Negan said he invested a lot to get all of that manpower together at that one specific day, to

block off the roads, and stop Rick and the team travelling to Hilltop.

But how did the Saviours know that Rick and his team would be going there that day (or even travelling at all for that matter). It's true Daryl, Glenn, Michonne and Rosetta were captured, but nobody at Alexandria could have known that, and would they have known where to look even if they did? So clearly Negan knew that some of the Alexandria team would be venturing out, as I don't think all of those men would've been too happy blocking an empty road all day.

So how did he know?


7 Answers 7


TL;DR: We don't know for sure, but we can make an educated guess.

The evidence available:

  • Negan and the Saviors know where Rick's group lives. When Carol met the pickup truck full of Saviors on the road, not only were they already en route to Alexandria, they also revealed that they had been watching Alexandria very closely for some time. Tobin told Rick that Carol left in a car with spikes run through it that he had placed outside the gate the day before. The Saviors in the truck mentioned that they had cars with spikes through them, just like Carol's, outside the gate of Alexandria.

  • The Hilltop has no ammunition. The Saviors know this. The Saviors had told the Hilltop to bring Gregory's head to their base with the huge satellite dish. If Negan checked out the base after it was attacked by Rick's group, he would have realized a few things:

    • Whoever attacked the base had brought a head that looked a hell of a lot like Gregory, so whoever did it was in touch with Hilltop and knew what the Saviors wanted from Hilltop.

    • Whoever attacked the base was heavily armed, had plenty of ammunition, and was far more aggressive and skilled than the people at Hilltop. Clearly, Hilltop had sought help from another group who was based somewhere near Hilltop, but not at the Hilltop.

    • The same kind of skill and weaponry went into other confrontations with the Saviors: at the slaughterhouse where Carol and Maggie were taken; at the spot where Carol killed the Saviors in the truck; at the railroad tracks where Daryl, Rosita, Abe, and Eugene fought off the much larger group of Saviors led by Dwight; and at the other railroad tracks where Daryl killed three Saviors himself.

    • Dwight has seen Daryl on three different occasions: in the burned out forest where they first met; at the railroad tracks where Denise was killed; and in the woods where Daryl was captured. Although Daryl was alone and lightly armed on the first occasion, on the two latter occasions he was with other people and well armed.

  • If the Saviors were spying on Daryl, Denise, and Rosita just before they killed Denise, they might have realized that Denise had medical training (why else would they have brought an untrained, unarmed, mostly helpless person on a supply run to a pharmacy, if not so that she could tell them which medications to take?). They killed Denise, so the Saviors may or may not know that Alexandria no longer has a doctor.

  • If they had been listening to what was going on in Alexandria as well as watching it, they might have learned that someone in Alexandria needed medical attention and was being taken to the Hilltop.

Taking all of these facts together, Negan would know a number of things:

  • Rick's people are trained and well armed, but relatively few in number.

  • They are probably running low on some supplies, which would explain why they made an unprovoked attack on the Saviors on behalf of the Hilltop.

  • They definitely know about the Hilltop (including the doctor who lives there), but might not know about other communities of survivors in the area.

  • They have some sort of deal worked out with the Hilltop, and it is pretty easy to figure out the basic idea of that deal: Hilltop has supplies, but lacks firepower, and is being taxed by the Saviors; Alexandria has firepower, but lacks something they need (probably some sort of supplies), and isn't being taxed by the Saviors yet. Thus, the most reasonable assumption would be "Alexandria agreed to get rid of the Saviors in exchange for something that Hilltop has (presumably supplies, possibly other things as well)".

  • Rick may well believe that he has already fulfilled most or all of his end of the deal - he and his people have, after all, killed at least 43 Saviors, and this was incredibly easy to do. If Rick does indeed believe he has crushed the Saviors, he would probably head to the Hilltop soon for his payment.

  • Even if Rick doesn't think he's already wiped out the Saviors, he doesn't have many places to go. He's obviously not visiting his grandma in Baltimore, or taking his kids to NYC to see the Statue of Liberty. If he's leaving Alexandria with a fairly sizable crew, he must have a good reason for it, and there aren't that many possible destinations he could have in mind. In fact, as far as Negan knows, Hilltop is the only friendly place Rick knows about at the moment (and this is indeed the case, at least for now).

  • This all adds up to one thing: If Rick is leaving Alexandria for anything other than a normal supply run, chances are he's headed for the Hilltop.

The Wildcard:

Having read all of the comics to date, I can assure you that this specific question doesn't really come up in the comics. There is no elaborate network of roadblocks designed to herd Rick's people towards a specific place. Instead, Negan just waits on the road between Hilltop and Alexandria and ambushes Rick when his group passes by. This means that there is no reason to believe that there's a mole in Alexandria in the comic books.

However, there is one person in the comics and the show who is clearly not to be trusted...

Gregory, the leader of the Hilltop colony. He is a conniving, sneaky, selfish coward who is only interested in saving his own skin. All it would take to convince Gregory to spill the beans about Alexandria is a simple threat from Negan. "Gregory, if you tell us what you know, we'll let you live and keep being the boss of Hilltop. If you don't tell us what you know, we'll kill you." That's it. That's all Gregory would need to be persuaded to sell out Rick and his community.


Granted, Gregory doesn't know exactly when Rick's people will return to the Hilltop, but he does know that Maggie is pregnant and Alexandria doesn't have the neonatal resources that Hilltop has - after all, when she was at the Hilltop, she asked for an ultrasound and some neonatal vitamins. Gregory knows that Maggie will want an occasional checkup from Hilltop's doctor to see how the pregnancy is progressing. In other words, he knows that she'll be back sooner than later.


Even if we ignore the Maggie issue, Gregory is aware that Rick's group has another reason to visit Hilltop in the near future: Hilltop owes Rick payment for rescuing a Hilltop resident from the Saviors and beginning the war against the Saviors. Again, Gregory knows that Rick's people will be back to Hilltop sooner than later.

  • You seem to be saying that Negan wouldn't have known they were going to hilltop until they had already left, which wouldn't have allowed nearly enough time to get those roadblocks set up.
    – DCShannon
    Commented Apr 5, 2016 at 23:58
  • @DCShannon - Not quite. I'm saying Negan had enough information to know that whenever Rick left Alexandria, he'd be headed to Hilltop. Most of the roadblocks could have been set up after Rick left Alexandria. The one with the logs might have taken longer, but Negan knew it would be necessary at some point, and could have set it up ahead of time. Keep in mind that the balding dude with the mustache was at two of the roadblocks, as well as the clearing in the woods where Rick ended up.
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 0:51
  • @DCShannon - That means that he probably set up at least those two roadblocks (both of which consisted of only cars and men), and he was clearly able to anticipate Rick's movements and beat him to each step along the way.
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 0:52
  • @DCShannon - You might argue that the roadblock made of chained zombies must have been set up ahead of time, but the fact that one of the zombies had crossbow bolts in it, and another had Michonne's hair sticking from its head, means that it was set up AFTER Michonne and Daryl were captured - i.e., earlier the same day that Rick finally met Negan.
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 0:54
  • 1
    Look guys, spoiler. Its pretty clear that they were dead the whole time. How else do you explain the polar bear in season 1?
    – JK.
    Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 3:46

One thing to consider is that the walking dead universe has pretty much none of the pastimes we have now. A huge outfit like the saviors might very well be waiting for a chance to do something like this.

They caught Daryl and them somewhere between Alexandria and Hilltop. They probably figured they would come looking for them, not necessarily that they would be going to Hilltop. So like Rick's group, I bet they just looked at a map and figured the most obvious paths, set up the roadblocks, and figured it would work out. For all we know, they planned for a lot more than just the ones we saw.

In the end, you might figure that Negan got to where he is not by happenstance. He may have just thought - if some of my men went out and didn't come back when planned, what would I do? I'd probably go out looking. So let's assume that's what they'll do and herd them into our trap.


I'm wondering if Rick's group was setup by the Hilltop colony. Jesus seem's much more like a savior than a hilltop (he's way too cunning). He was in the RV and could have placed a radio inside(which the saviors have been shown using). This would have given the saviors real time intel about the situation and planning in the RV. At the time I wondered if the attack on Gregory was a ruse (he was treated by the hilltop dr) and seemed to make the deal too quickly. Also, the hilltop dr gave Maggie "vitamins" to take. Could have been something like warfarin that would cause hemmorage (or about a million other things). I don't see it being the pickles or tea. I could speculate that the group in the microwave facility might have been a problem (either going rouge or challenging Negan's authority) and the end game was to use Rick's bunch to deal with them only to be enslaved later. No, I don't trust Enid either. I'm probably all wrong and have assumptions based on assumptions but it's fun to think about.


Sure they could have just been setting around at roadblocks waiting for Rick to come by, but that could take weeks or months. Plus after the first or second roadblock they may have just given up and went home. But because of Maggie it was urgent they get to the Hilltop. So it seems likely they did have something to do with her getting sick. If not that is a huge waste of manpower and I can think of lots of other ways for the saviors to get their point across.


My theory of the potential leak from Alexandria is the guy from Hilltop that led Rick's crew to the Savior's base with "Gregory"'s head. He looked uncomfortable from the start with giving information regarding the layout.

I get he had interactions and understood how formidable they would be.. but I think he is kind of overshadowed by the events and Enid shines a bit more from being odd. That being said- I don't know if he went back to Hilltop or opted to stay in Alexandria- perhaps we will know the answer... in six months


I think the Saviors have a spy in Alexandria. She was told to get Rick and team to go to Hilltop. Her idea was to give Maggie tainted pickles to make her sick. I have always thought there is something not right with Carl's girlfriend, Enid.

  • 1
    Interesting theory, but I think this is too speculative to be a good answer.
    – chepner
    Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 15:38
  • 1
    Speculation is all we have at the moment. So it is a great speculation until actual answers are given in the series. Go back and look at the evidence. And tell me how they knew where they were going. Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 17:03
  • If Enid was a mole that set up an ambush, it seems unlikely that she would want to go with.
    – DCShannon
    Commented Apr 5, 2016 at 23:59

They had to know somehow and I think Enid is the most logical answer. It may not have been the pickles she also gave her some tea I believe but I think Enid knew that they would be captured and at least one of them killed. That is why she tried so hard to keep Carl from going since he is actually the only person she has shown a real affection to.

Also story wise it would make more sense that she needed to take Maggie's spot on the wall to communicate with The Saviors, which was the pickles scene, and then later poison her once she got her marching orders.

We know that they already knew where Alexandria is located since the group that ran into Carol was headed there. We also know that it is possible to steal a car that is right by the main gate since Carol did it therefore it should be child's play the get a message to Enid if she is at the gate.

  • Enid wasn't trying to stop Carl from going, she was trying to go also. That doesn't make much sense with your theory.
    – DCShannon
    Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 0:00

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.