After nine seasons and 120 episodes, Andrew Lincoln’s time on The Walking Dead is about to come to an end. Lincoln originated the role of Rick Grimes in 2010, bringing Robert Kirkman’s flawed hero to life in unforgettable fashion. The humanity and gravitas of Lincoln’s performance went a long way towards winning over fans, especially in the show’s earliest days. It may seem difficult to believe now, but The Walking Dead was once considered a gamble for AMC. There was no guarantee that it would catch fire with TV viewers and become wildly popular.
Can The Walking Dead maintain its place in the pop culture zeitgeist without Lincoln? That’s a question that may not be answered any time soon. For now, it’s time to celebrate Lincoln’s long stint on the show by looking back at some of his most memorable scenes. Many of these scenes were directly inspired by Rick’s journey in the original Walking Dead comics. Lincoln may not have stayed long enough to adapt every story that Rick appeared in, but he hit most of the high points. There are even a few moments that are unique to the show. After all of this time, we can’t imagine anyone else filling Rick’s shoes.
Rick Grimes’ 15 Greatest Walking Dead moments are listed below. Did we leave any of your favorites out? Let us know in the comment section below!
City of the Dead
Season 1, Episode 1: "Days Gone Bye"
The pilot episode of The Walking Dead put Rick Grimes way over his head when he went into Atlanta while searching for survivors. What he found was a horde of walkers that quickly surrounded him. It’s a harrowing sequence that includes a close encounter with a zombie inside of a tank. But this is also where Rick showed the tenacity that allowed him to survive for so long.
Needs More Guts
Season 1, Episode 2: "Guts"
Slipping past walkers undetected hasn’t always been second nature for the survivors. In the second episode of the series, Rick and his new friend, Glenn, needed a way to get past the assembled herd. Their solution was disgustingly simple: they covered themselves with zombie blood and guts. We can’t argue with success, even if the rain did come at an unfortunate time.
Season 2, Episode 7: "Pretty Much Dead Already"
Through the first half of season 2, Shane berated Rick and questioned his leadership, especially in the wake of Sophia’s disappearance. But when Sophia shuffled out of the barn as a member of the living dead, not even Shane could bring himself put her down. It came down to Rick, who drew his own weapon and fired. That was particularly painful, given everything Rick and the survivors went through to find Carol’s daughter. This was a defining moment for Rick, as he demonstrated the nerve that few others could match.
Showdown With Shane
Season 2, Episode 12: “Better Angels”
Tensions between Rick and Shane finally boiled over in season 2’s penultimate episode. Shane and Rick had once been the closest of friends, but Shane coveted Rick’s family and he lost himself. Shane even planned to murder Rick by luring him to a secluded area away from the barn. However, Rick was able to talk Shane down just long enough to stab his ex-buddy to death. Several seasons later, Rick was more like Shane than he would probably like to admit. And it all started here.
Season 2, Episode 13: “Beside the Dying Fire”
It’s safe to say that the early days of Rick’s leadership didn’t have a high success rate. Rick’s confrontation with Shane and its aftermath inadvertently led a herd of walkers to the farm. Naturally, that led the survivors to openly question Rick’s guidance. He responded with a speech that forcefully told them to leave the group if they didn’t like his decisions. For emphasis he said, “this isn’t a democracy anymore.” Fans dubbed it the “Ricktatorship,” and it was Rick at his best and his worst.
Season 3, Episode 1: “Seed”
What does eight months of a Ricktatorship get you? For starters, Rick kept everyone in his group alive for almost a year even without a permanent home to call their own. The wordless opening sequence in the season 3 premiere also illustrated just how efficient the group had become. However, Rick’s real power over his followers was shown when he angrily refused to let them eat dogmeat, the only food they found left in the abandoned house.
No Second Chances
Season 3, Episode 2: “Sick”
A nearly abandoned prison represented the best hope for Rick and the survivors to make a new home. Unfortunately, a few of the surviving inmates weren’t exactly willing to play nice. A belligerent convict named Tomas tried to kill Rick twice while they attempted to fend off walkers. In response, Rick brutally murdered Tomas with a machete. It may have been justified, but it was a new level ruthlessness for The Walking Dead’s leading man.
Watch Out, He Bites!
Season 4, Episode 16: “A”
On the road to Terminus, Rick, Michonne, and Carl ran afoul of a group calling themselves the Claimers. Not even Daryl’s intervention could stop the Claimers from attempting to rape both Carl and Michonne before murdering Rick and Daryl. Unarmed and nearly defenseless, Rick did what any other post-apocalyptic dad would do. He fatally wounded the Claimers’ leader by tearing out his jugular... with his teeth. Then he brutally killed the other Claimers who dared to threaten his family.
“You’re My Brother”
Season 4, Episode 16: “A”
The morning after the Claimers were dealt with, Rick shared a quiet moment with Daryl as they reconnected. Daryl apologized for not recognizing the threat that the Claimers represented, but Rick assured him that he had nothing to be sorry about. He even told Daryl that he considered him to be his “brother,” which put to words the bond they shared over the years. Even when Daryl and Rick have been at odds, they still consider each other family.
“I Already Made You a Promise”
Season 5, Episode 3: “Four Walls and a Roof”
Gareth and his followers had lured Rick’s group to Terminus with a promise of sanctuary. But instead of finding hope, they were nearly slaughtered and eaten by cannibals. Before Rick escaped, he promised that he would personally kill Gareth. When the Terminus hunters caught up to the group, Rick reminded Gareth of his promise before brutally slaughtering them in a church. It was a horrific sequence, but no one can say that Rick wasn’t a man of his word.
What It Takes To Survive
Season 5, Episode 15: "Try"
Ever since Rick and the survivors arrived at the Alexandria Safe Zone, he was deeply disturbed by how ill-prepared they were for the horrors awaiting them. Rick was equally troubled by the fact that Pete, the town’s doctor, was abusing his wife, Jesse. Rick and Pete’s inevitable confrontation became a bloody battle that spilled out into the streets. Rick emerged victorious, and his subsequent rant about survival terrified Alexandria’s residents. Everything Rick said was true, but he’s rarely been more frightening than he was here.
The Battle for Alexandria
Season 5, Episode 9: “No Way Out"
When Alexandria’s walls fell, Rick suffered one of his darkest hours. His new lover, Jesse, and her youngest child were killed by the invading walkers. Rick’s son, Carl, was also near death after taking a bullet through his eye. Faced with the loss of everything he had been fighting for, Rick made a stand against the walkers...and survived against incredible odds. That inspired Rick’s friends and the rest of the townspeople to join him in defense of their home. Rick’s actions solidified his status as Alexandria’s new leader.
Season 6, Episode 11: “Knots Untie”
Taking a few steps into the larger world, Rick and his friends accompanied Jesus to the Hilltop for the very first time. Shortly after meeting Hilltop’s shifty leader, Gregory, Rick witnessed one of Gregory’s own men as he tried to assassinate him on Negan’s orders. In front of the assembled townspeople, Rick stabbed the man in his neck and he barely acknowledged the shocked response of Hilltop's residents.
"You’re All Already Dead"
Season 7, Episode 16: “The First Day of the Rest of Your Life”
Rick’s not necessarily the best judge of character, since trusting Jadis and the Scavengers allowed Negan and the Saviors to get the drop on him. But even as Negan threatened to execute Carl and take Rick’s hands, he coldly told Negan that he was going to kill all of the Saviors no matter what they did. Rick’s words were carried with a chilling sense of conviction. Even Negan was impressed by that.
Season 8, Episode 16: “Wrath"
The survivors had so many reasons to want Negan dead that it would have been understandable if Rick had simply let his adversary die. In the final battle, Rick seriously injured Negan, and almost let him bleed out before reconsidering. Rick’s son, Carl, envisioned a world where even Negan and the Saviors could have a place in peace alongside the other communities. In Carl’s memory, Rick spared Negan’s life even though it alienated him from some of his closest friends. Rick wanted to set a better example and a more hopeful vision for the new world they were creating. Time will tell if he made the right decision.