By now, most of us have sobbed our eyeballs out after The Walking Dead concluded an outstanding 12-year run on Sunday night – maybe some people are still bawling because, let’s be honest, no one will be recovering from that finale anytime soon. Not only did we say goodbye to the groundbreaking AMC drama and its beloved band of survivors, we bid a gut-wrenching farewell to one heroic fan-favourite.
Following a drastic, albeit successful, rescue mission to save her infant daughter Coco, Rosita Espinosa (Christian Serratos) finds herself living on borrowed time. As Rosita, Eugene (Josh McDermitt) and Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) battle through a horde of the undead, Rosita and Coco fall into a pit of walkers. In the heart-stopping sequence, the mother emerges like a phoenix from the ashes, single-handedly fighting off the herd as she gets herself and Coco to safety. If only it could’ve been smooth sailing from here on out.
Relief turns to dread, and dread to heartache when Rosita later confirms to Eugene she hasn’t come out unscathed. Though it’s up for debate on whether Rosita was bitten or scratched, a behind-the-scenes image seems to confirm the latter, explaining why her clothes remain intact and the slow spread of infection. Nonetheless, Serratos and McDermitt are phenomenal to watch, both delivering brutally harrowing performances loaded with emotion as they share the spotlight.
“Because I’m still right here…” is the final blow. Even with her fate sealed, Rosita reassures her closest friend. And it is this line right here, the choked conviction in Rosita’s tone, which symbolises her entire arc. Every fibre of the warrior is cemented in this moment, in this line. Rosita has long accepted the fragility of life, respecting how fleeting their post-apocalyptic world can be. Rosita doesn’t wish death upon herself, but she is at peace with the inevitable cut of thread.
Those five words are a reminder of everything Rosita has overcome throughout the show. After a tumultuous journey countered by murderous tyrants, masses of walkers, and broken communities, Rosita is “still right here”. She has only grown more empowered, never once forgetting the sacrifices that were made along the way; never straying from her principles; always taking a stand, selflessly dedicated to protecting her loved ones no matter the cost. Of the last remaining survivors, Rosita’s relationship with death stays consistent. It is permanent, it is inescapable, and yet, she doesn’t fear it.
Instead, Rosita appears to find peace with her impending demise. There is comfort knowing she and Coco reunited, that her daughter would be safe. Her love for her child has been the fan-favourite’s biggest motivator; every decision, every action, is guided by Coco’s safety, and there are powerful elements to portray this bond over the course of the series. Rosita lives for her daughter. To die for her is a tragic condition of the young mother’s love, bound to an endless degree. While Rosita’s time with Coco is cut devastatingly short, we can’t imagine a more appropriate ending for Rosita Espinosa – a statement supported by Serratos herself, who initially pitched the possibility of Rosita’s death.
If it were necessary to kill off any character, it would only be right for Rosita to claim the throne. From her season four entrance to the series finale, Rosita never loses touch with the part of herself that welcomes death. She knows better than anyone that it’s how she chooses to live which matters in the end. Rosita’s development in the show comes naturally; and only after Coco – and the demise of Siddiq (Avi Nash) – does a flame ignite itself within her and unleash a new wave of intensity. With her daughter’s safety being her priority, Rosita never backs away from a challenge, highlighting her instinctively courageous nature.
But the only battle Rosita willingly accepts defeat in is the one she cannot win. Devoted to Coco, Rosita uses what time she has left to “soak her up”, reflecting on her unspoken insistence to make every second count. There is no fanfare surrounding her wound and what it means; she remains dignified, embracing those final hours, cherishing her daughter and savouring the group’s optimism. Rosita doesn’t keep her injury quiet out of dread or to worry her friends, she simply does not wish to prolong anyone’s suffering, and certainly doesn’t want sombre condolences or delusional promises to shroud their new beginning.
She wants to go out on a high note, grateful that no one else was lost. Though some may argue Carol (Melissa McBride) should’ve taken the hit rather than Rosita, The Walking Dead might’ve completely overshot its mark here and invalidated the emotional value which Rosita’s death evoked. Carol has laid her demons to rest; her story ends with her; whereas Rosita lives her life with nothing, and simultaneously everything, to lose. She desperately wishes to be there for her daughter, but there’s a bittersweet realisation that Rosita leaves behind her legacy in Coco. True to her word, Rosita is indeed “still right here”.
Rosita Espinosa exits the series in the same way she enters: bold and noble. Her original goal? Escort Eugene to Washington. Her final achievement: Getting her daughter to safety. Alongside impressive survival instinct, Rosita is quick to establish strong solidarity within the group. Her allegiance lies with them. A valued ally and, beyond a doubt, highly resilient, resourceful, and fearless, the series cannot deny she is one of its most formidable characters. Rosita stares literal death in the face countless times without so much as blinking; so of course, we fell head over heels with her no-nonsense attitude.
In an ever-growing ensemble cast, we’ve lost far more faces than we can count; so much so that Serratos is actually the show’s fourth longest-running cast member – joint with McDermitt – to have remained until the agonising end. Serratos has given an exceptional performance on the series, and leading up to the finale, she did in fact volunteer her beloved character to die – revealed in an interview on Talking Dead. Well, one thing is for sure, if Serratos wanted to “have our hearts broken one last time”, she certainly succeeded.
Both Serratos and Rosita may be content with how their adventure on the series concludes, but we definitely won’t be moving on so soon. Rosita’s final hour is captured beautifully. Her peaceful passing symbolic of who she is. All that Rosita stands for encapsulates the show’s theme of community, family, and hopefulness, and this couldn’t be more evident as her arc is wrapped up.