The series finale of The Walking Dead originally ended how the show started: with Rick Grimes riding into post-apocalyptic Atlanta. Titled “Rest in Peace,” the series finale jumped a year into the future before a coda scene revealed the return of Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira). The last shot on The Walking Dead was of Rick and Michonne’s children, Judith Grimes (Cailey Fleming) and younger brother Rick “RJ” Grimes Jr. (Antony Azor) who looks to the future. But the episode reportedly ended very differently, with a longer flash forward in a final sequence that was filmed but deleted.
According to Insiderthe original ending of The Walking Dead jumped more than a decade into the future to reveal the children of Rick, Michonne, Aaron (Ross Marquand) and Rosita (Christian Serratos) – an adult Judith, Rick Jr., Gracie and Coco – out in search of survivors such as . their parents before them. In a callback to the show’s 2010 “Days Gone Bye” pilot episode, the final lines of the series would have been a grown-up RJ reaching over a CB radio and asking if anyone could hear his voice. Insider described the sequence:
After Daryl drove off, we cut to Freedom Parkway outside of Atlanta – where the iconic image of Rick riding down from the pilot. See an ethanol-modified van with a young woman and man in the front seats (in their twenties). And through the scene we come to realize that it is grown-up RJ and Judith. Other adult versions of the children are in the back – Coco, Gracie, etc. They are out there looking to escort any survivors back to their communities. Continuing the legacy of their parents. As RJ speaks over the radio, he finishes with, “If you can hear me, answer back. This is Rick Grimes.” (Which of course is his name – and the line Rick said in the pilot.) Then we end with the voice of a survivor replying back, “…Hello?”
A person with knowledge of the deleted ending told Insider that this full-circle conclusion was “emotionally appropriate” but contradicted the “world-building” of AMC’s Walking Dead The universe is expanding with three new spin-off shows in 2023, including Rick and Michonne series. According to another insider, the original ending may have been “canned” because it didn’t make sense to “end the show on ‘new versions’ of characters we don’t really know.”
In a separate interview with Decides, showrunner Angela Kang confirmed that she wrote a “completely different ending scene” from the episode. Although Kang declined to reveal the alternate ending, she said that the final shot of young Judith and RJ overlooking the new Commonwealth was not “originally the final moment of the show.”
“It was something that worked well in pitch and that everybody liked, but it was one of those things, when we finally saw it all put together, we thought, ‘this doesn’t quite work,’ and AMC said , ‘maybe you just cut this sequence,’ and I was like, ‘I totally get that,'” Kang explained. “So then we kind of thought, ‘So do we end with Rick/Michonne? Do we end with Daryl driving off? Do we end with the kids?’ But the intention was always that this is about… Our generation has done all this, and so this is what must carry on the legacy.”
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