Whenever a property as popular as The Walking Dead comes around it's only natural to wonder what the perfect ending to the story will be. As far as AMC's ratings winner, the question has been raised many times – almost as often as the question of when the series will end. While executive producer Gale Anne Hurd has hinted that Rick and the other survivors will continue to battle the undead for the foreseeable future, that doesn't preclude fans (or former actors) from theorizing on what will make for a memorable finale to the apocalyptic series.
The question becomes a little tricky following series creator Robert Kirkman's statement there will be two endings – one for the TV series and one for the comic. That means, like the Westeros-sized expectations facing George R.R. Martin and the creators of HBO's Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead will have two chances to either hit it out of the park, or leave its audience crying foul. But while Kirkman says he knows what the ending to the series will be, he's certainly not telling anyone (making it easier for him to change his mind), leaving the door wide open for the aforementioned fans (and former actors) to offer up their best guess as to how the story of the end of the world will come to a close.
While appearing at Walker Stalker Con recently, Michael Rooker took it upon himself – after some prodding from the audience – to describe his ideal ending for The Walking Dead. Not only did the man who brought Merle Dixon to life have an answer seemingly at the ready, but he also somehow managed to make the already bleak series end on decidedly lonelier note.
— Walker Stalker Con (@WalkrStalkrCon) December 18, 2016
Rooker's version of the series finale introduces a new storytelling device to the show: a voiceover. The device is meant to convey that the entirety of the series (however long it lasts) is actually a now-grown Carl Grimes recounting it to… well, nobody, apparently, because he's the only one left alive. Rooker says:
"Voiceover. You realize that individual is Carl, all grown up, a man of his own. No one else is with him. Just him. And as he does his voice over, you realize everything, all the seasons that you've just seen is him reliving his past. So everyone on the show is dead. He's the only survivor, and he's on his own. [He] walks off into the sunset, and that's the end of the show."
That certainly is a somber way to end the series, and one that's fitting with how the show has presented itself in the first six-and-a-half seasons that have aired so far. A dour, somewhat ambiguous finale would give the show a lot of leeway in terms of future spinoffs or other Tales From The Walking Dead possibilities once the main story has reached its conclusion. Rooker's ending would also make it essential for Carl to remain alive on the series throughout its entire run, meaning Chandler Riggs' college plans might change. And if the show runs long enough, perhaps the series wouldn't even have to recast Carl with another older, more grizzled performer.
Rooker's personal theory doesn't go into too much detail about what happens to the rest of the crew or the fate of the world, but presumably the show will -- regardless of how much or how little it resembles this theory. Perhaps when The Walking Dead is ready to kill its last walker, we can compare Rooker's idea with how it really pans out and see just how close he came.
The Walking Dead season 7 will continue on Sunday, February 12 @9pm on AMC.