AMC has finally confirmed the timeline for The Walking Dead, but instead of settling the timeline debate, AMC has made the issue even more complicated. Apparently, season 8 takes place almost two years into the zombie apocalypse, which isn't nearly as long as some have expected.
Season 1 of The Walking Dead begins with Rick (Andrew Lincoln) waking up from a coma at least one month after civilization falls apart and the spread of the zombie virus. The following seasons chronicle Rick's journey, as he gathers together a diverse group of survivors, leaves Atlanta, becomes an important part of a growing community, and goes to war with Negan and the Saviors. An exact timeframe for these events have been a subject of debate among fans, as many are confused as to how much time has passed.
In a post on Twitter, AMC provided an answer to that question with a side-by-side photo comparison of Rick prior to the zombie apocalypse, and Rick after being captured by Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh) in season 8. According to the caption, the photo from season 8 was from Day 632, which means that by the time the All-Out War storyline took shape, two years hadn't quite passed yet.
For viewers who have watched The Walking Dead for eight years, it may be difficult to believe that the entire series has taken place within just a two-year timeframe. One reason for this confusion is the aging of the characters, particularly Carl (Chandler Riggs). Of all the characters on the series, no one has aged more noticeably than Carl. Chandler Riggs was 10-years-old after taking the role of Carl, and was 18 when he exited the series in season 8. Carl visibly went from a small child to a boy in his late teens, which makes it even more difficult to make sense of The Walking Dead's continuity.
However, The Walking Dead isn't the first TV show or movie to have its timeline complicated by the aging of a child actor, and in some cases it's an unavoidable continuity issue. It's worth noting that the show's timeline does match up perfectly with Fear the Walking Dead's, which is important since the two shows recently intersected with Morgan (Lennie James) crossing over to Fear.
The Walking Dead will receive its first major time jump in the season 9 premiere, which will take place 18 months after Negan's defeat in the season 8 finale. At that point, over three years will have gone by since the beginning of the zombie apocalypse.
Season 9 of The Walking Dead premieres October 7th on AMC.