With a new story arc on the horizon for The Walking Dead, the comic series may be setting the stage for Rick's death.
Spoilers for The Walking Dead comics follow!
In issue #175, The Walking Dead shocked its readers by introducing the New World Order storyline. Not only was a new group introduced in the form of the Commonwealth, a well-established bunch who appear ready to dispatch any threats, but they are thriving with more than 50,000 people populating their streets.
Rick Grimes, the leader of Alexandria and an influence on the communities around it, would have trouble retaining his leadership role in such a location. Given his recent emotional dilemmas and outright stating he does not want to lead anymore, it's unlikely the book would keep him around in the form of a secondary character.
Is the remedy to making Rick a random citizen of the Commonwealth killing him? Probably not -- at least, not right now.
For years, The Walking Dead fans have argued whether or not the story is actually Rick or Carl's. If the torch is going to be passed on to Carl, Rick will likely be around to help him emerge as the leader and/or representative of the communities as they integrate with the Commonwealth's governing body. That's not to say Rick won't die eventually -- he will -- but on the heels of defeating Negan, then defeating the Whisperers, and then losing Andrea, Rick will hopefully rise back to power and form before he bows out.
"I’ve said before, Rick does not survive to the end. It was years ago so you guys probably forgot but I foresee there being more story after his eventual demise," The Walking Dead writer and creator Robert Kirkman said at San Diego Comic Con in 2017. "I think about two or three years ago, I had a pretty good idea for a definitive ending. I have known that since then and been working towards that, so I know exactly where I'm going and what's gonna happen when I get there."
The New World Order could be the beginning of that endgame planned by Kirkman but 15 years into the never-ending zombie drama, that ending is still probably years away.
As for Rick, it's safe to say the character could go at any time. The New World Order, however, would be a very unfortunate time to see the character go. He has been eager to see the world rebuilt and may have that vision realized when stumbling upon the new group. In fact, rather than integrate into the Commonwealth, why not use their resources to build Alexandria into a similar location?
New issues of The Walking Dead publish monthly. The New World Order story arc is set to play out across six issues of The Walking Dead with the next installment, issue #176, set to release in February. The Walking Dead TV series returns for the second half of its eighth season on February 25, 2018 on AMC. For complete coverage and insider info all year long, follow @BrandonDavisBD on Twitter.