In my last post, we looked at some fan theories that try to predict the progression of a story, but some are only interested in figuring out one part– the end. Whether you read the comic or watch the show, The Walking Dead is an amazingly gory story that still has a long way to go, but we all know that these zombies and characters can’t last forever. Fans of the story have been speculating the end from the very beginning, and more theories rise and fall as each chapter unfolds. It’s impossible to cover every theory associated with this story, but here are some that range from least likely to most plausible.
Believability: For reality’s sake, this theory appears to be the most logical and probably, but it is the least likely ending for the show. While this isn’t the case for every coma patient, many who have woken up from a coma recall dreams that vary from vague interactions to endless nightmares. That being said, Rick is realistically more likely to dream up a zombie apocalypse than he is to actually wake up in one.
As for the members of his group, these characters can either come from Rick’s imagination or the interactions he had during his coma. Lori, Shane, and Carl were already close to him, so they are likely to interact with Rick in this condition; meanwhile, characters such as Glen, Andrea, and Herschel could be doctors, nurses, patients, or other people found at a hospital. A thread from a Walking Dead forum also reveals how elements from the story can be incorporated into this theory, such as Lori being pregnant, Shane and Lori’s affair, and even Carol’s abusive relationship (she would unfortunately be categorized as a patent). The first episode even reveals Rick’s ability to remember certain interactions, so the entire story could honestly just be in his head.
While the realistic approach makes sense, this theory was completely shut down by the creator of this story. Robert Kirkman confirmed that Rick was not in a coma, so the zombie apocalypse is actually taking place in the story. One could argue that he could change his mind or that he’s trying to mislead the audience, but Kirkman’s attitude towards this theory has remained fairly consistent.
Either way, the story is better off if this theory is proven false. If Rick ends up waking up from his coma, the entire audience would be wondering “What was the point of that?” Different threads on the Walking Dead Forum offer their own interpretation of this theory, but they all agree this would be the worst ending for this story. This ending would have been easier to accept if the story was simpler; however, the show’s emphasis on human nature and morality would be completely pointless if none of the events actually took place.
Theory: Rick will die and turn into a zombie.
Believability: While Rick is destined to die, there is no telling if he’ll join the walkers, and it may not be the end of the story altogether. Rick has always been placed in life or death situation, but he might be more at risk against the Saviors because he is so desperate to defeat Negan. Even if this new threat doesn’t result in his death, it at least reveals how Rick is less and less likely to escape death.
In the comic, Rick trusts Dwight to infiltrate Negan’s ranks, but Dwight eventually betrays him and shoots an arrow in his back. As the story develops, we learn the Saviors contaminate their weapon with zombie intestines, ensuring anyone who is injured will be infected and die. While Dwight was disconnected from the rest of Negan’s group before they used this tactic, this does not completely eliminate the possibility of Rick being infected.
Although the show hasn’t reached that point in the story yet, Rick isn’t completely absolved from this fate. Just recently, a zombie covered in spiked armor attacked Rick and impaled his hand. While there was no bite, Rick opened himself up to the risk of becoming infected since the wound was so close the the source of the virus. Even if this specific wound doesn’t turn him into a zombie, Rick is becoming reckless, and his safety is no longer guaranteed.
Even if Rick doesn’t become a walker, Robert Kirkman already confirmed the character’s death, and he revealed that Rick’s death won’t come till the end of the story is near. This reassures fans that Rick’s death won’t come soon, and it might not even mean the end. While he is an essential character in the story, other characters such as Carl, Michonne, and Carol also drive the plot, so they, along with the story, might be able to continue without him. Still, if his death isn’t predicted to come until we are basically at the end of the series, the story might conclude soon after even if it has the potential to continue without him.
Because we see the story through his eyes, his death might open more questions about the rest of the plot. A thread from the forum mentioned above tries to speculate how Rick could die, and the answers tend to range from self sacrifice to battle wounds. If, however, Rick faces the possibility of becoming a walker, would the group or Rick himself allow his transformation, or will they kill him before he turns? If Rick turns into a zombie, will we see the world through a zombie’s eyes? After he dies, who will be the main protagonist of the story? If Rick’s death is not soon followed by the end, we will see who will take charge and make the decision for the group’s future. Whether you love him or hate him, Rick is a significant character in the story, and his death might have a major impact on how the plot progresses
Theory: Carl will survive the zombie apocalypse, and he’s retelling the events that took place in his old age.
Believability: While it doesn’t provide any explanation for the fate of group, this theory can be a possible ending for this character and explain the course of the story. Rick is the protagonist throughout the entire story, and he constantly gets out of nearly impossible situations. Carl clearly admired his father and looked up to him for guidance during the apocalypse, so the focus on Rick would make more sense if the story is coming from his son.
From the audience’s perspective, some of the most detailed scenes in the comic and show are the ones involving Carl, so those moments might be explained with such depth because he was there to witness them firsthand. This attention to detail could possibly be due to the fact that the creator of this series is fond of Carl, but even that might further support this theory (would you kill off your favorite character?)
A forum on Wikia brings up the biggest concern that questions this theory, which is the portrayal of other characters in the story. Carl isn’t there to witness every moment, and the series really goes into the background and development of all the main characters. While one might argue that Carl could’ve heard their own personal stories and use them to create well-rounded characters for his own, it seems very unlikely for him to remember very specific details about every member of his group. A fan from that same Wikia forum also brought up how Carl is a more central character in the comic than he is in the show, so this might only apply to the comic ending.
Either way, this theory ensures at least one character makes it through the apocalypse. Unfortunately, it falls short because it’s still too vague to present a complete ending. What happened to Rick and the rest of the group? How were the zombies defeated? What is life like at this point in time? Even if it doesn’t give the audience closure for each member of the group, this theory can offer hope for a slightly more optimistic ending. If Carl is telling this story to a group of survivors or his own family, then humanity didn’t lose the battle against zombies.
These theories might be disproved as the story progresses, but there is no way to know for sure until we reach the end. Until then, this series will continue to develop and create even more theories along the way. If you want to continue exploring the story, the Talking Dead is an amazing show that goes over the characters and major events throughout the tv series, and the audience is able to interact through comments, quizzes, and polls as the show airs. If you want to explore the comic, certain sites such as ComicBook.com constantly analyze each addition, and The Walking Dead Forums is a great way to immerse in the community. If, however, you want to keep looking for a new way to watch memorable stories, keep an eye out for my post on Monsters Inc. Fan Theories!