The Hollywood Reporter contacted The Walking Dead’s executive producer Greg Nicotero for a short discussion about the season’s most buzzed-about scene: Glenn appearing to die near an alley dumpster surrounded by Walkers. While Greg didn’t give the true fate of Glenn away, he addressed some fan theories about how he could have survived. “I think it’s fun to allow people to speculate on it. There will be some resolution to the debate. I can’t wait for that moment because it’ll be very intriguing.”
“I’ve read a lot of the theories and they’re hilarious — but Nicholas (Michael Traynor) running out of bullets is incorrect,” Nicotero says. “They were claiming that they could hear an audible ‘click.’ But there was a beat that I don’t think ended up in the episode, [and was taken out] strictly for time where Glenn says to Nicholas, ‘You need to preserve your ammunition and count your bullets.’ As the walkers were coming forward and Nicholas was shooting, he was counting his bullets and he counted down to one.”
Other theories fans have about the ways Glenn could have possibly survived were recounted by THR:
1. Nicholas is hallucinating. The character, whom Glenn was attempting to transform from a coward to a hero who doesn’t leave anyone behind, was experiencing mental breakdowns and checked out a few times during the episode in question.
2. The walkers are feeding on Nicholas’ body and are led away before getting to Glenn. The early season six episodes have focused on redirecting the dangerous zombie herd by any means necessary and nothing would make that happen like fresh human meat to service the massive pack of the undead.
3. Glenn, hiding under Nicholas’ dead body, somehow scoots under the dumpster. Several fans have been testing the theory to prove that it’s possible for an adult to hide underneath a disgusting dumpster.
4. Glenn uses a frequent Walking Dead device to fit in with the walkers: covering himself in Nicholas’ blood. We noted during our night-of analysis that the episode was titled “Thank You,” and if a dead Nicholas were to really save Glenn, the title would have a dual meaning after Nicholas muttered those same words to his traveling companion before pulling the trigger.
5. There’s a manhole near the dumpster. Although this sounds far-fetched, stranger things have happened — including in season one when Rick crawled through a door to a tank while hiding underneath it.
6. A stranger saves him. The series has cast Tom Payne as comics character Jesus, who has not yet been introduced. The character in Robert Kirkman’s graphic novels is well adapted to the new world and has a strong sense of morals and values. It’s also worth noting that the dumpster in question was next to a large building that could make for a good escape route — or way for a compassionate stranger to make a heroic entrance. (Or better, see Sasha, Abraham and Daryl come to his rescue.)
7. Glenn escapes — but has been bitten. It’s worth noting that “Thank You” made sure to stress that Glenn had a flare gun on him, which was seen when he emptied his pockets and paused to care for Hershel’s pocket watch. Would it be a stretch for him to risk a bite on the arm to fire off the flare gun and lead the walkers away? Is it even more of a stretch that he could make his way back to Maggie before turning in a plot that would parallel the Alexandria guy who was bitten and died trying to get home to his wife, Betsy, in the same episode? Crazy, yes, but that flare gun could come in handy.
8. The entire encounter never happened. Yes, we’re going out on a limb here, but keep in mind that this season has seen The Walking Dead play with time in a way the series hasn’t ever done. There has hardly been any time that has passed during the first four episodes of the season as the action has been split between events outside the wall with Rick and company; within Alexandria; and with Morgan’s flashback-heavy backstory.
Showrunner Scott M. Gimple told THR that we would know the fate of Glenn before the show goes on midseason hiatus. Episode five airs next Sunday on AMC and, from the promos, appears to revolve around Maggie.