The Walking Dead’s CRM Explained (In Detail)

By Alix Blackburn

The CRM has appeared throughout The Walking Dead and its spinoffs, but Rick Grimes’ return in The Ones Who Live finally exposes the villainous group.

The Walking Dead's CRM Explained (In Detail)

Warning: spoilers ahead for The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live.



  • The CRM serves as the military arm of the Civic Republic, aiding in law enforcement and controlling civilians.
  • The Civic Republic is a powerful community with advanced resources, focused on restoring humanity with evil plans.
  • The CRM aims to restore civilization by manipulating events, eliminating the weak, and balancing humanity while keeping itself hidden.

The Walking Dead has introduced many survivor groups throughout its various TV shows, with the Civil Republic Military (CRM) being the largest and most recent addition. Audiences caught glimpses of the CRM in The Walking Dead and Fear The Walking Dead, but the villains appeared most prominently in The Walking Dead: World Beyond. Despite being the main antagonists of that particular Walking Dead spinoff, however, the CRM has remained an elusive entity, still keeping its origin, leader, and purpose largely obscured. Rick and Michonne's spinoff, The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live, finally brings the CRM to the forefront.

The Ones Who Live catches up with Rick Grimes following Andrew Lincoln's exit in The Walking Dead season 9. By this point, Rick has spent longer in the Civic Republic than he ever did in Alexandria, making the secretive community and its inhabitants central to the spinoff's plot. Many of the CRM-based secrets The Walking Dead has been keeping for the past six years begin to reveal themselves as Rick picks away at the organization's heroic veneer, finally giving viewers a proper explanation of what the Civic Republic and CRM actually are.

The CRM Is The Military Arm Of The Civic Republic

The Walking Dead: World Beyond gave audiences a detailed insight into the Civic Republic and its military wing, the CRM. Trained in ground and aerial combat, the CRM is responsible for defending the Civic Republic from threats, which means assisting with any incidents related to zombies and preventing other groups from attacking.

Simply put, the CRM serves as a military and law enforcement group within the Civic Republic, but is not the loyal guardian audiences might initially believe. The CRM's authoritative force controls residents by stopping them from leaving and secretly committing heinous acts in the name of the greater good. The CRM mainly consists of highly-trained soldiers packing a large arsenal of weapons, military experience, and other resources that set the Civic Republic apart as a community in The Walking Dead.

The CRM has access to a fleet of helicopters and trucks, and wields cutting-edge weaponry designed by its science division. This includes sonic weapons capable of manipulating herds and chlorine-based chemical weapons used to wipe out living survivors on a huge scale. The CRM's most important weapon, however, is secrecy. It protects the Civic Republic by hiding its existence at all costs.

How Big The Civic Republic Is & What Resources It Has


It's clear from The Walking Dead: World Beyond that the CRM is the largest community in the entire Walking Dead universe, with more than 200,000 residents located in a fortified city inside Philadelphia. The Civic Republic has spent years building this civilization in order to restore humanity and grant democratic power to those who have survived the outbreak. Following its formation, the Civic Republic established an alliance with two other locations: Portland and Omaha. With the Alliance of the Three, which is represented by the three rings in the CRM logo, the Civic Republic can gather more experts and allies to develop a cure and survive.

The Civic Republic Research Facility is a smaller outpost that is mainly used for scientific research, including experiments that are part of CRM's Project V. Along with the various communities that joined the CRM, there are plenty of resources to keep the Civic Republic thriving, such as military vehicles, fresh crops, medicine, weapons, and power. The Commonwealth comes very close to replicating ordinary life with its cake shops and wrestling shows, but is merely a functioning town compared to the fully-fledged city that is the Civic Republic, which offers TV stations, pilot training simulators, and countless modern conveniences.

The CRM Is Evil (But The Civic Republic Isn't)

The Walking Dead's CRM is evil, and its true intentions were shown when CRM soldiers destroyed Omaha and Campus Colony as part of a mass genocide. The CRM planned on destroying its allies from the start because it believed the other communities would eventually become a liability and drain resources. It's also possible that the CRM wanted The Walking Dead: World Beyond's Bennett family to help find a cure, so it destroyed their home back in Campus Colony. While these acts are unquestionably evil, they do not suggest the entire Civic Republic is part of the CRM's immoral scheming.

The CRM is in charge of the Civic Republic's protection and security, but does not govern the community itself. Instead, the Civic Republic is led by a democratically-elected council of representatives, but the CRM's complete independence and lack of oversight has allowed it to commit dark deeds without the wider Civic Republic finding out. As confirmed in both The Walking Dead: World Beyond and the newspaper headline in The Ones Who Live's opening titles, a political struggle between the Civic Republic's council and the CRM is underway, with the former wanting to curtail the latter's lack of accountability.

How The CRM Started In The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead's CRM Explained (In Detail)

One of the most pressing unanswered questions surrounding The Walking Dead's CRM has been how the group was actually founded, and this is finally explained in The Ones Who Live episode 1. During a conversation with Rick Grimes, Major General Beale confirms that the CRM was originally the Pennsylvania National Guard. The state was scheduled to be bombed with napalm as part of Operation Cobalt, but The Ones Who Live character Okafor rebelled, wiping out the bombers instead. Okafor and any military remnants evidently then merged with Pennsylvania's National Guard and evolved into what ultimately became the Civic Republic and Civic Republic Military.

The fact that the Civic Republic started as a military outfit helps to explain why the community's government allows the CRM to act with total autonomy. If not for the likes of Beale and Okafor, the Civic Republic itself would not exist, which is likely why the population entertains the strict rules imposed by its military wing, as well as the undemocratic role it holds in the community's leadership structure.

The CRM's Consignees Explained (& Why Rick Grimes Is One)

The Walking Dead's CRM Explained (In Detail)

Predictably, the CRM stringently screens any potential new residents before letting them inside its walls. First, the CRM decides whether a survivor is an "A" or "B." An "A" survivor is a leader willing to die for their cause, whereas "B" survivors are happy as long as they're alive, and only the latter are considered to become Civic Republic citizens. After passing that test, candidates must endure a six-year stint as Civic Republic consignees, working various unpleasant jobs on the outskirts of the community in order to prove themselves loyal and willing. After six years of service, a consignee is finally granted proper residency.

As an "A" survivor, Rick Grimes would not typically be permitted to enter the Civic Republic's consignee program, but The Walking Dead's protagonist received a repreive from Lt. Col. Okafor. Unlike his superiors, Okafor sees the flaws in how the CRM operates, and believes strong-willed "A" recruits can change the organization for the better. Singling out Rick as the type of soldier he needed, Okafor ensured Rick was kept alive despite Alexandria's former leader breaking numerous CRM rules and launching several failed escape attempts.

Major General Beale: The CRM's Ranks & Structure Explained

The Walking Dead's CRM Explained (In Detail)

At the top of the CRM pyramid is Major General Beale, played by Terry O'Quinn. As the organization's top dog, Beale is across every dark deed the CRM commits, and wholly responsible for its philosophy of killing thousands to, theoretically, save millions. The Major General then has a small inner circle who are aware of the CRM's secret activities below him, and this includes officers of lieutenant colonel rank. Both The Walking Dead: World Beyond's Kublek and The Ones Who Live's Okafor occupy this rank, and both characters have been involved in assaulting other communities on the CRM's behalf.

How the remaining rank structure breaks down is unclear, but the CRM's thousands-strong hierarchy does include a special forces unit marked by a red stripe on their uniforms. These mysterious soldiers possess knowledge of the secrets that most soldiers remain blissfully unaware of. By the time The Ones Who Live catches up with him, Rick has ascended high enough to command small groups of soldiers, but not high enough to be told the inner workings of Major General Beale's plan.

The CRM's Aim Is To Restore Civilization

The CRM aims to restore civilization by building a community of professionals, such as scientists and engineers, to create a cure that will wipe out zombies completely. It has a dedicated research facility for immoral experiments on infected and non-infected humans, even though there are no clear signs these experiments are actually working. By giving the Earth back to humans, the CRM hopes to build back humanity better than it was before the outbreak, which could be miserable for those currently oppressed by the Civic Republic.

Alongside creating a cure, the CRM also hopes to eliminate potential threats and only protect those willing to follow its rules. These intentions were made obvious by The Walking Dead: World Beyond, when the CRM destroyed peaceful communities that contained innocent residents trying to survive with their loved ones. Restoring civilization sounds like a solid plan, but as World Beyond unraveled, audiences began to understand just how twisted the CRM can be when it comes to restoring humanity.

How Far The CRM's Influence Stretches In The Walking Dead

Audiences have witnessed the CRM in Fear the Walking Dead through the character Isabelle, a helicopter pilot who is part of the Civic Republic. She formed a romantic bond with Althea, and judging by her underlying fear of the military group, the CRM would waste no time hunting them both down and killing them for breaking the community's code of silence. Isabelle's story confirms the CRM's influence spreads across the entire United States — not just in Portland and Omaha, but also south toward Texas.

The Walking Dead has not yet confirmed whether the CRM operates beyond the United States. Given the organization's communication technology and access to helicopters, however, it would not be unreasonable to assume its influence stretches into other countries, and this was hinted at when Lt. Col Kublek referenced the zombie outbreak status outside the US in World Beyond. While the CRM did not play a role in Daryl Dixon's French story, the villainous Pouvoir Du Vivant group looked remarkably similar and was kidnapping survivors on US soil. It seems unlikely that the CRM would ignore this, implying a possible connection between the two dastardly factions.

The CRM Keeps Itself Hidden At All Costs

With such a large organization conducting immoral experiments and holding essential weapons and resources, the CRM does not want other communities knowing about its power. Keeping hidden means the CRM can continue its plans without the hassle of other groups interfering. Major General Beale also believes that secrecy is the only way to survive after The Walking Dead's zombie outbreak. Fending off zombies is one thing, but The Walking Dead has repeatedly proven that fellow survivors are usually the bigger threat.

The CRM avoids this problem primarily by hiding within the ruined city of Philadelphia, with no citizen permitted to leave. When CRM soldiers are spotted in the wild, they typically kill anyone who discovers what they are, as shown in Fear The Walking Dead. By prioritizing secrecy above all else, Major General Beale has kept the Civic Republic safe for a decade, but as Rick Grimes points out in The Ones Who Live episode 1, this comes at the steep price of taking away each individual's freedom.

Walking Dead Characters That Have Encountered The CRM

The Walking Dead's CRM Explained (In Detail)

Rick Grimes seems to be one of the few people who truly knows about the CRM and its plans after the group kidnapped him. Other characters from the main show have not encountered the CRM directly, although The Walking Dead season 11 did tease an as-yet-unconfirmed connection between the CRM and the Commonwealth's Lance Hornsby. The Walking Dead: World Beyond characters like Hope and Iris Bennet also have a strong link to the CRM, and are among the select few who are aware of the organization's evil true intentions.

Fear the Walking Dead 's survivors have experienced multiple encounters with CRM soldiers, in particular Maggie Grace's Althea. In later episodes, Morgan and Alicia were told by Isabelle that the CRM is bigger than all of them, meaning they too are aware of its existence. These interactions have built tension and mystery surrounding the CRM, making the villains even more exciting to explore in upcoming The Walking Dead spinoffs.

Release Date October 31, 2010 Cast Steven Yeun , Andrew Lincoln , Chandler Riggs , Laurie Holden , Jeffrey DeMunn , Sarah Wayne Callies , Melissa McBride , Norman Reedus , Jon Bernthal , Iron E. Singleton Seasons 11 Network AMC

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