This Walking Dead article contains spoilers.
If there’s anyone who knows what The Walking Dead needs, its series producer and zombie effects expert Greg Nicotero.
Aside from perhaps series creator Robert Kirkman himself, no one else is as responsible for the series’ iconic undead look than the makeup effects enthusiast-turned-director. Nicotero dates his Walking Dead journey all the way back to before the beginning when original showrunner Frank Darabont brought him aboard before the pilot was even sold. And he’ll see it through beyond the end, directing the show’s series finale before moving on to produce several spinoffs.
Suffice it to say, Nicotero’s Walking Dead opinion matters. And during a new interview with Aaron Sagers on Den of Geek‘s paranormal pop culture Talking Strange podcast, Nicotero revealed his opinion that there was really only one way for AMC’s flagship zombie series to conclude.
“You can’t end The Walking Dead without Rick Grimes. Walking Dead was always Rick’s story, Nicotero says.
Indeed, despite Rick Grimes being absent from the show since the middle of season 9, The Walking Dead‘s series finale concludes with the post-apocalyptic lawman/hero front and center. The final moments of “Rest in Peace” serve as a sort of trailer for the upcoming untitled Rick and Michonne series. Viewers see both Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) separately compose letters to their daughter Judith before taking off into the zombie wilderness to make their family whole once again.
Fans have been waiting for such a moment ever since Rick left the series back in 2018. And soon they’ll get to see the proper conclusion to Rick Grimes’ story, albeit not in a way as originally envisioned. Immediately following Rick’s final episode on The Walking Dead, AMC revealed that the character’s story would be continuing in a series of feature films directed by Walking Dead universe czar Scott Gimple. And all parties were adamant that this would be a proper cinematic experience – not merely a dressed up TV movie.
Alas time goes on and plans change … particularly when confronted with the reality of an unexpected worldwide pandemic. News of a Rick Grimes movie was scarce and there was no scheduled shooting date to be found. Eventually, AMC announced that Rick’s story would conclude, alongside his partner Michonne, as part of a new six-episode TV series. According to Nicotero, the move from film to television was all a part of the traditional creative process.
“Several iterations of the (movie) script flew around and it just ended up not coming to fruition, Nicotero says. “The idea of doing a Rick Grimes show popped up a year and a half ago probably. I don’t think anybody really thought it was gonna happen. Lo’ and behold, as we get closer we start realizing ‘look, if we’re not going to do the movies then maybe there’s a show there.'”
Nicotero adds that they shot the finale footage with Lincoln and Gurira in Georgia this August.
“It was like no time had passed,” Nicotero says of reuniting with the two Walking Dead leads. “It felt like we were shooting something important and something I want to be a part of. Andy is just as committed to finishing his story as anybody.”
The spinoff series is set to begin filming in January and is slated for a 2023 release date. Check out the Talking Strange interview with Greg Nicotero above for more information about The Walking Dead, Creepshow, and Nicotero’s storied career with George A. Romero.