So far, The Walking Dead is handling Rick’s departure surprisingly well. The storylines have been engaging and the mysteries are deepening. One mystery in particular that is bugging fans revolves around the mysterious “X scars.” After Season 9 Episode 7, we now know that both Michonne and Daryl have this strange scar. But what does it mean? Read on to hear the top theories about the scar and to see photos.
First, let’s take a closer look at Michonne’s scar.
Fans are fairly certain that this is a new scar that turned up sometime during the six-year time jump, and not one that Michonne had before. It’s doubtful the show would have drawn so much attention to it if the scar had been around before, anyway.
Now, in Season 9 Episode 7, we learn that Daryl has a similar X scar.
But the scar is definitely new. Here’s a look at an older screenshot of a younger Daryl and the scars that he had:
Younger Daryl had an X-scar already near the top of his back on his shoulder (as he still does), but he did not have the X scar over the lower left side of his back. Here’s a photo of the upper part of Daryl’s back for comparison, shared on Twitter. Only the lower scar is new:
His earlier scars were from when he was beaten as a child. But the X-shaped scar on his lower left back that we saw today was new.
Theories About the X Scars
So what do the scars mean? Here are some of the top theories.
The scars memorialize Rick’s death. Rick’s body was never found (and of course, we know why but Daryl and Michonne and the rest do not.) Some fans think the scars are meant to memorialize Rick and show that he’s never forgotten, and his loss has left a lasting scar. That could certainly mean that more and more characters will be seen with the same scar. The driving force behind this theory is the idea that Rick was impaled close to where the scar is seen, and thus close to where his visible wound was before he died.
As others have pointed out, this also happens to be the same area where he was shot in Season 1. The impaling would indeed appear to be on the left side of his back, when viewed from the same angle as Michonne’s and Daryl’s photos above. It appears that he might have been impaled a bit higher than their scars, but it certainly is a viable theory based on the photo of Rick above. (As commenters have pointed below, no one actually saw Rick get impaled. This theory is based on the idea that maybe someone saw where Rick was injured and bleeding before he blew up the bridge. Whether or not you believe that’s possible will determine if you think this theory is likely to be true.)
A kidney was removed. Some fans think that perhaps the scar isn’t a memorialized scar but a real scar where their kidneys were removed. The only question would be: who did this? Georgie’s group? The Whisperers? Some other villain we haven’t seen yet? Did they voluntarily give up their kidneys? It’s tough to imagine medicine being advanced enough in a post-apocalyptic world to handle a kidney transplant, but the theory remains.
A scar from some type of battle, maybe connected to the reason why Michonne and Maggie were on bad terms. Michonne didn’t even want to return to Hilltop when she thought Maggie was still there and in charge. She doesn’t dislike Maggie, but something really bad went down between the two of them and led Michonne to not want to go back there or think she’d be welcome. Daryl’s been staying away too. Perhaps the scar is connected somehow.
Maggie exiled them. This is a much darker theory that assumes Maggie went rogue somehow and marked Daryl and Michonne with “X’s” to show they were exiled from Hilltop. I’m less inclined to believe this theory, because Daryl and Maggie were super close the last time we saw Maggie. Daryl was loyal to Maggie. Besides, what good is an exile scar if you can’t see it?
This was some other kind of branding. Commenter Ronnie below came up with the theory that the Xs are some kind of branding, much like cattle is branded. Perhaps, Ronnie suggests, the branding was done by an outside group (like Jadis’ group or the Commonwealth) to tag strong leaders or people they’d like to integrate in the future.
“Notice the only ones we’ve seen so far with the X mark are Michonne and Daryl?” As Ronnie pointed out, Daryl and Michonne go outside the most, making them more likely targets for early branding. “That would make it easy for an outside entity or group to incapacitate them, mark them, and then release them. Now, such a mark would not go unnoticed due to the residual pain or discomfort from that possible branding. I would be interested in knowing how many others bear the mark. My only other theory is that the marks are voluntary as a way to identify members of a community, but I would have to see more of these from other characters,” Ronnie wrote below.
I was originally leaning toward the idea of a memorial to Rick or a kidney removal. But after reconsidering the likelihood of seeing Rick’s scar, I’m now wondering about the branding theory instead of the memorial theory.
What do you think the scar means? Let us know in the comments below.
READ NEXT: Where did Maggie go?