Warning! The following contains spoilers for The Walking Dead episode "The Bridge." Read at your own risk!
The Walking Dead just had another character lose an appendage as Ross Marquand's Aaron lost a hand following an accident. The moment had many thinking of the famous scene from the comics where lead character Rick Grimes loses his hand. Aaron's current physical similarity to the comic book Rick had some fans speculating whether or not this was a hint toward anything in the show's future, but showrunner Angela Kang said the moment was decided on long before any connections were made, noting recently,
We decided on this story point of Aaron losing his arm before I noticed how much he looks like comic book Rick. That part of it was just a crazy accident!
If The Walking Dead is trying to establish Aaron as the new Rick, the accident wasn't supposed to be some wink to fans letting them know. Angela Kang revealed that the reason Aaron got his arm severed at the elbow was mainly due to the writers, who had shown interest in having a character lose an appendage for some time now. Kang told THR she and the crew liked the idea of a person who didn't have a physical disability prior to the apocalypse now being forced to navigate and relearn things in the midst of all the chaos.
Angela Kang said the idea was well-received by Ross Marquand, who may have seen the same potential to grow his character that she and the crew did. Kang explained how Aaron's injury will affect him this season and beyond, and give The Walking Dead a chance to tell a unique story:
It gives us the opportunity to grow that character and give him new challenges and obstacles. For us, one of the more hopeful aspects of the show is people getting knocked down and getting back up, and figuring out how to move on. They figure out how to overcome the things that are challenges to their survival. We felt like it gave a really interesting texture to his character this season.
So why did Aaron lose a hand and not Rick? Angela Kang revealed Rick losing a hand had been discussed in the past, but The Walking Dead had "various reasons" why they didn't pull the trigger. In the comics, Rick lost a hand in his first encounter with the Governor, but the villain came and went on the show without Rick losing an appendage. There's still a chance the moment could happen before Andrew Lincoln's exit from the series, although it feels more likely Aaron's accident may be the only severed hand fans see before Rick's final exit on the show.
The Walking Dead is on AMC Sundays at 9:00 p.m. ET. For a look at other shows premiering or returning to television in the next couple of months, head on over to our fall premiere guide.