Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) searching for his family in the zombie apocalypse. Before an epilogue revealed what came after Rick's fateful helicopter flight in Lincoln's last episode of the show, Sunday's series-ender spent most of its final 64 minutes wrapping up eleven seasons of the AMC zombie drama. Titled "Rest in Peace," the series finale of The Walking Dead focused on the remaining survivors' last stand against the Commonwealth, pitting them against the living and the dead. In the end, almost everyone made it out of The Walking Dead's final episode alive.

The survivors found themselves trapped between the Commonwealth's army of white-armored troopers and an invading zombie herd, sent flooding into the city's lower ward and away from the gated Estates under orders of Governor Pamela Milton (Laila Robins). A horde of variant walkers breached and flooded into the hospital where Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Carol (Melissa McBride) pulled off an emergency blood transfusion, saving the life of Judith Grimes (Cailey Fleming) after she was caught in the crossfire during a shootout with Governor Milton's soldiers.

Luke (Dan Fogler) and his girlfriend Jules (Alex Sgambati) were victims of the walkers swarming the streets of the Commonwealth. Splintering off from the group were Rosita (Christian Serratos), Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam), and Eugene (Josh McDermitt), the trio fighting their way through the throng of walkers to reach Rosita's kidnapped baby daughter at the children's home. Meanwhile, Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), and Ezekiel (Khary Payton) helped jailbreak General Mercer (Michael James Shaw), who Governor Milton had arrested on charges of treason over his attempted coup. 

Once all groups converged at a safe house inside the Estates, Mercer refused to stand by as Governor Milton's army began to gun down citizens caught climbing the gates. "This isn't your fight. These aren't your people," Mercer told the survivors. "Yes, they are. And so are you," Ezekiel told Mercer, rallying their people: "You may not think this place is worth saving. I get that, given how they treated us. But it's worth it to me. The people are worth it. And I'm not going to allow them to fall without a fight. Not today. I'm with you. Who else?"

Everyone put their lives on the line to unlock the gates, uniting to save the living left to die outside the Estates by Governor Milton. "If I open the gates, the dead will get in," she reasoned. "Not just the living." Daryl told her the living have only one enemy: "We ain't the walking dead."

Negan tried to talk Maggie out of assassinating Governor Milton, offering to fire the fatal blow if it meant saving Maggie from the consequences. But before Maggie could pull the trigger, Mercer arrested Governor Milton for high crimes against the people of the Commonwealth — a fate the once-jailed Negan called "worse than death."

As the walkers descended upon the Estates, the Commonwealth's citizens joined the survivors in luring the horde into the gated community that was rigged to blow. Once the Estates were evacuated, and their private sewers flooded with the military's fuel, a timed detonation set off a series of explosions, destroying the Estates and the walkers with it.

In the aftermath, Pamela ended up where she belonged: behind bars. Maggie confessed to Negan that she didn't want to hate him anymore, but told Negan she could never forgive him for killing Glenn. Rosita revealed she suffered a walker's bite that she ultimately succumbed to, passing peacefully after one last family dinner raised a toast to the lives lost.

After a one-year time jump, the Commonwealth found a new beginning. Under Governor Ezekiel Sutton, Lieutenant Governor Michael Mercer, and Deputy Governor Carol Peletier, the survivors will work to make the Commonwealth a better place for all to live. Eugene and Max (Margot Bingham) welcomed a baby girl, named Rosie. The tight-knit group of Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura), Magna (Nadia Hilker), and sisters Kelly (Angel Theory) and Connie (Lauren Ridloff) have settled at the Commonwealth. Lydia (Cassady McClincy) and Elijah (Okea Eme-Akwari) are messengers for the connected communities of Commonwealth, Hilltop, and Alexandria.

The Alexandria Safe-Zone has been rebuilt, with Aaron (Ross Marquand) and Gabriel among its leaders. Negan has relocated somewhere else. Maggie and her son, Hershel Rhee (Kien Michael Spiller), returned to Hilltop. "I want to talk about the future," she told Daryl and Carol. "There's a lot out there to find out about, and I think it's time we did."

Daryl has spent time away from the Commonwealth exploring "the frontier." After Judith revealed the truth about Michonne's mission to find Rick, Daryl promised to keep an eye out for her parents and bring them home. Parting ways with Carol and Ezekiel, leaving the Grimes children in their care, Daryl rode off into the unknown.

In the end, The Walking Dead was not a story about death, but about life. The final line of the series went to Judith, who finally said aloud the secret saying she shared with her parents, Rick and Michonne: "We're the ones who live."

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