And suddenly, with issue #193, it was over.
After 16 years, almost 200 issues, and a bunch of on-screen adaptations and spin-offs, The Walking Dead has finally come to an end. On Tuesday, The Hollywood Reporter surprised fans by reporting that Wednesday’s issue, #193, was the very last one.
(Spoilers ahead for issues 192 and 193.)
Per THR, the last issue–which is in comic book stores now–picks up a few decades after the huge twist that concluded issue 192. Acting as more of an epilogue to the story, the issue follows Carl Grimes–now a married man with a family–living quietly on a farm, only to find himself being put on trial for killing a walker who escaped from a zombie freakshow run by Maggie and Glenn’s son, Hershel Rhee.
The issue comes with a long farewell letter from creator Robert Kirkman (published in full on THR), in which he explained his decision to wrap up the story this way and talked about his personal philosophy about endings and surprises:
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.
Some of the BEST episodes of Game of Thrones are when they’re structured in such a way and paced to perfection so your brain can’t tell if it’s been watching for 15 minutes or 50 minutes … and when the end comes … you’re STUNNED.
He also revealed that he knew what the comics’ final image–Carl reading a story about Rick to his daughter–would be since around 2013. The years in between were just spent figuring out, with artist Charlie Adlard, how to lead up to it.
Oddly, as unsure as I feel about ending the story, I feel confident in how I ended it. I’ve been building to this for years, and it does feel good to end on such a happy note. To know that everything these characters lived through meant something. To see that Michonne got to find her daughter, find peace with her life, and even have a grandchild… that feels good. That the world is fixed… and at peace, that in some ways it’s even better than before… that’s meaningful. And to see Carl in that rocking chair, reading happily to his daughter, to know that’s the life Rick wanted him to have… that makes me happy.
I hope it makes you happy, too. Even if you’re upset at not getting to spend time in this world anymore.
Kirkland signed off with a whole page of thank yous, as well as one final twist:
P.S. Negan Lives.