First published in 2003, Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead recently came to an end after over fifteen years with issue #193. However, the series almost reached a much bleaker conclusion much sooner.
In the "Letter Hacks" section of this week's issue, Kirkman wrote about how the issue nearly ended with the "No Way Out" storyline, which lasted from issues #80 to #84. This would have been shortly after Rick's group got to Alexandria and before some of the most seminal characters and moments in the series, including the introduction of Negan and the death of Andrea. As per Kirkman's description, that storyline "ended with Rick proclaiming Alexandria was a place worth fighting for, that they could no longer keep moving from place to place... they had to take a stand, lay down roots and start building from there. Their nomad days were behind them."
Following that speech in the original ending, readers would have turned to page to see Rick's face as an old statue with vines growing on it. From there, "We'd keep zooming out until we saw that the statue was in Alexandria, the same place where he gave the speech, but it was different. It was old and rundown, broken windows and missing doors. We would keep zooming out until a zombie walked by, then another... and we'd see that Rick had brought them to Alexandria, given this grand speech about rebuilding civilization and succeeded to the point that they built a statue to honor him... but in the end, the dead won. Society crumbled again, this time seemingly for good... and that was it."
Kirkman goes on to describe it as a "terrible ending... [that] made the whole story pointless. What can i say... I was young and most of the endings I wrote or came up with way back then... were pretty bleak. So that ending... in hindsight was embarrassingly bad, but more than that, I wasn't ready to end this series. Not by a long shot.
The writer explained that, when he originally started the series, he had no idea that it would end up going on for as long as it did. When issue #100 drew near, he "just wasn't ready to let go."
The Walking Dead was created by Kirkman and initially illustrated by Tony Moore, who left the series after six issues, replaced by Charlie Adlard. The immensely popular series has spawned two TV shows, The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead, with a trilogy of movies centered around Grimes planned.
The Walking Dead #193 by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard is on sale now.