Hiatuses between seasons of The Walking Dead are never easy, and this year's break between Seasons 7 and 8 is especially difficult after all the craziness we got in the first trailer. Most of the trailer footage pointed toward a lot of action with plenty of zombies, but it was the quick clip at the end that has had folks talking ever since the trailer was released. At the end, we see what looks like an older version of Rick waking up in a bed, and fans have come up with plenty of theories. Now, showrunner Scott Gimple has come out to debunk one particular theory, and we're pretty thankful. Here's what he had to say:
He is not waking up from the coma. Robert [Kirkman]'s dad saw the trailer and said, 'People are gonna think he's waking up from the coma.' . . . No coma. It's not a coma.
The shot in the trailer of Rick waking up naturally led some viewers to speculate that The Walking Dead was going to reveal that the first seven seasons of the show had been nothing more than an incredibly elaborate coma dream of Rick's after he was shot way back in the series premiere. Erasing the majority of the show for the sake of a coma plot twist would have been a bold way to go, but it would probably alienate a whole lot of fans as well. Apparently, we have Robert Kirkman's father to thank for Scott Gimple confirming on the pre-Season 8 Talking Dead episode that Rick is definitely not waking up from a coma at the end of the trailer.
Unfortunately, it may be a while before we find what exactly is going on with old man Rick. Scott Gimple has also said that we won't get the definitive answer about what happened to Rick in the premiere, and we'll have to wait until around midseason to get a real handle on what's happening. Now that Gimple has ruled out the coma, the odds seem greater than ever that old man Rick will appear thanks to a time jump.
A major time jump took place in Robert Kirkman's comic series, although that particular twist happened further along in the zombie apocalypse timeline than the show has reached at this point. Kirkman has said that things with old Rick aren't exactly as they seem, so we may not be able to do much more than speculate or hunt for spoilers for the foreseeable future. We do already know that the grey-bearded Rick will appear in the Season 8 premiere; at least we'll get to see him early in the season.
Season 8 will undoubtedly have plenty going on even without old man Rick on screen at all times. War broke out at the end of Season 7, when forces from Hilltop and The Kingdom joined the Alexandrians in fighting off the Saviors and the Scavengers. The stage is set for truly explosive conflicts when The Walking Dead returns for the next batch of episodes. You can catch the Season 8 premiere of The Walking Dead on Sunday, October 22 at 9 p.m. ET on AMC. For your viewing options while we wait for the premiere, take a look at our fall TV premiere schedule.