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How did Rick Grimes get written off ‘The Walking Dead’?

Originally filed Sunday, November 4, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Warning: Spoilers galore below. I am assuming you already saw the show or simply don’t care if you are reading this:

So Rick didn’t die after all.

AMC is just writing him off the original “The Walking Dead” and placing him in AMC original films. Production begins next year.

Yes, it’s a feint. AMC promoted the heck out of him leaving the show, with the implication that Rick Grimes was a goner.

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So while AMC wasn’t able to keep Andrew Lincoln’s departure a secret, they did keep the plot twist of Rick being ferried off in a helicopter with Anne under wraps. 

“I feel a great sense of relief and accomplishment and satisfaction,” Lincoln told Yvette Nicole Brown on “Talking Dead.” 

Lincoln said he tried to leave the show last season but he decided not to go away just yet. “I wasn’t ready,” he said. So they planned his rather heroic “death” with Michonne, Daryl and Carol there to see him go as he blew up the bridge that was a metaphor for his efforts to keep everyone (even those at the Sanctuary as well as Negan ) alive. 

In his fever dreams while he struggled to move forward, he saw Shane (Jon Bernthal), Hershel (the late Scott Wilson) and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green). Each represented a “Wizard of Oz” character in a sense, symbolizing courage (Shane), heart (Hershel) and wisdom (Sasha). 

And at least in his dream, he got to kiss Michonne goodbye. 

No doubt this feint will cause a lot of “Walking Dead” fans to roll their eyes. There they go again, going back to Glenn surviving the dumpster walkers.

But as Lincoln said, it does give the original franchise a chance to breathe and move forward without the sometimes limiting presence of Rick Grimes. And Scott Gimple and “The Walking Dead” executives have big plans to expand the show’s universe in a “Star Trek” sort of way so it’s around in some form for decades. Doing films is one way to go about it. 

“It’s not the beginning of the end, it’s the end of the beginning,” Lincoln said in a supplemental press release. “And I like the idea that we get to tell a bigger story, maybe with a sort of wider vista. And I’ve always been interested in what’s going on out there, you know, whether or not there is contact with the wider world. I want to know the meta of it all. And I suppose to be able to kind of touch upon that in a contained story for me is a very exciting proposition ... Maybe it’s the start of a bigger story.”

In a New York Times interview, Lincoln said great things about the four show runners, including Frank Darabont, who was fired season two over financial issues. He also was willing to criticize the show’s decision to kill off Glenn and the graphic way they did it with his eyeball literally bulging out after Negan whacked him with his bat. He felt that was too much and many fans agreed based on how many millions abandoned the show after Glenn’s departure. 

About the Author

Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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