According to Collider, the next season of The Walking Dead will be Andrew Lincoln’s last. After eight seasons as the star of The Walking Dead, Lincoln is apparently ready to move on and that means that The Walking Dead is about to lose Rick Grimes.
Of course, the television show began with Rick Grimes waking up from a coma and finding himself in a world that was far different from the one that he remembered. In the early seasons especially, Rick stood-in for the audience. We discovered the realities of the zombie apocalypse at the same time that Rick did. When we were upset over the death of a character, Rick got upset with us. When Rick hoped that a new, better world could somehow be created from the ruins of the old, we hoped along with him. Among an ensemble cast that was filled with talent, Andrew Lincoln was the often underappreciated anchor that held the show’s narrative together.
Of course, many would argue that the show lost its way over the last few seasons. I certainly would. As the show grew more inconsistent, so did Rick’s character. Often times, it seemed like Rick’s personality would change from episode to episode, depending on what the show was trying to accomplish that week. It’s hard not to feel that, as an actor, Andrew Lincoln deserved better than to have to spend the majority of season seven in a nearly catatonic state, silently suffering as Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Negan devoured every inch of scenery.
And yet, Andrew Lincoln was always good. Sometimes, the scripts were weak. Sometimes, Rick was required to do things that didn’t make much sense. But, through it all, Lincoln remained the anchor. For all intents and purposes, he was The Walking Dead.
In much the same way that Lost simply had no choice but to end with Jack Shepherd sacrificing his life on the island, I’ve always felt that The Walking Dead had little choice but to end with Rick dying. The show has always been his story and it’s always seemed that, when Rick’s life ended, so would the show. Of course, the perfect ending would have been for Rick to die and Carl to pick up the mantle of leadership. Unfortunately, Carl’s dead so that’s not going to happen.
(I realize that the Collider article stated that Lincoln was leaving the show and not that Rick was going to be killed off. But, honestly, it’s hard to imagine this show not milking Rick’s death for all the drama that it can. And, at this point, it would feel like a cop out not to kill him. That’s just not the way things work in the world of The Walking Dead.)
Who will take over as the new leader on The Walking Dead? Maggie was an obvious choice but Lauren Cohan just had a pilot picked up by ABC. (Of course, there’s no guarantee that the ABC series will be a success. For one thing, it’s entitled Whiskey Cavalier, which is one of the stupidest titles I’ve ever come across.) Norman Reedus just managed to get himself a nice pay raise, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Daryl become even more prominent. Or Negan might suddenly turn into a good guy and become the new leader. Who knows? About the only thing we can say for sure is that, with Carl dead and Rick leaving, the show is inevitably going to move further away from the comic that inspired it.
Though they’re two very different shows, it’s hard for me not to compare Andrew Lincoln leaving The Walking Dead to Steve Carell leaving The Office. Let’s just hope that Rick’s replacement won’t be Andy Bernard.
Finally, in honor of the legacy Rick Grimes…
Those schoolgirl days of telling tales and biting nails are gone
But in my mind I know they will still live on and on
But how do you thank someone who has taken you from crayons to perfume?
It isn’t easy, but I’ll try
If you wanted the sky I would write across the sky in letters
That would soar a thousand feet high ‘To Sir, With Love’
The time has come for closing books and long last looks must end
And as I leave I know that I am leaving my best friend
A friend who taught me right from wrong and weak from strong
That’s a lot to learn, but what can I give you in return?
If you wanted the moon I would try to make a start
But I would rather you let me give my heart ‘To Sir, With Love’