It’s hard to believe we’ve said goodbye to "The Walking Dead." After 11 seasons that spanned 12 years, the flagship show has finally wrapped. Some fans stopped watching the show long before its end after they felt storylines went off the rail — for instance, the brutal murder of fan-favorite Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun) and the drawn-out Saviors War storyline soured many viewers. As noted in a Reddit thread, some fans felt the show could’ve ended after Season 4 and the thrilling showdown with the Governor (David Morrissey).
However, when showrunner Angela Kang took the helm in Season 9, the fans who were still watching held hope for greatness. After protagonists Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) departed, Kang fleshed out the remaining heroes. Even supervillain Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) walked the path of redemption and became an empathetic antihero to cheer onward.
In the end, our heroes banded together to remind the tattered humans who remain that hope still exists even in the darkest spaces and life is always worth salvaging. With three spinoff series in the works, "The Walking Dead" still has much to say, but the original journey has sadly ended. Over its last season, the show had both amazing highlights and some head-scratching plot holes. Here are some of the best and the worst things about Season 11 of "The Walking Dead."
Worst: Maggie’s continued antagonism of Negan
When the final season of "The Walking Dead" opens, Maggie returns after a six-year absence from her friends. The former Hilltop leader spent the entirety of Season 10 living in a small community called Meridian. In the two-part opener of Season 11, Maggie and a group — which includes Negan — embark on a scavenging trip to the remnants of Meridian to search for supplies after most of the community is slaughtered by the nefarious Ravagers. Throughout the episode, Maggie refuses to listen to anything Negan has to say, even though he poses reasonable questions.
Maggie’s distrust of Negan is valid. After all, Negan brutally murdered her husband, Glenn. However, the former villain spent most of Season 10 proving his worth and repentance. He’s become a helpful asset to our heroes. Maggie’s unrelenting anger toward Negan puts the group in jeopardy, and ultimately, Negan refuses to rescue her from harm. In a review of the Season 11 opener, Den of Geek said, "Negan keeps making great points about the dangers the group faces that Maggie ignores, because she’s in charge."
Insider noted that Jeffrey Dean Morgan spoke about Negan’s choice not to help Maggie on "The Talking Dead." Morgan recalled, "I was like, ‘This is a horrible idea. Any good that we have done is immediately gone.’" Maggie’s anger and hatred make sense, but her choice to constantly express it to the detriment of the group does not.
Best: Eugene punches Sebastian
From the time Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt) joins the heroes on "The Walking Dead," he shows cowardice. Ostensibly the smartest member of the survivors, Eugene once sported a mean mullet but never displayed much outward strength. Occasionally though, he surprises everyone. In a review of the Season 11 episode "Promises Broken," Vulture noted that Eugene finally "does the right thing" when he punches bratty Sebastian Milton (Teo Rapp-Olsson) in the face.
Sebastian, the entitled, sociopathic son of the Commonwealth’s governor, Pamela Milton (Laila Robins), is the first antagonist Eugene has truly confronted. Eugene and his new-found love, Stephanie (Chelle Ramos) see Sebastian and a girl out on a date. Walkers stumble straight toward the couple, and Eugene kills the majority of the undead herd. Stephanie slays a walker headed for Sebastian’s date, and instead of thanking her, he screams and insults her. Without hesitation, Eugene punches this wannabe Joffrey Baratheon in the face.
Eugene acts to protect Stephanie with little thought of the consequences, and his actions prove satisfying to watch. Josh McDermitt spoke to The Koalition about the punch (which lands Eugene in a Commonwealth jail cell) and said, "[Eugene] did this because [he] had to but [now he wonders], ‘is more bad going to come from this?’" Per Rotten Tomatoes, the episode scored highly with critics, and Eugene’s punch proved love can bring out our most noble instincts.
Worst: Leah’s betrayal of Daryl
On "The Walking Dead," Leah Shaw (Lynn Collins) was Daryl’s (Norman Reedus) only full-fledged girlfriend. Initially, she appears in flashback scenes during Season 10 before becoming a regular character in Season 11. After Daryl leaves Alexandria to look for Rick, he meets a broken, distrustful Leah and slowly breaks her defensive walls — eventually, the two share a cabin and an ongoing romance.
Not much time is spent on Leah in the penultimate season. That’s why, when she’s revealed as a part of the Reapers (the scary ex-military group Maggie calls the Ravagers) in Season 11, there’s no emotional punch behind the twist. In the Season 11 Part 1 finale, Daryl tries to convince Leah to leave the Reapers, but instead she kills their psychotic leader, Pope (Ritchie Coster), and claims Daryl murdered him. In a review of the episode, Entertainment Weekly points out that the Reapers are Leah’s chosen family and she feels betrayed by Daryl, who has shown his loyalty to Maggie. Nonetheless, the Reapers are ruthless killers. Leah’s allegiance to the group and her choice to put Daryl in danger don’t feel like organic character development.
A Reddit poll that asked why viewers didn’t like Leah received 70 responses pointing to Collins’ portrayal and an overwhelming 1,500 that blamed the way the character was written. Alas, Leah’s relational ties to Daryl weren’t believable and the eventual betrayal of her ex fell flat.
Best: The romance of Princess and Mercer
On "The Walking Dead," a plethora of new characters seems to crop up every season. Some characters, like Gage (Jackson Pace), prove hard to keep track of and often perish quickly. However, the nuanced, quirky Princess (Paola Lázaro) helped Eugene, Ezekiel (Khary Payton), and Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura) on their journey to the Commonwealth and subsequently, fought alongside the good guys. Although Princess didn’t appear until Season 10, she became an integral member of the team. In the Season 11 episode "Trust," Princess and Commonwealth militia leader, Mercer (Michael James Shaw), begin a romance and the chemistry between the couple is palpable.
Credit should be given to Lázaro and Shaw who bring depth to characters who could’ve remained one-dimensional. Shaw’s Mercer is a tough "man of few words," while Lázaro’s Princess is bubbly and outlandish. Nonetheless, they bring out the best in one another. CBR called the Princess and Mercer romance the "unlikely pairing that viewers have been waiting for," and we agree.
Lázaro spoke with TV Fanatic about what her character sees in the Commonwealth’s military star. "I think Princess can see that there’s more to Mercer behind that armor," she said. In the season finale, the couple shares a beautiful moment after being separated for a time — when Princess sees her boyfriend, she lights up and squeals as she jumps into his arms. Their relationship feels genuine and easy.
Worst: Daryl lets Leah escape
When Part 2 of "The Walking Dead" Season 11 begins, Daryl and Maggie are engaged in a bloody battle with the Reapers. Fresh off of betraying Daryl, Leah believes she has them pinned and unable to escape. Unbeknownst to Leah, Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) has a sniper rifle pointed her way. Maggie picks off the remaining Reapers, but Daryl keeps her from killing his ex-girlfriend, Leah. That decision proves costly. Daryl has seen the worst of humanity and he knows Leah could seek revenge on his friends. Their relationship ended years before they waged war against one another and happened largely off-screen. Leah betrayed Daryl and tried to get him killed. He owes her nothing.
Daryl is smart, and it feels out of character for him to make such an emotional decision. As CBR stated, "Daryl makes the hasty — and possibly, selfish — decision to spare Leah’s life, and his choice may bite him back in the future." Of course, Leah comes back to seek revenge.
In Episode 16, she teams up with Lance Hornsby (Josh Hamilton) to capture her former lover and his friends. Leah takes Maggie captive, and ultimately, Daryl executes Leah to rescue Maggie. Lynn Collins told Insider that she "cried for like 45 minutes" when she discovered how her character would die.
Best: Sebastian’s just punishment
Although Sebastian Milton only appeared in one season of "The Walking Dead," his narcissistic ways made him an easy character to root against. The bratty son of the governor frequently targets his rage at Daryl and puts him in danger. Behind his mother’s back, Sebastian works with Lance Hornsby to undermine her authority. He helps Hornsby disappear citizens by ordering them on missions to line his pockets. Many do not survive these missions.
Late in Season 11, Max (Margot Bingham) and Eugene decide to expose Sebastian’s true nature to citizens gathered to commemorate the founding of the Commonwealth. Over a loudspeaker, they broadcast a secret recording of Sebastian that exposes his disdain for poor people. Drawn to the loud noise, a horde of walkers descends. Eugene pushes a walker off of Max and it plunges into Sebastian. The young sociopath screams for help to no avail, and he’s torn apart.
Teo Rapp-Olsson, the actor who portrays Sebastian, spoke with ComicBook about his character’s demise. "I think it’s also just so telling of Sebastian that nobody comes to his aid in that moment and that his death," he said. Rapp-Olsson reflected on his reception from the show’s fans as well. He continued, "I have yet to receive one mean or cruel message from a fan … Everything I’ve gotten is basically like, ‘Hey, don’t take this the wrong way, but I love to hate you.’"
Worst: The fake Stephanie
Throughout Season 10 of "The Walking Dead," Eugene makes a connection with a woman named Stephanie over a refurbished radio. The two spend hours bonding over their shared memories of life before the zombie apocalypse and Stephanie speaks about her community. After Alexandria’s supplies run out, Eugene, Ezekiel, and Yumiko head out to meet the mysterious Stephanie and are taken in by the Commonwealth militia. Once Eugene is accepted into the Commonwealth, he meets Stephanie face-to-face and the two begin dating.
However, in the Season 11 episode "Rogue Element," Eugene learns that "Stephanie" isn’t the woman he communicated with. Shira (Chelle Ramos), a Commonwealth soldier loyal to Hornsby, has pretended to be Stephanie to convince Eugene to reveal everything about Alexandria. Cinema Blend noted the ridiculous nature of this plotline and stated, "It seems like everyone within the community is in on the plan, as it were, since no one seems to bat an eyelash at her when she and Eugene [are] around, and no one is asking what she’s doing."
It turns out the "real" Stephanie is Pamela’s assistant (and Mercer’s sister), Max. Ostensibly, Max is still loyal to Pamela. Why wouldn’t Hornsby turn to her to elicit answers from Eugene? How did Eugene rationalize the difference in the voice of the new Stephanie? The plot feels like it was lifted from a soap opera. In a review for Forbes, Erik Kain calls the episode "mostly terrible."
Best: Negan offers himself as a sacrifice
Negan has arguably undergone the biggest character transformation of all the survivors on "The Walking Dead." Negan’s introduction comes briefly at the end of Season 6, yet we don’t experience his full brutality until Season 7, when he murders Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) and Glenn. As noted by Cinema Blend, a decade has elapsed between Season 6 and Season 11 in the show’s timeline. Negan is a different man, and he’s now an integral force for good.
By Part 3 of Season 11, Negan has found love with his wife, Annie (Medina Senghore) who’s also pregnant. In Episode 22, the couple is –- along with Ezekiel and others –- back in Alexandria, held captive by Commonwealth soldiers at a makeshift work camp. After Negan refuses to betray his fellow prisoners, the camp’s warden threatens to execute Annie. Without hesitation, Negan offers himself up instead. Ezekiel, who has vocalized his hatred for Negan, is inspired to stand with him. Soon, many other prisoners block Annie and Negan from the warden’s executioners.
As a standalone moment, the sacrifice is stirring and beautiful. Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays Negan at his best. Unfortunately, as noted by the Undead Walking fan page, Negan’s selfless actions don’t pack quite the intended resonance as audiences knew he would survive the incident. The Hollywood Reporter announced "Dead City" (originally titled "Isle of the Dead") –- a spinoff series featuring Maggie and Negan –- long before the sacrificial episode aired.
Worst: Eugene’s trial
The Commonwealth serves as the primary setting for the final season of "The Walking Dead," and the community becomes ripe for plotlines that distract from the post-apocalyptic setting. This is especially apparent in Eugene’s sham trial for the death of Sebastian Milton during Episode 22.
As Season 11 progresses, Pamela Milton’s dictatorial rule and aspirations become more evident. It soon becomes clear that Pamela’s love for her constituents is just a facade and no one mourns Sebastian’s death. The younger Milton’s death is blamed on the recording Eugene and Max played — but Eugene didn’t kill Sebastian. It’s tough to believe the people of the Commonwealth would allow Governor Milton to move forward with this trial. It’s obvious that Milton clearly wants to make an example of Eugene, but why not just execute him?
There are two episodes between Eugene’s arrest, trial, and inevitable guilty verdict. The plotline does little to propel the story forward and only solidifies Eugene’s thick plot armor. In an interview with AMC, Josh McDermitt spoke about his character’s trial. "I just kept thinking of the "Law & Order" sound effects," he said. Although Eugene shows courage in the face of his impending punishment, a courtroom trial on a zombie show feels out of place.
Best: Our heroes reunite
In "The Walking Dead," the large cast of protagonists makes significant shared screen time nearly impossible. Through much of the show’s final season, our heroes are split up. Ezekiel, Kelly (Angel Theory), and Negan are in the work camp. Eugene, Princess, Mercer, and Yumiko remain in the Commonwealth. Carol (Melissa McBride), Daryl, Maggie, and Rosita (Christian Serratos) search for their friends. Aaron (Ross Marquand), Gabriel, and Jerry (Cooper Andrews) are on a mission, too.
In a review of "The Walking Dead" finale, The New York Times noted, "Everyone’s back together." Our heroes shine when they stand together, which is what makes their reunion in the last episode of Season 11 so poignant. The entire group comes together to defeat Pamela and to create a better world for all survivors. Even Rick and Michonne have screen time in the finale’s epilogue.
The reunion shows that the group — and the series — is at its best when they’re together. Although Daryl departs on a journey that will take him to Europe in the spinoff series "Daryl Dixon," the series shows the heroes together for one last dinner and ends on a hopeful note. Cue all the feels.
Worst: The deaths of Luke and Jules
Luke (Dan Fogler) first joins "The Walking Dead" survivors in Alexandria in Season 9. He’s part of the group that includes Magna (Nadia Hilker), Yumiko, Connie, and Kelly. A former music teacher, Luke proves an affable and endearing addition to Alexandria.
However, as noted by CBR, before his character can truly be fleshed out, Luke disappears. Luke plays a pivotal role in the Whisperers War of Season 10 and then, just as we’re getting to know him, he moves to Oceanside with his new girlfriend, Jules (Alex Sgambati). He and the even less well-known Jules aren’t mentioned, nor do they show up again on screen until the end of Season 11, when they are seen in "Faith." The couple survives until the early moments of the final episode before they’re both killed by walkers. After a year and a half without either character, their deaths don’t feel high stakes enough.
Through Season 10, "The Walking Dead" killed off many beloved characters, raising the emotional stakes of all battles with both the dead and the living. Until the series finale, the only central-adjacent character to die a traumatic death through Season 11 was Alden (Callan McAuliffe). Bringing Luke and Jules back only to kill them off feels like a cop-out. As a review in Collider put it, "Alas, poor Jules, we hardly knew ye."
Best: Rosita says goodbye
Alas, the finale of "The Walking Dead" wasn’t without painful deaths. Fierce fighter and protective mother Rosita had a chance to say goodbye to her friends before she succumbed to a walker bite on her shoulder. In a scene comparable to Glenn’s fake death in Season 6, the finale shows Rosita in a precarious position and it looks like she and her infant daughter, Coco may have succumbed to a walker herd. However, Rosita shows off her superhero fighting skills and saves herself and her baby.
Later, Rosita silently confesses to Eugene that she didn’t emerge from that battle unscathed. She pulls down the neck of her shirt and reveals the bite to her best friend. "I just love you so, so much," Eugene says. "I love you," Rosita replies as a tear rolls down her cheek. When she eventually tells the rest of the group, no dialogue is used. Christian Serratos, the actress who portrays Rosita, manages to nonverbally convey deep sorrow, and dialogue would’ve taken away from Rosita’s revelation.
Serratos told Entertainment Weekly, "Honestly, I wasn’t ready to go. It’s so sad to think that she died, but it gave me kind of a sense of closure in a way." Rosita dies surrounded by her loved ones and her death allows viewers to grieve in proper send-off fashion.