Here’s a full breakdown of The Walking Dead timeline and when its various spinoffs take place in the ongoing story. Based on the series of comics by Robert Kirkman, AMC’s live-action The Walking Dead TV show has taken on a life of its own, adding new stories, original characters, and two spin-off series in Fear The Walking Dead and The Walking Dead: World Beyond. Currently, the main series is airing its eleventh and final season, while Fear The Walking Dead is midway through its seventh, with an eighth already confirmed. The Walking Dead: World Beyond has been and gone, but more future spinoffs are lined up for the future, including an anthology series, a comedy, and a new show starring Norman Reedus’ Daryl and Melissa McBridge’s Carol. That’s in addition to the planned movie(s) that will bring back Andrew Lincoln’s Rick Grimes.
The original Walking Dead comic series employs several extended time skips that advance the story. The most notable leaps come firstly after Rick defeats Negan, and then at the very end of the comic, aging Carl Grimes from a teenager to a grown man with a child of his own. However, the timeline of The Walking Dead on TV has advanced at an ever-faster rate, with the post-Savior time skip far longer than in the comics. And where Fear The Walking Dead initially charted the origins of the outbreak, it soon caught up to the main series… before falling behind yet again.
Details regarding the planned Walking Dead movie remain scarce, but the story will likely explain what Rick got up to during the time skip before the Whisperers arrived, and why he never returned to Alexandria, before dealing with new threats such as the CRM and the French scientists in the present timeline. The Walking Dead’s big-screen endeavors might also catch up with Danai Gurira’s Michonne, who left to discover Rick’s fate. With 3 shows already twisting and turning around each other and even more zombie apocalypse goodness on the way, the world of The Walking Dead is trickier to follow than ever. With credit to Vincenzo Mei, this is a breakdown of the full The Walking Dead timeline in relation to each show and the real world.
The Walking Dead Seasons 1-11
The Walking Dead timeline is convoluted, so here’s every The Walking Dead show in chronological order.
Pre-outbreak: An incident at a French laboratory triggers The Walking Dead show’s zombie outbreak. The scientists attempt to fix their mistake, but make it worse, resulting in faster zombie variants. The French scientists initially liaise with Dr. Jenner in the U.S. but are imprisoned or killed by survivors in their native country.
The Walking Dead season 1: The Walking Dead’s timeline begins with Rick Grimes getting shot while on duty as a cop and falling into a coma. The entire world goes very wrong during his absence, and Rick finally awakens on day 59 of the zombie outbreak, with The Walking Dead season 1 taking place in mid-late 2010 (relative to when the premiere episode aired). The story kicks off properly with Rick’s awakening, and the entirety of The Walking Dead season 1 comprises a brisk 6 episodes, taking Rick from the hospital to Morgan’s house, then toward an emotional reunion with his family, and finally to the CDC where season 1 concludes. These events take place within 1 week, bringing us to day 64 — roughly 9 weeks since the virus began wreaking havoc.
The Walking Dead season 2: The much-maligned Walking Dead season 2 takes place mostly on the Greene family’s farm, where Rick’s group spends a couple of weeks camped up with Hershel and his children. These events move The Walking Dead’s timeline onto day 83 when Hershel’s farm is overrun, and the two groups officially join to head out into the unknown wilderness. The year is probably still 2010. Concurrent to The Walking Dead season 2, Negan’s wife Lucille runs out of cancer medication, and her husband heads off to find help. Six weeks later (between The Walking Dead seasons 2 and 3), he finds a doctor but fails to save Lucille. The Saviors are born.
The Walking Dead season 3: The first jump in The Walking Dead’s timeline occurs between seasons 2 and 3, moving the story forward approximately 7/8 months as Rick’s group endures a harsh winter and hones their survival skills. When The Walking Dead season 3 begins, the calendar has advanced to 2011, at which point the characters encounter a prison to make their new home. Michonne is introduced, and the first battle against The Governor takes place. This all happens in the space of a few weeks, bringing The Walking Dead’s timeline to somewhere in the vicinity of 321 days since patient zero first spluttered over someone.
The Walking Dead season 4: Another time skip occurs between The Walking Dead seasons 3 and 4, lasting a period of 6 months while the prison community enjoys a spell of peace. During this time, Morgan Jones meets Eastman and learns the art of Aikido that’ll serve him well in future seasons, while The Governor recoups and encounters new followers — including future The Walking Dead main character, Tara Chambler. Now towards the end of 2011, 500 days of zombie apocalypse summer have passed. Rick’s survivors are in flu season and enduring a devastating outbreak. The prison is abandoned altogether after The Governor attacks, forcing Rick’s people to split up and reunite at Terminus (a bad move, as it turns out). With each second-half episode in The Walking Dead season 4 focusing on a different group, the narrative takes place over a mere 1 or 2 weeks.
The Walking Dead season 5: Picking up directly where The Walking Dead season 4 left off, season 5 deals with the Terminus cannibals and moves Rick’s group to Alexandria, with Beth and Tyreese falling during the journey. Another condensed season, The Walking Dead season 5 largely takes place inside a 2-month period, bringing us just shy of day 550.
The Walking Dead season 6: Once again, there’s no time skip prior to The Walking Dead season 6, and the first half of this sixth run is even more constrained than before. The first 9 episodes (the premiere until “No Way Out”) focus on preventing a herd from attacking Alexandria and only span a handful of days. A mini-skip of 1 or 2 months occurs during season 6’s mid-season break, then the second batch of episodes cover a little over a week, leaving The Walking Dead’s timeline just under 600 days removed from the outbreak’s onset. The second half of season 6 sees the first foray into The Walking Dead show’s Negan arc.
The Walking Dead season 7: With The Walking Dead season 6 ending on the notorious Negan cliffhanger, there’s no gap between season 6’s finale and season 7’s premiere. In fact, The Walking Dead actually rewinds a few minutes to show who met the wrong end of Negan’s baseball bat. Over the course of 12 days, Negan’s Saviors continue to lean heavily on both Alexandria and Hilltop, while contact is made with the Kingdom, Oceanside, and the Scavengers. An attempt to overthrow Negan goes wrong thanks to the duplicitous Jadis, and The Walking Dead’s timeline hits 610 days.
The Walking Dead season 8: With a couple of weeks passing since the season 7 finale and Rick’s declaration of war, The Walking Dead season 8 is now undoubtedly into 2012, and once again only charts a period of a few days. This is enough for Rick Grimes to turn the tide against Negan, and by the finale episode, the threat of the Saviors is over.
The Walking Dead season 9: In our first significant time jump, The Walking Dead’s timeline moves ahead 18 months, with Alexandria and its allies enjoying their longest period of peace and prosperity thanks to Negan sitting in jail. The first 5 episodes of The Walking Dead season 9 likely take place in late 2013 and span just over one month while the allied communities (now including the remaining Saviors) attempt to build bridges of both the literal and metaphorical kinds. The world has been awful for slightly more than 1200 days. This is when Rick Grimes “dies” in a fiery explosion.
8 months later (judging by the progress of Michonne’s pregnancy), the events of “Scars” take place. 16 months after that, Daryl meets Leah and Dog while out in the wild searching for Rick, and they casually bicker with each other over the ensuing 2 years of sporadic forest meetings.
The Walking Dead season 9 continues in late 2019. 6 years have passed since Rick’s assumed death, and Judith is now 8-years-old. Most of the season covers a short period of days where the survivors make first contact with the Whisperers, but after Alpha’s severed head display in “The Calm Before,” there’s another jump before the season finale, lasting 3/4 months and taking The Walking Dead’s narrative to approximately day 3500.
The Walking Dead season 10: With time jumps as common as Negan’s colorful insults at this point, The Walking Dead season 10 picks up 4/5 months after the season 9 finale (confirmed by the showrunner, Angela Kang), taking the story through much of 2020. Fortunately, the timeline gymnastics pass, and the events of season 10 take place within a time frame of several weeks, bringing the day counter closer to 3700. The Walking Dead season 10’s supplementary “COVID” episodes also occur very close together with no major time skips.
The Walking Dead season 11: Somewhat unhelpfully, The Walking Dead season 11’s premiere offers no real sense of how long has passed since season 10, but with no visible aging or major character changes – and with Alexandria still destroyed – it’s safe to assume The Walking Dead’s final season picks up very close to the Whisperers’ defeat at the end of season 10. The first half of The Walking Dead season 11 then takes place over approximately a week between the dual settings of Alexandria and the Commonwealth.
Fear The Walking Dead
Fear The Walking Dead season 1: Spinoffs begin to muddy when the Walking Dead shows take place. Billed as a prequel to the main series, Fear The Walking Dead begins slightly before its predecessor in the period of time Rick Grimes was in a coma, putting the series premiere around July/August 2010 in real-world dates, then covering approximately 2 weeks of story. This takes Madison and her family from the moment they first notice the undead to their arrival at Victor Strand’s yacht on outbreak day 16.
Fear The Walking Dead season 2: The first half of Fear The Walking Dead season 2 continues straight from the previous run and only adds another week or so to the timeline. When Fear The Walking Dead season 2 resumes with “Grotesque,” the action moves to Mexico but still only inches forward. The prequel is somewhere around day 36 come the finale, with Rick still yet to awaken on the other side of the United States.
Fear The Walking Dead season 3: Fear The Walking Dead season 3 picks right up from the previous run’s cliffhanger ending, but this time covers a slightly bigger expanse of over a month, as Madison and her family become embroiled in a post-apocalyptic battle between racist cowboys and Native Americans. By the time the action ends, the prime story of The Walking Dead has already begun, and the Clark family has been separated by a dam explosion on day 64.
Fear The Walking Dead season 4: After only covering a couple of months in the space of 3 seasons, Fear The Walking Dead hits the accelerator and winds up 2 years in the future, now set in mid-late 2012. Fear The Walking Dead flashbacks show how Madison’s family settled on a baseball field during that 2-year period but were forced to vacate under attack from an enemy group. Fear The Walking Dead season 4 begins around day 800 and spans several days in its first 8 episodes. A month then passes before “Close Your Eyes,” from which point the rest of the season charts another week or so. At this point, Morgan has joined the group from The Walking Dead, and Rick’s people are enjoying a peaceful period after Negan’s defeat.
Fear The Walking Dead season 5: By the time Fear The Walking Dead season 5 begins, Morgan and his new friends have spent several months trying to help others in need, landing the spin-off in 2013. The Walking Dead is still in the interim between seasons 8 and 9. The first 8 episodes of Fear The Walking Dead season 5 spread across a week, where the survivors land a plane in a radioactive area to help those trapped within, and miraculously make their escape. When the story resumes around day 1000, over a month has passed for Morgan’s band of do-gooders. Fear The Walking Dead season 5b’s clash with Virginia then lasts a further week.
Fear The Walking Dead season 6: Left for dead by Virginia in Fear The Walking Dead season 5’s finale, Morgan Jones returns in season 6, revealing 5 or 6 weeks have passed (we appreciate when characters do this, thanks Morgan). From episode 1 (“The End Is The Beginning”) to episode 9 (“Things Left To Do”), a little under 2 months pass as Morgan gradually builds The Valley, and Virginia keeps her captives working tirelessly for the pioneers. Episode 10 (“Handle With Care”) continues the story following a short time jump, during which Morgan’s Valley, Strand’s Pioneers, and Sherry’s Outcasts have settled into a new regime without Virginia. The remaining 6 episodes of Fear The Walking Dead season 6 last around a week in the universe.
Fear The Walking Dead season 7: Fear The Walking Dead season 7’s timeline is an absolute nightmare to follow, starting from season 6’s finale and stretching months into the future, but never in chronological order. Alicia’s arm loss happens in conjunction with Teddy’s nuke from Fear The Walking Dead season 6, and Sarah wakes up with the other helicopter evacuees 2 days later. After another 5 days, Alicia awakens in the Franklin Hotel’s bunker. 50 days later (according to Will) is when Fear The Walking Dead season 7’s timeline begins proper, as the separated survivors do their best to navigate zombies and nuclear radiation. From Will’s fateful encounter with Victor Strand in episode 1 to Alicia declaring war on the tower in episode 8 takes a little less than 100 days. This is evidenced by June and John’s chalkboard, the amount of time Wendell went missing, and other small confirmed increments between episodes.
Walking Dead: World Beyond
The Walking Dead: World Beyond season 1: The Walking Dead’s second spinoff is confirmed to take place a decade after the onset of the zombie apocalypse. Compared to when Walking Dead shows take place elsewhere, this comes in mid-late 2020 alongside The Walking Dead seasons 10 and 11, but long after any material from Fear The Walking Dead. The “six weeks ago” prelude from World Beyond season 2 offers a rough idea of how long the Endlings’ journey from Campus Colony to CRM Facility One took and, therefore, how long passed during Walking Dead: World Beyond season 1.
The Walking Dead: World Beyond season 2: There’s no jump between The Walking Dead: World Beyond’s seasons, with the first bleeding directly into the second. As mentioned above, World Beyond season 2’s premiere specifies a timeline of 6 weeks, but by the finale, that changes to “two months ago.” That confirms World Beyond season 2 lasts 3/4 weeks, bringing The Walking Dead’s timeline up to date.
What To Expect From The Walking Dead Season 11 Part 3
The Walking Dead season 11 part 3 doesn’t have a release date yet. However, comments made by the franchise’s chief content officer, Scott Gimple (via Digitalspy), suggest that the ending of the main Walking Dead series will tie into the beginnings of future spin-offs. “This will be a grand finale that will lead to new premieres.” Gimple said, “Evolution is upon us. The Walking Dead lives.” With various Walking Dead projects on the horizon, including a trilogy of Rick Grimes movies and Daryl-centered TV content, this raises exciting prospects about what and who The Walking Dead season 11 part 3 will feature. If any of the new spin-off projects pick up where The Walking Dead finishes, chances are they’ll take place in the same timeframe as The Walking Dead: World Beyond. However, there’s always the possibility that the Rick Grimes trilogy will cover what he’s been up to since leaving The Walking Dead in season 9, ending with his return for a cameo at the end of season 11 when the show that started AMC’s zombie universe finally concludes.