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Who Is The Person In The Iron Mask On The Walking Dead?

Contains spoilers for The Walking Dead season 10

The Walking Dead is known for its dramatic introductions, and its latest is keeping up with tradition.

The long-ago entrances of mysterious comic book favorites such as Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Jesus (Thomas Payne) were immensely gratifying, while the emergence of big bads like the bat-wielding Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and season 10's supreme skin-wearer Alpha (Samantha Morton) were downright spine chilling for fans. But the most recent character reveal on The Walking Dead is both one of its most exciting and most head-scratching in years.

No, it wasn't the pink-haired, bubbly wild card "Princess" Juanita Sanchez (Paola Lázaro) — though her explosive first adventure on season 10, episode 15, "The Tower," lived up to the comic fan favorite's hype. It wasn't even Maggie, whose long-teased Walking Dead return will need a bit of explaining after actress Lauren Cohan's departure on season 9. It's the currently nameless and faceless character in the promo for TWD's season 10-ender, "A Certain Doom." With the popular zombie drama's finale not happening as planned, the network was forced to make "The Tower" its last episode for the foreseeable future, postponing the iron-clad character's entrance with it. 

But that isn't stopping fans from speculating about the brief sequence of "the Iron Mask" in the episode 16 promo, seen alongside Aaron (Ross Marquand) and Alden (Callan McAuliffe) in the woods. As the clip shows, someone dressed in a grey hooded cloak and wielding serrated, sickle-like weapons approaches the two after they seemingly take a bunch of Whisperers down. The timing of the Iron-Mask's arrival — after the survivors were surrounded by Whisperers and someone with a gun on "The Tower" — signals the character is no one to mess with, good or bad.

Theories about who the iron mask character is

As is characteristic of the Walking Dead team, showrunner Angela Kang is remaining tight-lipped about the Iron Mask and the upcoming finale episode — a time when the series has often introduced game-changing characters. This fact, coupled with fans having no comics reference for the character, is fueling suspicion that whomever the person in the iron mask is, they're obviously important.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Kang did, however, promise viewers will "see more from the person in the iron mask," as well as other characters on the finale. "We'll see some more of the new characters as they're featured this season, and... the epic conflict we've been witnessing all season with the survivors and the Whisperers," she said. "And we'll see that Maggie is... We'll know what's happened with her and what that means for our group."

Kang's comments about Maggie and her discovery of the survivor's note in the episode 16 promo have some thinking she's behind the mask — but it feels more likely, or characteristic, that she'd be holding a gun like the one pointed at Aaron on "The Tower." 

Others have predicted that the person in the iron mask might be Negan, who may be wanting a redemption arc after turning on the Whisperers and killing Lydia's (Cassady McClincy) mother, Alpha. An iron mask isn't really Negan's style, though; compared to his barbed-wired-covered bat Lucille, a mask is pretty underwhelming.

A different fan theory suggests the new character's get-up is a variation on Morgan's (Lennie James) attire when he traveled to Alexandria. However, there's no impetus for his return to TWD, and his near-death cliffhanger on the season 5 finale of Fear the Walking Dead is keeping him plenty busy. 

The most compelling fan theory acknowledges how season 10's arcs seem to be inching the story closer to the ending that The Walking Dead comics co-creator Robert Kirkman crafted — and thus the introduction of a major, never-before-seen-on-screen character.

The Iron Mask could be setting up The Walking Dead's final arc

All new characters generate buzz on TWD, but the hype around this one comes both from how little can be gleaned about them and the timing of their arrival. Based on what is known, the character is likely original and perhaps tied to the Whisperers. Still, The Walking Dead hasn't always cast characters like their inked counterparts, and comics readers could already know the person behind the mask. At least some fans think so, with the frontrunner among adapted character theories focusing on a man named Mercer. Debuting in Kirkman's "New World Order" arc and featured until the comic's end, Mercer is a lead military officer in the Commonwealth, a nation-state of about 50,000 people and the closest thing the survivors have seen to a fully rebuilt society. 

In the comics, Mercer and his soldiers are armed with guns and wear standardized white armor that can cover their faces. The Iron Mask's fight style doesn't really match the military leader's, but who's to say the masked-character isn't a subordinate? While gear isn't a total match either, more camouflaged armor and hand-held weaponry could make sense in the universe. The Commonwealth army is focused on taking down various threats and includes the elimination of hordes — the very thing Alden and Aaron were facing at episode 15's end. Finally, while we haven't seen Commonwealth yet, we don't know where Maggie's been, and Eugene (Josh McDermitt) — who discovers the community in the comics — is clearly headed towards somewhere with Ezekiel (Khary Payton) and Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura) in the finale promo. 

With season 10 wrapping the Whisperer War arc and Gabriel's overtures about "others" who will save the survivors from Beta's horde serving as the finale promo narration, it's possible the Iron Mask is setting up The Walking Dead's end.