SPOILERS for The Walking Dead Season 4.1 ahead!

AMC’s The Walking Dead is TV’s biggest hit show, drawing in 12.1 million viewers for its mid-season finale. The show may be on its third showrunner in four seasons, but it’s more popular than ever, and arguably at its creative peak.

Next year’s continuation of season four will pick up where the mid-season finale left off: sheriff Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) sees his community in chaos following an all-out assault by The Governor (David Morrissey). Rick and his boy Carl (Chandler Riggs) have been separated from the others in the group and while baby Judith may or may not have perished, The Governor is certainly dead.

Or is he? In an interview with PA (courtesy of Zap2It), David Morrissey spoke about his love for the show, its cast and crew and his fans – even the ones that hate him – and teased that despite The Governor clearly buying the farm, he might be back in some form.

Here are Morrissey’s comments:

“Something happened to him. I feel like a shady politician where I can’t confirm and I can’t deny anything. Certainly, bad things befell him at the end of the last episode but we just have to wait and see.”

Morrissey’s cagey remarks are either an unsanctioned bit of foreshadowing for the last half of season four (or perhaps even the fifth season or beyond), the actor’s wishful thinking or – maybe – a bit of both. There are precedents for previously-dead characters showing up again in some form: we saw Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) torment Rick as a figment of his imagination, and prior to his flesh and blood return in season three, Michael Rooker’s Merle Dixon appeared to his brother Daryl (Norman Reedus) as a hallucination.

Producer Gale Ann Hurd did not appear to mince words about the Governor’s fate, telling Zap2It“That was a head shot! Lilly shot him.” If you notice, however, Hurd also never says that he’s dead and not coming back. She was more diplomatic on the subject of baby Judith:

“First of all, I don’t think you’d ever want to see a baby being killed. That’s probably a line we won’t cross. But at the same time, habeas corpus. We’ll have to be just like them, wondering.”

We’ve had some insight from showrunner Scott Gimple on what’s next in season four – and we have our own ideas along those lines – and Hurd offered further rather vague ideas on what fans can expect:

“Our characters are very much on the run, not as a group but split up, and they’re all in jeopardy because — as we’ve learned — being on the road alone is a difficult and dangerous place to be. It will also give us an opportunity to get to know who they are and whether they have the will to survive. How much have they changed after this devastation and can they retain their humanity?”

It’s tempting to look for some kind of clue about the Governor’s future on The Walking Dead in Hurd’s comments, and while she’s not really telling us anything we didn’t already know, Morrissey’s popularity with fans is high enough to secure some kind of future appearance – even if that return comes in the form of a hallucinatory cameo.

Will our heroes have any time for self-reflection at all when the show returns next year? The community they have built is overrun with zombies, their fellowship is split, and while retaining one’s humanity has always been a defining theme of the show, could Rick or the others again be tested in some specific way, with the Governor serving as a symbol of how much – or how little – they might have changed? We’ll find out for sure in February.

The Walking Dead returns on February 9th, 2014 at 9pm on AMC.

Source: PA, via Zap2It