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The Walking Dead Season 8 Finale Ending Explained: Rick vs. Negan

Warning! MAJOR SPOILERS for The Walking Dead season 8 finale ahead!

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In Sunday night's finale to The Walking Dead season 8, the All-Out War between the survivors and The Saviors came to end. After first crossing paths with Negan in the season 6 finale and witnessing his cruel methods in the season 7 premiere, Rick swore revenge, beginning a conflict that's raged for more than two seasons. Now, that conflict is finally over - but not everyone is pleased with the resolution.

In "Wrath", practically every major plot of season 8 was given some sort of closure, tying up loose ends and allowing for season 9 to be the "new show with a bigger, new narrative" that producer Scott Gimple has promised. Earlier episodes this season already began laying the groundwork for this daring new direction (see the addition of Georgie), and following the events of the season 8 finale, the series is now free to explore these new ideas.

Related: Who Died On The Walking Dead This Week?

But first, just how did season 8 wrap up? How did Rick's group survive the trap Negan had laid out for them? How is it that Morgan will next appear on The Walking Dead's spinoff, Fear The Walking Dead? And what became of those scenes of a red-eyed, tearful Rick from the season 8 premiere? Read on the find out!

This Page: What Happened In The Walking Dead Season 8 Finale

Eugene's Double-Cross Saved The Day

In last week's episode, "Worth", Daryl and Rosita hatched a plot to kidnap Eugene in order to stop him from manufacturing bullets for The Saviors. It was a solid plan but it failed because they didn't anticipate just how committed Eugene was to his work. Through his escape, it appeared as if Eugene had thrown in with Negan once and for all, but what seemed to be confirmation of Eugene's turn to the dark side was, in fact, just a ruse. As it turns out, the bullets Eugene made for The Saviors were booby-trapped, and when The Saviors surrounded Rick's group and fired their weapons, every gun backfired, injuring and in some cases killing the ones pulling the trigger. It was a sneaky move but one that absolutely led to The Saviors' defeat. It almost makes up for him puking him on Rosita (almost).

Rick Injures - But Doesn't Kill - Negan

While the war was between the survivors and The Saviors, the real battle came down to Rick and Negan. By no means was this the first time the two leaders have faced each other, having come to blows only episodes earlier, but tonight's finale has a clear victor. After the mishap with the guns, The Saviors no longer hold an advantage over Rick's group; some try to keep fighting, but most throw up their hands in surrender. Negan, however, isn't ready to call it quits and flees. Rick pursues him and eventually confronts Negan underneath a tree with two pieces of stained glass swinging from its branches - the same tree The Walking Dead has been showing glimpses of all season.

Read More: Rick & Negan’s Brawl Was The Walking Dead at Its Best

Rick and Negan fight but Rick soon makes his plea that it doesn't have to be this way, reminding Negan of how Carl's letters insisted they find a better way to live. And for a moment, Negan hesitates, seeming to consider what Rick is saying. Then Rick slashes his neck with jagged piece of stained glass. As Negan gasps and starts to bleed out, Rick addresses The Saviors, telling them that this war is finally over before calling for Siddiq to come and patch up Negan.

In the end, Rick doesn't kill Negan, confirming that previous flash-forwards to a bleary-eyed Rick weren't him truly lost, but rather when his mercy does indeed prevail over his wrath.

Oceanside Rescue The Survivors

Meanwhile, at the same time that Negan's ambush of Rick is blowing up in his face, the sneak attack on the Hilltop is suffering its own setback. As the convoy of Saviors approaches, those who remained at the Hilltop start evacuating while Tara and Alden choose to hang back and fight to buy them more time. However, at that very moment the women of Oceanside arrive and begin to firebomb The Saviors trying to breach the walls. Led by Cyndi and Aaron, the cavalry from Oceanside drive away the attacking Saviors, proving yet again the power of friendship (not to mention the persuasiveness of Aaron's emaciated husk).

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The Walking Dead Season 8 Finale Ending Explained: Rick vs. Negan