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April 15, 2018 at 11:57 PM EDT

SPOILER ALERT: Read on only if you have already watched the season 8 finale of The Walking Dead.

The Rick-Negan “All-Out War” finally ended on Sunday’s The Walking Dead season 8 finale as Rick sliced Negan’s throat, but then spared his life so that Negan could “rot in a cell” and “see how wrong you were about what people can be — about what life can be.”

The men who play Rick and Negan — Andrew Lincoln and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, respectively — appeared on Talking Dead along with Lennie James (Morgan), showrunner Scott M. Gimple, and comic creator Robert Kirkman to share insight and intel on everything went down, including Rick’s mercy ultimately prevailing over his wrath.

Andrew Lincoln on if he was happy the way the storyline wrapped up:
“When I read the script, I was a bit concerned when I slit his throat, because up until now, Jeffrey Dean Morgan has been amazing, and one of the greatest assets he has brought to the show is the fact that at the end of each season, he does a three-page monologue. So when I slit his throat, kind of thought… oh, it’s going to have to be me. And I’ve never seen him look so happy with so much blood on his chest.”

Jeffrey Dean Morgan on the final brawl scene:
“Any time that Andy and I shared the screen or shared a scene it gets intense. And I think we bring that out in each other, and certainly the last fight, we kind of kicked the s— out of each other. Not meaning to, that’s just where it goes. That’s the kind of intensity that that sort of scene needs.”

Lincoln on what makes Rick slit Negan’s throat:
“It’s just vengeance up until that point and in the moment that he says, ‘The kid didn’t know a damn thing,’ he realizes where he’s about to go and what he’s about to become. And I think in that moment, in that fleeting moment, that’s when he decides, if I continue with this, if I don’t try to save this man’s life, it’s over. So I think it is ultimately a story about restraint rather than revenge and love rather than hate, which has always been integral to our show.”

Robert Kirkman on the importance of Rick not killing Negan:
“This is a huge turning point in a long series of turning points for Rick Grimes. But this is him finally realizing that he has to choose a different way. Every major conflict in the history of The Walking Dead has ended with a huge death or someone dying and this is him choosing life. This is him turning over a new leaf and deciding there’s a different way forward.… It shows that from this point on the stories are going to be very different.”

Gimple on what to expect in season 9:
“The show evolves.… They’re facing different problems, They’re facing different problems with each other. And the world itself will be very, very different.”

Gimple on when he came up with the twist of Eugene sabotaging the Saviors’ bullets:
“It was a very long time ago. It was before Eugene was taken, we had had that storyline. We knew that was going to be the final masterstroke. We did not tell him. Because it was very late that Eugene made up his mind on this thing. He was fighting something that was in him. He was always about self-preservation. He was always about keeping himself alive. But he met Abraham Ford. He met Rosita. And those people infected him with humanity. And he kept on trying to fight it, He tried to drink his way out of it, he couldn’t sleep. But in the end, the people around him affected him too deeply.”

Gimple on if Maggie, Jesus, and Daryl are now in a civil war plot against Rick for giving Negan alive”
“It looks like that to me. Lauren [Cohan] is so amazing in that scene. She’s full Maggie Corleone. And Jesus, you know, he would not have killed the surrendering Saviors, but he’s not Morgan. Like, he could kill Negan. That certainly isn’t off the menu for Jesus.”

Related Articles:
The Walking Dead‘s Rick–Negan war fate revealed
Surprise! FOUR Walking Dead characters crossover to Fear
Fear the Walking Dead showrunners explain those OTHER secret premiere crossovers
Fear the Walking Dead‘s Lennie James breaks down the season premiere

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