Both subjects have been brought up to Kirkman multiple times, in regards to both The Walking Dead comic book, and the AMC TV series. Even though time can change certain creative attitudes, Kirkman was pretty rigid in his assertion of how he views the ending of both Rick Grimes and the series as a whole.
As Kirkman told the crowd, the ending of The Walking Dead is "hundreds if not thousands of issues away," despite some of the "clickbait articles" which spawned from his comments at San Diego Comic Con. “I did not announce the end of The Walking Dead, I just know what the end will be."
The Walking Dead comic book was always designed to explore the long-term effects of living through the zombie apocalypse, as opposed to most works in the genre, which always treat the setting as a temporary outbreak (28 Days Later, World War Z), or kill off human survivors within a short amount of time (Dawn of the Dead).
However, even though the setting is meant to be a long term fixture, the cast of characters has never been guaranteed the same kind of longevity. Despite that fact, Rick Grimes has lived through some pretty brutal events in the comics - even more so than what Walking Dead TV series viewers are used to.
So how long can Rick's luck possibly last? According to Kirkman:
"No one is safe. Hopefully there have been points where you go, 'Is this it? Is this where Rick dies?' And he doesn't. One day, the moment will come where you go, 'Oh my god, it is!' ...It could happen any time between now and 50 years from now. 50 years, that's not gonna happen..."
We learned at NYCC that The Walking Dead is heading for a new storyline called "New World Order", which will introduce a new and well-equipped militaristic group, which we suspect will pose a big threat for Rick Grimes, Michonne, and the rest of the survivors of Alexandria, The Hilltop, and The Kingdom. It all begins in The Walking Dead issue #175, which hit stands in January.
The Walking Dead TV series returns for season 8 on October 22nd.