The departure of the Rick character will now take the show the furthest it's ever been from the comic book source material -the show has always enjoyed an open relationship with the comics, mirroring plots faithfully right up until the point that it decides it doesn’t want to. The show isn’t afraid to deviate hugely from the comics to suit its purposes – one of the best examples is Carl’s death in season eight, which wasn’t in the comics at all. Rick, too, is still alive in the comics, so Lincoln’s departure will represent the biggest branching-off from Kirkman’s original storylines to date. Yet, because the character of Daryl isn’t even in the comics, and Rick doesn’t have any family ties left besides baby Judith, subbing Daryl into Rick’s comic-book storylines means they can continue to mine the comics for Rick’s narratives without having to come up with more new storylines for Daryl.
The Walking Dead really needs to end with Rick's departure, so that it can take its place in history as one of the great TV shows. In recent years it's lost a lot of its former glory and I can't help feeling that for it to limp on without the main focus of the series, that would be Rick, that the legacy will be destroyed.
Twitter seems to agree:
“I think that when we got the news that Carl was dying on the show, it felt like very much a bookend of a much bigger journey that began in the hospital.” Lincoln said at Comiccon in April.
Not much is known of Rick's final end but it is expected that the character will die, and one possible storyline being mooted is that Maggie will become the all out villain in the next season , which should at least be interesting given that the Negan character, following a promising start, turned out to be such a let down. Will Maggie kill Rick? Now that would step that the show runners may not be brave enough to take, but it would certainly be a WTF moment that would be talked about for years to come. The show has always claimed that no character is safe and maybe it is time to make good on that claim.