Slipping back into our old familiar Sunday night routine of anxiously awaiting that night’s episode of “Walking Dead” is almost as easy as breathing (you know… being safely outside of the apocalypse and all). With some very interesting scenes in the one hundredth episode in season eight unfolding, we’re back to our other favorite fall pastime, digging into “Walking Dead” fan theories. There are more “what ifs” out there than there are walkers left in the world, and the theories range from the practical musings of why a character acts the way he or she does, to bizarre crossovers between shows, worlds and even into animation! Some make sense, and others… well, others are just plain surreal.
Regardless of where you stand on them individually, fan theories as a whole are a great addition to the Walking Dead world. They give us things to muse over, details to reexamine, and sometimes just a good chuckle. There are of course, many more and the list grows with each new episode, so for now, here is a list of the twenty best Walking Dead fan theories that are currently floating around out there for your fandom obsessing pleasure:
1. Let’s kick it old school for a minute and discuss the fan theory that has been around since literally the first episode, in which we meet Rick Grimes who has woken from a coma to find himself in apocalyptic zombie hell. The obvious theory here of course is that he never REALLY woke up. All of this is just his addled brain trying to make sense of his body’s injuries with one hell of a dream sequence, or perhaps he is even writing a book about his dreams while in a coma. Despite those in the know actually coming out and telling us flat out that he is NOT in a coma, some are still clinging to the theory.
2. Speaking of dreams, let’s talk season eight’s big conversation starter, in which Mr. Grimes is seen in a blurry, dream-like “old man” scene. He appears happy, more or less healthy and at least some sort of peace with his kids and Michonne. I mean, they are all alive, there is a festival, inside jokes and apparently Weird Al tunes to get down to (which, by the way, could be an off beat nod to Hillywood’s Walking Dead parody featuring the song, “Another One Bites the Dust,” but then again, maybe not). This little vision, coupled with the disturbing scenes of Rick at his current age (presumably), bloodshot and crazed looking, has fueled several new theories.
For example, one theory of this old man scene is it is just a dream, wishful thinking on an obviously stressed out Rick for a long and peaceful life. Perhaps visions of what could’ve been had he not made a certain decision. Perhaps he is having a mental breakdown and so his mind took him to a potential happy place that may, or may not exist in real life. We just aren’t sure yet, but we have a bad feeling all the same.
3. Or, is this a flash forward to an actual future? Given the dreamy quality to the look of the scene, and the fact that Walking Dead never seems to give us that much hope, it’s doubtful. Some fans point to Carl’s little reminder to Dad, that “hope” might not be enough (aka – viewers, hope might not be enough to save Rick) seems to firm up the opinion that this theory is probably a miss and that something is about to go horribly wrong with our fearless leader.
4. Of course another explanation for this scene may be that Rick is going to die. Don’t kill the messenger kids. Walking Dead is kind of known for showing us touching, humanizing scenes of our favorite characters before ripping our hearts out and grinding them into the dust with the horrific deaths of our beloved favorites. Could this rosie dream be what Rick sees right before he dies? The scene certainly gives us more to mourn if Rick dies, knowing what he might have had. If only…
5. That theory not cheery enough for you? Let’s try this one on for size. Some people think that babies born after the apocalypse are immune to the virus. That would be AMAZING! Uplifting! It would provide hope to all those struggling to survive! Of course, one would only know this with the death of such a child. Judith? Maggie’s baby? For some horrible reason, this theory seems to be a little to plausible. After all, little Judith didn’t make it on paper.
6. Changing the subject to a more quasi-scientific point of view on things, this theory provided by morasyid on Reddit (which is viewable in full detail here: https://www.reddit.com/r/thewalkingdead/comments/33ggwp/i_have_a_theory_about_the_walkers/) thinks that walkers may be fueled by the sun. They go on to point out that walkers that are outside are more active, moving around constantly, those hidden away in dark places are still until they sense food nearby. It would explain a lot actually if this was true. I’d just like to know why the school around together like fish.
7. Another very probable theory is Jadis is going to keep pissing us off. We know this is in at least part going to be true because that chick is still alive (seriously?!) but what some fans theorize happening is that we are going to see her become one of our next big enemies after the war with Negan. They are referring of course to the Whispers from the graphic novels and their leader, Alpha. The Whispers are super gross, zombie skin wearing psychos that don’t mind getting their hands dirty (very true of Jadis). The thought is that they are going to “reuse” Jadis and later introduce her as Alpha. We know she holds no love for the group and is a shady chick, so it’s really not all that big of step.
8. Want another little happy thought? Only America is doomed. The government knew about it, probably even started it (remember all the military presence that was so quickly taking place in season one) and has quarantined us off to die alone (or at least until the walkers die out) since they didn’t have the power to stop or control it. This theory is a big favorite among some circles for two reasons 1) if it was only in America, the group truly does have hope for some sort of life if they can figure out how to get past blockades or prove they are unaffected as many theorize Rick is immune and 2) it would be a fitting, shattering end and overall explanation if they found out there was hope beyond our shores only to be chased away by the government or shot at. What if Rick survived to try to leave by sea only to be shot to death?
9. Eugene is more of a D than we think… he may have started the entire outbreak! Or was at least directly involved on some level. He repeatedly states that he worked at the Human Genome Project. Even after we found out he lied and didn’t really have a cure he continues to tell this to Negan and shows some definite science know how. We also know that he is a liar and will do anything to save his own skin. Who would leave the dude that started all this alive at this point? Exactly, no one. So he would have no reason to reveal this if he wanted to live and since we know he values his own life above all else, the theory is actually pretty sound.
10. There is another interesting theory out there that everyone can survive, if they just hide out good enough for long enough. Meaning that these zombies are decaying slowly but surely (and the show certainly seems to be showing that) so if you wait long enough, most of them are going to decay and “die” off. New walkers are being added here and there, but humanity is in low numbers. If those alive were to hide out long enough, the zombies would be mostly gone and they could take care of the handful of recently turned, maybe using implement new burial rituals (stabbing recently deceased to prevent newbies right off) to help keep it in check. Some think that a particular Easter egg also hints at this total decay. The title sequence of the show which started out with whole letters and a clean look seems to be “decaying” in appearance with each new season. Hmm….
11. Another huge fan favorite, the “Old Man Carl” theory. In this version of the “Walking Dead,” Carl has managed to survive everything that we’ve seen and is telling it to someone else (Judith? His child? His grandchild? Some random stranger?). That is why Rick is so central to the story, it’s his Dad! This leads to some more interesting questions, how did Carl survive? Whom else survived with him? What is life like now? Where is the hat?! Some discredit this theory because we’ve seen things that Carl hasn’t, but perhaps he is just relaying stories that others have told him as well? It would be a very sweet ending, so that in itself makes it seem almost impossible.
12. One of the more recently spawned ponderings is that Father Gabriel is in fact Father Judas, a backstabbing, double crosser you-know-what…. Okay maybe that’s not the name they are giving him, but certainly the feeling behind this thought process. The thinking goes something like this, Father Gabriel went back for Gregory because they are on the same side – Negan’s! It could also explain why Gabriel didn’t just blast Negan in the face on sight, and it could explain what he was REALLY doing with the Trash People. He wasn’t actually kidnapped, but he went willingly, to lead Rick (who he knew would follow) to them, to make his trust them so Negan could see if Rick would try to double cross him, or some other twisted reasoning. Do you remember in Alexandria when Gabriel basically said that none of the group was to be trusted or allowed to live here? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FaUUX8C1q0g, maybe his stripes haven’t changed that much. Maybe he decided he never liked Rick and his crew and when presented with Negan, found an alternative way to live? After all, Negan and the Father’s initial meeting didn’t exactly seem fraught with danger and we know Father Gabriel was willing to betray people he was close to in the past when we learned his backstory.
13. Rick is a zombie. Now at first, this seems particularly dumb to some (and by some, I specifically mean me), but there is at least an iota of sense lingering somewhere behind it. Back in that fateful episode where we see Rick waking from his coma, we should’ve thought about a few things. 1) He had been in a coma for much longer than a week, which is how long a human can survive without food or water. 2) He hadn’t been eaten… so maybe that’s why the zombies hadn’t piled up at his door sensing him as food? Then again, we’ve seen him chased by zombies. They think he is a zombie with a different strain, a slower strain that keeps him alive (for now) but will eventually drive him madder and madder as he slowly decays from the inside out. There would be a lot of plot holes to this, but still, it’s one floating out there.
14. Need some more feels in your life? Here’s one to try on for size, Carl doesn’t cut his hair because of his connection to his Mom. Carl loved his Mom, it would only make sense. There was also that adorable haircutting scene with Lorie back in season one, remember? When Mom was cutting his hair and he is fidgeting, Shane tells him one day he’ll miss Mom’s haircuts, and maybe it’s as simple as that. He misses his Mom’s haircuts. He wanted the last person to have cut his hair to have been his Mother. Or maybe it’s just a coincidence. Either way, here is a pretty detailed video that goes over the theory a little more.
15. Toy Story and the Walking Dead? I have been privy to may WD theories, thoughts, musings, and just outright ramblings, but this one has always struck me as the straight up oddest. What’s the deal? Some say that WD is just the grown up retelling of Toy Story. Points to back this up include both Woody and Rick are sheriffs, have a “new man in town” they are up against (Rick – Shane etc), have a kid they’ll do anything to protect, are loyal to their friends, the list goes on and on. Really, I’m going to go with a big fat no on this one, but hey, you do you.
16. Rick is literally the last man standing. One theory that is both plausible and terrifying is that everyone dies. Carol, Judith, Carl… Daryl (sob), they all die. EVERYONE human dies leaving Rick the last man on Earth. Humanity is doomed to die out, this is how we end, with a Walker apocalypse. There is no cure, no Hail Mary, no last minute save, we die out. Rick might keep going, might keep fighting, might live on, for a time, but in the end, he too will die and the world will be run by the undead, until they too decay into nothingness.
17. On the flip side of that coin, another school of thought is they find a cure. Sure one guy in one CDC offed himself in despair – but did they all?! What if someone, or some team kept going? They’d have been well protected in their building if the CDC we saw was any indication. What if they kept on working, and found it?! The biggest problem lies within the fact that this would provide our clan with a happy ending, something that seems unlikely (at least for everyone). Most likely, if we see a cure, it will be right before the last survivor dies horribly before they can use it or some other shattering, soul crushing move. Which frankly would be more on track with what we’ve been served so far.
18. An absolutely horrifying possibility is the thought of walkers evolving. Either getting faster, speaking, thinking – any sort of step up from mindless eating machine would mean that more survivors would die, or at the very least there would challenges to survival for sure. We’d not only have to outrun, but outthink. Let’s be honest here, we’re barely hanging on when they AREN’T doing much more than shambling slowly after us, if that changes, we’re all screwed.
19. The island initiative. People have a love hate relationship with the idea of a possible happy ending for the characters. On one hand, we cry and moan at each beloveded character loss, we ache for them to have a break, a life, but on the other hand, we keep watching because of those dark moments. For those “what ifs.” In this scenario, the group finds a small island, clears it quickly because there are less people and slowly set up a camp turned long term community. There would be supply runs needing for building materials and food initially, but this Giligan’s island could be awesome if done correctly.
20. In the final theory, and one of the more depressing ones, we find out in the bitter end that Rick gets turned into a walker to save his family and is forever left in that state. This is something we could see happening and would be a damaging, dramatic finale to an emotionally intense show. Many view this story as Rick’s or even Carl’s story, so it’s a pretty sure bet that one of those two guys are going to be the last one alive, or at least the last “original” hero that we follow from the group. Rick is devoted to his family above all else, and certainly above his own survival. It would be a full circle story line if Rick, in some grand move, had to sacrifice himself in order to save his child, or children, to give them a chance at life. Perhaps dying in such a way that locating him to put him out of his misery as a walker, is impossible. It would be ironic and exactly the kind of ending that would impress (or depress) the audience. If this happens to be the case, it would really add a lot to the theory of Carl telling the story as an old man who idolized his Dad. He will have survived because he Dad died for him.
The brains behind The Walking Dead have often voiced their thoughts and shot down various theories over the years, while taunting us with cryptic clues about potential leads (or misleads). The show’s secrets are close kept and plot lines viciously guarded. Many have jumped to the paper and ink stories for clues, but writers have purposely kept just enough distance from those story lines as to throw us off the scent and keep us guessing.
At one hundred episodes and counting, the list of theories continues to grow, as does our hunger for information. Odds are, one of us is right, at least to a degree. Eventually the show will end, and we’ll know all there was to know about this last stand of desperate humanity, but until that day guess on fans!
….But seriously, if Daryl dies, I’m going to riot.