The penultimate episode of The Walking Dead was an emotional rollercoaster for many reasons.
With the Commonwealth under threat of the undead, smart walkers really messed things up even further.
Then there was a group of characters sneaking into the vast community as they attempted to rescue their friends.
However, this all went sideways, not only because of the undead breaking in but because the Commonwealth’s leader, Pamela Milton (Laila Robins), shot Judith Grimes (Cailey Fleming) and gravely injured her.
Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) then tried desperately to find help for his adoptive daughter but with walkers breaching the walls, they were surrounded.
Judith then roused herself just enough to say “Daddy” and viewers were left wondering if this is the end for this character.
Is Judith dying on The Walking Dead?
Many viewers wondered if maybe Judith was actually dying when she uttered this single word in Episode 23 of The Walking Dead.
Potentially, she was seeing a vision of her father, who is presumed dead by most of the characters. And, because of this, she might be seeing a vision of her father before she died.
This is not likely the case as Judith is one of the few characters who knows that he is still alive so she wouldn’t be imagining seeing him ready to take her away to the afterlife.
However, for everyone else surrounding her at the time — Daryl included– this is most likely exactly what they were all thinking.
So, what did Judith really mean?
Here’s what Judith meant when she called Daryl ‘Daddy’
According to a recent interview with The Walking Dead’s showrunner, Angela Kang, there were definitely reasons why Judith spoke aloud at that moment.
Part of the reason why Judith uttered “Daddy” was because, during the final part of Season 11, she has been focused on what family means to her. Her father, Rick (Andrew Lincoln), and her adoptive mother, Michonne (Danai Gurira), have been strong in her mind as well as the fact that she knows Rick is still alive.
“For Judith, mom and dad — Michonne and Rick — have been on her mind this entire time,” Kang told Entertainment Weekly.
“And remember, she has this secret of why mom actually went off and what she’s doing. She’s the only one that knows that Rick might be out there. She has not shared this with the adults in her life because she’s scared. And so that’s what she’s thinking.”
Along with this, Judith also sees Daryl as a surrogate father and as someone who protects her, which will impact how Daryl sees the whole situation.
“When she kind of loses consciousness and she’s in Daryl’s arms, she feels like somebody is trying to keep her safe, and is that dad? Did he come home? But also, Daryl is her father figure. Either way for Daryl, he’s looking at this child that’s in his care and he’s like, “I f—ed it up. I have to save her. I can’t let anything happen to this child that I love and that is my best friend’s daughter.” Whatever’s happened to him, Michonne made me promise he was gonna take care of these children. And so for both of them, there is this kind of emotional tie moment because Daryl is the closest thing to a parent that she has right now. And that puts a lot of responsibility on Daryl.”
The Walking Dead airs every Sunday night at 9/8c on AMC.