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The Walking Dead Comics Are Shambling to a Surprise Ending Before They, Too, Overstay Their Welcome

Goodbye, Mr. Grimes.

rick grimes

I’ve joked on numerous occasions that The Walking Dead will outlive us all and be the last shambling corpse left in the world by the time it finally ends. I was wrong, at least about the comics. The Hollywood Reporter is now saying that tomorrow’s issue will conclude the series once and for all, with one final look at the legacy of Rick Grimes in one issue following his surprise death.

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The comics (and, ostensibly, the show, prior to the ninth season) have always been about Rick Grimes. He was our introduction into the endless zombie movie that was the world of The Walking Dead. While the show has survived Grimes’ departure—he’ll be the star of his own trilogy of TV movies following a surprise disappearance in season nine—the comics appear to not be able to shake the loss. Issue #193 is the end.

In a way, it’s bittersweet. The Walking Dead has been a pop culture mainstay for a long time, but the show has eclipsed the comics in terms of pop culture relevancy. AMC has built itself a zombie empire, with three scripted Walking Dead shows, a talk show called Talking Dead, video games, novels, and everything in between. Scott Gimple, former TWD showrunner, is now the creative head of the TWD franchise, which will expand into film, starting with the Rick Grimes trilogy.

But the comics will be going away. I drifted from the comics when it felt as though there was no end in sight; unlike endless superhero shenanigans, I needed some closure on the story of Rick and Carl. Zombie movies need an end, as do serialized drama stories. At some point, the endless cycle of “Rick and friends find a safe place, run into an Angry Villain, and then everyone dies” got tiring. Alexandria brought a needed reprieve, but when Negan kept cropping up, I found myself bored, so I abandoned the comics.

The now-penultimate issue of the comics ended with Carl Grimes, Rick’s son who came of age in the era of zombies, weeping and saying he can’t do it anymore as he escorts his father’s body back to Alexandria. I’ll wager a guess that The Walking Dead‘s final issue will track Carl’s life following his father’s loss and display how Carl embodies the legacy of Rick.

Rick was a remnant of the old world, while Carl is a child of the new one. Seeing Carl survive and move forward after losing his last family member (mother Lori and sister Judith died years before) would be a bittersweet yet improbably hopeful note for the series to end on. Which probably means they will not end it with Carl’s survival. That’s much too positive for The Walking Dead.

There’s something ironic about the ending of the comics focusing on Carl. After all, Rick’s son was offed rather abruptly sometime during the show’s eighth season, despite always having stood for the future beyond Rick. But the show has never shied away from taking iconic characters in the comics (RIP, Andrea and Tyrese) and giving them ignoble ends in favor of focusing on fan-favorite show-original character Daryl Dixon (who is an actual Gary Stu). I suppose that, when the show ends, it’ll focus on Daryl until those bitter final moments, just as the comics have lived and now died upon the fate of Rick Grimes.

Tomorrow, the final issue will be released, and we’ll see what ending creator Robert Kirkman and company have in store for Carl, Michonne, and the remaining characters. Right now, I find myself slightly shocked for the first time in a long time about the comics themselves. A surprise ending will do that to you, but any nostalgia I might have had for the comics before is still awash in a sea of neutral-to-annoyed feelings I have for the television series and the way it adapted the characters and grew into a gigantic monster that has overstayed any welcome it might have had.

Still, I might actually pick up the issue, if only to see what befalls Carl in these last few pages. For old times’ sake.

(via The Hollywood Reporter, image: AMC)

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Kate Gardner
Kate (they/them) says sorry a lot for someone who is not sorry about the amount of strongly held opinions they have. Raised on a steady diet of The West Wing and classic film, they are now a cosplayer who will fight you over issues of inclusion in media while also writing coffee shop AU fanfic for their favorite rare pairs.

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