The Walking Dead brand is pretty much known for its out-of-nowhere surprise deaths. No one is ever truly safe, at least in the comic where Hollywood contracts don’t guarantee survival for another season. Tomorrow Robert Kirkman’s apocalyptic tale will deliver the most surprising exit in the series’ history….its own. Issue #193, on sale July 3, is the final issue. Surprise!
No one knew this until The Hollywood Reporter broke the news this afternoon. Kirkman pulled off the abrupt ending by soliciting fake covers for future issues that wouldn’t actually exist. The move comes just after the shocking events of Issue #192, in which central character Rick Grimes was shot to death, greeting son Carl the next day in zombified form. (The TV series strongly hinted it was killing Rick, but instead kept him alive to star in future TV movies.)
In the Letter Hacks column at the end of the issue (and the series), Kirkman explains the motive behind his decision:
I hate knowing what’s coming. As a fan, I hate it when I realize I’m in the third act of a movie and the story is winding down. I hate that I can count commercial breaks and know I’m nearing the end of a TV show. I hate that you can feel when you’re getting to the end of a book, or a graphic novel…
The Walking Dead has always been built on surprise. Not knowing what’s going to happen when you turn the page, who’s going to die, how they’re going to die… it’s been essential to the success of this series. It’s been the lifeblood that’s been keeping it going all these years, keeping people engaged. It just felt wrong and against the very nature of this series not to make the actual end as surprising as all the big deaths.
It is very unlikely that AMC would ever follow Kirkman’s example and end their highly profitable flagship TV series, which has been pulling further and further away from the comic’s narrative anyway. The network recently admitted it’s pursuing a possible second spinoff for TWD.