When it comes to The Walking Dead, I’ve pretty much become one of the experts on the topic. Anytime someone needs anything explained, I’m the person to come to, whether it be about the heartbreaking deaths, the villains that turned to heroes, or anything else. But one thing I always had trouble with for the longest time was The Walking Dead timeline because to be honest, this show jumps all over the place.
With the series drawing to a close as of November 2022, this will be for the folks who might be binging the show and need to know exactly during what time this is taking place. Or, for people like me who have been straight up confused on the timeline of this show since the very beginning. There are spoilers mentioned throughout this timeline.
Season 1 - The Beginning Of The Apocalypse
Roughly A Little Over A Month Post-Outbreak
This one isn’t that hard to figure out. In Season 1 of The Walking Dead, we are right in the beginning of the apocalypse. You can still clearly see the human features on walkers, and there are still plenty of people alive. According to an interview that former Fear the Walking Dead showrunner Dave Erickson had during the Television Critics Association’s press tour in 2015 (via Entertainment Weekly), Rick was only in that coma for about four to five weeks, so he came out of that hospital when stuff was just going down.
Season 2 - The Search For Sophia, And Hershel's Farm
Roughly Three Months Post-Outbreak
After the eventful Season 1 finale of the CDC getting exploded, the Atlanta group travels to Hershel Greene’s farm, where we meet the Greenes, one of them being Maggie Greene, who’s still in the show to this day.
While Season 2 has sort of been unofficially named the slowest season by many fans, the events of that show only really took place over a couple of weeks. During this time, in the Season 10 episode, “Here’s Negan,” we see this is when Negan was searching for help for his former wife, Lucille.
Season 3 – The Prison, And The Fight With The Governor
Roughly Almost A Year Post-Outbreak
Season 3 is where we have the first real time-jump of the series, starting off seven or eight months later in The Walking Dead, where we see that Lori is fully pregnant now with Judith. The events of the prison group vs the Governor again only happen throughout a couple of weeks, as Judith is still very much in her newborn phase.
Season 4 – Post-Woodbury, The Fall Of The Prison, And Terminus
Roughly Almost Two Years Post-Outbreak
Another time jump occurs at the beginning of Season 4 of The Walking Dead, this time showing the group six months later in the prison, having taken in many of the Woodbury residents after the Governor burned it down. The events of Season 4, which include the flu outbreak, the prison getting taken over by the Governor, and their separate journeys alone on the road, all occur during a couple of weeks.
Also during this time frame, Morgan has left the home in the abandoned town and learns the way of peace from Eastman, which we find out about during the Season 6 episode, “Here’s Not Here.”
Season 5 Part 1 – Terminus Attack And Grady Memorial Tragedy
Still Roughly Two Years Post-Outbreak
The first half of Season 5 of The Walking Dead doesn’t feature a time-jump, instead jumping right into things when Carol takes it upon herself to help the group take down Terminus from the outside, the apparent “safe zone” that was full of cannibals and intended on eating them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The entirety of the first half takes place over a few days, most likely just a week. This is where Beth dies at the very end.
Season 5 Part 2 – Lots Of Walking, And Alexandria's Introduction
Roughly Two And A Half Years Post-Outbreak
The second half of Season 5 of The Walking Dead not only features Tyreese dying in episode nine, but our survivors trying to live off the road again. According to former showrunner, Scott Gimple, in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, it took the group about two weeks to reach Richmond, Virginia, so they spent a good portion of the second half traveling.
However, as soon as they were there, the events of the second half of Season 5 take place over some time, featuring everyone starting to slowly sink into their roles in the community, but Rick starting to notice that there are plenty of other instances going on behind the scenes that he wants to change.
Season 6 Part 1 – Preventing The Mega-Herd
Still Roughly Two And A Half Years Post-Outbreak
The first half of Season 6 doesn’t feature another time jump, thankfully. At this point, Rick has taken over as leader of Alexandria, and now, he and his crew, as well as the people of Alexandria, are trying to divert a large group of walkers away from their home. But the people of Alexandria are also facing the Wolves at the same time, making it harder for them.
Eventually, this happens over the course of just a couple of days, and the herd ends up making its way to Alexandria and taking out several characters, but somehow, someway, our favorite characters survive, thanks to a sick RPG that ultimate badass Daryl ends up getting and some skilled shooting.
Season 6 Part 2 – The Saviors Arrive,
Still Roughly Two And A Half Years Post-Outbreak
This is where things really start to kick into gear. In the second half of Season 6, we are introduced to a new community in The Walking Dead, Hilltop, where we get the first taste of who the Saviors are. Throughout the second half of Season 6, we see Rick confronting the Savior outposts and taking them out, all the way up until the legendary Season 6 finale.
At the very end, we meet Negan, with Jeffrey Dean Morgan helping him become quite the popular character the years have gone by. And this is where things really get going for our survivors — save for Glenn and Abraham — because they just entered a war. The last few episodes of Season 6 take place over a few weeks' time.
Seasons 7 And 8 – The Savior War
Almost Three Years Post-Outbreak
Seasons 7 and 8 of The Walking Dead appear as one here because not that much time passes from the opening of Season 7 through the end of Season 8. Seriously. Season 7 takes place over about a span of two depressing weeks, showing the survivors trying to give into Negan’s demands and then Rick declaring war at the very end of Season 7.
This is where we meet The Kingdom and Oceanside, who team up with Alexandria and Hilltop to take out the Saviors.
Season 8 is even shorter, occurring a few weeks after the Season 7 finale, and following the war that happens with the Saviors, which only really happens over a few days. It’s amazing how this short timespan within The Walking Dead universe is really not even that long in the grand scheme of things. And of course, this is also when Carl dies.
Season 9 Part 1 – Rick Tries To Keep The Communities Together, And Pays The Price
Roughly Four Years Post-Outbreak
The first major time jump of The Walking Dead occurs at the very beginning of Season 9, jumping forward eighteen months. Negan has been taken out and is currently in jail. The communities are rebuilding. Rick is attempting to mend the bridge between communities – both literally and figuratively – but thanks to another giant herd, ends up getting seriously hurt.
It’s here that Rick is “killed,” which we know he wasn’t since he was taken away in a helicopter and is shown to be alive at the end of episode five, “What Comes After.” And he has a spinoff coming out in 2023.
Season 9 Part 2 – The Whisperers Are Coming
Roughly Ten Years Post Outbreak
While the second time jump occurs before the official midseason finale, I feel like this is really where Season 9 happens. In the second major time jump of the series, we jump forward six years. Now, Judith is a little girl, age ten (according to Insider), and the rest of the survivors are trying to just live their lives.
During these six years, Daryl is living on his own in the woods and meets Leah, who ends up joining the Reapers down the line. Michonne gives birth to Rick’s son, R.J., and has an encounter with an old friend that leaves her scarred. Maggie heads off to build communities with Georgie– someone we still haven’t seen since. It’s here we see Alpha and the Whisperers make their first appearance – and draw their territory.
Season 10 – The Whisperers War
Roughly Ten And A Half (Almost Eleven) Years Post-Outbreak
The Whisperer War takes place in Season 10 of The Walking Dead, and like the Savior War, the actual fighting only takes place over several weeks, but before then, there was about a four to five month time-jump, according to showrunner Angela Kang in an interview that she did with Entertainment Weekly.
Season 10B – Negan’s Episode
Roughly Twelve Years Post-Outbreak
This episode is important to mention within the timeframe of all these episodes, because with Negan’s special episode at the end of Season 10 of The Walking Dead, we can get an idea of just how much time has passed within the world of The Walking Dead. According to ScreenRant, from the time Negan was searching for stuff for his wife to live, it’s been about twelve years since the very start of the apocalypse, where Negan is shown getting beaten up by some criminal.
Season 11 Part 1 – Recovering From Whisperers War, And The Reaper Stand-Off
Still Roughly Twelve Years Post-Outbreak
In the first part of Season 11, not much time has passed in the world of The Walking Dead from the Whisperer War and the very beginning, considering we see that Alexandria is still very much in the rebuilding phase, so we can safely say that not that much time passes between the first episode and the last of the first part of Season 11. This is when Maggie and her group are trying to get supplies back from Meridian, and the Reapers are the big enemy.
Season 11 Part 2 – Moving Into The Commonwealth
Still Roughly Twelve Years Post-Outbreak
The tenth episode of Season 11 shows that the survivors, after the Commonwealth took over, have moved into the city of the Commonwealth, and now, it’s been about a month. They are celebrating Halloween, and the events of the next episodes take place over a few weeks. It’s here we start to see the sparks of a revolution begin within the walls of the Commonwealth and everyone begins to pick up on the truth behind the politics at this new safe zone.
Season 11 Part 2 – The Commonwealth War
The last part of Season 11 of The Walking Dead starts off right where it left off, with several communities getting overtaken and gunned down thanks to Lance, and the rest of the survivors are planning a revolution against the Commonwealth in order to free Alexandria from being taken over completely. The rest of the people within the Commonwealth are also revolting.
What is going to happen next, I’m not sure, but to think that more than a decade has passed in the world of The Walking Dead is insane to me. I can only wonder how much more time is going to pass with all these spinoffs that are coming out soon.