Walking Dead comic ending

The Walking Dead will live on in the form of TV shows, spin-offs, and movies for a while yet, but Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard‘s comic book that started it all has come to a dramatic surprise end. The ongoing series, which had been published regularly since 2003, ends tomorrow with issue #193, a lengthy wrap-up in the wake of a jaw-dropping development in the story. Read Kirkman’s explanation for why he decided to end the comic, but beware: there are spoilers ahead.

The Walking Dead is dead. After the surprise death of protagonist Rick Grimes in the previous issue, The Hollywood Reporter says that Kirkman, and his Skybound Entertainment went as far as to solicit cover art for future issues of the comic that don’t even exist in an effort to keep anyone from discovering the true intention of bringing the series to a shocking conclusion.

THR also brings an excerpt of Kirkman’s comments from the final pages of the final issue, in which he explains the decision to end this story once and for all:

“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. Some of the best episodes of Game of Thrones are when they’re structured in such a way and paced to perfection so your brain can’t tell if it’s been watching for 15 minutes or 50 minutes … and when the end comes … you’re stunned.

“I love long movies for that very reason. You lose track of time because you went in convinced that you’re going to be there for a long time, but the story moves at such an entertaining and engaging pace that by the time the movie’s wrapping up … you can’t believe it’s already over. Surprise, it’s over! All I’ve ever done, all a creator can really do … is tailor-make stories to entertain themselves, and hope the audience feels the same way.

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 … from Shane all the way to Rick.”

Much has been written about Rick Grimes’ arc on the show, and we know that character and actor Andrew Lincoln will be returning to this world for three Walking Dead movies. The AMC TV show continues to trudge forward without him (it’ll be losing one of its most valuable characters soon), Fear the Walking Dead also keeps shambling onward, and yet another TV spin-off is in the works, aiming for a 2020 debut. There’s plenty of material for the mothership show to draw from before it comes to an end, but Kirkman’s surprise ending of his long-running book is one of the most shocking things to hit the comic world in recent memory.

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