The Walking Dead Doesn't Need A New Rick

The Walking Dead Rick Fading Away

This Sunday, Andrew Lincoln will make his final appearance on The Walking Dead, which means it’s also the last time fans are going to see Rick Grimes.

The former Deputy Sheriff was our entry point into the show some eight years ago and, while various characters have come and gone in the time since, and Rick himself has been through a number of changes, he has remained a dependable presence at the very heart of the show - until now.

Related: Walking Dead Star Reveals Last Scene Andrew Lincoln Filmed

Ever since Lincoln’s departure was announced, there’s been a question of who’ll step up to replace him. That’s only going to intensify now that the hour of his departure is upon us, with a number of potential candidates - but the best way to replace Rick is to not actually try to replace him at all.

Rick Is Leaving The Show Soon

Walking Dead Rick Grimes Horse Herd Final Episode

The hour of Rick Grimes’ exit from the show is upon us. There’s no going back, no changing-of-minds (for now, at least, though Lincoln seems certain he’s done for good): Rick is gone.

We don’t know yet whether that means death, either at the hands of walkers, a new villain (Rick certainly doesn't look well in the promos), or one of his frenemies, or if they’ll find a way of writing a more ambiguous, open-ended departure. Whatever happens, Lincoln wants a long break after so long in Atlanta, for new opportunities and to spend time with family. So even if it’s the latter option, we’re not going to be seeing him again.

Popular Choices For The New Rick

The Walking Dead - Rick and Daryl in The Obliged

The Walking Dead does have one advantage: with a number of existing characters seemingly well-placed to take the lead. Lauren Cohan’s Maggie would be the best-suited story-wise, but since she’s leaving too (even if she might return), she’s not a viable option at the minute. Still, there are a few others.

Related: Norman Reedus Thought Daryl Was Going To Kill Rick

Chief among these is Norman Reedus’ Daryl: when Lincoln’s exit was first reported, it was combined with stories of a bumper pay rise for Reedus. The actor himself has said he isn't the new Rick, but he was the show’s most popular character at its peak, back when "if Daryl dies we riot" was a common refrain. While he’s taken more of a backseat in recent years, season 9 is giving him more to do again, perhaps to try and build him back up as a potential lead.

A better option might be Michonne. Not only is she Rick’s romantic partner, but his leadership one too. It’s safe to assume she’ll be hit extremely hard by his exit, meaning there’s more emotional storytelling to do with the character, and she’s right there to fill the power vacuum, while Danai Gurira is an increasingly big name.

Another popular choice would be Carol who, alongside Daryl, will be the only Season 1 character left once Rick goes. She’s had some remarkable development over the years, perhaps more so than anyone else, and Melissa McBride is consistently one of the show’s best performers.

Last and most intriguingly, there’s Negan. There’s long been an argument that the show always saw him as the main character - it felt that way during All Out War - and now he could step up further. Jeffrey Dean Morgan brings bags of charisma, and it already looks like they want to turn Negan into more of a good guy, which is in keeping with Carl’s vision.

Page 2: Why Rick Can't Be Replaced

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