The Walking Dead’s eighth season finale came in like a lion and out like a lamb. And for many fans, the conclusion to Rick and Negan’s drawn out war was long overdue.
“Wrath” offered closure for some storylines, including another sweet memorial to Carl Grimes (RIP). But it also hinted at new horrors to come in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it nod to another infamous comic book storyline.
Here’s everything we saw in The Walking Dead Season 8 finale, including a hidden detail that foreshadows the entrance of another insidious villain (page 7).
1. “Wrath” marked the end of a huge chapter in The Walking Dead
Now that Season 8 is in the books, we finally know Negan’s fate. Rick slashed his throat, but still kept him alive. Still, Negan’s reign of terror is now over. And he’s using the now imprisoned Savior as a reminder of what happens to people who aren’t willing to fight for peace.
The Season 8 finale saw what was likely Morgan’s final moments on TWD, as he set off for greener pastures (on spinoff Fear the Walking Dead). And it also marked the end of a war that’s lasted two and a half seasons.
The question on all fans’ minds now is: What’s next?
Next: What does The Walking Dead look like now that it’s no longer Rick vs. Negan?
2. By granting Carl’s wish, Rick ushered in a new era
In the season finale, Rick’s mercy, indeed, prevailed over his wrath. The episode made it clear that the driving force behind his decision not to kill Negan was Carl’s dying wish.
And he evangelized his son’s dream for the future when he addressed the warring factions with a stirring speech:
“Negan’s alive, but his way of doing things is over. And anyone who can’t live with that will pay the price, I promise you that. And any person would would live in peace and fairness, who would find common ground, this world is yours, by right! We are life! That’s death!” (points to gigantic zombie herd in the distance) “And it’s coming for us, unless we stand together. Go home, and then the work begins. The new world begins. All of this—this is just what was. There’s gotta be something after.”
The remaining Saviors joined forces with Alexandria, the Hilltop, and the Kingdom, finally putting the drawn-out conflict to an end. Rick’s new world will likely be familiar to fans of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead comics.
But for fans of AMC’s adaptation, change will definitely be coming to the series in Season 9.
Next: The Season 8 finale revealed a shocking new storyline.
3. An unexpected Walking Dead civil war on the horizon
While most of The Walking Dead’s characters are on board with Rick’s vision for peace, a few key players are less than thrilled. We saw in the closing moments of the Season 8 finale that Maggie, Jesus, and even Daryl are not happy that Rick kept Negan alive.
Maggie told her friends that Rick, when the time is right, Rick will see how wrong he was to spare the Savior’s life. And the implication was clear — there are new battle lines being drawn, and it may find some of our favorite allies on opposite sides.
This civil war is a definite departure from The Walking Dead comics. But it does make sense, especially when you consider the fact that Maggie lost Glenn to Negan’s brutality.
Will this new storyline mean that Maggie and Daryl become villains? Or are there even bigger threats on the horizon?
Next: The Walking Dead will look and feel different in the future.
4. There are a lot of changes coming in Season 9
The Walking Dead has had a rocky tenure during its past couple of seasons on AMC. The series’ steady viewership began to decline with Negan’s arrival. So, in some ways, bringing the All Out War to an end is one of the best changes The Walking Dead can make. But it’s not the only one we’ll see.
Embattled showrunner Scott Gimple has stepped aside, and TWD writer Angela Kang will take the reigns in Season 9. She’ll oversee the new phase of the series, which — if it follows the comics — will include a substantial time jump.
And from the looks of it, that won’t be the only post-war story that The Walking Dead will tackle in Season 9.
Next: Could a threat worse than Negan be on its way to The Walking Dead?
5. The Walking Dead’s survivors could face a new enemy
On the one hand, it feels like The Walking Dead’s heroes and villains alike could use a bit of a break after all the recent brutality. On the other … well, this is The Walking Dead we’re talking about.
Given the inevitability of chaos in a post-apocalyptic world, Rick’s desire for peace probably can’t last all that long. And, sure enough, in Kirkman’s comics, a new threat appears not too long after the time jump at the end of the All Out War.
The Whisperers are yet another tribe of survivors that use pretty extreme measures to get by. They keep quiet (hence the name), and wear zombie flesh on their faces (to keep away the walkers). And they’re about as brutal as it comes in The Walking Dead landscape.
Next: The Whisperers end up killing at least two significant Walking Dead characters.
6. The Whisperers are as deadly as Negan
In the comics, The Whisperers’ leaders, Alpha and Beta, are pretty territorial. And if anyone stands in their way, they’re quick to make an example out of them. That proves to be tragic for The Walking Dead’s heroes, as The Whisperers wind up taking two of their own.
Both Ezekiel and Rosita end up on Alpha’s bad side. And they pay the price when she kills them, and leaves their heads as a warning for Rick and his friends. We’re probably a long ways off from those heartbreaking losses on AMC’s The Walking Dead. But one small hint from the Season 8 finale seemed to foreshadow their impending arrival.
Next: Did you catch this clever clue about The Whisperers?
7. One moment from the Season 8 finale hinted at the horrors to come
In one scene during The Walking Dead Season 8 finale, we saw Rick’s crew traveling by foot. And in the background, a line of posts that seem to mark a perimeter of some kind are clearly visible.
In Kirkman’s comics, this is exactly how The Whisperers note their territory. And they also use these spikes to display the heads of their enemies when necessary. So while the moment may seem innocuous now, it could very easily be a horrifying bit of foreshadowing, too.
Next: We may have gotten our first glimpse of The Whisperers in the finale, too.
8. The hoard of walkers on the horizon in the finale may have been our first introduction to The Whisperers
The posts along the road were a cool wink to comic fans. But The Walking Dead may have taken their hints at The Whisperers arrival even farther in the Season 8 finale. When Rick is addressing the remaining warriors at the end of the episode, he points to a hoard of walkers on the horizon. And he reminds everyone that the undead are truly their one common enemy.
Rick may find that his appeal to unifying may have held a double meaning in Season 9. Because The Whisperers travel by blending in with walker hoards. And some fans have theorized that The Whisperers may be among the looming walkers.
Next: This isn’t the first time The Walking Dead has hinted at The Whisperers’ introduction.
9. The Walking Dead has given us clues about The Whisperers before
This may be the first time we’ve seen a hint of The Whisperers on our TV screens. But it isn’t the first time The Walking Dead has teased their arrival. In 2016, a post on the series’ official Instagram account showed a severed head on a spike. The image was instantly familiar to comic fans who remembered the iconic reveal of Ezekiel’s death.
Regardless of whether The Walking Dead was playing the long game or not, it definitely seems like just a matter of time before we finally meet the Whisperers. We’ll find out how they’ll factor into Rick’s new world when Season 9 premieres this fall.
Follow Katherine Webb on Twitter @prufrox.
Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!