Asked if series lead Rick Grimes will ever die, Kirkman offered a nonchalant "Yeah, of course."
Asked who will take the lead after that happens, Kirkman was less sure.
"Well, that's a question, right? Who knows?" he said. "Maybe it’s a character that hasn’t been introduced yet. Maybe it’ll be Judith, who knows."
Fans used to consider Rick Grimes and committed leading man Andrew Lincoln as being untouchable, but the series' recent events — Rick's son, Carl (Chandler Riggs), is the next to die — have disrupted the concept of "safe" in The Walking Dead.
Riggs, opening up about his departure from the show, fueled speculation his TV dad could be on his own way out.
Admitting to The Hollywood Reporter Rick's death is "possible," Riggs acknowledged he "[hasn't] talked to [Lincoln] much" about exiting the series.
"But I know that he has a family that he leaves every year to come to Georgia for months and months to film The Walking Dead, leaving his kids back home in England," Riggs said. "I know he's probably getting pretty tired."
Lincoln told THR he's "not at liberty" to say if Rick would soon die, but noted "there deserves to be an end point" for the series.
"There needs to be an end game and that is something that is definitely being talked about," Lincoln said. "I can't get into all of that. But all of that will be answered."
The longtime Walking Dead star shared the same point in an interview with the Daily News, saying it's "a lot of time to invest in a story without some kind of resolution."
If Rick had to die, Lincoln explained, he would be game for the development — as shocking as it may be.
“If I was watching it I would want some answers, something, and if that means the demise of a central character or a principal character, then I’m willing to take the medicine," he said.
Still, Lincoln clarified, his relationship with the character is "far from over."0comments
Lincoln and Norman Reedus, who plays right hand man Daryl Dixon, recently entered contract renewal negotiations with AMC following the expiration of their contracts with the end of season 8. Both stars are expected to return for season 9.
The Walking Dead returns to AMC Sunday, February 25.