The trailer for the eighth season of The Walking Dead showed fan-favorite character Rick, as well as his friends and family, gearing up for war against Negan and his gang of Saviors. One thing shown wasn't expected, though: Old Man Rick. The trailer showed the character, played by Andrew Lincoln, in a bed with a rather impressive beard and a cane beside him. There was no other explanation of this supposed time jump, though.
Now, in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, a bit more light has been shed on this revelation. Showrunner Scott M. Gimple explained that we'll get a look at Old Man Rick in the Season 8 premiere, but fans shouldn't expect clarity on the situation until later in the show. "I will say that we won’t know exactly what that’s about after the first episode," Gimple teased. “But we will know it about halfway through the season. We won’t quite know what it’s about, and then we’ll get an answer to that about halfway through. It’s something that’s going to play out."
In discussing this interesting and unusual plot point, Gimple also took time out to shoot down a particular fan theory. "I can say that that is not him waking up from the coma in the hospital,” the showrunner revealed. “Some people thought that, and it’s not that."
“My instinct was, what a great storytelling device. That was my instinct. I thought it was very interesting. And also gives us an opportunity to do something else a little ahead of the game, which I think is very, very neat,” Lincoln said previously. “It’s an older Rick. So by virtue of the fact that you see that means that it’s in the future. It will become somewhat clearer after the October premiere. Then again, it may not be. It maybe still is somewhat opaque. I think that that’s possibly all I can say on the matter.”
Executive Producer Greg Nicotero's comments may have offered a hint as to why we're seeing an older take on the popular character. “It’s always fun to get a chance to think about where the show is going and where the characters are going,” the EP said. “And that’s a really big moment in the comic book when we sort of jump forward and realize what’s in store for the future. So to just to be able to give a little bit of a hint to that, I think it’s exciting. It shows the audience that we’re committed for this fantastic long-term storytelling and that Rick’s got his sh– together.”
The Walking Dead returns to AMC for its eighth season on Oct. 22, and stars Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, Chandler Riggs as Carl Grimes, Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon, Melissa McBride as Carol Peleteir, Lauren Cohan as Maggie Green and Danai Gurira as Michonne.