5 Reasons Why the Glenn Storyline Has Been Good for 'The Walking Dead'


Warning: This post contains spoilers for the “Heads Up” episode of The Walking Dead.

Now we know: He’s alive! Glenn Rhee managed to escape what appeared to be certain death at the business end of a walker feast; just as many fans had hypothesized, Glenn shimmied to safety under the dumpster from which he fell. There, he waited day and night until the walker herd was done noshing on Nicholas, and then began another adventure that has taken him to the edge of Alexandria.

Related: Take a Bite Out of Our ‘Walking Dead’ Recaps

Though Glenn is by no means safe yet, or reunited with his pregnant wife Maggie and his pals in the Ricktatorship, he is still breathing, and viewers stuck around for a nearly month-long wait to find out about his fate after he fell into that walker pit with Nicholas at the end of Season 6’s third episode, “Thank You.”

Was the payoff in “Heads Up” worth the wait? Here are five reasons why we think it was one of the show’s best bits of storytelling ever.

1. It’s been fun.

Frustrating, yes, but also fun. How many times did you watch/re-watch/watch in slow motion/dissect the scene where Nicholas shoots himself in the head and falls into Glenn’s arms, taking both of them over the edge of the dumpster they were standing on and dropping them right into a ravenous pack of walkers? Lots, right?


And though we all may have been complaining about how long it was taking to get answers about whether or not it was Glenn’s innards the walkers were eating, it created a level of tension and anticipation that was heightened, even for a show where both of those things are omnipresent. The Glenn death mystery/debate made watching this first half of Season 6 extra entertaining — icing on top of what has been a collection of episodes with an accelerated pace, interesting non-linear storytelling, and surprising character evolutions, like the much-awaited Morgan backstory and Abraham’s newfound excitement about the future and his thang for Sasha.

It’s the sixth season of the show, and we appreciate not only that everyone involved with TWD is dedicated to keeping it fresh and engaging for viewers, but that they went to such lengths to do it, including dropping Steven Yeun’s name from the opening credits temporarily (it was added back for “Heads Up”) and not having the actor, or any other crew or cast member, appear on Talking Dead after “Thank You” aired.

2. It created opportunities for interesting pairings.

Maggie was the first one to encounter Aaron in Season 5, but their interactions had been almost nil since then. Glenn’s absence and the doubt about whether or not he would make it back to Alexandria provided Maggie and Aaron a chance to bond, an opportunity for her to share her secret about her pregnancy, and both to deal with their guilt for their roles in the Wolves’ attack on Alexandria and Glenn’s participation in Rick’s plan to deal with the quarry walkers.


Then, after Glenn’s emergence from beneath the dumpster, he made his way back to the outskirts of Alexandria with Enid, the mysterious teen who may or may not have ties to the Wolves and/or other groups who are going to clash with Rick and company. We still need a lot more info on Enid, but her fears about surviving, or even continuing to try, in the overrun zombie world gave Glenn a little reminder of why he continues to fight.

When he stumbled upon David, aka Mr. Betsy, and the note David had penned to his wife in case he didn’t make it back to Alexandria, it was clear Glenn was questioning everything, dejected at yet another loss. And this was on the heels of nearly being eaten alive because he’d trusted Nicholas. Young Enid’s skepticism and fear drew a little fatherly/big brother-type wisdom from Glenn, who now sees getting her safely back to Alexandria as another reason for him to fight to reunite with his loved ones. It’s a continuation of the relationship he would likely have had with the also-orphaned Noah — RIP — if not for… Nicholas.

3. It shook up the storylines for viewers who also read the comics.

We recently got official confirmation that Negan, the big baddie from The Walking Dead comics, is coming to the TV series in the form of Supernatural/Grey’s Anatomy/The Good Wife star Jeffrey Dean Morgan. That, as comic readers know, suggested Glenn’s days were numbered, as he’s brutally murdered by Negan and his barbed wire-covered baseball bat, nicknamed Lucille, in issue 100.

Related: ‘The Walking Dead’s’ Negan: 5 Things to Know About Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Character

Glenn’s death at the dumpster, or the possibility of it, meant that story wouldn’t play out on the show, and as the writers of the series have done that kind of switcheroo many times, it proved again that TWD comic readers aren’t necessarily spoiled for surprises in the storytelling of the series. Yes, Glenn is alive and Negan is coming, so the threat of Lucille remains… for everyone. It’s a sure bet that the head of someone major is going to meet Lucille up close, but it’s far from a sure thing it’s going to be Glenn.

4. It suggested again that every character is at risk of being written out.

Do we really believe there’s any chance Rick Grimes will ever be killed off? No. Not unless it’s the final episode of the final season of The Walking Dead. Everyone else? Yeah, kinda. Not that we want to live in a post-apocalyptic TV land that’s devoid of Daryl, Michonne, Carol, Morgan, or Glenn. But Dumpstergate has served to make us feel it’s possible he won’t survive all of Season 6.

5. It sparked a new level of interaction within the show’s fan community.

Social media and fan websites have been abuzz with theories and debates on Glenn’s fate for the last month, with viewers going as far as doing investigations of whether or not the average adult would fit under a dumpster. They’ve been at times angry, frustrated, hopeful, and hopeless while awaiting the episode that would finally tell us whether or not Glenn had a shot at being around for the birth of his child, but awaiting and debating it nonetheless. And it’s no small thing that, with so many options for great TV viewing, any show could spark that strong a reaction in that large a group of viewers.

The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC.