What unfinished business does Rick still have in the world of The Walking Dead? Andrew Lincoln's Rick Grimes was written out of AMC's The Walking Dead TV series early in season 9, with the actor wanting to move on from the hectic schedule that comes with filming one of the biggest shows on television. Rick forged an alliance between several large communities that had survived the zombie apocalypse, and put his own life on the line to protect them from an oncoming herd, blowing up a bridge while already gravely injured in a move that swept away both the looming undead and Rick himself.
Believing their former leader to be dead, Rick's friends in Alexandria, Hilltop and the Kingdom move on with their lives, and the story of The Walking Dead continues with a lengthy time skip that propels the narrative years into the future.
However, reports of Rick's demise have been greatly exaggerated. Despite bleeding profusely after falling off a horse and onto a spike (a mishap that might've sullied Rick's reputation had anyone else found out about it), Rick washes up on a riverbank and is rescued by Jadis, the former leader of the Junkyard community. Recognizing Rick's dire situation, Jadis calls for aid from the mysterious helicopter-flying group and both characters are whisked away to parts unknown. AMC later confirmed that Rick's story would continue in a The Walking Dead movie, but what plot threads are still in need of resolution?
For most of The Walking Dead, the driving force behind Rick's indomitable will to survive has been his son, Carl, and later Judith, the biological daughter of Lori and Shane. Rick's constant fight to find a settlement suitable for long-term habitation and his refusal to yield to mankind's darker, more violent instincts is all done in the name of creating a future for his children. Carl was tragically killed by a zombie bite in The Walking Dead season 8, and Judith has grown up to become a miniature badass in her own right, but Rick has one other child that he's never met - Rick Jr.
Shortly before his disappearance, Rick and Michonne conceived a child together, but Rick "died" before the infant was born. Since the incident on the bridge took place before Michonne had a chance to tell her partner she was in the family way, Rick doesn't actually know about Rick Jr.'s existence, and this is a huge benefit to the Walking Dead movie, as Andrew Lincoln's character would've be solely focused on returning to Alexandria and meeting his new son if he had known about Michonne's pregnancy.
The audience, however, are fully aware that Rick has a third child and, given how family-orientated Rick is, The Walking Dead will need to address the issue before it comes an elephant in the room. Somehow, Rick Grimes needs to find out about Rick Jr.
Creating A Legacy
Across the entire story of The Walking Dead, both on TV and in the comics, Rick's main arc is centered on building towards the future - leaving a legacy so that others can live in a world vaguely resembling civilization. In the comic books, Rick dies for this cause and is honored with a statue and legendary status. On TV, however, the Alexandrian alliance fell apart after Rick's departure, with distrust and division separating and isolating the three main communities.
This is an issue the likes of Michonne, Carol and Daryl will have to fix in The Walking Dead season 10, meaning Rick must find a new way of leaving his mark on the world in his upcoming solo movie. Rick may not have been able to unite his own community in the way he wished, but the character can find a new purpose and build a new legacy somewhere else. If he fails to achieve this, Rick's entire arc might feel incomplete.
Closure For Daryl
Most of Rick's former friends moved on from his assumed death with the same rapid mourning speed afforded to any other casualty of the zombie outbreak. Even Michonne eventually decides enough is enough and forges on as a mother and the de facto leader of Alexandria. Daryl, however, struggles desperately to get over the disappearance of his closest friend. Not only does Daryl continue searching for Rick long after the bridge explosion, but he's the only member of the main cast who truly still believes that his pal could still, somehow, be alive.
Daryl's faith and his loyalty to Rick needs to be rewarded in some form, primarily to provide some sense of closure to Daryl's current story, but also to draw some kind of line underneath the Rick era of The Walking Dead, allowing the show to move on without that nagging doubt lingering in the back of Daryl's mind. The two best friends don't necessarily need to meet again; it would simply be enough for Daryl to learn his gut instinct wasn't misplaced.
Goodbye To Michonne
Rick and Michonne never got to say a proper goodbye to each other in The Walking Dead but, frankly, that's par for the course in the zombie apocalypse. But it goes without saying that the first thing Rick will do when waking up to the soothing sounds of whirring helicopter blades is immediately seek to get back to his family in Alexandria, no matter how far away the mysterious group have taken him. In fact, it's hard to imagine a scenario where Rick gives up on returning home and decides to settle down elsewhere.
And yet, as The Walking Dead's time skip proves, Rick doesn't return home and over 5 years pass without Alexandria receiving any word of his survival. This is one of the major points the forthcoming The Walking Dead movie must answer. What prevented the usually irrepressible Rick Grimes from doing what usually comes so naturally to the character - protecting his family against all odds?
Save The World From The Helicopter Group...
The answer to that question may be intrinsically linked to the existence of the group that rescued Rick in the first place. At present, the helicopter group are shrouded in secrecy, but one of their ranks has appeared in Fear The Walking Dead. Despite a few key reveals, it's difficult to gauge exactly where the community fall on the moral spectrum. On one hand, the outfit's overall goal is the same as Rick's - to restore the world to some semblance of normality. However, their methods in achieving this appear to be quite far removed from those employed in Alexandria.
The operations and movements of the helicopter group are so secretive that attempting to disobey orders or being exposed to outsiders can bring punishment of death. Furthermore, it's also been confirmed that the group cooperated with Jadis to abduct the likes of Heath against their will. In his solo movie, Rick could be faced with an enemy so powerful that defeating them not only serves to protect his family (even if they aren't aware of it), but also helps establish his legacy.
...Or Help The Helicopter Group Save The World
Alternatively, maybe Rick will find that he has more in common with the helicopter folk than it currently seems. The group's overall intention is certainly noble and they're evidently well-resourced and ambitious, seeking to affect great, positive change upon the world. It wouldn't be out of character for Rick to try and iron out some of his hosts' violent tendencies and propose working together towards a common goal. If he didn't give up on Negan or the Saviors, he's unlikely to immediately dismiss aligning with this new bunch.
The helicopter group and Jadis had an "A" or "B" system that appeared to determine whether someone was a leader or a follower, and this suggests that Rick's personality traits will be of interest to them. Likewise, if Rick truly believes that this new group can build a brighter future, he may decide that staying put and helping them achieve this will serve his family better than simply returning to Alexandria.
The Walking Dead season 10 premieres October 6th on AMC.