The Walking Dead star Lennie James recently explained why his character, Morgan, went searching for Rick after being on his own for so long. James has been a fixture on Walking Dead since the show began. His character Morgan continues to be a fan favorite and will soon be a featured player on the show’s spinoff, Fear the Walking Dead.
Morgan appeared in the show’s pilot episode, and was one of the first people Rick met after the zombie apocalypse. Rick soon left in search of his family, while Morgan and his son Duane stayed in King County, Georgia. Morgan reemerged in the show’s third season; however, he was a changed man. In the time since Rick had left them, Duane had died at the hands of his reanimated mother. This tragedy, mixed with isolation, was too much for Morgan. He was teetering on the brink of insanity and had seemingly lost the will to live. Though Rick invited Morgan to come back to the prison, he declined and stayed in King County. In the show’s sixth season, however, Morgan found Rick in Virginia and joined the rest of the gang in Alexandria.
While it was great to see Morgan and Rick reunite, many fans wondered why he sought out Rick in the first place. In an exclusive interview with Screen Rant, James finally explained why Morgan sought out Rick after so long. His explanation cuts to the core of who Morgan is as a character, and it also informs his mental state throughout the series:
"I think it's to do with the history of the character and the kind of the defining events in his story. I think it's to do with how he lost his family. I think it's to do with - to a greater or lesser extent - that happened in isolation. It didn't happen within a group. After he lost his wife and kids, he was alone, and when they were gone there was no one left in the world that knew him, that could prove his existence, except for Rick Grimes. And that's why he sets off in search of Rick and that had been a lonesome road. So, the first time that Morgan was really part of any real group - you know, even when he met Eastman it was just the two of them - so the first time he was part of any real group was when he arrived in Alexandria, and that was years into the apocalypse. I think he just got used to being on his own."
James’ explanation encapsulates the essence of who Morgan is and who he has become over the course of the show. On one hand, Morgan is a steadfast loner who survived on his own for years. On the other hand, his years in isolation have started to chip away at his mental faculties - so much so, that he began to lose touch with who he was before the world ended. It makes sense that he would search out Rick, the one person who knows he is in the world. In many ways, Rick is Morgan’s anchor to reality.
Though Morgan’s inner turmoil has continued over the past few seasons, at least he hasn’t had to bear them alone. Rick and other members of the Alexandria kept him grounded for a while, but his future still remains uncertain. Hopefully, Morgan will find some semblance of peace on Fear the Walking Dead, but for now, his journey remains one of the most captivating storylines in the franchise.
The Walking Dead season 8 releases on DVD and Blu-ray on August 21.