After 16 years and 193 issues, Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard’s The Walking Dead is coming to an end… tomorrow. No final arc, no big lead-up, no big press tour, it’s just ending. What’s the opposite of a Beyoncé-drop? Because that’s probably what this is.
This news comes from The Hollywood Reporter, which says tomorrow’s issue #193 will be an “extra-sized edition that plays out as a sprawling epilogue to Rick Grimes’ story,” following up on Rick’s surprising death in last month’s issue—bringing an end to the adventures of the former sheriff who had been the series’ main protagonist from the beginning. Interestingly, the news of The Walking Dead’s end comes after several upcoming issues had already been promoted, complete with fake cover art from Adlard, all in hopes of keeping this surprising finale a secret. Also, the final pages of the issue are taken up by a long essay that Kirkman wrote about the end of the series, in which he talks about how much he enjoys stories where you have no idea what’s coming and how you’re “stunned” when you realize you’ve gotten to the end. He wanted to capture something with this book, ending the saga without making fans feel like he was dragging things out unnecessarily.
As for what happens in the final issue, we don’t really have any idea, but THR does. The site mentions that it features “one last tale about the world created in the image of Rick Grimes’ legacy.” So, even though Rick’s gone, his presence will still be felt in this first—and last—issue without him. Also, this is all especially interesting because of what’s been happening with AMC’s The Walking Dead TV show, which has already taken Rick off the table and has been struggling with declining ratings for years. That means the show won’t really be able to follow whatever Kirkman and Adlard are doing in tomorrow’s issue, unless it decides to just cancel the show—which seems unlikely, given its grand plans for the brand.