Uproxx recently shed light on a troubling conspiracy theory put out by fans of The Walking Dead: What if the whole thing was Rick Grimes’ coma fever dream? What if the ending of the series is him either waking up or flatlining in the hospital with Carl, Lori, and Shane by his side, and the zombie apocalypse never happened?
However, as much time and speculation as fans have put into this as a possible ending, no one seems to actually want Kirkman to follow through with this story trope.
Fans have been tossing around this theory for years, on Reddit threads and even the official AMC website for the TV series (which also seems nowhere near ending). While it does have its perks—the Wizard of Oz notion of characters from the zombie reality existing in real life as Rick’s doctors or visitors—it would drastically undermine over a decade of storytelling.
It’s fun to flirt with the idea of pulling the rug out from under fans, like the Harry Potter theory that Harry dreamed up Hogwarts from his cupboard under the stairs, because it’s a shocking alternate reality. But when series actually commit to such an ending as canon, then you get the final season of Lost, and that’s no fun for anyone.
While Kirkman doesn’t seem to have commented on this specific theory, he did reveal in 2013 that he knows what the ending will be. In an interview with Rolling Stone last year, he said that he’s planning on doing this for the next 30 years, if they’ll let him:
If I don’t get bored and people are still enjoying the story, I can do 1,000 issues of The Walking Dead. So it is actually possible to tell a story that follows the collapse of civilization into the dark ages into the rebirth of civilization, where things are completely different. There could be an issue 700 of The Walking Dead that’s about people delivering mail. That is exciting to me.
Witnessing the rebirth of civilization doesn’t sound like Rick waking up from his coma, so that’s good. Kirkman also said that he’s already written the final scene, and that those plot details won’t fit into the TV show. We could feasibly see a TV ending matching the fan theories, while the comic book moves past that—the best of both worlds.