The Walking Dead has plunged its viewers into chaos for seven seasons now, and the one constant in this murder-a-minute show is Rick Grimes, whose corpse-filled journey we’ve followed from the pilot all those years ago. But actor Andrew Lincoln says the show can zombie-shuffle on without him.
Lincoln told Entertainment Weekly, “[T]here is a sense to me that really needs some … it sounds like I’m in a shrink’s head, but there is a completion thing that I think I deserve for doing it for so long. And also probably the audience would like some completion.”
And when he says “completion,” he means the completion of Rick’s story arc ... as in death.
However, this means the show could still keep telling stories of life after the zombie apocalypse … through the eyes of Rick’s son Carl. Lincoln said, “If ever there was a landscape or an environment to do that, it’s our show. But whether or not that’s this season … well, you have to find out, don’t you?”
The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman agreed. “Andy is the leader of this show, and his dedication to the show is absolutely inspiring. … But we have a very strong ensemble, and there’s a lot of characters that could carry the show.”
Obviously, this is just Lincoln talking, and The Walking Dead writing team calls the shots. Kirkman even said, “I don’t think we have to worry about that anytime soon.”
We can’t imagine this series continuing without Rick Grimes’ moral compass steering the ship that we’ve come to know and love, and as comic readers know, he's still around and kicking. Perhaps the show may survive if we ever reach that point, but ratings would likely dip dramatically. A popular meme says, "If Daryl dies, we riot." If Rick dies, the audience may not riot, but it could certainly melt away.
We also anticipate that the writers will have something even more spectacular in mind for Rick. They’re probably gleefully priming their pens over Lincoln’s comments right now and saying “Death is too good for him.”