Just when fans started to feel like some of their favorite characters were safe within the world of The Walking Dead, they were reminded of how very wrong they are.
Issue #167 of The Walking Dead comics killed off a fan-favorite character who had been with the series since its earliest issues. It was a harsh reminded of the dangers constantly lurking within the zombie apocalypse which many of the characters, readers, and watchers of the TV show have learned to underestimate as dispatching threats has become a more simple and routine task.
Major spoilers for The Walking Dead's shocking death follow. If you have not yet read issue #167 of Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard's comic, stop now. The issue is available today at your local comic book shop.
The Walking Dead issue #167 killed of Rick's long time girlfriend, Carl's adoptive mother, an overall very strong woman: Andrea.
In issue #165, Andrea was bitten by a walker when she saved Eugene from a herd which had surrounded him. In an effort to protect Alexandria, Andrea elected to continue directing the herd to a cliff which tossed them into the ocean before returning to the Safe-Zone.
Upon arrival, Andrea revealed the bite mark on her neck to Rick and collapsed. It was issue #167 which saw Andrea's still-alive funeral as each character entered her room (including Negan) to pay their respects to the woman who helped lead them to this new world.
Just before the issue had ended, a tearful Rick Grimes had to drive a knife into Andrea's head to stop her reanimated form from biting him.
Before the Letter Hacks section of the issue, The Walking Dead's writer/creator Robert Kirkman took a full page to write a letter to fans about the death of Andrea. Killing the character was as hard on him as anyone else.
"I’m sorry," Kirkman wrote. I’m sorry to my fans and to myself and to Andrea. I feel like I killed a close friend. The deaths in this series are never taken lightly, they’re never done with a sense of glee. They weigh on me the same way they weigh on you. These characters are very real to me, and their deaths are upsetting even to me."
The writer has addressed character deaths in a number of ways before, including responding to a letter from Glenn actor Steven Yeun in the Letter Hacks section of an issue which followed Negan's brutal introduction. Never, though, has Kirkman gone to these depths to address a death.
As the mastermind behind the series, the fate of each character is Kirkman's to decide. Killing Andrea was hard on the writer.
"I plotted this issue out during a plane ride a few months ago," Kirkman wrote. "I plot my stories down with a pencil and paper, and there I was in my seat, blocking out scenes and writing dialogue notes, surrounded by strangers who probably thought I was jotting down a shopping list. As I was writing some of the moments from this issue, I started crying. I found myself glancing around, wiping my eyes, hoping no one would notice. I’ve been living with this death for months now... and I don’t like it.
"I had plenty of time to change my mind. I had plenty of time to just not do it. I am in control of this story after all. But honestly, sometimes it feels like I’m not. This was one of those times. I don’t like this. I don’t want this. I want Andrea to live. I want to write more stories with her. I want to see her and Rick grow old together, watching Carl grow up and have kids of his own. I want that kind of happiness for these characters."
The Walking Dead has a long list of beloved characters who are living only in our memories, at this point. It's something Andrea pointed out as she lay in bed dieing, citing the long list other dead names which she will join.
"And yet, here we are," Kirkman wrote.
"Andrea is dead and the story moves on," the writer said. "I don’t know why this had to happen... but I know it did. I know this is another important turning point in the life of this series. I know Andrea’s death will mean something, that it will resonate in the stories moving forward for years to come. But I still don’t like it. It still upsets me."
"I loved Andrea and I will truly miss her."
While Andrea has been long dead on The Walking Dead television series, her role is being filled out almost identically by another character.
On AMC's adaptation of The Walking Dead comics, it is Michonne who is filling in as the strong girlfriend of Rick Grimes. She has quickly become a mother figure for Carl. She has adopted the rifle skills Andrea has in the books and even portrayed the fake-out death where readers and character both thought Andrea fell from a ledge after fighting a Savior in the Season 7 finale. Of course, it was revealed that the real victim was one of the bad guys and both Andrea in the comics and Michonne on television survived the moment.
For this death to applied to Michonne on television, The Walking Dead would have to carry out at least three more seasons. At a rate of about 20 issues per season, the AMC series has reached an equivalent point of issue #116 -- the beginning of All Out War. Should the pace continue with the comics being accurately adapted, Michonne would be killed off like Andrea was in Season 10 or Season 11.
MORE WALKING DEAD: Negan's Backstory Reveals Completely Different Character / TWD Star Quits Social Media After Death Threats / TWD Showrunner Joins FTWD / TWD F-Take Clips With Rick And Daryl / Major Criticism Fixed For Season 8 / TWD Casting Two New Characters
The Walking Dead will return for its eighth season in October of 2017. The first trailer is expected to arrive at San Diego Comic Con in July. For complete coverage and insider info all off-season long, follow @BrandonDavisBD on Twitter.