Rick Grimes holding gun

The end is nigh for the 11th season of "The Walking Dead," and so too ends the series after a historic 12-year run. As the series comes to a close, a number of characters and storylines will be finally be released from their suffering and laid to rest, while a handful of others will live on in the form of brand new spinoffs and potentially a handful of movies. The series’ mastery of dramatic storytelling and grounded tone have ensured that the franchise –- much like its titular, relentless revenants -– will never truly die. "The Walking Dead" will keep walking, and that’s largely (and ironically) because the show has always been so alive.

The show’s masterminds, like original comic creator Robert Kirkman and its many showrunners, have imbued the series with a pervasive sense of vigor throughout its run, and they’ve done so by going the extra mile in production and by fostering a truly fun work environment. Simply put: the cast and crew behind "The Walking Dead" care about their program, and it shows on screen.

One of the best ways for fans to get a glimpse of this passion is to hunt for the show’s many Easter eggs. Woven into the entire series are fun connections, callbacks, parallels, teasers, and references that make it apparent just how much this cast and crew love what they do. To help you push through the crowd of shambling, moaning moments in the show’s history and reach that treasure trove, here are some small details you missed in "The Walking Dead."

The first walker lives

Summer the walker young and old

From the first few minutes of the "The Walking Dead" pilot, it’s clear that this series is not just another zombie story — and not just because the show makes a point to stay away from the "z" word. No, the show sets itself apart by inventing a world in which zombies aren’t a part of the zeitgeist, and so there’s no precedent for the tongue-in-cheek camp of, say, an Edgar Wright. Instead, the walkers are treated as people, and every one of their deaths, undeaths, and even their second deaths hit characters close to home. That infusion of existentialism was apparent from the very first walker to appear on the show.

Rick Grimes meets his first walker and she’s a small, young girl, complete with braces and a teddy bear. When he puts her down, he feels it, and so do fans. The walker, then known only as "Little Girl Walker," was played by actress Addy Miller. When "The Walking Dead" reached its Season 8 premiere, the showrunners decided to honor the series’ earliest moments and recast Miller as another walker. Miller, now quite grown up, plays another walker in the eighth season opener, and her "new" walker is practically built from callbacks. She has the same cross-crossing scar on her right forehead and the same open, deformed right cheek. The nod was a fun one, especially when you consider how it implies that walkers still age, develop, and even have their braces removed.

Dale’s speech returns

Dale holds rifle

In the Season 1 episode "Vatos," the survivor group asks sweet, old Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn) about the watch he always wears and consistently winds. Citing the assumption that the world has come more or less to its end, the group asks Dale what use he has for timekeeping. In response, Dale defends his temporal fixation by reinterpreting a passage from William Faulkner’s "The Sound and the Fury." He half-quotes and half-posits that the watch is a "mausoleum of all hope and desire" and that its importance is "not that you may remember time, but that you may forget it for a moment now and then and not spend all of your breath trying to conquer it."

For Dale, and for the overarching theme of the series, the speech is an important one. It touches on the need for accepting one’s present circumstances instead of being ruled by regrets and hypotheticals. It also, through its use of the mausoleum metaphor, suggests that those who are trapped by time are the true dead ones, not the unburdened walkers. The moral persists, at least through the end of Season 5, which ends with five episodes titled "Remember," "Forget," "Spend," "Try," and "Conquer." The five words in a row represent five important points in Dale’s speech, also in that same order.

Horde of walkers marches
Maggie Rhee holds pocket-watch
Eastman and Morgan train with sticks
Daryl spots Red Poncho Man
Walkers surround the Evil Dead cabin
Daryl opens box of Morley cigarettes
Maggie's paintings of lost loved ones
Carol holds Alpha's severed head
Rick Grimes wet with beard