The Walking Dead’s franchise megastar Andrew Lincoln considered leaving in season 4, meaning The Governor prison showdown was almost the end of Rick Grimes.
According to Digital Spy, Rick Grimes’ exit from The Walking Dead has been a long time coming, dating all the way back to 2013 during season 4. It’s there that Andrew Lincoln first entertained the notion with then-showrunner Scott Gimple about completing Grimes’ story arc. During San Diego Comic-Con, Lincoln was frank about that a certain conversation with Gimple leading up to it all.
“It was a lot to do with a conversation that Scott and I had a few years ago, maybe in season 4, about a shape, and finding some way to complete something that was never going to be completed.”
Despite his thoughts, he decided to stay the course as he loved the character of Rick Grimes and didn’t want to “disturb the mothership,” so to speak, by making the staff have to write Rick out an an inopportune time.
The epic season 5 speech in Alexandria comes to mind: “Things don’t just get better because you want them to.”
Now in season 9, Lincoln’s earlier thoughts about an exit are out in the public eye freely, everyone knows Rick Grimes’ character end is here, whether fans are ready or not. It’s akin to Tony Soprano’s last scene in HBO’s legendary show. Even if The Walking Dead’s final shape is indeed a story that is never completed, Rick’s arc is hitting its last chapter.
The questions then arise, should they have had Negan win to end season 8? Is this somehow connected to Carl’s surprising character end last season? Would The Governor have theoretically won back in season 4 or at least escaped? It never quite made sense why he went after Hershel instead of his arch-nemesis Michonne in the first place, when he had the choice literally in front of him. What is certain is Andrew Lincoln is more than just The Walking Dead, he practically represents AMC itself. When one hears the network AMC, the image of Rick Grimes in his sheriff’s hat is the first that comes to mind. This is no ordinary cast exit, it’s ratings armageddon network wide.
Andrew Lincoln on his Walking Dead ‘surrogate’ family:
"These guys here, and everybody back in Atlanta, are the greatest surrogate family I could’ve wished for. But I do have a real family and it is time for me to go home. There are a couple of things that I’m thinking about doing, but I’m so in love with Rick Grimes and the people in this show that I don’t know if I can put him down yet."
The natural question is would quadrupling his salary or more have changed his mind or was it inevitable? Fans have already seen Fear the Walking Dead’s lead Nick Clark (Frank Dillane) exit the show in season 4 citing missing home. After being heralded as the franchise’s next big thing a couple of years ago, it’s no coincidence why Fear is now going through a reboot and had Morgan Jones sent over.
However, there’s no even semi-band aid for a Rick Grimes exit, Andrew Lincoln is The Walking Dead. Fan comments everywhere from news articles to YouTube to social media have expressed leaving the show behind if Rick’s gone. That means no more Walking Dead lead-ins, advertising halved, an entire network-wide decline. There is no mincing words, the very heart of AMC is Andrew Lincoln. His value to the network is limitless.
Lincoln commented that he plans to “take a break [from acting] for a while” after shooting his final scenes as Rick Grimes. No doubt every movie studio, major network and streaming service will be after his services. The shine of Rick Grimes will live on eternally to every project he undertakes.