|This article is about the group of people who are descendants of ground survivors of the first nuclear apocalypse. You may be looking for the first inhabitants of the Ark who were also called the Grounders.|
|“||You think our ways are harsh, but that is how we survive.||”|
|— Commander Lexa|
The Grounders alive today are descendants of humans who survived the Nuclear Apocalypse in 2052. Their origins can be traced back to the Second Dawn defectors led by Callie Cadogan, who were able to reclaim the ground after the nuclear fallout thanks to Becca Franko's Nightblood serum. Since then, 12 Grounder Clans were established in the former territory of the Northeastern United States. After many years of in-fighting, the 12 Clans were united by Commander Lexa under her Coalition.
When the Delinquents first landed in their territory and burned a village to the ground, the Grounders retaliated and a conflict broke out. The Sky People wanted to seek peace and offered to help the Grounders cure the Reapers and defeat their common enemy, the Mountain Men. An alliance between the Grounders and the Sky People was thus formed to free their people from Mount Weather. The alliance was jeopardized however, when Lexa betrayed the Sky People by making a deal with the Mountain Men to ensure the Grounders' safety.
Despite continued tensions from both sides after the betrayal, the Sky People eventually joined Lexa's Coalition as the thirteenth clan so as to make peace with the Grounders. After the Final Conclave, the Grounders and the Sky People merged together into a single clan known as "Wonkru", effectively ending the hostility between both groups.
The Grounders are the Earth-born descendants of radiation-tolerant humans and doomsday preppers who survived the Nuclear Apocalypse that took place in 2052. Two years after the apocalypse, a group of Second Dawn defectors, led by Callie Cadogan, left the Second Dawn Bunker to reclaim the ground. These defectors were all inoculated with Becca Franko's Nightblood serum and thus resistant to radiation. Their goal was to find other apocalyptic survivors and turn them into Nightbloods so that humanity could once again live on the ground. Callie's group, and the other survivors they found, thus became the ancestors of the Grounders. Not much is known about their history on Earth after that, though at some point, twelve Grounder Clans were established and, after many years of fighting, were eventually united under the Coalition.
Although their ancestors were Nightbloods, very few Grounders have inherited this trait. According to Dante Wallace of the Mountain Men, the DNA of the offspring of the Grounders who survived on Earth outside Mount Weather evolved and adapted, making them immune to the radiation that lingers on Earth, much like the people from the Ark (who were immune through exposure to solar radiation in space). However, the highest levels of radiation will still kill them, as was the case with the Second Nuclear Apocalypse.
- Main article: Body Count
It is unknown how many Grounders are in the area. There are 12 Clans as well as an unknown number of nomadic Grounders. Altogether, they have the highest population count by far of the residents in the Tondc-Mount Weather area, with a combined army numbering in the thousands (Azgeda alone had over a thousand warriors).
Beyond the Northeastern United States region, there are also Grounders present in Egypt and possibly elsewhere. However, they are wiped out by the Second Nuclear Apocalypse.
In "Long Into an Abyss", Lexa confirms that Clarke burned three hundred of her warriors in "We Are Grounders (Part 2)". In "Human Trials", Finn massacres 18 villagers in Tondc. In "Rubicon," Cage Wallace sends a missile to Tondc, killing 250 Grounders and Sky People. In "Hakeldama", Charles Pike, Bellamy Blake, Hannah Green, and the rest of Farm Station massacre 300 sleeping warriors.
In "Heavy Lies the Crown", Clarke has a list of locations with their populations including Arkadia and Polis. Polis has 4000 people, Arkadia has 500, and Tondc has 300. There were several other locations on the list with their approximate populations.
After the Second Nuclear Apocalypse, the population of Grounders was reduced to approximately 1,104: 1,101 in the Second Dawn Bunker as part of Wonkru, two in space as part of Spacekru, and Madi in the Shallow Valley. By the end of the fifth season, Wonkru had 365 of its original members left, thus averaging 30 members for each of their twelve clans (eleven Grounder clans and Skaikru). The exact population numbers for each clan are unknown.
Upon the human race achieving transcendence in "The Last War", there are only 14 humans left in the universe, 5 of whom are Grounders. The 5 remaining Grounders are Indra, Echo, Emori, Niylah, and Gaia.
Every village within a clan has a leader, as in the case of Indra, the Chief of Tondc, who have earned their place at the top through acts of strength and ferocity and through mentorship from previous leaders. Every clan also has a leader who follows the Commander. The clans choose their leaders differently, but most are chosen after the previous leader has died.
Children are trained from a young age to become warriors and are taught English and trained to fight. If a child is born with a mutation, they are cast out and abandoned. This action is believed to erase the stain from the bloodline. Some Grounders go against their people’s beliefs, however, choosing their family over their clan (as in the case of Zoran and his family).
Warriors have often been shown in some type of armor made out of a variety of materials such as: bone, leather, cloth, and animal furs. They often wear masks or helmets made out of bone and wood. Many wear war paint on their face and body when going into battle. Many members appear to have tattoos on their faces and/or body.
Warriors fight with a variety of weapons: swords, daggers, spears, bows, and fists. Many members are skilled in hand-to-hand combat. They do not use guns as it is believed that if a Grounder picks up a gun, Mount Weather will wipe them out. However, they found way to make use of natural elements to wage chemical and biological warfare.
In Grounder culture, there are some beliefs and superstitions that come along with killing and surviving. It is believed that you gain power from the soul that you take away. After the first kill is made, the member is honored by receiving a mark on their shoulder or chest. Every mark signifies a person the warrior has killed. Oftentimes these markings look like welts on the skin as if burned.
They are willing to negotiate peace deals as seen in the formation of the Coalition of the 12 Clans, the alliance with the Sky People, and the truce with the Mountain Men.
- Main article: Trigedasleng
Trigedasleng is the native language of the Grounders, spoken by most if not all Grounder clans. Grounders from various clans including Trikru, Azgeda, Floukru, Trishanakru, Louwoda Kliron and Sangedakru, as well as the Nomadic Grounders, have all been shown to speak Trigedasleng, though different dialects among the clans do exist.
Typically, only the Warriors speak English (Gonasleng), which makes them bilingual.
- Main article: A.L.I.E. 2.0
The Grounder faith centers on the Flame. The highest-ranking Grounder is traditionally the Commander a.k.a. the bearer of the Flame. Even when there is no Commander, many Grounders still remain loyal to the Flame.
- Main article: Flamekeepers
The Flamekeepers are a group of Grounders who act as spiritual members, teachers and guides to the Commander. They are tasked with protecting the Flame.
- Main article: Nightblood
Nightbloods, also known as Natblida, are Grounders with black blood. When a Nightblood child is discovered, they are meant to be sent to Polis to begin training for the Conclave in hopes of one day ascending to become the next Commander.
- Main article: Grounders/Crime and Punishment
Capital punishment in the form of Death by a Thousand Cuts occurs when every single member of the clan takes a turn cutting the convicted before feeding them to the bugs. For more egregious crimes, they start with fire and take the hands, tongue, and eyes. Everyone gets a turn with the knife before the Commander ends it with the sword if the person is still alive by then.
When a Grounder leader's strength is in doubt, they can be challenged to a single combat duel, also known as solo gonplei. When Lexa's leadership was brought into question, she was challenged to a single combat duel by Queen Nia. Indra had to defeat Knight in single combat before Wonkru were willing to follow her. Later, when Sheidheda tries to take control of Wonkru from Indra, Indra tells him to honor the single combat tradition.
The Grounders live in the ruins of a great civilization, but they have fallen far from the heights just before the Nuclear Apocalypse. Grounders live in scattered villages, farming, hunting, and gathering. They use muscle-powered weapons like bows, spears, and swords ground from scrap metal; they ride horses; and their healers use herbs and poultices rather than modern medical techniques, but their weapons, transportation, and healing are all remarkably effective.
- Main article: Grounder Names
Grounder names for places and people are often derived from the names of earlier locations or landmarks that have had their names weathered away in parts from associated signage. For example, Indra is the leader of TonDC, a derivation of Washington, DC, and Polis, the capital city of the Coalition, is named after the space station Polaris. Lincoln is named after the presidential memorial, while Lexa and Ontari are named after the city of Alexandria and the province of Ontario, respectively.
Since the Grounders do not use last names, their clan name is used instead. Lexa's full name, for example, can be considered to be Leksa kom Trikru ("Lexa of the Woods Clan" in Trigedasleng). Clan names appear to be geographically derived, although Trikru's name is, at least in part, based on the pre-apocalypse group Tree Crew.
- Main article: Coalition
The Coalition or Kongeda (Trigedasleng) is the collective name for the twelve clans who reside in the Tondc-Mount Weather area and the Eastern United States. After years of fighting, Commander Lexa was able to persuade Azgeda into joining the Coalition, uniting all twelve clans.
Each clan has its own chief and is made up of multiple villages scattered throughout the Eastern Seaboard. Each clan also has its own ambassador to the Coalition, who represents the clan's interests before the whole.
Below is the list of known Clans:
Nomadic Grounders, also known as Wastelanders or Frikdreina, are Grounders who have no clan because they or a family member may have been seen as a "stain on the bloodline" due to birth defects and cast out. So far, they seem to inhabit the Dead Zone with some of them on their way to the City of Light in search of a safe haven. As of Praimfaya, the fate of all nomadic Grounders (except Emori) is still unknown, due to the Second Nuclear Apocalypse.
Notes and Trivia
- Jason Rothenberg stated that there are multiple groups of Grounders in the show; Water Grounders, Ice Grounders, Boat Grounders, and Mountain Grounders.
- The Ice Grounders are the Ice Nation and the Boat Grounders are the Boat People.
- Some Grounders, such as the Nomadic Grounders, are not included in this list
- Jason confirmed the names and symbols of all 12 Grounder Clans in the Coalition.
- As of "Remember Me", it is confirmed that there are twelve Grounder Clans.
- Grounders fear both the Reapers and the Mountain Men.
- The Mountain Men used Grounders to turn them into Reapers.
- The marks on their shoulders/chests serve as a tally for their number of kills in battle. Each scar equals 1 kill.
- The first Grounder on screen first appeared in "Earth Skills".
- As of "Praimfaya", there are approximately 1,104 Grounders alive. This counts Emori, Echo, and Madi, who are outside of the Second Dawn Bunker and Niylah who took one of the Skaikru spots within the bunker.
- As revealed in "Anaconda", the Grounders is founded by Callie Cadogan and some of the Second Dawn members who left the bunker.
- Rothenberg, Jason (16 Aug 2015) Tweet - @JRothenbergTV
- Aaron Ginsburg tumblr, 2/27/2015
- Jason_Rothenberg twitter, 16 Jun 2015
- Jason_Rothenberg twitter, 16 Aug 2015
- Season 3: Interview with Adina Porter, January 20, 2016
- Kira Snyder, tumblr, 2015
- Aaron Ginsburg tumblr, 01/31/2016