The Walking Dead season 8 episode 16: Fans think finale set up The Whisperers as season 9 villains

Jacob Stolworthy

The Walking Dead may have just wrapped up its current season but that doesn't seem to have prevented the writers from lining up next year's villain.

Despite contending with a small matter of the final showdown between Rick and Negan, keen-eyed viewers noticed a little addition in the background which may be hinting at the anticipated addition of an even more terrifying faction than The Saviours.

The scenes showing Rick lead his army toward The Saviours featured a moment in which they look out from the top of a hill and spot a huge horde of walkers in the distance. Continuing along the hill, the gun-toting warriors pass a series of poles which to the uninitiated seem like nothing at all.

(Brandon Davis via AMC)

In Robert Kirkman's comic book series the show is based on, poles similar to these are used as a territory-marking device by The Whisperers, a group led by a character named Alpha. Marking them out from the others is the way they disguise themselves as walkers, living among them and wearing their skin to blend in and catch others unawares.

Their leader, Alpha - whose path collides with the newly-imprisoned Negan in a very big way - would utilise these poles by placing the heads of any character who gets in her way, including some still alive on the show right now, atop the spikes as a warning to others.