A popular Walking Dead theory was realized by a fan on Reddit using panels borrowed from The Walking Dead issue #1 and issue #192. Spoilers for TWD #192 follow.
But instead of his corpse reanimating into a walker that is later discovered and put down by son Carl, the fan edit shows Rick stirring awake with a gasp in a hospital bed — as he did in the second page of the comic book’s premiere issue after being shot in a police standoff.
The implication being the entirety of The Walking Dead, except for the first page of issue one, has been dreamed up by a comatose Rick.
[Comic 192 Spoiler] I edited some panels in the big 192 scene to match a popular fan theory. from r/thewalkingdead
“Yeah, that comes up from time to time. That would be a terrible story,” Kirkman said.
“I think that’s been done in a lot of things, but he is definitely not in a coma, I promise. Like, he’d wake up and Negan would be the plumber. He’d be like, ‘Oh, you were there. It was so weird.’ Yeah, that’d be awful. Judith is a ghost. Yeah, Rick is definitely not in a coma.”
Kirkman noted he denies the theory “every two years.”
“I have to come out and be like, ‘he’s not in a coma, everybody,’” he added. “And then that makes the press rounds, and people are like, ‘whew.’ Then two years pass, and they’re like, ‘is he in a coma?’”
Walking Dead chief content officer Scott Gimple, then acting as showrunner on the television series that starred Andrew Lincoln as Rick, similarly shot down the theory for the live-action TWD Universe.0comments
“He is not waking up from the coma,” Gimple said in a 2017 Walking Dead Preview Special after the Season 8 trailer showed Rick waking up in a bed, but showing signs of visible aging. “Old Man Rick,” as dream Rick came to be known, was later revealed to be part of an idyllic future envisioned by a dying Carl (Chandler Riggs).
“Robert’s dad saw the trailer and said, ‘People are gonna think he’s waking up from the coma,’” Gimple said. “No coma. It’s not a coma.”