Spoilers for The Walking Dead will be found below.
For those who haven’t yet heard the news, Robert Kirkman abruptly ended his run of The Walking Dead comics this week, releasing the final issue, #193, and closing out his story after 16 years. The issue comes only one issue after Kirkman killed off his lead character, Rick Grimes, and Kirkman always said that Rick would die before the end of the comic run, he just didn’t say he’d die in the issue right before the end. Of course, Kirkman’s comic launched AMC’s The Walking Dead and now an entire universe of programming, including Fear the Walking Dead, a second spin-off, and forthcoming Rick Grimes movies.
The end of The Walking Dead comics does not mean the end of the television series, however. There’s still plenty of gas left in that tank, as the wider connected universe is only now coming together. I’ll give comic readers (including myself) more time to digest the final issue of the comics before discussing how it ended, but in the letter hacks of the issue, Robert Kirkman did reveal the original ending he originally had in mind for The Walking Dead. It is both clever and bleak, and while I appreciate the idea in theory, I’m glad he didn’t execute it.
Here’s what he wrote in a special letter in the final issue (via IGN):