2016 was truly the year of "Richonne." In season 6B of The Walking Dead, Rick Grimes finally consummated his relationship with his partner and right hand Michonne, after bringing home the apocalyptic version of flowers and candy-- breath mints.
The pair have traveled a long road in the zombie apocalypse, and in spite of the many things that could have driven them apart, they have only grown closer. While the best is yet to come for Rick and Michonne, and the season is only halfway done, we wanted to travel down the history of Rick and Michonne’s relationship, showcasing the awesome moments that lead up to both that first hand holding scene in 6B’s “The Next World,” to the latest hand holding scene in the 7A mid-season finale “Hearts Still Beating.”
The telltale moments were always there, showing where Rick and Michonne would end up. Here are 15 episodes that showcase the best moments in Rick and Michonne’s relationship:
15 “Hearts Still Beating” (7X08)
While Rick was away scavenging with Aaron, all hell broke loose back at home. He goes to Morgan’s cell to find quiet amongst the chaos. Michonne approaches him, and tells him that she too went out that day, and that she realized something important: She didn’t want to go it alone: “That's why we have to fight – not for us, but for Judith, for Carl, for Alexandria, for the Hilltop – for all of us. We can fight them, Rick. We can find a way to beat them. We can do this. But... But... Only if... we do this.”
Before this moment, Rick had invited Michonne to go with him. Not because he needed her help on that particular excursion; Rick wanted to know if she was still with him. In this scene, though the hug is short lived, she tells him without question that she is, and that she can’t go it alone without him.
14 “Service” (7X04)
Things have been pretty strained between Rick and Michonne post the Negan line-up. They sleep with their backs to each other, she keeps secrets… but at the end of the day, after Negan has raided Alexandria, after Rick asks her for the Savior rifle, after Negan takes the deer Michonne had brought back, and after they had to deal with the degrading moment of having their mattresses taken, Rick confides in Michonne about Judith.
He exhales, admitting aloud that he knows Judith isn’t his, explain to Michonne why he is doing the things the way that he is. That resonates with Michonne more than Rick is even aware. Knowing he does the things he does for his kids is one thing, but now knowing that Judith isn’t biologically his, and that it doesn’t matter one way or the other to him, it speaks to the man that he is, and why she fell for him in the first place. This patches things between him, and Michonne lets him know that for him, she is willing to try.
13 “The Next World” (6X10)
People tend to reference this episode—this moment—as when Rick and Michonne finally became a canon romance. The thing of it is, as the upcoming instances will lay out, they were already canon. This moment just happens to be when Rick and Michonne consummated their relationship.
Before Rick leaves the house that day, Michonne tells him that she needs toothpaste. Rick lucks out and actually finds an entire box of toothpaste, only to lose it. Though he makes a valiant effort to go after the truck, he grabs a pack of mints, wanting to bring her something, just in case. What makes this moment so great is the extreme level of thoughtfulness behind Ricks gesture. Though he doesn’t make a big to-do about it when she mentions it early that morning, it is clear that Michonne was always on his mind.
Needless to say, toothpaste or mints, it panned out better than Rick expected.
12 “No Way Out” (6X09)
In the season six mid-season finale, Rick and Michonne rush an injured Carl to the infirmary for treatment. Out of it, angry, and determined, Rick ventures out into the herd, intending to slaughter them all. Michonne, in a panic yells to Denise that Rick’s out there, and that he needs her help. What’s most fascinating about this moment is that she doesn’t shout that Rick needs help, and suggest that Aaron, Spencer, or Heath go out there to assist him—Michonne shouts that she has to go help him and watch his back. She doesn’t trust the others to do it; it has to be her.
Part of what makes Michonne so perfect for Rick is her both knowing and understanding that Rick is human, and sometimes, he needs saving just like everyone else. Michonne neither condemns nor judges Rick for this, which is a huge reason why their relationship works so well.
11 “Conquer” (5X16)
After Michonne puts Rick on a timeout, he confesses to her the coup that he planned with Daryl and Carol, and hands her the spare gun that he had on him. He admits to her that the reason why he didn’t tell her in the first place was because he was afraid she could talk him out of it. Instead of blowing up, Michonne’s only reaction is to tell him that it’s alright, and that win or lose, exile or staying put, she was still with him. He hands her his gun a second time, only to have her gently push it away, letting him keep it.
This show is rife with symbolism, and this is one of the most symbolic moments of all, and a pertinent moment in their relationship. Rick not once, but twice hands over his gun, representative of his power, to Michonne. And instead of taking it, or reprimanding him, she gives him understanding, and hands it back to him.
10 “What Happened and What’s Going On” (5X09)
In this episode, once they discover that Noah’s community is gone, the first person Rick reaches out to is Michonne-- literally. With Noah crumpled on the ground, Rick walks towards him, and passes Michonne on his way over. He reaches out, gently brushing her palm with his fingers, letting her know he’s there, and he understands.
He spends the bulk of this episode paying close attention to her, noticing her distress, and feeling hopeless about how to abate it. When Michonne comes up with the idea to go to Washington, pleading with him to lead them there, he agrees without hesitation: “It’s a hundred miles away. We should go to Washington,” causing Michonne to light up.
This is just an incredible change from earlier versions of Rick. In fact, it is Lori who at one instance points out to him, if someone else had made a suggestion on what to do, where to go, would he have listened? Then, it was no. But with Michonne… “This is different.”
9 “Crossed” (5X07)
As Rick and Michonne work together to board up the church, Rick tells her that Carl wants to go to Atlanta for Beth, and that he can’t have that. Michonne offers to go in Rick’s stead for the rescue mission, and Rick laughs. He doesn’t want Michonne to go anywhere—he wants her to hang back with the kids, and make sure they are all safe. But he knows Michonne, so it’s not an order. And yet, he still gets what he wants, having his core family stay back while he goes out into the wild, back to work.
On the one hand, he does in fact get his way; Michonne stays back with the kids. On the other hand, this moment does not diminish Michonne as a partner. While it is inherently safer to stay at the church, things can still go wrong; things still need to be looked after, but Rick trusts and knows that Michonne is more than capable.
8 “A” (4X16)
Fans invested in Rick and Michonne's relationship are more than aware of this scene, but for those who may have missed it: after their run-in with the Claimers, and Rick’s savage and visceral reaction (ripping out Joe’s throat, then gutting the other Claimer), Michonne comforts Carl. As they walk along the railroad tracks, Michonne catches up to Rick, just looking at him in what can only be described as admiration. He checks in with her:
Rick: "You okay?"
Rick: "I'm okay."
Michonne: "I know."
Michonne: "'Cause I'm okay, too."
This is suspected by many to be the moment when Michonne realizes she is in love with Rick. Seeing how fiercely he protected his family harkens back to the one thing her former partner could not do for Andre. This touches her. Rick is devoted-- his brutality is balanced out by the level of love he possesses for his family.
7 “After” and “Claimed” (4X9 and 4X11)
These two episodes go hand in hand. “After” was essentially a core Grimes family bottle episode, focusing on Carl’s reluctance to need his dad, and Michonne’s reluctance to need Rick and Carl. Ultimately, she realizes she does in fact need them and tracks them down. She cries tears of joy upon seeing Rick and Carl, alive and well, having breakfast. When Rick goes to the door to see who it is, he gives a genuine, happy laugh upon seeing her.
Piggybacking on this moment is the next day kitchen scene in “Claimed.” Rick tells Michonne that Carl needs her—his son needs her as a mom. He gives her an out-- if she ever needs a break to take one-- to which Michonne vehemently says, “I’m done taking breaks,” thus solidifying their family unit.
Michonne then asks Rick “This place… is it home, or just a stop along the way?” This is a tremendous statement. While they’re both aware there are probably other survivors from the prison, they both also know that home is wherever they are together. Rick’s response is a hesitant, “Well let’s… let’s just stay here while we figure it out,” and Michonne nods her head in understanding. This wasn’t just them trying to figure things out; it was Rick’s way of asking her not to leave.
6 “Internment” (4X05)
Rick Grimes is not a very forward man-- at least, not when it came to courting Michonne. In this episode, before Rick goes to approach Michonne, he freshens up a bit in the water barrel, and casually asks her if she needs some help with moving the dead. When she tells him with a smile, “No, do your thing,” there was no better live-action version of a sad face smiley than Rick’s face in that moment. It is clear that he took her “no” as a rejection. While he was wrong, it causes him to have more hesitancy with her in a romantic sense down the road. This misconception was remedied with a little time.
It is also important to note the visual backdrop of Michonne here, smiling in the sunlight, the cheerful drawings from the children behind her serving as a backdrop. She is framed literally above him, on a pedestal.
5 “30 Days Without An Accident” (4X01)
In the opening of the season four premiere, Rick has settled into the life of farming, learning from Hershel, teaching Carl. He doesn’t leave the prison anymore. Hershel begins to teach him another lesson about “plants”— “Things break, but they can still grow. These little bristles, they'll take root and we'll have a whole new plant.”
Then Rick hears a whistle. He ignores Hershel, calling to Carl to run to the gates. He knows exactly who is approaching. He flees to open the gates for Michonne, smiling broadly, greeting her with, “We’re glad to see you.” After she hands out gifts to both Carl and Rick, he asks her if she’s willing to stay.
What’s so fascinating about the dynamic here between these two is that it’s a swap of traditional gender norms— Michonne goes out on the job, while Rick stays home with the kids. And here he is, asking her for a bit more time at home.
4 “Welcome to the Tombs” (3X16)
It must be noted that it is Michonne who goes to Rick this time. While she was updating him on the plan, it is clear by his demeanor that he has been avoiding her— and avoiding that particular conversation. In fact, when she arrives back at the prison after Merle lets her go, he looks first relieved, then resigned; ready to accept whatever reprimand she had at the ready. But it is Michonne who lets Rick off the hook with, “You had to consider it. You had to.” Then she thanks him for taking her in. Rick tries to pass it off on it being on account of her having the baby formula, but Michonne knows better. Then Rick not-so-casually checks her out and adds, “Must’ve been something else, then.” Switching gears, he says it was Carl who made the call—
“You’re one of us.”
Michonne smirks at him, then turns away. A hint of a smile is on Rick’s face as he turns, following behind her.
3 “This Sorrowful Life” (3X15)
This one was actually a series of moments, starting with The Governor’s, “I want Michonne.” Rick embarks on a path of turmoil over whether or not to turn Michonne over. Given the possibility of keeping his people safe, he had to seriously ponder it. But as he starts collecting wire for Michonne’s capture, he sees his last vision of Lori, in plain clothes, still pregnant, gazing down upon him.
His decision to not turn Michonne over in the moment in which he sees his deceased wife is tremendous, correlating Michonne to Lori,and thus foreshadowing where her future would be. The imagery connecting Michonne to Rick’s family is repeated long before they kiss on that couch—here, when she shows up with the formula, when Rick and Carl are reunited with Judith, and and the next entry on this list as well.
He then tells Hershel that he cannot do it, and he turns away, not waiting for a response.
2 “Clear” (3X12)
This bottle episode effectively solidified the Grimes Family dynamic. Here, Rick makes the decision to take Michonne on a run with him and his son. This begins a pattern of either pairing himself with Carl and Michonne, or ensuring that Michonne is watching over Carl. While Rick’s plan was to keep Merle and Michonne separated, he could have easily taken Merle, who is familiar with guns, knows the Governor personally, and could have given Rick insides tips on battle planning. Not to say that Michonne doesn’t have ideas of her own, but Merle truly was the inside man.
Speaking of watching over Carl, Rick also entrusts Carl with Michonne, alone, for the very first time in this episode. By the end of their excursion, Michonne is literally handing Carl back his family.
After Carl vouches for Michonne personally, Rick has a brief exchange with Michonne, joking that he “saw things.” Sure, the joke is godawful, but the most important part is this: Rick was joking for the first time since he woke up alone in a nightmare. It’s a hopeful moment, as she gets his son to come around while also giving Rick a lighthearted moment within the chaos.
1 “Made To Suffer” (3X08)
Rick, Michonne, Daryl and Oscar have gone to Woodbury on a rescue mission for Glenn and Maggie. During their search, Michonne separates from the group and gets into a wicked scuffle with The Governor. When she makes her way back, a defensive Rick holds a gun on her, taking her sword. Michonne has never looked so defeated. Rick thinks it’s a trick—that Michonne had sabotaged the mission. She says quite plainly, “I brought you here to save them.” Rick sarcastically thanks her for her help, but Michonne counters his sarcasm with a simple truth:
“You’ll need help. To get them back to the prison, or to go back in there for Daryl. Either way…you need me.”
It’s true—Rick did need Michonne. But given the look on her face, she is clearly asking for permission to help. While Rick is loath to admit it, he acquiesces, letting Michonne in, and allowing himself to trust her. Even though he’s still wary, that trust laid the foundation for their relationship ultimately, giving it room to grow.
What's your favorite moment between Rick and Michonne in The Walking Dead? Let us know in the comments!