The Walking Dead timeline is complex, with its main series and various spinoff shows taking place at different points in the ongoing story. Based on the 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 multiple spinoff series including Fear the Walking Dead, The Walking Dead: World Beyond, and Tales of the Walking Dead. The main series has now finished its final season, while Fear the Walking Dead is through its seventh, with an eighth confirmed. The Walking Dead: World Beyond has come and gone, while Tales of the Walking Dead is awaiting the greenlight for season 2. More spinoffs are also lined up for the future, including shows focusing on Rick and Michonne, Maggie and Negan, and Daryl and Carol.
The original Walking Dead comic series employs several extended time skips that advance the story. However, the Walking Dead timeline on TV has advanced at an ever-faster rate, with the post-Savior leap in time being far longer than in the comics. And where Fear The Walking Dead initially charted the origins of the outbreak, the show soon caught up to the main series adaptation — before falling behind yet again. With multiple shows already twisting and turning around each other and even more zombie apocalypse goodness on the way, the convoluted world of The Walking Dead is trickier to follow than ever. Here is a chronological breakdown of the Walking Dead timeline in relation to each show and the real world.
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 United States but are imprisoned or killed by survivors in their native country.
The Walking Dead season 1: The Walking Dead 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-to-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 six episodes. The plot takes 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 one week, bringing us to day 64 — roughly nine 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, including Maggie. These events move The Walking Dead 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 with The Walking Dead season 2, Negan’s first wife, Lucille, runs out of cancer medication, and he 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 timeline occurs between seasons 2 and 3, moving the story forward approximately seven or eight months as Rick’s group endures a harsh winter and hones their survival skills. When The Walking Dead season 3 begins, the calendar turns 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 within a few weeks, bringing The Walking Dead 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 six 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 toward 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, which turns out to be a bad move. With each second-half episode in The Walking Dead season 4 focusing on a different group, the narrative takes place over a mere one or two weeks.
The Walking Dead season 5: Picking up 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 installment, The Walking Dead season 5 largely takes place inside a two-month period, bringing the show just shy of day 550.
The Walking Dead season 6: Once again, there’s no time skip before The Walking Dead season 6, and the first half of this installment is even more constrained than before. The first nine episodes, from 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 one or two months occurs during season 6’s mid-season break, then the second batch of episodes covers a little over a week, leaving The Walking Dead 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 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 season finale episode, the threat of the Saviors is over.
The Walking Dead season 9: In our first significant time jump, The Walking Dead 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 five 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 1,200 days. This is when Rick Grimes “dies” in a fiery explosion.
Eight months later — judging by the progress of Michonne’s pregnancy — the events of “Scars” take place. Sixteen 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 two years of sporadic forest meetings.
The Walking Dead season 9 continues in late 2019. Six years have passed since Rick’s assumed death, and Judith is now 8 years old. Most of the rest of the season covers a short period of days when the survivors make first contact with the Whisperers. After Alpha’s severed head display in “The Calm Before,” there’s another jump before the finale lasting three or four months and taking The Walking Dead‘s narrative to approximately day 4,190.
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 four or five months after the season 9 finale (this was confirmed by showrunner Angela Kang) taking the story through much of 2020. Fortunately, The Walking Dead timeline gymnastics pass, and the events of season 10 take place within a time frame of several weeks, bringing the day counter closer to 4,500. The Walking Dead season 10’s supplementary “COVID” episodes also occur very close together with no major time skips.
The Walking Dead season 11: The Walking Dead‘s final season picks up very close to, if not directly after, the Whisperers’ defeat at the end of season 10. The first time jump occurs between “No Other Way” and “New Haunts,” which sees the show fast-forward about a month in the future, leading up to Carol’s discovery of Ezekiel’s condition while staying at the Commonwealth. However, the biggest time leap occurs in The Walking Dead series finale, with a year passing between the defeat of the zombie hoard and the rebuilding of Hilltop and Alexandria. All in all, by its end, The Walking Dead takes place over 5,065 days — or about 13 and a half years.
Fear the Walking Dead season 1: Spinoffs begin to muddle 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 when Rick Grimes was in a coma. This puts the series premiere around July or August 2010 in real-world dates, then it covers approximately two 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 season 1 and only adds another week or so to The Walking Dead 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 at the season 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 up right after season 2’s cliffhanger ending, but then 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 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 three seasons, Fear the Walking Dead hits the accelerator and winds up two years in the future, now set in mid-to-late 2012. Fear the Walking Dead flashbacks show how Madison’s family settled on a baseball field during that two-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 eight 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 joins 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 eight 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 1,000, over a month has passed for Morgan’s band of do-gooders. Fear the Walking Dead season 5’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 returns in season 6, revealing five or six weeks have passed. From episode 1, “The End Is The Beginning,” to episode 9, “Things Left To Do,” a little under two months pass as Morgan gradually builds The Valley, and Virginia keeps her captives working tirelessly for the pioneers. Fear the Walking Dead season 6, 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 six 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 season 6, and Sarah wakes up with the other helicopter evacuees two days later. After another five days, Alicia awakens in the Franklin Hotel’s bunker.
Fifty days later — according to Will — is when the Fear the Walking Dead timeline properly begins, as the separated survivors do their best to navigate both 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.