The beauty of The Walking Dead is the open-ended nature of the comics and the TV series. From a moral perspective, as well as a narrative standpoint, the show opens up a ton of discussions that have few definitive answers. One such discussion is the topic of how the show may end, and one very compelling fan theory suggests that entirety of The Walking Dead is actually a flashback told by Carl Grimes, who is reflecting on the life of his father.
A new Walking Dead fan theory posed by YouTuber MOVIEidol suggests the distinct possibility that the comics and the TV series are a flashback told by an aging Carl, who looks back on the exploits of his father. The theory reframes the way we would watch the series and adds quite a bit of context to the way in which the series depicts Rick's adventures. The primary evidence for this theory is the amount of detail that occurs whenever a Carl-centric story occurs, as well as the fact that Robert Kirkman has explicitly emphasized how much he likes telling Carl's story. The eldest Grimes child is a notable bridge between the pre-zombie world and the post-zombie world, because he was old enough when the outbreak occurred to remember the old world, but he specifically grew up and developed his moral compass in a universe where death (and the undead) have become an everyday occurrence.
Expanding on that idea, the theory explains that the story of The Walking Dead will specifically end when Rick Grimes finally dies. The story is an older Carl reflecting on the adventures his father went through during the earlier years of his life, and the death of Rick will be the end of the story -- although not necessarily the end of Carl's life. It is fairly depressing because it guarantees that Carl will be the only member of the group left standing by the time we see this narrative come to its logical conclusion. The again, when has The Walking Dead been known for uplifting tales?
We have seen storytelling methods such as this in the post-apocalyptic genre before. Mad Max: The Road Warrior ends with a narration revealing that the entire film is a flashback told by The Feral Kid -- who has since gone on to lead the tribe that Max Rockatansky protects during the movie.
Replace The Feral Kid with Carl, and Max with Rick and the narrative device is pretty much identical.
Whether or not this fan theory holds any weight remains to be seen, and we likely won't find out for years because The Walking Dead is not going anywhere anytime soon. The hit AMC zombie series airs every Sunday night at 9 p.m. EST; stay tuned for more details.
For more information concerning all of the most highly anticipated spring television debuts, make sure to take a look at our comprehensive midseason premiere guide and fill out your TV viewing schedules accordingly!
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Originally from Connecticut, Conner grew up in San Diego and graduated from Chapman University in 2014. He now lives in Los Angeles working in and around the entertainment industry and can mostly be found binging horror movies and chugging coffee.