Light Mode

The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live Fails Rick Grimes and Here Are All the Reasons Why He Deserves A Better Fate

It’s hard to believe 2024 marks 14 years since those now-immortal words of, “Previously on AMC’s The Walking Dead,” were first uttered. 11 seasons and 177 episodes later, the shuffling series went to the grave in November 2022 – or at least, it was supposed to. Ignoring those grumbles of franchise fatigue, AMC couldn’t help but continue to pluck its golden goose until it was bald. 

Even though we don’t know what the future of TWD holds, the latest outing brought back a pair of fan-favorites for The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live. It was no secret that viewing figures of the main series had been on a downward trajectory since the highs of season 5, but as TWD limped toward its finale, interest was piqued by how we’d tie off 11 years of shock deaths and shambling zombies. 

- Advertisement -

Aside from a last-minute cameo to cue The Ones Who Live, Andrew Lincoln’s Rick Grimes was notably absent from season 11. Being the MVP of The Walking Dead meant Lincoln didn’t need to prove he had the acting chops to lead a proposed trilogy of Rick movies, but as you might’ve noticed, that didn’t happen.

Many rightly questioned whether AMC could put butts on seats for a single TWD movie, let alone a trilogy likely lacking favorites like Norman Reedus’ Daryl Dixon, Melissa McBride’s Carol, and Danai Gurira’s Michonne. Thankfully, Gurira would get a chance to reprise her role as Rick’s katana-wielding love interest, sharing second billing with Lincoln for the six-episode The Ones Who Live


The Ones Who Limp


As The Walking Dead’s own Romeo and Juliet, it didn’t take a marketing genius to figure out how bringing the pair back together could be a lucrative move. Sadly, while Gimple and co. pitched The Ones Who Live as an epic reunion between two of the show’s hardest heroes, it was too busy tying together a bunch of convoluted storylines with characters no one really cares about.

- Advertisement -

LOST favorite Terry O’Quinn portrayed the lackluster lead villain as Major General Beale, while Lesley-Ann Brandt’s Pearl Thorne faded into the background with an equally underwhelming villain arc. Finally, the writers tried to bring everything back around with the return of Pollyanna McIntosh’s Ladis. Given how much fans of the main series and The World Beyond bemoan anything to do with Jadis (and her haircut), it was another miss.


Just another corpse on the pyre


Despite Matthew August Jeffers’ Nat looking like a welcome shakeup to the Rick and Michonne dynamic, he was killed off in the blink of an eye. A shock death like this would’ve hit home back in the day, but here, Nat was just another corpse on the pyre. That’s not to say glimmers of great The Walking Dead weren’t here, as Lincoln’s stirring speech honoring Carl (Chandler Riggs) hit home about how far the surly sheriff has come and what he’s lost.

The Walking Dead has always trod a fine line of moral ambiguity, with the similarities between Rick and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) being a well-known commentary. In The Ones Who Live, it’s Rick and Michonne who jarringly become the ultimate villains of this world, bringing down the CRM and dooming humanity to Major General Beale’s warning that walkers will have overtaken the world in just 14 years. Importantly, The Ones Who Live doesn’t need to exist. Despite being touted as a miniseries, the series’ open-ended finale screams of a second-season order.


- Advertisement -

Rick should’ve faced his comic book fate


It’s fair to say that there have been several missteps in the history of AMC’s The Walking Dead. From firing Frank Darabont as showrunner to the divisive death of Laurie Holden’s Andrea (with Holden herself being its loudest critic), we had Glenn’s (Steven Yeun) dumpster death fakeout and the unexpected departure of Carl. Arguably, one of the biggest mistakes is not giving Rick the sendoff he deserved.

The first error was announcing that Rick’s season 9 exit, with Lincoln going on the media circuit to hype it as some dramatic goodbye. The writing was on the wall on whether Rick was going to scrape through alive, as season 9’s “What Comes After” brought back a who’s who of dearly departed alumni. Even if predictable, many agree Rick should’ve gone down in a heroic sacrifice instead of a last-minute twist that now feels like it was there to cue a spin-off.


Goodbye … well, not so fast

Rick Grimes on a variant cover to Walking Dead #192. Image/Skybound.

Compare Rick’s arc to the comics, and there isn’t much competition. Jaws were on the floor when Robert Kirkman released fake covers for The Walking Dead #194 and #195, only to kill Rick in Issue #192 and end the whole run with Issue #193. Although this angered comic book houses and readers alike, it was a twist worthy of the series’ early days. Teasing that The Walking Dead would live long beyond Rick was a plausible one, especially because the comics hadn’t killed off Carl. 

The shows have always struggled to know what to do with Rick, emphasized by the fact The Ones Who Live only just delivered the epic moment of him losing his hand and awkwardly shoehorned in the fact he has a son that he’s never met. Still, there was always an over-reliance on Rick when the likes of Carol have arguably become far more interesting. 

The Deadavengers are coming

So what comes next? The Ones Who Live was equally afraid to pull the plug on Rick. It would’ve been typically TWD to kill Rick, Michonne, or both after their long-awaited reunion, but now, we’re back to playing happy families in Alexandria. Although this solves the mystery of what Carol was saying to Daryl on the radio in season 1 of The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon, it only serves as a tease for season 2. 

Similar to how the Marvel Cinematic Universe is accused of being trapped in a neverending cycle of teasing future projects through post-credit scenes, the Deadverse refuses to let things lie. With More Tales from the Walking Dead Universe coming alongside second seasons of Daryl Dixon and Dead City, it feels like we’re leading to the inevitable MCU-inspired Avengers crossover/spinoff. With characters like Fear the Walking Dead’s Morgan (Lennie James) also sure to return, we find ourselves asking when it will end.


With each of these shows introducing more characters we fail to really care about, the cast list of an inevitable reunion movie (we guess where this is going) would put Avengers: Secret Wars to shame and turn off the many who’ve failed to keep up with the franchise since its glory days at the prison. The Walking Dead might’ve started as some much-needed CPR for the rotted zombie genre, but all these years later, we find ourselves begging for someone to save the franchise from its misery. 


Author’s Bio:


Based in Manchester, UK, Tom Chapman has over seven years’ experience covering everything from dragons to Demogorgons. Starting out with a stint at Movie Pilot in Berlin, Tom has since branched out to indulge his love of all things Star Wars and the MCU at Digital Spy, Den of Geek, IGN, Yahoo! and more. These days, you’ll find Tom channelling his inner Gale Weathers and ranting about how HBO did us dirty with Game of Thrones Season Eight.




- Advertisement -