World Beyond Ending & Post-Credits Set Up Walking Dead’s Next 10 Years
Walking Dead: World Beyond ends with a seismic post-credits that forever changes the franchise’s past and present, while setting up its future.
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Caution: huge spoilers ahead for Walking Dead: World Beyond’s series finale
The post-credits sequence of The Walking Dead: World Beyond completely changes AMC’s zombie apocalypse forever, revealing vital information about the virus, undead evolution, and where the franchise is heading over the next decade – here’s every detail explained. Though Walking Dead: World Beyond carries the unenviable honor of being the least enduring (and, to be honest, least visible) of all three major Walking Dead TV shows, it has added generously to Robert Kirkman’s original mythology.
Following up Rick’s helicopter departure in the main show, Walking Dead: World Beyond has formally introduced the CRM (Civic Republic Military) as the most powerful group currently active on U.S. soil. The folks in black have big plans for the rest of the world, and their scientists are making breakthroughs developing a fungi-based solution to the outbreak. The CRM is also utterly lacking in moral boundaries, and Walking Dead: World Beyond season 2’s finale finds Iris and Hope Bennett leading a small resistance that thwarts Jadis’ plan to bombard Portland with Project V.
The overwhelming headline coming out of Walking Dead: World Beyond, however, is the finale’s post-credits sequence – a scene completely removed from the spinoff’s primary narrative. Set in an abandoned French biomedical lab, a scientist and a survivor share a conversation. Their seismic exchange reveals the origin of the zombie outbreak, proves the undead have evolved, and paves the way for The Walking Dead’s future.
Walking Dead Reveals Zombie Virus Origin
It’s the revelation The Walking Dead fans thought would never happen. Robert Kirkman’s original Walking Dead comic leaves the virus’ origins mysteriously vague, and for a long time the AMC adaptation followed suit, making no attempt (season 1’s CDC episode aside) to dig into the science behind the undead. But as the Walking Dead movie & TV franchise expands beyond its source material and pokes into larger-scale territory with the CRM, getting an explanation for the outbreak became far more likely. Sure enough, the cause of the apocalypse is finally revealed – over 10 years removed from The Walking Dead’s premiere – by the World Beyond series finale.
Walking Dead: World Beyond’s post-credits sequence takes place in a science lab that has seemingly been abandoned for most of the outbreak. One of the facility’s former scientists returns, and is still working on a solution to the zombie virus, but she’s accosted by a male survivor smoking a cigarette… who shockingly blames the scientist and her colleagues for The Walking Dead’s outbreak.
Before The Walking Dead began, the French lab staff apparently comprised of multiple teams named after flowers (Violet, Primrose…), and the post-credits sequence’s female scientist says she hopes the remnants of those teams can still end the world’s plight. The man holding a gun to her back replies, “End this? You started this… all the teams.” If that wasn’t proof enough the entire Walking Dead story began in this very laboratory, someone has scrawled “Les Morts Sont Nés Ici” in huge letters across the wall, which translates to English as “the dead are born here.”
And there’s another wrinkle to the virus getting loose. Before her death, the scientist says to her killer, “They [Primrose Team] weren’t here when it happened… when you did what you did.” So while the biologists are being blamed by the Frenchman, the Frenchman (and his fellow survivors, presumably) are being blamed by the biologists.
Piecing everything together, the graffiti and the “You started this” line prove The Walking Dead’s zombie contagion was created by the Primrose and Violet teams at this French biomedical facility. But maybe the Frenchman’s group broke into the lab trying to halt the experiments, and accidentally released a lethal man-made virus into the population, kicking off The Walking Dead as we know it.
Walking Dead Reveals What Happened In The Rest Of The World
As well as hiding its zombie virus origin, The Walking Dead has also played its international cards close to the chest, only ever exploring the outbreak through an American lens. A rare clue came via The Walking Dead season 1’s aforementioned CDC episode, where Dr. Jenner confirmed French scientists were the last to go dark. Walking Dead: World Beyond season 2 finally elaborated when the CRM’s Lieutenant Colonel Elizabeth Kublek confirmed that, as far as they could confirm, the wider world was suffering just as badly as the U.S., if not worse.
The World Beyond series finale’s post-credits sequence gives the best overview yet of The Walking Dead’s worldwide landscape. Firstly, the French setting proves Elizabeth was right; the virus has spread globally. If France has fallen then, at the very least, the entirety of mainland Europe, spreading into western Asia, is surely compromised too. World Beyond’s ending also explains Dr. Jenner’s Walking Dead season 1 comment about the French lasting longest. They were obviously better equipped to deal with the apocalypse due to being zombie ground zero and understanding the infection better than everyone else. The real reason the French eventually went dark on Jenner was, potentially, because this smoking Frenchman and his friends arrived to jail or shoot them as punishment for condemning the entire world to undead hell.
Walking Dead: World Beyond’s post-credits also implies France isn’t solely to blame for the zombie apocalypse. When asked the whereabouts of Primrose Team, the scientist reveals they were in Toledo, Ohio “when it happened,” though the male survivor mistakenly believes she means Toledo in Spain. These comments could indicate the virus was a collaborative effort between various countries. France might’ve been where the pathogen was crafted, but if Primrose team were attending a conference in Ohio, the Americans could be complicit too, as well as other major international players like the UK and Spain.
World Beyond Cameo: Walking Dead’s CDC Doctor Returns
One The Walking Dead character no one expected to resurface was Noah Emmerich’s Dr. Edwin Jenner from season 1’s CDC episode, but the scientist makes a welcome posthumous cameo in World Beyond’s post-credits sequence.
Upon meeting Rick Grimes and the gang, Dr. Jenner confirmed scientists across the world had been working together to research the zombie virus, but admitted he was the last still active. The woman in World Beyond’s post-credits plays a videotape Jenner recorded before Rick’s arrival at the CDC, back when different international institutions were still in communication and Jenner’s wife (“the other Dr. Jenner”) was still alive.
Jenner begins by bemoaning the lack of “fresh” test subjects for the CDC’s zombie experiments, asserting newly-turned samples are required to paint an accurate picture of reanimation. This neatly explains why the CRM subjects captured prisoners, mutinous soldiers and uncooperative scientists (Dr. Abbott, for example) to their brutal experiments – collecting zombies from the wild just doesn’t provide the necessary data. Jenner goes on to comment on the French’s progress (more on that below), but his voice fades into the background while the smoking man and female scientist talk.
Using subtitles, Jenner mentions how he “almost broke a Petri dish yesterday.” This foreshadows the test tube Jenner smashed in The Walking Dead season 1’s “Wildfire,” which sent the CDC into lockdown and pushed him closer to taking his own life. Jenner says his wife stopped him punching a wall after the Petri dish incident, and as we know, she wasn’t around to hold her husband back the next time something happened.
Walking Dead’s Faster Zombies Explained
After demystifying the beginnings of The Walking Dead’s zombie virus, World Beyond’s series finale post-credits sequence shows the next evolution of undead – faster and smarter zombies.
The French survivor shoots the Violet Team scientist, then promptly leaves while her corpse is still slumped over the desk. She reanimates a few seconds later, and if this were a typical Walking Dead zombie, she’d stagger around the room aimlessly until something shiny, smelly or noisy catches her attention. Instead, the zombified scientist gets up and runs straight toward the exit door, hammering wildly. Fast zombies have officially entered The Walking Dead. Like 28 Days Later and Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake, the reanimated now move just as fast as the living which is, frankly, terrifying. As well as being rather more agile, this zombie also makes a beeline for the facility’s door, demonstrating unusually intelligent behavior for The Walking Dead’s monsters.
Walking Dead: World Beyond’s post-credits suggests these traits aren’t a natural evolution of the virus, but an accidental mutation triggered by the French team’s experiments. After the smoking man says, “You started this,” he quickly adds, “Then you made it worse.” Reading between the lines, it appears France’s zombies were originally the kind Walking Dead fans are used to, but in trying to stop the virus, the scientists who made it inadvertently gave zombies intelligence and the ability to run. Top work, guys.
This version of events is supported by Dr. Jenner’s video. Before the gunman arrives, his recording talks about “the latest data on your [France’s] side,” describing “cardiac plaques” that jump-start the infected specimen with hopes of “regaining function.” The experiment was intended to, essentially, turn zombies off. When Jenner’s voice fades, the subtitles reveal more. While cautiously optimistic, he warns the French their idea might not work, before mentioning “variant cohorts” that have been reported in Europe, but not the U.S.
Piecing the clues together, reactivating lost parts of zombie brain function may have accidentally created a virus variant, where the undead possess increased motor function (i.e. running) and partial intelligence, but are still just as rabid and hungry for flesh. That would explain the Frenchman’s “then you made it worse” accusation, whilst also accounting for these evolved zombies being dominant in France since The Walking Dead season 1, but not appearing across the Atlantic.
Alternatively, World Beyond’s evolved zombies might explain a plot hole from The Walking Dead’s earliest episodes. Back then, zombies would use rocks and try opening doors using the handle, suggesting some semblance of intellect remained. Though this can’t be connected to the French experiments (Morgan’s wife was one of these smarter variants), the Violet Team scientists might’ve permanently activated whatever made The Walking Dead season 1’s zombies clever.
What Happens Next For World Beyond’s Characters In The Walking Dead?
In all the excitement of Walking Dead: World Beyond’s post-credits, it’s easy to forget there was a 45-minute episode beforehand. The World Beyond series finale highlights how drastically each main hero has developed over the past 2 seasons. Hope is embracing her scientific potential, Iris is becoming a leader, Elton has found his optimism, and Silas discovered a sense of purpose. Fortunately for Walking Dead: World Beyond fans, many of those protagonists are primed to make future appearances elsewhere in the franchise.
The most obvious returnee is Silas, now a CRM soldier and protégé of Jadis, secretly plotting to take the villains down from inside. Silas’ final shot unveils him in full, black CRM uniform, but the story of his heroic betrayal is obviously being saved for another time. Walking Dead: World Beyond was always a 2-season deal, so the final episode’s Silas tease can’t just be an unresolved thread meant for a cancelled season 3. The same goes for Iris and Elton, who conclude their World Beyond story by finally reaching Portland. They presumably tell Portland’s ruling council about the CRM’s shady activities, but what happens next? Major General Beale and his militia won’t fade quietly into the night, and whenever the CRM story resumes in The Walking Dead, Iris and Elton have a huge part to play as allies to Portland.
Hope gets an open-ended goodbye too, successfully testing her newly-developed fungi weapon against the undead. The closest The Walking Dead has come to a cure yet, these magical mushrooms are sure to turn up in the future and, as their creator, so should Hope Bennett. Boasting the best chance of a comeback, however, is Jadis. In her final scene, the former Junkyard leader maneuvers her way up the CRM ladder by betraying Lieutenant Colonel Kublek, nicely setting up Pollyanna McIntosh for further appearances as one of The Walking Dead’s overarching villains.
How World Beyond Sets Up Rick Grimes’ Walking Dead Movies
The Walking Dead: World Beyond finale poses infinitely more questions than answers, and out of all projects currently in development at AMC towers, the Rick Grimes movie starring Andrew Lincoln finds itself best placed to provide solutions.
World Beyond drops several hints of a CRM “resistance” lingering in the shadows, complimenting the clues Michonne discovered in The Walking Dead season 9. With Iris warning Portland about the CRM’s wicked intentions, World Beyond’s final episode foreshadows a massive war between them and the Civic Republic. If Rick is somewhere out there plotting the CRM’s downfall, he could ally with – and perhaps even lead – Portland against Major General Beale and Jadis. In either case, Walking Dead: World Beyond’s ending certainly prepares the CRM as major antagonists for Rick’s movie. Despite losing their Project V scientists, the villains are far from beaten, and Jadis taking over from Elizabeth demonstrates strengthening in preparation for coming battles. Walking Dead: World Beyond’s Civic Republic newspaper front page also alluded toward a military coup, which could’ve already happened by the time Rick’s movie begins.
The France-based post-credits sequence probably acts as a precursor to the Rick Grimes Walking Dead movie too. The soon-to-be-shot scientist reveals Primrose Team were in Ohio when the outbreak took place. If any of them remain alive in the present, that means experts who understand the virus and how it was created are currently inside the U.S. Maybe Rick Grimes finds them and makes it his mission to ensure they find a cure. Or has the CRM captured Primrose Team, and Rick needs to break them free to end the zombie apocalypse? World Beyond’s post-credits might tease a connection between the French science team and the Civic Republic, as the coat the woman wears looks very similar to the black uniform of a CRM officer, and has something shiny where the 3 ring logo usually sits, though the exact design can’t be seen clearly.
Walking Dead producers have promised a large-scale mindset for Rick’s movie, and the fast, smart zombies in World Beyond’s post-credits tease an international flavor to the franchise’s future. There’s little use debuting variant zombies in France if the action remains limited to the U.S., after all. Does this indicate Rick Grimes’ mystery movie mission takes him abroad on the big screen?
World Beyond’s Implications For The Walking Dead Franchise
Needless to say, Walking Dead: World Beyond’s final post-credits sequence will have massive ramifications for the franchise as a whole. Between the thriving villainy of the CRM and the scientific intrigue in France, there’s plenty of battles to be fought and secrets to uncover… probably more than a single Rick Grimes movie can manage. The other major Walking Dead project confirmed for development thus far is a sequel spinoff starring Daryl and Carol from the main series, but that feels more like an intimate “on-the-road” style story. This could mean AMC is planning some other continuation of The Walking Dead to cover all the angles World Beyond tees-up..
The initial 2018 announcement of a Rick Grimes movie actually referenced multiple big screen Walking Dead projects, but because one film is taking so darn long, it’s not clear whether those trilogy plans remain in place. Walking Dead: World Beyond’s finale might prove AMC is still eyeing a full series of movies for Andrew Lincoln. Movie 1 could center around the CRM battle, the sequel digs into the French origin and Europe’s fast zombies, and the closer ends the entire franchise by having Rick stop the zombie apocalypse for good.
Alternatively, a secret Walking Dead sequel series might be in the works, which AMC plans to announce when the main show’s final season draws to a close. Complimenting the Rick Grimes movie, The Walking Dead pt. 2 could either pick up the CRM story and begin an entirely new narrative around the franchise’s answer to Thanos, or take place overseas, continuing World Beyond’s post-credits and broadening the impact of the apocalypse with a new evolution of zombies. The Running Dead, perhaps?
Either way, AMC evidently holds major hopes for Robert Kirkman’s world. Chatter before about a Walking Dead “universe” has arisen before, and with the streaming wars in full swing, every major platform boasts its own multi-show property, whether that be the MCU and Star Wars on Disney+, or Star Trek on Paramount+. Will The Walking Dead become AMC+’s flagship? After Walking Dead: World Beyond’s series finale and the shocking post-credits sequence that followed, the possibilities seem truly endless.