SPOILER WARNING! Mild spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 8 ahead.
We may see "Old Man Rick" in the 100th episode of The Walking Dead, which will also be the Season 8 premiere. The clearly older, grey-haired Rick was seen in the final moments of the explosive trailer shown at San Diego Comic-Con in July, immediately sparking several theories from fans.
One theory in particular has been shot down by EP and showrunner Scott Gimple, who wants to absolutely assure fans: It hasn't all been a dream.
"I can say that that is not him waking up from the coma in the hospital," Gimple told Entertainment Weekly. "Some people thought that, and it's not that."
Thankfully, they won't be erasing seven seasons of story and character development just for the sake of a twist. Phew.
What we will see is at least a glimpse of the aged Rick in the premiere, indicating we'll be seeing a flash forward of what's to come for the character. "It's definitely not a one-time thing," EP Greg Nicotero teased in the same article, indicating we may see fragments of this future story throughout the season.
"I will say that we won't know exactly what that's about after the first episode. 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," Gimple said, clarifying.
In the pages of The Walking Dead comics by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard, the end of the "All Out War" arc, now playing out across Season 8 of the show, saw a significant time jump with a slightly older and greyer Rick, something many comics fans assumed this shot was showing. Nicotero acknowledges that it may be directly linked.
"That's a really big moment in the comic book when we sort of jump forward and realize what's in story for the future. So to just be able to give a little bit of a hint to that, I think it's exciting."
The Walking Dead returns Sunday Oct. 22 at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.
(via Entertainment Weekly)