How Will Rick Leave 'The Walking Dead'? 7 Fan Theories Could Change Everything

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It's official. Andrew Lincoln confirmed at San Diego Comic-Con that he will indeed be leaving The Walking Dead. As I wipe away my tears, contemplating a future without Rick Grimes, it got me wondering; How will Rick leave The Walking Dead? Will it be a peaceful departure, or will he succumb to the virus? Or, will he be killed by someone close to him?

Whatever the answer, I have a feeling it's going to be sad AF. Especially since creator and producer Robert Kirkman has alluded that Lincoln "wants to do something special on the way out," in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. "I wouldn't want to spoil anything, but anybody who has been a fan of his journey, who loves Rick Grimes, who loves the world of The Walking Dead, you're going to want to see what we do."

Throughout the series run, there have been constant fan theories running wild regarding the narrative, characters' fates, and what the future of the show may hold. For now, I've compiled seven of the most interesting fan theories that could change everything. Whether or not you believe that Rick's been in a coma this whole time or that he's actually a sentient zombie (yes, that is a theory), you'll definitely have a different mindset when it comes to how Lincoln will eventually leave the show after reading this lot.

Prepare to have your mind blown.

1. He's Been In A Coma This Whole Damn Time

I know Kirkman has said that there's a zero percent chance of this happening, as Comic Book reports, however, I can't help but think the worst. The theory that Rick never left the hospital and has been in a coma the entire time is such a believable premise. I mean, dreams were kind of explored in the first episode of Season 8, but not, of course, to the extent that the entire series has been a weird, life on Mars-type experience for Rick, where Carl (Chandler Riggs), Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies), and Shane (Jon Bernthal) have been by his bedside the whole time.

Kirkman said that "would be a terrible story," but can you imagine this turned out to be the case? It is possible.

2. He's Going To Die... In Numerous Ways

Some say suicide, others think it could be an enemy, while a few have suggested one of Rick's friends may turn on him out of frustration. There are many ways for Rick to die in the apocalyptic world he's been running around in. But hopefully, if he is killed off, the former sheriff isn't left suffering as a walker.

God, even the thought of Rick dying is making me want to cry. I'm too attached.

3. He'll Survive And Leave Alexandria

Now this would make a nice, clean, and open-ended exit, and I personally would love it. But let's be real here, my fellow TWD fans. There really isn't much reason for Rick to leave Alexandria, as the Express reports, since he's got his daughter, Judith (Kinsley Isla Dillon) and partner, Michonne (Danai Gurira), and his whole crew by his side there.

But while it looks unlikely, this option could make a lot of people happy as it creates a possibility for potential cameos in the future.

4. He Straight Up Disappears

This is a very specific theory but interesting none the less. Inferred from the Season 9 promotional material, a theory is beginning to emerge that Rick will embark on a mission with the team that will go awry, and he will simply disappear, as reported by Forbes.

This is another option that could leave Lincoln with the chance to return if the show is to continue past Season 9. It also sets up a narrative that will have the team trying to "find Rick and bring him home."

5. He's Actually Immortal

What if Rick has been a sentient zombie this whole time? It would account for a lot of things, like how he seemingly manages to avoid being bitten or, I don't know, how he survived in a hospital for months without food or water at the very start of the series. According to Mental Floss, fans have questioned how Rick survived this period where "the world fell to ruins around him." The most plausible explanation people have apparently come up with is that "Rick didn't survive at all — he actually died in the show's very first episode."

Yep, you heard that right. He's been a zombie the entire time, and not your typical zombie. Fans believe that as the virus is present in everyone, it's dormant in Rick's body for some reason. This "dormancy keeps [Rick] safe from the virus's worse symptoms," and lets him "continue to come back to life each time he's killed."

It's a pretty complicated theory, but is definitely one of the ones I've been swaying toward.

6. He Will Become A Walker

Not exactly a death per se, but Rick becoming a walker is a big possibility, and it's all been formulated from the trailer for the upcoming season.

There is one shot in particular that has been raising a lot of questions, as reported by the Express, where there seems to be a shot of Rick walking, identified by his boots, with blood dripping "indicat[ing] that he's hurt," with a "walk [that] seems to be ever-so-slightly 'walkerish.'"

Eek. Even though it would be absolutely heartbreaking to see Rick turn into a zombie, I can't be the only one that thinks it would be a pretty damn cool way for him to leave the show.

7. He's Not Leaving At All

This is a long shot — like, a very big long shot — given that Lincoln already gave his heartwarming goodbye to the series at San Diego Comic-Con, and Kirkman has also confirmed the actor's exit.

But — and it's a big but — last month, The Walking Dead's official Twitter posted this very cryptic tweet:

This had led to a lot of speculation in the replies, where theories of Rick's death have been thriving, before and after the news. Even causing some to believe that the news regarding Lincoln's exit is false, with one redditor claiming to have a inside scoop that Lincoln isn't actually leaving.

Perhaps, we should watch this space?

Whatever happens, it's safe to say that The Walking Dead will never be the same without Rick Grimes. But then again, perhaps he isn't leaving after all?