In the show finale, after
death, why does Merlin not return to Camelot?
Why does he instead choose to hang out in the same area for the next 400 or so years??
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It is very likely he actually went back or at least had contact with someone in Camelot, as by the next scene the following is stated (Gwen's coronation, transcript from wikia):
LEON: The King is dead. [Gaius and Gwen share a glance. Gwen looks back at Leon.]
LEON: Long live the Queen!
While enough people knew Arthur was in a bad shape after the battle, Merlin is the only one who could have confirmed he was actually dead. Of course, they could have assumed his death when Merlin does not return. But that would take a long time, you don't want to proclaim a king, who's known to go on adventure from time to time, dead after a few weeks. The coronation scene does not seem to imply it was very long after the battle, though that's more of an educated guess.
Aside from that circumstantial scene, there is no evidence that Merlin actually returned (I cannot remember him being present in the coronation scene) but there is no evidence he didn't either. He could very well have returned, advised Gwen until she died and only then started wandering about. He could have gone tripping around Europe (or Bermuda), he could have hibernated, ... . There is nothing in the series that tells what goes on between Arthur's dead and the modern wanderer except from that coronation scene.
I doubt the kingdom was taken over... after all their only known enemy at the time was Morganas and her army, most of her army were commanded by fear, nothing more. Also Merlin would have wanted to help Camelot if it were taken over as we helped Arthur to build Camelot and he still has close friends their like: Guinavire, Gauise, Leon, Perciville ect. I do think he returned to Camelot, he was Gauises age in the last scene and he's immortal. Merlin was set in Medieval times so he probably stayed in Camelot until he lost everybody he cared for. The last scene is Merlin back at the Lake of Avalon in modern day which could have been 1000s of years later, Camelot may of not even existed in Modern day. We'll never know as this is just a theory but we can tell quiet easily that the time gap is very large between the announcement of Arthurs death and the ending.