After 16 years and 193 issues, Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead comics — the foundation for nine seasons of AMC’s television series — have concluded their run with an issue that was surprising not in the way it ended but in Robert Kirkman’s decision to end it so abruptly. The end of the comic series is not expected to affect the television universe, which will continue likely beyond Kirkman’s source material, although it is possible that whoever is running the series when it finally comes to an end will ultimately choose the same conclusion.
If I were grading the ending of The Walking Dead as a series finale, I’d probably give it a B or B-. It’s not particularly exciting, twisty, or shocking, but it does in many ways feel right. Honestly, I feel as though the entire ending was rushed, as though Kirkman had written himself in the corner and decided simply to bring it to a close. There was a lot of possibility contained within The Commonwealth — a civilized community of about 50,000 people with its own military and sporting venues that divided itself in classes — that Kirkman opted against exploring more deeply. Instead, he decided to use it basically as a tool to kill off Rick Grimes in something of an anticlimactic fashion. His death wasn’t that interesting, and his shooter was a “nothing” character, but not so nothing that there was poetic justice in it, like that character killed off at the end of The Wire.
The final episode, honestly, was more like an epilogue to Rick’s death than a new adventure. Set a decade (or more) into the future, it sees childhood friends Carl and Sophia (both of whom are not dead in the comics, but there were killed off on the TV show) as a married couple. They have a daughter named Andrea. Eugene is working on a railroad. Aaron and Jesus are still together. Negan is still out there, somewhere. Maggie is the new President of the Alexandria Safe-Zone, and humanity has made it, more or less. No cure for the virus was ever found, but the zombies themselves do not pose a threat.