'Walking Dead': Eight Ways Glenn Could Still Be Alive — and One Theory Debunked

Executive producer Greg Nicotero talks about the fate of the fan favorite as THR examines the ways in which Steven Yeun's character could survive.
Gene Page/AMC

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from The Walking Dead comic book series that the AMC drama is based on.]

Is Glenn still alive? That's the biggest question on the minds of Walking Dead fans as the zombie drama heads toward its midseason finale.

While showrunner Scott M. Gimple told The Hollywood Reporter that Glenn's fate would be revealed in the first half of season six, last week's episode focused largely on filling in the gaps of Morgan's backstory and did not revisit Glenn's now-famous dumpster scene (watch it again, below).

This week finds the focus back on Alexandria after the Wolves' attack, and it's unclear if the AMC drama will reveal just what happened to the former pizza delivery guy who was last seen surrounded by walkers in a seemingly inescapable situation.

"It's probably not the last time we'll visit that dumpster scene," executive producer Greg Nicotero tells THR. Just like any show — you watch Game of Thrones and the audience sees a character die and they go through all these different emotions and feelings and how they process and accept it. Our show is no different. That story is definitely not over."

Nicotero, who notes that he's "gotten a lot of, 'I love your work but f— you!' " responses from diehards, has read many of the fan theories that Glenn could be alive and singled out one that isn't true.

"I've read a lot of the theories and they're hilarious — but Nicholas (Michael Traynor) running out of bullets is incorrect," he 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."

The exec producer— who is also directing the season six finale — added that he's enjoying the speculation online about many of the ways in which Glenn could still be alive.  

"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," he said.

Here, THR looks at some of the ways in which Glenn could have survived the encounter.

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.

Further proving the theory that Glenn isn't really dead — despite Yeun being removed from the opening credits — is the fact that Yeun has been spotted on set multiple times during production on the second half of the season. However, it's unclear whether Yeun's continued work comes via flashbacks or visions, like former star Sarah Wayne Callies, whose Lori returned years after her character was killed off. (Gimple has said that viewers will see Glenn again in some form, indicating he could be alive, dead or a walker.)

Adding to the likelihood that Glenn isn't dead is the way in which the character is (spoiler alert) shockingly executed during the group's first confrontation with dastardly villain Negan in its landmark 100th issue. Sources tell THR that the character of Negan will be introduced in the season six finale, with casting currently underway for the role (under the fake name of Orin). Sources also say that fan-favorite Yeun recently signed a new deal to remain on the zombie drama, further indicating that his death at such an early point in the AMC story seems unlikely.

While Nicotero stopped short of confirming if any of the theories are right, he stressed the important fact that Glenn has never killed any humans and called the detail a "relevant point to who he is as a character."

Do you think Glenn is alive? If so, how? Share your theories in the comments. 

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