The Walking Dead is no stranger to death, whether on AMC or the page, though it’s always a big deal to lose one of the original survivors. The latest moved creator Robert Kirkman to draft a long apology to fans, and could spell bad news for the character’s AMC counterpart down the line.

You’re warned of full spoilers for all things Walking Dead from here on out, both comic and series. Alas, yet another of the comics’ earliest survivors has come to an end, as Andrea sustained a bite on her neck in Issue #165, and finally succumbed in Issue #167, having had time to make her goodbyes. The moment was especially devastating for Rick, who had to put down his reanimated love interest, but author Robert Kirkman took it even harder. The creator shared his grief with fans in an extended letter (h/t The Hollywood Reporter):

I’m sorry. I’m sorry to my fans and to myself and to Andrea. I feel like I killed a close friend. The deaths in this series are never taken lightly, they’re never done with a sense of glee. They weigh on me the same way they weigh on you. These characters are very real to me, and their deaths are upsetting even to me.

I plotted this issue out during a plane ride a few months ago. I plot my stories down with a pencil and paper, and there I was in my seat, blocking out scenes and writing dialogue surrounded by strangers who probably thought I was jotting down a shopping list. As I was writing some of the moments from this issue, I started crying. I found myself glancing around, wiping my eyes, hoping no one would notice. I’ve been living with this death for months now…and I don’t like it.

I had plenty of time to change my mind. I had plenty of time to just not do it. I am in control of this story after all. But honestly, sometimes it feels like I’m not. This was one of those times. I don’t like this. I don’t want this. I want Andrea to live. I want to write more stories with her. I want to see her and Rick grow old together, watching Carl grow up and have kids of his own. I want that kind of happiness for these characters.

And yet, here we are.

Andrea is dead and the story moves on. I don’t know why this had to happen…but I know it did. I know this is another important turning point in the life of this series. I know Andrea’s death with mean something, that it will resonate in the stories moving forward for years to come. But I still don’t like it. It still upsets me.

I loved Andrea and I will truly miss her.

Granted, the AMC version of Andrea died all the way back in Season 3 (coincidentally sustaining a bite to the neck and “opting out”), it’s still plausible the comic character’s death might cast a shadow over the series. There, Danai Gurira’s Michonne has been paired romantically with Rick (instead of Andrea), and while the series often remixes major events, it’s likely Rick will lose (another) love interest down the line.

We’re hopefully a few seasons removed from even considering the loss of Michonne (showrunners have also been non-committal about using the comic time-jump), but who next from The Walking Dead will move Kirkman to tears?

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