The Walking Dead has officially wrapped up its seventh season, with Rick and his coalition sending a clear message to Negan and the Saviors that war is coming. Especially in the back half, Season 7 felt like it was primarily concerned with doing set-up work for the war to come and although we finally got to see the first shots fired in this war (and a much-needed win for Rick’s coalition), it’s more than a little disappointing that we now have to wait months to see what going to war with Negan truly looks like. Fortunately, we have Robert Kirkman’s comic book to look to for an idea of what to expect but given the vast array of small differences between the comic and TV series, there is plenty of room for improvisation and surprises in the season ahead.
Here are 10 things that will probably happen during The Walking Dead Season 8. Be warned: Full SPOILERS for The Walking Dead comics are dicussed.
10. The Oceanside Group Officially Joins The Fight
While I wasn’t really a fan of how much time the finale spent on the Alexandrians trying to convince the women of Oceanside to join the fight against Negan, it was a significant development nonetheless. The fact that Oceanside willingly let Rick and his group borrow their weapons was a surprisingly diplomatic move for a group that previously tried to kill Tara like three times in one episode, and suggests that they may not be far off from joining the fight permanently. Rick made a promise to return the weapons he took when the fight is over, which means that he will have to interact with Oceanside again at some point.
Since I don’t think simply having Rick return after Negan is taken care of and saying “Thanks for the guns, see you later!” would make for a compelling story beat, I think it’s more likely that we’ll see Oceanside fully commit to taking Negan down. The Oceanside women certainly have ample reason to want Negan dead and even if their leader Natania continues to resist an allegiance, it’s hard to see the rest of the group standing by her decision. Plus, with the Garbage People’s betrayal (more on them in a bit), Alexandria is in desperate need of more allies anyway, so it might as well be a group of capable women who have personal scores to settle with Negan.
9. Shiva Dies
I’m pretty sure Walking Dead fans would have rioted if King Eziekel’s tiger Shiva didn’t kill at least one Savior in the season finale, so it’s refreshing to see that the beast managed to kill several. Unfortunately, I think Shiva’s days are numbers and a combination of the comic book storyline and the show’s CGI budget are to blame. During the “All Out War” arc in the comic, Shiva meets her end whilst saving Ezekiel from a group of walkers, throwing Ezekiel into a deep mourning in which he begins to doubt his qualities as a leader.
I don’t really see any reason why the TV series wouldn’t follow suit with a similar event, but there’s even more reason to think Shiva’s days are numbered when you take into account the strain the tiger must put on the show’s CGI budget. As cool as it is to have a zombie show that features a loyal pet tiger, the reality is that said tiger must be expensive to keep around and considering the comics already provide an out, we should probably start preparing our goodbyes to Shiva now.
8. Heath Returns
One of the more peculiar loose ends that The Walking Dead has yet to firmly commit to is the fate of Heath (Corey Hawkins), who was separated from Tara early on in Season 7 and hasn’t been seen or heard from since. Of course, there was a practical reason for this: Hawkins’ commitments to 24: Legacy prevented him from appearing on The Walking Dead and so something had to be done with his character to write him out of the show. But rather than kill Heath off, the writers just made him disappear, which means that he could theoretically return at any point. With 24: Legacy entering hiatus, Hawkins will likely have time in his schedule to return to The Walking Dead if they want him and I think we will see him return in the first half of Season 8 or at the very least, we’ll find out what really happened to him.
7. The Garbage People Will Go Down First
The betrayal of the Scavengers — who I will henceforth only refer to as the Garbage People because it’s a much better (and fitting) name — was arguably the finale’s most shocking moment because I honestly did not see it coming. It came way out of left field for Rick and the Alexandrians too and nearly resulted in Carl having getting Lucille’d. While Negan remains the chief threat, I think we’ll see Rick and co. move against Jadis and her Garbage crew early in Season 8, not only to seek vengeance for their betrayal but to cut off one of Negan’s chief allegiances. Plus, one of the Garbage People nearly killed Michonne and that is something that Rick Grimes will not be able to abide.
6. Eugene Will Redeem Himself
It’s always felt like The Walking Dead hasn’t really known what to do with Eugene besides having him alternate between coming up with useful ideas and having to be saved from the jaws of death on account of his extreme cowardice, but his defection to Negan’s side has to be one of the most fascinating character developments of Season 7. The Saviors have finally offered Eugene a chance to truly display his skills and ingenuity and it’s clear that he feels like he is a valued member of their community. It also helps that the Saviors are (at least for the moment) secure and offer safety from the outside world, which is something that would certainly appeal to Eugene given his track record of not being able to deal with the harsh realities of survival.
Still, Eugene’s actions in the finale indicate that he may not be as loyal to Negan as we thought, as he not only provides Sasha with a way to kill herself, which ultimately sets off a sequence of events that allows Rick’s coalition to win its first real battle against Negan, but also lies to Negan when asked about how Sasha died. Eugene may be part of the Negan hive mind for now, but he may ultimately prove to be the Saviors’ undoing if he can pull off more acts of sabotage in the upcoming war.
5. Maggie Officially Becomes Leader of The Hilltop
Maggie spent most of this season asserting more and more control over the Hilltop community by taking advantage of the inept leadership of the cowardly Gregory. With Gregory gone and likely headed to Negan’s compound to try and cut a deal to save his own skin, Maggie is undoubtedly in charge of Hilltop and it’s going to become permanent. In the comics, Gregory returns to Hilltop and attempts to kill Maggie, but is ultimately thwarted, imprisoned, and eventually hanged. While it’s doubtful that the same sequence of events will take place on the TV series, I think the end result will be the same: Maggie will ultimately decide to kill Gregory and secure her position as Hilltop’s leader.
4. Someone Significant Will Be Killed By A Walker
Death is a language that The Walking Dead knows well and Season 7 was no different in this regard, as several beloved characters saw their lives swiftly and brutally cut short. However, unless I’m mistaken, all of these deaths — Glenn, Abraham, Olivia, Spencer, and Sasha being the ones that spring to mind — were caused by other people or in Sasha’s case, by suicide. Not one death came at the hands (or more likely, teeth) of a walker, which is kind of surprising given how much of a threat the undead have been up until now.
Of course, other people have always been the most significant threat to survival on The Walking Dead and with the prominence of Negan and the Saviors this season, it makes sense that walker threats were put on the back burner in favor of more human vs. human conflicts. Plus, you have to think that anyone who’s still alive at this point is pretty damn good at surviving and have figured out how to not put themselves in situations where a walker could easily get the jump on them. Still, it would be a shame if gruesome, unfortunate walker-related deaths were to disappear altogether, which is why I think we’ll see a significant character — in other words, a character who isn’t just there to be canon fodder — go down as walker chow in Season 8.
3. Negan Dies
Although the journey will be long and filled with setbacks and tragedy, it’s only a matter of time before Negan is toppled. Given the show’s track record, Negan’s defeat likely won’t occur until this time next year during the Season 8 finale but I think that the Savior leader will not only be defeated, he’s going to be killed off. As comic readers are no doubt aware, “All Out War” ends with Negan’s defeat but Rick ultimately decides to spare Negan’s life and imprisons rather than executes him. The problem is, this decision really makes no narrative sense and was only made because Robert Kirkman is a big fan of the character for whatever reason and wanted to keep telling stories with Negan in them.
The Rick Grimes of the first few seasons may very well have spared Negan’s life but that is not the Rick we know anymore. Rick is out for blood and has repeatedly shown that he has no room for mercy for people like Negan (plus, he’s promised he’s going to kill Negan several times now). Admittedly, I may be giving The Walking Dead too much credit for thinking it would make such a bold move when they won’t even kill Daryl off but just because something is unlikely to happen, doesn’t mean it won’t. Negan is going to die; it’s just a matter of when.
2. The Whisperers Show Up
It’s inevitable that the Whisperers — the next big threat after Negan in the comics — will show up on the TV series, and it could very well be as early as next season. While I don’t think we’ll get any kind of big reveal of the group in Season 8, they’ll at the very least be teased to help set up the main conflict of Season 9. For context, the Whisperers are a mysterious group of survivors who have adopted a “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” philosophy to the apocalypse by disguising themselves as walkers. They’re essentially a nomadic group who go wherever the walker herds go and are super creepy, on account of the fact that they’re essentially smart walkers. In the comics, Jesus is the first one to discover them, so perhaps the show will take this same approach and tease us with a final Season 8 that shows him encountering the Whisperers for the first time. At any rate, it would be very surprising if the Whisperers aren’t at least teased in Season 8, but we probably won’t see much of them.
1. It Will Be Both Better And Worse Than Season 7
Overall, Season 7 was pretty rough. If ever there was a season that proved that the only worthwhile episodes of The Walking Dead to watch are the season openers and finales, it was this one, as it felt like the majority of episodes were comprised of filler designed to kill time before actual narrative progress could happen. Season 8 will ostensibly be an adaptation of the “All Out War” arc from Robert Kirkman’s comics, so it’s safe to say that we could be in for the most action-packed season of The Walking Dead yet.
Unfortunately, action only gets you so far when there’s no narrative weight to prop it up and I think this will be an area the show continues to struggle with in Season 8, as we can only watch Rick screw things up so many times before the trick starts to get old. Still, the second half of Season 7 did make strides to address the many criticisms leveled against the first half, so I think it’s still too early to say that The Walking Dead can’t get better … the question is, will it?