The Walking Dead Featured A Huge Comic Twist That May Hold Clues For Rick's TV Return

rick bleeding for his last walking dead episode
(Image credit: amc press)

Beware of major comic spoilers below for The Walking Dead #191.

For a while now, The Walking Dead comic books and the AMC drama have branched their storylines out in different ways to allow the TV show to bring new and original spins to the source material. The directional shifts hit an apex when The Walking Dead's Andrew Lincoln bowed out of the TV show in Season 9, ahead of an eventual return for a series of Rick Grimes-centric AMC movies. Theories abound concerning his return, but the latest comic issue may have offered some big clues.

To put it frankly, the issue ends with Rick getting shot right in the chest, complete with dramatic blood spatter on the wall behind him, and more blood leaking from his mouth. It was a showstopper of a moment for the 16-year-old comic series, and it stunned fans like few other twists have. So let's lay out how things went down on the page, and then we'll jump into how it could play into the TV show.

How Rick Got Shot In The Comics

Issue #191 was initially one big follow-up to the intense confrontation that was forming between Team Rick and Team Pamela. True to form, Rick managed to reverse the chaos with a long and inspirational speech, and the face-off ended non-violently, with Pamela Milton getting arrested after basically rescinding her leadership.

Though she is clearly pissed off about the turn of events, Rick manages to smooth things over with more of his calmness-inducing explanations, saying that she was likely safer in a jail cell than out among the crowds that had denounced her as the Commonwealth's Governor. He even let Pamela out after their conversation, which shocked and confused her, though she was grateful.

One Commonwealth resident who wasn't grateful in the least, however, was Pamela's egotistical shit-stack of a son, Sebastian. A constant thorn in everyone's brain, Sebastian was pissed that his mother got usurped, and he made his vengeful feelings known by showing up at Rick's house that night to hold him at gunpoint.

Sebastian railed against Rick for throwing all of Pamela's hard work "down the drain," and angrily acknowledged that many of Rick's followers, as well as others within the Commonwealth, spoke as if he was a god instead of just a man. In no way did Sebastian think it was justified for Rick to be able to completely implode the community with a single speech.

And happened. One page turn, and suddenly Rick is sitting up in bed with a bloody hole in his chest. Honestly, it's hard to know who was more shocked by the gunshot, as Sebastian's face was frozen with emergency regret as he watched Rick clutch his chest while bleeding on the bedsheets. The last panel shows Rick gritting his teeth in pain, asking Sebastian in a low voice, "What did you do?"

It was a huge moment, obviously, and we can only imagine what in the world will happen in the next issue. (I mean, besides one or more people hopefully beating the skin off of Sebastian's body.) The "Letter Hacks" section in the back of the issue is where Robert Kirkman and editor Sean Mackiewicz usually offer quick and amusingly glib reactions to what transpired, but this issue featured only this short lead-in from Kirkman.

Hey, everyone, Robert Kirkman here. After that ending, I feel like it would be for the best if we just move right into the letters. We'll just have to wait and see how things turn out next month.

Fans could look at that in several ways, of course. For one, Robert Kirkman may not want to discuss Rick getting shot because the next episode might feature Rick's actual death, which would be the comic's biggest game-changer yet. Or, on the other hand, some left-field moment may occur in #192 that reveals Rick's gunshot wound isn't as series as anyone initially thought, thus not giving Kirkman much to discuss anyway.

However things turn out on the page, let's now divert our attention to the TV show.

How Rick Getting Shot Could Play Into His TV Future

While next to zero details have been confirmed about where or how Andrew Lincoln's Rick Grimes will show up again on the small screen, fans have had many suspicions. As seen in his final episode from Season 9, an injured Rick was rescued and taken away by helicopter, thanks to a surprisingly empathetic move from Pollyanna McIntosh's Jadis. It's been sorta confirmed that Jadis is the other familiar entity that will be part of the Rick movies, though we're not sure in what capacity.

In any case, many fans think that The Walking Dead is bringing Rick to the massive Commonwealth community, even though the comics haven't broached the topic of helicopter crews. (And even though Jadis' helicopter pilot cohort doesn't seem to be virtuous enough.) That line of theorizing got strengthened by star Danai Gurira's announcement that she would be exiting The Walking Dead TV series in Season 10, though she'll still appear within the universe at large, and will likely return for a heartfelt reunion in the Rick movies.

If the TV show does indeed introduce the Commonwealth via the Rick movies, it might require some major plot adjustments, as far as the timeline goes. (Although that mysterious radio transmission in the Season 9 finale did hint at the flagship series heading for the Commonwealth storyline as well.) But it's easy enough to conceive Rick's arrival playing out in some of the same ways as it did in the comics.

Namely, Rick shows up, is extremely impressed by the size and scale of the Commonwealth's set-up and infrastructure, and then realizes not everything is as it seems regarding the governorship of Pamela Milton. Rick does make a habit of overthrowing leaders willy nilly, doesn't he?

This route could allow the TV show to make Rick's big gunshot twist happen in a similar way as it did in the source material. I can't imagine fans would get a live-action Pamela without a live-action Sebastian, and I also can't imagine he'd be any less miserable a human being in primetime. So if Rick does manage to inspire a mutinous charge from the Commonwealth's underserved population, he'd likely end up in Sebastian's crosshairs.

On the other hand, it would be an interesting tactic if The Walking Dead substituted Rick's comic gunshot wound for his rebar-impalement wound on the TV show. So instead of having someone within the Commonwealth cause the life-threatening injury, Rick would arrive there already in the vicinity of death's door.

That could mean that the TV series would possibly allow Rick's story to coincide with whatever happens to him next in the following issue, #192. We obviously don't know what that could be right now, but as Robert Kirkman hinted at in the "Letter Hacks," the next issue might resolve things in one way or another. Here's hoping Rick survives it all, though, or the Commonwealth and Alexandria could be in major trouble.

The Walking Dead Season 10 won't make its debut until later this year, likely in October, but you can still read about everything we know about it so far. While waiting, be sure to dive into Fear the Walking Dead Season 5 when it returns to AMC for the summer on Sunday, June 2, at 9:00 p.m. ET.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.