The Walking Dead’s Maggie and Glenn’s tragic love story

Maggie Greene (Lauren Cohan) and Glenn (Steven Yeun) - The Walking Dead - Season 2, Episode 4 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
Maggie Greene (Lauren Cohan) and Glenn (Steven Yeun) - The Walking Dead - Season 2, Episode 4 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC /

Since the invention of the ship, there have been five ships that were rated the most passionate, the most pure; Gleggie left them all behind.

Apologies to William Goldman for murdering his Princess Bride quote, but the sentiment stands. Of all the romantic relationships that have happened or could have happened on The Walking Dead, the one between Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Glenn (Steven Yeun) is surely the purest and most tragic there ever was.

It started like so many great TV love stories do with a “meet-cute” of a ballsy and brave farm girl on a horse, swinging a baseball bat, and riding to the rescue. Maggie rode onto the show early in season 2, alerting Glenn and the others that Rick and Carl were at her daddy’s farm and they should come quickly. Any young straight man would be wide-eyed with love at such a sight, let alone one in the midst of the apocalypse.

Once the group showed up at Hershel’s farm, Glenn and Maggie had a connection from the start, though it seemed prickly at first. These strangers were on their land and in their home, and Maggie’s family friend Otis was dead – none of which are ideal conditions for young-love to bloom. However, that’s exactly what happened.

How did The Walking Dead’s Maggie and Glenn’s tragic love story unfold

Despite claiming their first dalliance in a pharmacy was a one-off, Maggie couldn’t resist the former pizza boy’s charms, and their relationship grew – no doubt heightened by the proximity and disapproval of Maggie’s father, Hershel (the much-missed Scott Wilson). But of course, in Walking Dead-world, nothing ever goes smoothly, and the apocalypse has a nasty way of popping up reminders in the most inconvenient moments. Like  – for instance -in a secret barn full of walkers where you are planning to have some illicit sex.

Hershel’s barn secret propels the young lovers into a further story, drawing them together with the secrecy and pulling them apart with the dilemma of what to do. Yet, it acts as a catalyst to draw out the man that Glenn is, and Maggie sees it just as the audience does. His heart, honor, and honesty shine through and make Maggie’s feigned casual interest fly out the window as she tells him she loves him, and their relationship is solidified.

Glenn (Steven Yeun) - Walking Dead - Season 2, Episode 9 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
Glenn (Steven Yeun) – Walking Dead – Season 2, Episode 9 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC /

When the Greene’s farm is lost to a herd, Maggie and Glenn flee together, and he can express he loves her too. In the midst of death and destruction, they have found each other, and in the space of a few months, both have seemed to grow up from youths to adults, bringing out the best in each other.

Through the next few seasons of The Walking Dead, their love and optimism is a very much needed counterbalance to the trauma around them. Their grabbed moments of privacy and intimacy are a delight and a reminder of the love and beauty that can thrive in even the worst of times.

The relationship also continues to hugely propel Glenn into manhood as he fights to win Hershel’s approval and acceptance and to protect his love at all costs. As with many similar relationships, shared trauma, such as their capture by the Governor in season 3, forges them with a bond that no man can break.

Glenn’s proposal, and surrounding scenes as they face a possible annihilation from the Governor’s army, is perhaps some of the warmest, most hopeful scenes a horror series can produce. His nobility in getting Hershel’s approval, and his need for their relationship to be solidified, is such a reflection of the man Glenn had become.

Of course, when a connection like that is made on-screen, alarm bells ring for the audience that something bad is creeping closer, and they were right as Glenn first succumbed to the killer flu that swept the prison and was then trapped inside it as the Governor blew it to pieces.

Thankfully it wasn’t Glenn’s end, and the story of Maggie and Glenn’s separation and desperate attempts to get back to each other fuelled the dark back half of season 4. The audience gasped when Glenn referred to missing Maggie as his wife and then cheered with exhilaration when Glenn finds Maggie’s message to him and starts running full pelt towards the love of his life.

Their reunion seemed to set them on another step of their journey, moving from the young second-in-commands to leaders in their own right, introducing new friends, leading missions, settling down in Alexandria, and inevitably towards the next step in their life – parenthood.

Despite the fact we didn’t get to see the moment Glenn finds out he’s going to be a father on screen (curses!), we know that it’s Glenn’s biggest desire but also his biggest fear, as he now wants to protect his feisty, independent wife even more. Yet, it seems like he’s the one who should be protected, as he goes missing and nearly dies under a dumpster when Rick is trying to direct a herd away from their home.

Maggie’s worry for her husband takes on a new level with her unborn child growing inside her, yet we see – as it was in their season 4 separation – neither gives up hope. Maggie constantly scans the horizon for a sign of Glenn, and as is his adaptable, resourceful way, Glenn manages to give her that signal with a green balloon he sets aloft.

This entire arc, whilst frustrating, truly shows the connection between the couple and the extent they will go to to find each other again – something that is horribly, cruelly foreshadowing the events at the end of the season.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan, Steven Yeun as Glenn Rhee - The Walking Dead _ Season 7, Episode 1 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan, Steven Yeun as Glenn Rhee – The Walking Dead _ Season 7, Episode 1 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC /

With Glenn’s death in the comics, his fate seemed sealed when Negan came on screen and formed his infamous killer line-up, but so many fans hoped against hope that Glenn would dodge the bullet – or the bat. Sadly, in the most gruesome, disturbing scene, Glenn receives his fate with multiple blows to the head.

His final line to Maggie – “I’ll find you” – is haunting and heart-breaking and sums up everything about Glenn and his relationship with his wife. He knows they are soulmates and that whatever comes after this life, he will fight time and space to be with her, always.

Such a tragic twist could be the end of many love-stories, but in a way, Maggie and Glenn’s love carries on. Her grief for her lost love fuelled Maggie to become the firm, focused, and fantastic Hilltop leader.

While the loss of Carl softened Rick, the loss of Glenn gives Maggie a spine of steel. Her belief in their family, in Glenn’s values, and the future he wanted for them, give her the strength to make the hard decisions and do the dirty work it takes to make that future happen.

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Glenn is as much a part of Maggie now as he is a part of their son, Hershel – who we get to meet again as a boy of around 7, in the coming season 10 bonus episodes of The Walking Dead. It will be a joy to see a part of Maggie and Glenn’s story come to life, and even more heart-warming to see Glenn himself echoed in the boy’s face and personality. True love never dies; it just changes shape.