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During the recent San Diego Comic-Con Event, fans were treated to the first trailer for The Walking Dead season 8, which quickly blew through all prior records for most viewed TV trailer.

While the trailer was action-packed, and succeeded in exciting fans for the coming war between Rick and Negan, one quick moment near the end of the trailer stopped the internet in its tracks. That was of course the appearance of “old man Rick,” waking up in a bed.

The Walking Dead season 8 poster

Many TWD fans were quick to wonder if this was actually Rick waking up from his coma, and that the series up until now would be revealed to have been a dream.

Meanwhile, those who’ve read the TWD comic book assumed that this older Rick was from after the large time jump that took place after the All-Out War arc ended on the page.

The Walking Dead - Rick and Daryl

So which theory is true? It’s too soon to tell, as what happens in the comics is often not what ends up happening on The Walking Dead TV show.

For his part, creator Robert Kirkman took the opportunity to stoke the fires of speculation during a TCA event yesterday. When asked about the presumed time jump, Kirkman said the following to EW.

“Or was it the time jump. I don’t know, maybe it was Rick waking up from his coma. Wouldn’t that be weird? That is an intriguing tidbit that we did throw out there on purpose, and we’re hoping that people continue to question how it is that fits into the story line and what it is. Comic book fans know where a scene that kind of looked like that would fall, but it also doesn’t seem like we would be getting to that just yet if you were a comic book fan, so there’s a mystery to that. I’m pretty sure you’ll learn in the first episode what that means.

While Kirkman of course stopped short of clearing up too much now about old man Rick, his proclamation that fans will get an explanation during the season premiere is sure to be a relief to many who worried that the mystery would be dragged out over the course of most or indeed the entire eighth season.

If Rick’s old appearance does end up being due to a time jump though, one wonders how Kirkman and company will choose to tell the story from then on.

Will season 8 episodes cut back and forth between present time and the future? Or will old man Rick only show up for special occasions like premieres and finales? Tune in on October 22nd to find out.