For almost a decade, The Walking Dead primarily surrounded the journey of former sheriff's deputy, Rick Grimes. The series aired featuring him at the helm for so long, it understandably feels very strange now that Rick has been written off the show.
Rick led the group through many hurdles and obstacles that the apocalypse threw in their paths. While he managed many victories and saved several lives, Rick Grimes was by no means a perfect leader.
Having so much responsibility in a post-apocalyptic world is certainly no easy task, but after TWD had been on the air for a few years and Rick's decisions became questionable, many fans began to wonder if he really was the best choice for the group's leader.
Rick Grimes has done several great things for his family and fellow survivors, but on the contrary, he has also taken multiple innocent lives and made decisions that ultimately hurt and jeopardized his group. Let's review 5 times Rick was a good leader, and 5 times he was terrible.
10 TAKING OVER FOR SHANE - GOOD
One of the first established friendships on The Walking Dead was that of Rick and Shane's. The pilot episode delved into the close bond that these two had, and their amiable dynamic as work partners.
When the show introduced a conflict between the former deputies early on in the first season, it was just the start of an epic, heartbreaking rival. Before Rick arrived at the Atlanta camp, Shane was the leader. That changed quickly upon Rick's entry, as he quickly took over as the leader. With Shane's mental state rapidly deteriorating, this decision proved to be a good one.
9 GOING TO THE CDC - TERRIBLE
The idea of traveling to the Center for Disease Control in attempt to shed some light on how exactly the zombie virus started and see if there would ever be a cure, does sound like a good one. So Rick's plan may have seemed like a solid one at first, but once the group arrived at the seemingly empty CDC, things quickly went south.
Rick quickly discovers that Dr. Jenner is unstable and has no hope of finding a cure, yet the group still stays at the CDC for way longer than would be justifiable, and this almost warrants their demise. Upon discovering that the building has gone into lockdown, Rick and the others desperately try to get out and narrowly escape with their lives.
8 REASONING WITH HERSHEL - GOOD
In season 2, after Carl was shot, Sophia disappeared, and it was revealed that Lori was pregnant, the group was in desperate need of a safe shelter. Hershel agreed to provide this temporarily, letting the survivors stay at his farm while Carl healed and the search for Sophia kicked off.
After Shane's epic tantrum yielded the massacre of the walkers Hershel kept in his barn, it was understandable that Hershel wanted the survivors to leave his property. Rick managed to reason with Hershel in the end, allowing the group to be able to stay at the farm.
7 THIS ISN'T A DEMOCRACY ANYMORE - TERRIBLE
After the fall of Hershel's farm and following Shane and Dale's deaths, the survivors found themselves out on the streets with no shelter, and potentially facing a very dangerous fate. It was then that they began to question Rick's leadership, discovering that he had withheld information about the virus from them and that he had killed Shane.
The doubt of his people incensed Rick, sending him into one of his most infamous spiels, in which he threatened his fellow survivors, saying that basically, it was his way or the highway. Obviously, this was just not a very mature way of dealing with his people's doubts.
6 SAVING HERSHEL - GOOD
The Prison, in a way, represented the golden days of the apocalypse for the survivors, as season 4 revealed that they had transformed it into a tight-knit little community of their own. But before this, the group's arrival to the Prison rendered dark times.
The day the survivors began to clear out cellblocks and make the Prison safe, Hershel sustained a walker bite and Rick was forced to hastily chop his leg off. This was definitely one of the most heroic things Rick has ever done, and he managed to save Hershel's life in that unforgettable moment.
5 ABANDONING THE GROUP IN THE WAKE OF LORI'S DEATH - TERRIBLE
Lori and T-Dog's deaths were another tragedy that occurred almost immediately after the group had moved into the Prison. During an attack orchestrated by Andrew - one of the convicts who had been living in the Prison before Rick's group arrived - Lori went into labor and Maggie was forced to perform an emergency c-section.
This ultimately killed Lori, and Carl had to make the gut-wrenching decision to put her down before she reanimated as a walker. Of course, the death of his wife was devastating for Rick. But his meltdown was so epic that it completely consumed him, and he abandoned his reeling family to grieve.
4 KILLING GARETH - GOOD
Season 4 ended on an intense cliffhanger, with Rick's group being trapped in a train car at Terminus while hungry cannibals prepared to feast on them. This was a terrible fate that Carol managed to save them from when she unforgettably single-handedly infiltrated Terminus.
Some of the cannibals, including their leader, Gareth, managed to escape. They found Rick's group at Father Gabriel's church and attacked. In an epic moment, Rick used his red-handled machete to execute Gareth, just as he promised he would do, back at Terminus.
3 BANISHING CAROL - TERRIBLE
In season 4, Rick infamously decided to step down as leader and turn to a peaceful life of farming at the Prison. This meant that a council made up of Hershel, Sasha, Carol, Daryl, and Michonne, took on the leadership position. Rick was not on the council and had not been the group's leader for quite some time.
But this didn't mean that he was completely ready to hang up his hat. After he found out that Carol had mercy-killed Karen and David (two survivors who had been ailing from a seemingly fatal illness) Rick decided it was time to take Carol on a supply run and examine her mental state. This whole storyline was pretty much a write-off, as the whole thing was fairly far-fetched and ridiculous. But to make it all the more terrible, Rick made the executive decision - on his own, without consulting anyone on the council - to banish Carol from the Prison.
2 LEADING ALEXANDRIA - GOOD
After Deanna, Alexandria's original founder and leader's death, Rick stepped up as the leader. This wasn't a completely great decision, as Rick's leadership skills are obviously very questionable, and it was under his leadership that Negan killed Glenn, Abraham, and several other Alexandrians.
But Rick was a decent leader for Alexandria for quite a while, and although he couldn't save everyone, his skills had at least improved since the Prison.
1 SPARING NEGAN'S LIFE - TERRIBLE
Carl's death was one of the most devastating of the entire series. It was heartbreaking to see Rick and Michonne have to deal with this tragedy, and of course, their lives were completely altered because of this. Walking Dead writers attempted to justify Carl's untimely demise by having it change Rick's entire viewpoint on life.
But this wasn't actually a good thing. Before Carl died, Rick - logically - wanted Negan dead, because why would he not want Negan dead? But after Carl had passed away, Rick promptly changed his mind and decided to spare Negan, locking him in a cell in Alexandria with some twisted logic that this would be a justifiable end for such a monster. This was especially extremely disrespectful to Maggie, who had witnessed her husband's death at Negan's hand. Actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan's charm might make Negan likable, but that doesn't mean that Rick was in any way justified in sparing his life.