Like the walkers who populate the show, The Walking Dead continues to shuffle forward into the zombie apocalypse, hungrily clawing at ratings with seemingly no end in sight. In fact, show runner Scott M. Gimple aims to keep the show alive for at least 20 seasons, continuing the vision of a never-ending zombie apocalypse first realised by creator Robert Kirkman in The Walking Dead comics.
However, now that the ratings are decaying more than ever and Kirkman has revealed that the original comic book will shortly end, fans have begun to wonder whether Rick Grimes and his fellow survivors will cure the zombie virus once and for all. Unfortunately for diehard fans, it seems that all dead things must come to an end, but will our favorite characters retire happily or end up taking a bullet to the head?
Here's how actor Andrew Lincoln envisions the last moments of Rick Grimes on the show:
There's No Cure In Sight
Back in the Season 1 finale, The Walking Dead touched upon the origins of the zombie virus during an episode titled TS-19, where a CDC doctor named Edwin Jenner offered a limited explanation of the science behind the outbreak. Since then, Rick and his merry band have done little to investigate a potential cure, aside from that time Eugene Porter pretended to be a scientist who lied about the possibility of salvation in Washington DC.
Anyone hoping that a more authentic virologist could join the survivors in Alexandria are all out of luck though. During a panel at San Diego Comic Con, series creator Robert Kirkman revealed that the zombie virus will never be explained or cured in future seasons of The Walking Dead;
“When we get questions like these [about a cure], we like to not be as definitive as possible because we don’t want to reveal anything. But the answers are ‘no’ and ‘no’."
According to Kirkman, there are two reasons why explanations for the zombie virus will be left buried on the show;
“One, because it’s been done on a lot of other zombie stories. And two, because you know it’s kind of a mythology-breaking proposition. You don’t want that kind of thing as far as somebody being immune."
While it may be somewhat unrealistic that the survivors would give up hope for a cure and resign themselves to their dystopian fate, it's commendable that The Walking Dead strives to focus on its stars instead of the walkers virus, helping it to stand apart from other zombie stories. Besides, the walkers have been relegated to the sidelines for quite some time now anyway, pushed aside in favor of human threats such as Negan and the Governor.
Kirkman touches upon this focus in his explanation at SDCC, arguing that The Walking Dead is about real people and not the typical scientists or action heroes who populate the genre;
“But as far as actually trying to solve the thing, I’ve always thought that one of the best things about this show is that it’s not about scientists and it’s not about people that would take that on as a task – because I feel like that’s unrelatable. I think if there were a zombie apocalypse, I don’t know that there’s maybe five people in this room that would have that job. To go off and try to solve this would be a boring show, so definitely not."
If a cure isn't on the cards then, how exactly will The Walking Dead end once the novelty of hearing Rick scream "Caaarl" finally wears off?
The Walking Dead Will End With... Old Man Carl?
One particularly intriguing fan theory suggests that The Walking Dead is actually being told from Carls perspective in the future as he recalls how the outbreak started in his youth. Events that didn't occur in Carl's presence could have simply been relayed to him by his friends at a later date, filling in the gaps of his story. While there are still a few holes in this theory that bear considering, ending The Walking Dead with Old Man Carl would be a fitting way to continue the legacy of his father, Rick Grimes, who has been the focal point of the show from day one.
The Walking Dead Will End With... Zombies Evolving?
The legacy of filmmaker George A. Romero is felt throughout each season of The Walking Dead, using many of the zombie tropes that the acclaimed director invented in Night of the Living Dead. In his influential series of zombie films, Romero charted the evolution of the undead as their intelligence continues to develop with each subsequent movie. Who's to say that this won't happen as The Walking Dead shambles through it's proposed 20 seasons? If that's the case, then the show could end on a tragic note as the last vestiges of humanity finally succumb to the zombie threat.
The Walking Dead Will End With... Human Extinction?
Even if the walkers don't evolve though, their numbers continue to grow with each death. At the end of the day, there are far more walkers roaming around than humans and the birth rate simply can't keep up with the inevitable resurrection of each corpse. It's simple mathematics. As if that wasn't scary enough, resources are slowly dwindling too, and yes, while there are communities who strive to farm new food sources, starvation would be the kind of depressingly realistic end that The Walking Dead is known for.
The Walking Dead Will End With... Rick Waking Up From His Coma?
Following the debut of grey-haired Rick Grimes in the SDCC trailer for Season 8, talk of the somewhat ridiculous 'coma' theory has returned, suggesting that the entire show is actually taking place in Rick's mind while he lies in a hospital bed, dreaming of a zombie apocalypse. Of course, it's far more likely that the trailer is instead alluding to a time jump, which would explain why the hero of The Walking Dead has become a silver fox between seasons — especially as Kirkman has ruled this theory out numerous times.
The Walking Dead Will End With... Utopia?
Sure, survivors from both The Walking Dead and Fear The Walking Dead have racked up some steps in their time, traversing across America in search of safe haven, but the reality is that we still don't know how the rest of the world is dealing with the apocalypse as a whole. Although the situation doesn't look great over at Alexandria, it's more than likely that at least one community in the world has managed to build a genuine utopia cut off from the mayhem of the outbreak.
During a recent episode of WTF with Marc Maron, creator Robert Kirkman confirmed that he would like to end The Walking Dead on a positive note, suggesting that safety is within reach;
"I do hope that The Walking Dead goes on long enough that when it ends, they’re like, ‘Good thing we took care of those zombies.’…I see the story from beginning to end, over many, many years, and so I think it’s a very hopeful story about humanity overcoming this insurmountable apocalyptic situation. It’s just going to take them a long time to do it."
Despite the dystopian nature of the genre, ending The Walking Dead like this would actually make a lot of sense. After all, as each season passes by, our survivors are becoming more and more skilled at survival in this harsh, new world. By Season 20, Rick Grimes will essentially be The Terminator in human form, assuming of course that he lives to see the show out to its conclusion.
Whatever happens though, it's reassuring to hear that at least some of our beloved characters will find salvation. They've just got to survive all-out war in Season 8 first.
How will The Walking Dead TV show end? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!
Fear the Walking Dead returns on September 10 and Season 8 of The Walking Dead premieres on October 22.