UPDATE (7/4/19, 10:35 a.m. ET): AMC is now assuring fans of The Walking Dead that the show will not be affected by the surprise end to the comics upon which it is based (however loosely, at this point). In a statement to The Wrap, the network said, "This extraordinary comic created a world that already lives in multiple forms, and in the hearts and minds of millions of fans around the world, and will for many years to come."
PREVIOUSLY (7/3/19 10:40 a.m. ET): After last month's shocking death of Rick Grimes, this month's issue of The Walking Dead comic has done something even more shocking: end. According to ComicBook.com, Robert Kirkman's tremendously lucrative comic series that serves as the source material for AMC's The Walking Dead is over, with no advance warning, with Issue #193, out Wednesday, bringing the story that started in 2003 to an end.
The issue flashes forward decades after the death of Rick Grimes to show a rebuilt, thriving society in which walkers are no longer an active threat. It focuses on Carl Grimes (who's dead on the show), who's on trial for killing a walker that "belonged" to Hershel Rhee (who's still a baby on the show), and his journey to get back to his family. The Hollywood Reporter has a detailed breakdown of what happens in the issue.
"I hate knowing what's coming," Kirkman wrote in the Letter Hacks section of Issue #193, which leaked on Reddit. "As a fan, I hate it when I realize I'm in the third act of a movie and the story is winding down. I hate that I can count commercial breaks and know I'm nearing the end of a TV show. I hate that you can feel when you're getting to the end of a book, or a graphic novel. Some of the best episodes of Game of Thrones are when they're structured in such a way and paced to perfection so your brain can't tell if it's been watching for 15 minutes or 50 minutes ... and when the end comes ... you're stunned.
"I love long movies for that very reason. You lose track of time because you went in convinced that you're going to be there for a long time, but the story moves at such an entertaining and engaging pace that by the time the movie's wrapping up ... you can't believe it's already over. Surprise, it's over! All I've ever done, all a creator can really do ... is tailor-make stories to entertain themselves, and hope the audience feels the same way. That's all I've ever been doing ... and it seems to work most of the time."
So what does this mean for AMC's The Walking Dead, which will return for Season 10 in the fall? Honestly, probably not much, beyond reminding us that everything is finite and The Walking Dead will end someday. The show is currently adapting somewhere around Issue #150, so it has some time before the source material runs out, though it looks like the Ohio storyline that emerges around Issue #169 may get adapted into the Rick Grimes movies, since there are some parallels between the Commonwealth and the helicopter people who took him in Season 9. In that case, The Walking Dead will probably run out of source material to adapt after Season 10. But then chief content officer Scott Gimple and showrunner Angela Kang and their writers will just come up with original material. The show has never been completely beholden to the comics anyway. It always gets "remixed," with storylines happening with different characters and different deaths and in different order, etc. When the show does end, whenever that may be, it will be different than the comic.
In any case, AMC's franchise will soldier on, with the mothership show, Fear the Walking Dead, the untitled third series, and the Rick Grimes TV movie trilogy with Andrew Lincoln all in various stages of their lifespan.
The Walking Dead returns to AMC in the fall. Previous seasons are available to stream on Netflix.