Walking Dead final season, why did walkers evolve into the variants?

Jonathan Bergman as Child Walker - The Walking Dead _ Season 11, Episode 21 - Photo Credit: Jace Downs/AMC
Jonathan Bergman as Child Walker - The Walking Dead _ Season 11, Episode 21 - Photo Credit: Jace Downs/AMC /

The Walking Dead season 11 reintroduced smart walkers, as seen in season 1. These members of the undead were able to pick up rocks and other things, turn door knobs, and scale walls. Many viewers are curious as to why the walkers evolved and why wait until the last episode to reintroduce them.

Addy Miller (Photo by Paul Warner/WireImage)
Addy Miller (Photo by Paul Warner/WireImage) /

In an interview with AMC.com, showrunner Angela Kang stated that these smart walkers in season 11 are a nod to the earlier season walkers. During season 1, walkers were seen climbing fences, Morgan’s (Lennie James) undead wife turned the doorknob, the Teddy Bear walker (Addy Miller) picked up her bear, and a walker was seen using a rock to break the window at the department store in Atlanta.

These original smart walkers appeared in the early seasons because of showrunner Frank Darabont. When he was fired, the new showrunner, Glen Mazzara, opted to revert to the slow-moving, unintelligent walkers of the comics.

The final episodes offered many nods to the early seasons and characters who have died along the way, so it doesn’t seem out of place to see some of these variants reappear.

The Walking Dead variant walkers

In the limited spinoff series The Walking Dead: World Beyond, a French variant was introduced in a coda scene that appeared to have different characteristics than the US walker. It would be a stretch to assume the French variant made its way to the US, but Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) will encounter these walkers in his spinoff series filmed and set in France.

Related Story. French variants introduced in World Beyond. light

What would cause the US see these variants or evolved walkers? Possibly due to the testing the CRM (Civic Republic Military) conducted in World Beyond. This organization had been conducting tests on the undead and newly bitten people. If they allowed the tested walkers to roam free, they could be part of the reason for the evolution seen in the final episodes of The Walking Dead. 

Walking Dead
Trey Santiago-Hudson Lauren Cohan Jeffrey Dean Morgan Photo Credit: Peter Kramer/AMC /

While it may seem to be too late in the game to introduce these versions in the last season, perhaps they are a glimpse of what’s to come in either The Walking Dead: Dead City or The Walking Dead: Rick & Michonne series.

It would seem to tie in better to the Rick & Michone series, as it has been confirmed that Rick was taken in by the CRM, escaped, and was most likely recaptured. This information was revealed during the coda scene from the last episode of TWD. 

Only time will tell what or if these variants will have a more significant role in the spinoff series set to release in 2023.

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