Could The Walking Dead Series Finale Bring Back Rick Grimes?

Rick Grimes will return in his own Walking Dead movie, but could we see him sooner than that in season 11 of the show? Andrew Lincoln answers.

The Walking Dead Rick Grimes
Photo: AMC

Few moments in the history of The Walking Dead will be as big as the return of Rick Grimes. Ever since he was transported away to parts unknown by the Civic Republic in season 9, fans have counted down the days until Rick’s upcoming Walking Dead movie, the first in a planned trilogy of films starring everyone’s favorite post-apocalyptic sheriff. For some fans, Rick’s return is the main reason to keep up with The Walking Dead universe of shows, which have slowly been teasing out details regarding where he might’ve disappeared to.

While this long-awaited movie still hasn’t started filming and doesn’t have a release date as of yet, Andrew Lincoln gave an update to SFX magazine (via Total Film) regarding when the picture might finally go into production. Originally, shooting was set to begin in 2019 but delays prolonged further by the Covid-19 pandemic have made a start date impossible. But Lincoln thinks things might finally kick off this spring.

“I’m not filming at the moment,” he told SFX. “I’m still very much in lockdown. We’re very excited about how, at the first available opportunity, we’re going to go into production – there’s talk of it being spring. I can’t wait to get those cowboy boots.”

But what if fans didn’t have to wait until the movie to see Rick again? Fans of the comics by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard know that the final season of The Walking Dead, which premieres in August, will tackle the most significant Rick arc from the book: the Commonwealth saga that closed out the source material and killed off its beloved main character. In fact, Rick’s role in the Commonwealth arc is so pivotal to the story that it would actually be kind of odd if he didn’t appear in season 11 at all.

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Sure, the flagship’s final season could just serve to set up the Commonwealth storyline before Rick’s eventual arrival, but that hardly sounds like a fitting end to the series, its ending relegated to a teaser for the upcoming movie. Or perhaps the series and movie are just going in a completely different direction and Rick isn’t destined to die at all at the end of the Commonwealth story. After all, Carl Grimes outlived his father in the comics, which is not the case on the TV series.

The point is that there’s definitely room, and (most importantly) a reason, for Rick to return in the show’s final season, even in a series finale surprise cameo. And Lincoln is up for it!

“That’s a very good question,” the actor responded when asked whether he’d be open to returning to the show one last time before it ends in 2022. “The easy answer is I have no idea. I don’t think it’s written yet, but I would never say never to that because everybody that’s still doing the TV show are dear friends, and it’s an extraordinary feat that they’re still going and making this beautiful and ground-breaking show that still resonates with the world.”

Regardless of whether Rick ends up back on the show, or we’re left to wait for the movie, Lincoln is going to be a big part of The Walking Dead universe for the foreseeable future.

“I have signed for more than one film,” he continues. “I am a producer on it. I will not be directing, because I don’t like watching myself, so that would be a self-defeating exercise. It would just be the most painful… yeah, it just wouldn’t happen! All of those answers will hopefully be resolved in the next couple of months but, yes, there’s more than one. We need to get the first one absolutely right and that’s why it’s taken longer than we anticipated – and obviously with the pandemic. I can’t wait. I’m really excited about broadening the scale and scope of the story and finding out where Rick is.”

The Walking Dead season 11 premieres on Aug. 22.

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