Credit: Gene Page/AMC Photo: Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes)

*Comic book spoilers referenced ahead*

No joke, Rick Grimes could die next week. Not Andrew Lincoln’s Rick Grimes of AMC’s The Walking Dead Season 4, but Robert Kirkman’s Rick Grimes of The Walking Dead comics.

When we last saw Rick in the comics, he was battling Negan and The Saviors in the “All Out War” storyline, and Rick was shot with an arrow in Issue 123. During Robert Kirkman’s Reddit AMA, a fan asked “What's going to happen in the next issue of The Walking Dead?!” RK answered, “We learn Rick's final fate.”

Uh oh! Issue #124 comes out on March 26, followed by #125 on April 9, and this volume’s conclusion with #126 on April 23. Back in October 2012, RK said at New York Comic Con, “I have big events planned for #125 and I know where I’m going to be for issue #200...the goal is to do Walking Dead until you all absolutely hate it.” What if Rick dies in 124 and has to be put down in 125, with the story completely changing after this volume ends? Will Carl or Andrea avenge Rick and take over the story?

In July 2012, Daily Dead asked RK if he knew how he wanted Rick’s story to end. Did he still think Rick could die at any time. “Yeah, Rick could go at any time. I think that Carl could carry the book now. I know that there are interesting stories I could do with him, Andrea, or Michonne. To a certain extent, I think it would be interesting to follow Negan for a little bit and see what that story would be like. I definitely think that Rick has been the anchor for the series and may be the anchor of the series for a long time. I do have plans for him and I know where his story is going, but I promise that Rick will not survive the entire run of the book.”

Sigh. So with all of that foreshadowing, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Rick didn’t live past the “All Out War” story. But what does that mean for the TV show? Not much, for now. Negan and The Saviors aren’t coming anytime soon; maybe Season 5, but more likely later. RK even speculated at one point that Negan might wait for, say, Season 9. That’s probably too far, but even if, say, we run into this war storyline in Season 7, that doesn’t mean it’s when Rick will die on screen. The TV show and comics don’t always match, especially when it comes to character deaths.

For example, Andrea is still alive in the comics. During RK’s Reddit AMA, a fan asked if there will be a character on the TV show that replaces comic Andrea? “She's so great in the current parts of the story!” The comic book writer responded, “There are, if you're familiar with the comics, storylines that we just HAVE to do in the show. And some of those stories are dependent on characters that have already died in the show. We've seen other characters take on different comic characters stories in the show before, and that kind of thing will continue to happen as needed. SPOILERS, so for instance, HERSHEL took Tyreese's death scene from the comics. So if TYREESE ever dies in the show... maybe he'll take another comic characters death. Don't read into that. My love of CHAD COLEMAN knows no bounds.”

So even if Rick dies soon in the comics, it may not mean he’ll die at this point in the TV show. Sadly, it could mean he dies earlier on TV! You never know.

Do you think Rick will die in print or are they just teasing us and his story will continue?

Sources: Reddit, Comicbook.com, Daily Dead, Comic Book Resources