WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for The Walking Dead #192 by writer Robert Kirkman and artist Charlie Adlard on shelves now.
The latest issue of The Walking Dead confirmed that Rick Grimes had, in fact, been shot to death by Sebastian Milton. After being shot several more times, Rick rose as a zombie, only to be put down permanently by his own son Carl.
Rick was, of course, the protagonist of the Image Comics/Skybound Entertainment series since its debut issue. As such, his death could understandably anger a vocal segment of the fanbase, but that didn't stop creator and writer Robert Kirkman from moving forward with his plan to kill Rick -- a death he had planned for close to a decade.
"I don’t know. It’s a big year for fan reaction. I think initially people are going to be angry. We’ve had [issue #191] in stores and he gets shot at the end of it. But because Walking Dead has so many swerves and misdirects, there are people that are like, 'It looks like he’s going to die, but he’s not; they would never do this!'” Kirkman told The New York Times. "So I’m kind of playing with fan reaction that way. But so far the reaction has been mixed, a lot of people saying, 'If Rick dies, I’m totally quitting this book.' But I’ve been getting that threat forever and the book is doing fine."
How the characters will react to Rick's death has yet to be seen, but the loss of the series' original protagonist will likely reverberate for years to come.
Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard's The Walking Dead #193 is scheduled to go on sale on July 3 from Image Comics.