Set Photo From The Walking Dead Finale's Original Ending Reveals Adult Versions Of Judith And RJ Grimes

From the pilot episode to the recent series finale, Judith Grimes has been a handy bellwether for how much time has passed in "The Walking Dead." She started out as just an embryo, the result of a dalliance between Lori Grimes and Shane Walsh. Judith was finally born in a rather traumatic episode of "The Walking Dead" season 3, and steadily grew into a toddler over the next few seasons. A six-year time jump in the middle of season 9 boosted her to nine years old, and by the time the show signed off with season 11's "Rest in Peace," Judith is approximately 11 or 12 years old.

She also has a little brother, Rick Grimes Jr. (aka RJ), the result of Rick Grimes Sr. and Michonne coupling up. As of the end of the series, however, Rick Sr. still has no idea that he has a son, since he was blown off a bridge and whisked away by a helicopter before he could find out that Michonne was pregnant. Michonne herself exited "The Walking Dead" in season 10 to go on a quest to find Rick, and both legacy characters made an appearance at the end of "Rest in Peace," to set up their forthcoming spinoff series. 

And that's what you missed on "The Walking Dead" if (like many people) you drifted away from the show a few seasons ago. Though the original series has come to an end, it did so in a way that set up three upcoming spinoff shows (the Rick and Michonne one, a Daryl one, and a Negan and Maggie one), so Judith and RJ's story was ultimately left pretty open-ended. In the original ending that was shot for the finale, however, we got to see them all grown up.

A possible future for Judith and RJ

Children have often been used to represent hope for the future on "The Walking Dead," though they haven't been spared from their share of grim deaths (hi, Carl). Season 11 opened with a voiceover from Judith Grimes ruminating on the events of the show, while also noting that they took place "a long time ago," which strongly indicated that Judith would survive far into the future. This voiceover appears to have been set-up for the original ending of the show, which would have confirmed that.

First, here's a look at the ending that might have been, courtesy of cinematographer Duane Charles Manwiller:

That's RJ on the far left, recognizable by the Grimes Family Hat and played by "Chicago Med" actor Roland Buck III. On the far right is the adult version of Judith (Britt Baron, "GLOW"). Between them, from left to right, are Ezra (Seoum Tylor Aun, "Cobra Kai"), Coco (Sahara Ale, "Walker"), and Gracie (Tess Cline, "The Rookie"). All the kids look to be in their 20s, pointing to a time jump of around a couple of decades, and fitting neatly with a description of the alternate ending that was provided to Insider by multiple individuals close to the series:

After Daryl rode off, we cut forward to the Freedom Parkway, outside Atlanta — where the iconic shot of Rick rode down from the pilot. See an ethanol-modified van, with a young woman and man in the front seats (in their twenties). And through the scene, we come to realize it's adult RJ and Judith. Other adult versions of the kids are in the back — Coco, Gracie, etc. They're out there, looking to escort any survivors back to their communities. Continuing the legacy of their parents. As RJ speaks over the radio, he finishes with: "If you can hear me, answer back. This is Rick Grimes." (Which, of course, is his name — and the line Rick said in the pilot.) Then we end with the voice of a survivor answering back: "...Hello?"

That callback to the pilot episode might have been a cool bookend, but overall it's probably for the best that the ending was left more open. "Walking Dead" fans can instead think of this deleted scene as one of a number of possible futures — and hopefully it will be released at some point, so we can see more of the grown-up Grimes kids.