Andrew Lincoln played Rick Grimes for nearly a decade on The Walking Dead, and here’s why he decided to leave the show during season 9.
WARNING: The following contains SPOILERS for The Walking Dead series finale.
Andrew Lincoln notably left The Walking Dead during season 9, but why did the Rick Grimes actor decide to depart? AMC launched one of the most popular TV show franchises of all time in 2010 with The Walking Dead, a series that remains popular over a decade later. Based on the acclaimed comic series by Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead’s lead role of Rick Grimes was played by Andrew Lincoln. A mainstay from season 1, it seemed inevitable that Rick would be one of the few season 1 TWD characters to stay the course. However, Rick Grimes left The Walking Dead in season 9.
Even for a show like The Walking Dead — full of shock character deaths and an ever-changing cast list — Andrew Lincoln’s season 9 TWD exit was a huge shock to viewers. One of the reasons The Walking Dead gained such a big following was the frequency and unpredictable nature of major characters suddenly dying during the zombie apocalypse story — a story told with Rick Grimes as a narrative anchor. Surprisingly, Rick left The Walking Dead not due to his character’s death — which is why the reason Andrew Lincoln left The Walking Dead is such a lingering question. Here’s Rick Grimes’ season 9 The Walking Dead exit explained.
Why Rick Grimes’ Actor Andrew Lincoln Left The Walking Dead
By the time its ninth season rolled around, the likes of Rick Grimes and Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) seemed to be The Walking Dead mainstays who would be included forever. That changed during season 9 of The Walking Dead when Rick Grimes was written out of the series. However, he did return for one final appearance in The Walking Dead series finale. The truth is that Andrew Lincoln left The Walking Dead because of his desire to be close to his family.
The Walking Dead‘s Rick Grimes actor is a father of two young children, and they live at home in the UK. Since The Walking Dead‘s production takes place primarily in Atlanta and lasts several months, Lincoln wasn’t able to spend as much time at home as he’d like. Ultimately, Rick Grimes’ actor realized that in order to spend more time with his family, Andrew Lincoln would need to leave The Walking Dead. Here’s why Rick left The Walking Dead.
Regardless of why Rick left The Walking Dead, it proved to be a turning point for the series. Without its biggest character, the show had to turn its focus elsewhere and reinvent the story. TWD season 9’s six-year time jump coincided with Andrew Lincoln’s exit, which allowed The Walking Dead to show what happened to the core group of characters without Rick Grimes around. For the creators, writers, and viewers, the Rick Grimes actor’s departure seemed to be a blessing in disguise. The Walking Dead has been incredibly well-received afterward, and manged to carry itself through to the season 11 finale without Rick Grimes.
Rick Grimes TWD Return Explained
Why Rick left The Walking Dead in season 9 in-universe was that he was carried away in a CRM helicopter — which makes a reappearance, along with Rick, in The Walking Dead series finale. In the last moments of the TWD series ending, audiences get to see both Rick and Michonne again. Rick is shown to be writing a letter and his and Michonne’s voices narrate the finale’s final moments. Recounting all of those he’s lost, Rick writes to Michonne about both the dead and the living.
While Michonne swears that Rick is still alive out there, Rick can be seen on a beach, packing a backpack. He puts his message in a bottle and then throws it into the lake, when a helicopter can be heard from off-screen. He quickly throws the backpack into a nearby boat, when a CRM helicopter says via loudspeaker, “Consignee Grimes, you’ve been located and are instructed to surrender.” Rick ends up putting his hands in the air, smiling as the helicopter descends.
The final scene in The Walking Dead does nothing if not set up the upcoming Rick and Michonne spinoff. Beginning shooting in 2023, the Rick and Michonne series will premiere sometime in 2024. The Walking Dead series finale saw Michonne mounting a horse and riding off on a desperate search for her one true love, believing wholeheartedly that he’s still alive. One interesting thing that can be gathered is that it appears that Rick somehow escaped CRM custody at some point. Presumably, the Rick and Michonne miniseries will cover Michonne and Rick’s respective journeys to find one another, while also providing more concrete information about the elusive Civil Republic Military. The Rick and Michonne spinoff should see the two reunited for good, and it will hopefully give The Walking Dead‘s most beloved character a proper ending.