What year does The Walking Dead take place? "Here's Negan" reveals an updated zombie apocalypse timeline when the prequel episode flashes back to just before the global outbreak of an unknown virus. At the start of The Walking Dead's extended Season 10 finale, more than a decade has passed since a comatose Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) first woke up in a world gone "bye" in the 2010 series premiere. In Season 2 of spin-off Fear the Walking Dead, fresh grave markers for the Suarez family confirm the global outbreak of the "Wildfire" virus occurred in late 2010 — the same year where most of "Here's Negan" is set.
By the time Rick Grimes and the militia defeats Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) to end the Savior war in Season 8 of The Walking Dead, nearly two years have passed since the outbreak. A lengthy time jump separates the Season 8 finale, "Wrath," and the Season 9 premiere, "A New Beginning," catching up with Negan 18 months into his life sentence.
In Season 9 episode "What Comes After," where a vengeful Maggie Rhee (Lauren Cohan) decides against executing Negan for the murder of her husband Glenn (Steven Yeun), Rick disappears after a bridge explosion and The Walking Dead jumps another six years into the future. Negan remains behind bars during this time.
After Alpha (Samantha Morton) attacks the communities and marks Whisperer territory in Season 9 episode "The Calm Before," several months have passed by the time of the snowy season finale "The Storm." Another nine months pass before Carol (Melissa McBride) releases Negan to kill Alpha in Season 10.
When Carol takes a freed Negan away from Alexandria in "Here's Negan," he reflects on the earliest days of the zombie apocalypse when he hunkered down with his cancer-stricken wife Lucille (Hilarie Burton Morgan). A flashback to 12 years earlier reveals The Walking Dead is now set in the year 2022.
2022 is the same year The Walking Dead will end after its expanded 24-episode final season begins airing this summer on AMC. Season 11 is expected to release in three eight-episode blocks before the series finale airs later next year.
"Here's Negan" is now streaming on AMC+ and airs Sunday, April 4, at 9/8c on the AMC Network. The Walking Dead's Epic Final Season premieres this summer on AMC. Follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter for all things TWD.