Rick’s Spinoff Has An Unexpected Connection To Both TWD Season 1 & Fear The Walking Dead
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Rick’s Spinoff Has An Unexpected Connection To Both TWD Season 1 & Fear The Walking Dead

Warning: spoilers ahead for The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live episode 1.




  • The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live reveals Okafor was one of the pilots responsible for Operation Cobalt.
  • Operation Cobalt appeared in The Walking Dead’s early seasons and Fear The Walking Dead season 1.
  • Without knowing it, The Walking Dead has been setting up the CRM since 2010.

The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live proves everything is connected, as Rick and Michonne’s spinoff introduces a new character that links to both the main show’s debut season and Fear The Walking Dead. As AMC’s Walking Dead universe expands at pace, the franchise’s continuity creaks wearily. Whether it be The Walking Dead: Dead City‘s suspicious lack of variant zombies or Daryl Dixon rendering its title character’s final scene in the main show pointless, broadening the post-apocalyptic sandbox via an influx of new creative minds has inevitably raised canon questions and continuity quirks.

The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live largely bucks this trend, remaining faithful to past storylines remarkably well. Not only does the narrative pick up neatly from Andrew Lincoln’s exit in The Walking Dead season 9, but numerous events from World Beyond are referenced during episode 1, such as the destruction of Omaha. The Ones Who Live cements its status as the most overtly interconnected Walking Dead spinoff yet by introducing a character that tethers Rick and Michonne’s show to both season 1 of the main show and Fear The Walking Dead season 1, aired in 2010 and 2015, respectively.


When The Ones Who Live Takes Place In The Walking Dead’s Timeline

The Ones Who Live follows Rick and Michonne returning to the franchise after their Walking Dead departures, but the spinoff’s timeline is complicated.

Okafor Was Involved In The Walking Dead’s Operation Cobalt

Craig Tate as Okafor in The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live.

The Walking Dead‘s Operation Cobalt was first referenced in the main show’s debut season, then elaborated upon in both season 2 and Fear The Walking Dead season 1. In response to the zombie outbreak spiraling out of control, the US military was ordered to drop napalm on major cities. This included Atlanta, and early signs of Cobalt’s implementation were present during season 1’s flashback of Shane attempting to rescue Rick Grimes from hospital. Operation Cobalt was shown more explicitly during a season 2 flashback, then Fear The Walking Dead revealed its name. Okafor, Rick’s commanding officer in The Ones Who Live, was an Operation Cobalt pilot.

The CRM’s Lt. Col. Donald Okafor was a US military pilot pre-outbreak, and one of the soldiers ordered to commence napalm bombings when The Walking Dead‘s zombie outbreak began. Sick of bringing destruction upon his own people, Okafor rebelled during the Pennsylvania leg of Operation Cobalt, turning the weapons on his own comrades instead. Okafor subsequently joined forces with the Pennsylvania National Guard, which marked the foundation of the CRM.

How Operation Cobalt Connects The Ones Who Live To TWD Season 1 & Fear

Operation Cobalt in The Walking Dead

The most interesting aspect of Okafor as a character connecting three separate The Walking Dead TV shows is the specific role he played in Operation Cobalt. In The Ones Who Live episode 1, Craig Tate’s character verbally confirms that he was flying one of the aircraft that decimated both Atlanta and California. When Shane, Lori, and Carl were running from the bombing in The Walking Dead, therefore, a younger Okafor was present behind the scenes, solemnly dropping his fiery payload as the protagonists watched on.

Okafor’s reference to Operation Cobalt in California then draws a second link between his character and the franchise’s past – this time with Fear The Walking Dead season 1. In the first Walking Dead spinoff’s debut season, the Clark family and their fellow survivors narrowly escaped Los Angeles before the US military turned it into cinders. Consequently, Okafor must have been skulking around in the background of Fear The Walking Dead too, quietly working to destroy Los Angeles against his own ethical misgivings.

While Okafor may not have appeared physically in The Walking Dead and Fear The Walking Dead, the lieutenant colonel is an extremely rare example of a survivor in AMC’s zombie franchise woven inherently into the fabric of three separate shows. It is even rarer for an old piece of continuity like the US military bombing cities to take on a deeper importance 14 years down the line, but Okafor does exactly that. The Ones Who Live‘s new cast member makes the bombings seen in episodes from 2010, 2011, and 2015 all the more relevant to the narrative in 2024.

Yes, The Walking Dead Has Been Setting Up The CRM Since 2010

When Frank Darabont first sat down to adapt Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead comic book, he clearly did not have a villainous entity called the Civic Republic Military in mind. Nevertheless, The Walking Dead has been setting up the Beale Brigade since 2010 – even if it didn’t know it. The Ones Who Live confirms that the CRM was directly borne from the demise of Operation Cobalt, and Operation Cobalt was the earliest large-scale military concept introduced into the Walking Dead universe.

By showing the bombing of US cities, as well as the fleet of helicopters and soldiers responsible, early seasons of The Walking Dead and Fear The Walking Dead were accidentally paving the way for an antagonistic group to rise from the ashes of that destruction. Operation Cobalt also led directly to the idea of a rebel US soldier who would later assimilate into a militaristic community of survivors. The Ones Who Live does not say so explicitly, but Okafor may not be the only armed forces remnant to join the CRM, meaning other soldiers who once participated in Operation Cobalt may now be protecting the Civic Republic in The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live.

Episode #

Episode Title

Release Date



February 25



March 3



March 10



March 17



March 24



March 31

The Walking Dead The Ones Who Live TV Show Poster

The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live

Andrew Lincoln , Danai Gurira , Pollyanna McIntosh , Lesley-Ann Brandt , Terry O’Quinn

Release Date
February 25, 2024


Scott M. Gimple

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