The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus Says Book’s Ending Was like a Sudden Death

The Walking Dead star Norman Reedus says creator Robert Kirkman ending his comic book without warning was “kind of a shocker.”

“I think we’re all kind of in shock that it happened. It just seems like, I mean there was so much source material, that it would go on forever,” Reedus told the Los Angeles Times. “And then to end it was kind of a shocker. I remember there was a character named Axel (Lew Temple), I think Season 3, that was talking to Carol (Melissa McBride), and mid-conversation he just got shot. It was one of my favorite deaths, because it was not telegraphed at all.”

Kirkman and Image Comics published fake solicitations to preserve the secrecy of the book’s unannounced final issue, July’s #193, a maneuver that kept the ending under wraps until two days before release.

“It’s so hard these days to keep a secret,” added Yumiko star Eleanor Matsuura. “It’s hard to shock people, so I think when someone pulls something like that, I’m pretty impressed.”

Jerry star Cooper Andrews admitted the news caught him off guard, but when it happened, “I was like, ‘That makes sense. I didn’t see that coming at all.’ But [Kirkman] would, he would do that.”

“It is kind of very Kirkman, in hindsight,” said Negan star Jeffrey Dean Morgan. “It’s like, ‘Of course.’”

In a letter ending his final issue, Kirkman said the lack of an announcement was born of a desire to give the series the same surprise ending he’d given to so many characters across the book’s near 16-year history.

“Well... personally... 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,” Kirkman wrote.

Kirkman also hoped to recreate the surprise of Game of Thrones, which often kept viewers on unsteady footing.

“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. That’s all I’ve ever been doing... and it seems to work most of the time,” Kirkman continued.

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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.”

The Walking Dead Season 10 premieres Sunday, October 6 on AMC.

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