Spoilers for The Walking Dead comics and Season 7 of the series
The seventh season trailer for The Walking Dead debuted at Comic-Con last Friday. The trailer ended with a post-credits scene, of sorts, that saw Andrew Lincoln’s Rick Grimes lying in bed, looking very old and yet strangely refreshed.
My first thought was was the same thought as many who have read the comics: The time jump is coming! But in the comics, the time jump is between two and five years, and the picture of Rick Grimes in the trailer seems to put him 10 or 15 years into the future. Or so I thought. So, I assumed it must be a dream sequence of some sort, right? Maybe, but that seems like a cheap gimmick. Could this be Rick waking up from the coma he was in at the beginning of the series and realizing that the entire zombie apocalypse was a dream.
No. Robert Kirkman denied that would ever happen in response to this very post from 2014.
So, it has to be the time jump, right? But why does Rick look so old in the image, I asked myself? Well, maybe he doesn’t look that old. As we can see from the top photo on this post (taken a few days ago), Andrew Lincoln’s beard is naturally grey despite his relatively young age, and from experience I can definitively say that beards that are that grey when they are short are even grayer as they grow out, and it has the effect of making someone who is 43 (like Lincoln is) look like a 53 year old Santa Claus. That’s Andrew Lincoln’s beard and a very bad haircut.
But in the comics, the time jump doesn’t come until after the All Out War, and no one expects showrunner Scott Gimple to end the All Out War until the seventh season finale, which obviously has not filmed yet. Production on the season is expected to run until November, as it has in previous seasons. So, why would they have filmed the time jump already?
The answer is obvious. Andrew Lincoln likely grew out the beard before the season started, and they shot the end of the season first, before asking Lincoln to shave his beard to prepare for the rest of the season.
How do we know for sure that it’s the time jump? The cane before the image of Rick Grimes with a full beard actually gives that away.
In the comics, at the very end of the upcoming All Out War, Negan falls on Rick and breaks his leg. The time jump occurs right after that, and we learn that Rick is using a cane because his leg never fully healed properly. We also learn that Rick begins to take a backseat role in Alexandria, which leaves room for Carl to become a bigger presence. Given the age that Carl Grimes is supposed to be right now (13 or 14), and the age of the actor who plays him (Chandler Riggs is 18), the time jump is necessary because Rick wouldn’t leave his 14 year old son in a leadership role in Alexandria.
Hopefully, a haircut for Chandler Riggs will also be necessary in upcoming seasons.