With Andrew Lincoln set to leave The Walking Dead during Season 9, this might just be the jolt the show needs to get it back on track. In the beginning, AMC's small screen adaptation of Robert Kirkman's Walking Dead comics was clearly centered on one man: Rick Grimes. A cop prior to the apocalypse, Rick served as the focal character that viewers experienced the early episodes through. As time has gone on though, The Walking Dead has become more and more of an ensemble-based series.
Characters like Daryl, Maggie, Michonne, and even Negan have stepped to the forefront as favorites of many Walking Dead fans, and are as often integral to storylines as Rick. That said, the writers of The Walking Dead still seem to have this constant need to recenter the focus on Rick, even if it's to the detriment of the other characters or the series as a whole. While this is in many ways true to the comics, The Walking Dead TV series has diverged from Kirkman's source material in multiple ways by this point.
Reports are now circulating that Lincoln will exit The Walking Dead sometime during Season 9's 16-episode run, and while that fact is sure to upset many fans, it doesn't have to mean the end of the series. In fact, Rick Grimes leaving the picture could be exactly what The Walking Dead needs to right the ship, in the face of plummeting ratings, and growing viewer disinterest. Here's why.
- This Page: It's Time For Rick To Leave The Walking Dead
- Page 2: What Rick's Death Offers The Walking Dead
Rick's Character Arc Has Grown Predictable
Ever since the beginning of the series, the other characters have looked to Rick as a leader, which isn't surprising considering his past in law enforcement. What is surprising is his continued status as a leader in Season 8. Starting back when he lost his wife Lori in Season 3, Rick has experienced repeated instances of flying off the handle and acting like a crazy person. He also often makes rash decisions that end up costing not only himself but others, sometimes very severely.
This ground was tread yet again in Season 8, when Rick lost Carl to a zombie bite, then proceeded to act like a villain for the next few episodes, wantonly murdering people when he could have easily not done so. Yet, as The Walking Dead has also often done, the very end of Season 8 saw Rick suddenly "come to his senses" and opt not to kill Negan and the remaining Saviors.
The problem is that it has repeatedly been shown that Rick is violently unstable, especially when grieving or under other tremendous stress. The next time someone close to him dies, Rick may well slaughter every last ex-Savior with no warning. No matter how many times Rick travels around the moral merry-go-round, he always seems to make the same trip again. It's time for someone else to take the lead, both of Rick's group, and the show itself.