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Walking Dead Wiki
Walking Dead Wiki
This article is about the TV Series episode. You may be looking for the Comic Series volume.

"The Rotten Core" is the fourteenth episode of the eleventh season of AMC's The Walking Dead. It is the one-hundred and sixty-seventh episode of the series overall. It premiered on March 27, 2022. It was written by Jim Barnes & Erik Mountain and directed by Marcus Stokes.[1][2]


Maggie, Lydia, and Elijah help Aaron and Gabriel on a rescue mission. In the chaos, Negan finds himself watching over Hershel. Sebastian coerces Daryl and Rosita into pulling a heist.


Carlson looks at the dead hostages that he pushed off the roof of the apartment complex. The bodies start to animate.

Carlson radios Hornsby to let him know the location is secure and that they're searching for the hijacked goods.

Maggie, Aaron, Lydia, and Elijah hide as Carlson leads a team through the complex, gunning down residents.

At the Commonwealth, Carol catches up with Daryl on his way to work. They set up a lunch date.

Daryl and Rosita receive an assignment from their boss. Sebastian stops by the trooper station with his girlfriend.

Sebastian brags to troopers about fighting walkers and invites Daryl to comment on his abilities. Daryl half-heartedly claps, eliciting chuckles from troopers.

Troopers Alves and Castle pull Rosita and Daryl away from their assignment to investigate a herd of walkers on the north perimeter.

Maggie's group runs into Annie while searching an apartment. To their surprise, Negan appears. They're brought to a secret room where Gabriel and other residents are hiding. Annie proposes they split into teams and sweep each floor to rescue survivors. She leaves with Maggie, while Negan stays behind.

Alves and Castle take Daryl and Rosita to the northern perimeter. Sebastian joins them and orders Daryl and Rosita to retrieve a stash of cash hidden in a house on the other side of the herd. He says he needs money because Pamela cut off his line of credit. Daryl and Rosita begrudgingly agree to help after Sebastian threatens their kids.

Rosita and Daryl cover themselves in walker guts and make their way unnoticed through the herd.

Daryl and Rosita enter the house and find the panic room where the cash is stashed. A woman named April pounds on the door from inside the locked room. She explains that she's the only survivor from a group of people who were sent in earlier to find the cash. She says a man had offered to help her out of debt if she could get the cash.

Negan reveals to Aaron's group that he's married to Annie. Gabriel insists they didn't know Carlson's ulterior motives when they came to the complex. Annie radios Negan and tells the group to mobilize. Negan sees something troubling outside the window.

A trooper drags Hershel inside the complex after finding him hiding in a truck. Negan kills the trooper and rescues Hershel.

Maggie and Annie hide while Carlson's team continues to sweep the complex. Annie reveals that she's pregnant with Negan's baby. Negan radios Annie to tell her the troopers found Hershel, but he vows to protect Hershel. Maggie asks why Annie is with Negan despite knowing what he's done. Annie says they've all done things they're not proud of and can only try to be better now.

Hershel asks Negan why Maggie doesn't like him. Negan admits he used to be a "bad man." Hershel aims a gun at Negan and guesses that he killed Glenn. Negan confirms he was Glenn's killer, but warns Hershel that a gunshot will alert the troopers to their location. Hershel lowers the gun.

Daryl turns on the generator in the garage to power up the panic room's keypad. He fights off walkers.

Rosita punches in the key code and enters the panic room. An alarm blares, drawing walkers to the room. Rosita destroys the alarm while Daryl opens the safe and stuffs the cash in a bag. They barricade the door from walkers.

Daryl's group hears gunfire in the house. Mercer and Carol rescue them. Carol says she got Mercer after Daryl didn't show up for their lunch date. Rosita and April explain that Sebastian sent them to the house to get cash for him.

Daryl's group quietly slips past walkers in the house, covered in walker guts to disguise their smell. April accidentally draws attention to herself and gets devoured. The group slays the walkers.

Carlson leads troopers through the building. Maggie and Annie radio Gabriel and Aaron with a plan.

Carlson's team storms an apartment and finds nothing. Carlson notices shoe prints leading to the secret room. Before he can investigate, he hears gunfire.

Carlson's team chases Gabriel and Aaron onto the roof and corners them. Elijah sneaks up and kills the troopers with his kama. Aaron shoots Carlson, who falls off the roof and lands near the bodies of the dead hostages. They animate and eat Carlson alive.

Daryl's group meets up with Alves and Castle and learns that Sebastian has already sent 30 or 40 people to look for the cash. Mercer shoots Alves and Castle dead, then instructs Rosita and Daryl to give the cash to Sebastian or else he'll come after them.

Daryl and Rosita deliver the cash to Sebastian at the trooper station. Sebastian gives a small cut of the cash to them and leaves.

Hornbsy tries to radio Carlson but gets no answer. Carol stops by to inform him that Sebastian had been sending desperate residents to get him cash. She realizes Hornsby already knew and is okay with it. Hornsby says everyone must do their part and explains that he was simply trying to help people who put themselves in bad situations. Carol pretends to agree.

Negan acknowledges to Hershel that they have unfinished business. He advises Hershel to help Maggie rebuild their community and then come find him in a few years to settle the score. Maggie tells Aaron and Gabriel they can't return to the Commonwealth, but Aaron says Hornsby will want to know what happened. They wonder who hijacked the Commonwealth convoy.

In a flashback to two weeks ago, troopers from the Commonwealth convoy lie dead on the ground. An injured trooper tries to crawl away. The hijacker slashes the trooper's throat: it's Leah.

Other Cast





  • First appearance of Vickers.
  • First appearance of Baker.
  • First appearance of Douglas.
  • First appearance of Howell.
  • First appearance of Lim.
  • First appearance of McHugh.
  • First appearance of Ross.
  • First (and last) appearance of Alves.
  • First (and last) appearance of Castle.
  • First (and last) appearance of April Martens.
  • Last appearance of Jake Daniels.
  • Last appearance of Green.
  • Last appearance of Crowe.
  • Last appearance of Toby Carlson. (Alive)
  • The title of the episode, "The Rotten Core", refers to the corruption that occurs within the Commonwealth from the people with power or money.
  • This episode was made available for streaming to subscribers of AMC Premiere on March 20, 2022.
  • This is the thirteenth episode to share the same title of a Comic Series volume, after "Days Gone Bye", "Made to Suffer", "This Sorrowful Life", "Too Far Gone", "No Way Out", "A New Beginning", "What Comes After", "The Calm Before", "Lines We Cross", "What We Become", "A Certain Doom", and "Here's Negan".
  • The original plot summary for the episode was as follows: Inside the Riverbend Apartment Complex, Maggie comes face-to-face with a stranger who both frustrates and challenges her resolve, at times sending her mind reeling. Will this world ever allow her the peace and justice she's so determined to find? Meanwhile, Daryl and Rosita are redirected during their routine patrol. As more and more tragedies unfold, more and more truths come to light. What lengths will people go to, to get what they believe is rightfully theirs? And what lengths are others willing to go to, to try to stop them?[2]
  • Sebastian mentions that R.J. has skipped two grades and that Rosita's daughter has started walking now.
  • When questioned by Lydia on why he left Alexandria without saying anything, Negan references what Aaron had told him previously in "Ghosts" about how he'd leave if he "actually gave a shit" about the community's well-being.
  • Negan is revealed to have gotten married and is expecting a child with Annie.
  • Hershel Rhee learns that Negan had killed his father and develops a grudge against him.
  • Daryl, Rosita, Carol, April and Mercer use the walker guts trick in order to retrieve money for Sebastian Milton.
  • Leah Shaw is revealed to have been the one who had ambushed the Commonwealth's weapons' convoy.
  • Negan's speech to Hershel at the end is similar to the speech that Beatrix Kiddo gave to a young girl whose mother she had just killed in Kill Bill: Volume 1.
  • Elijah is seen wearing his mask for the first time since "Hunted", albeit only briefly while helping Aaron and Gabriel during the rooftop ambush.

Comic Parallels


Episode Highlights