*This article does NOT contain spoilers or details about Rick’s exit!*
The impending exit of Rick Grimes, The Walking Dead’s leader and protagonist for nine seasons, is looming. It’s happening. To longtime viewers of one of the most watched shows on cable, this may be unimaginable.
For whatever reason, AMC has been pushing Rick’s exit tremendously hard since the end of last season. It seems strange for a show that has thrived off of horror and thrilling shock-factor to veer away from that and ultimately spoil what could have been the most jaw-dropping moment of the show’s history, especially since there was no sign or foreshadowing of his exit prior to the announcement.
TWD is Rick Grimes; fans of the show largely view the world from his eyes. His perspective is what put us on this crazy journey. Prior to the revelation of Andrew Lincoln’s departure, the far-fetched idea of Rick dying or leaving the show could possibly be coddled because it was assumed Carl would carry the torch of Rick’s legacy. However, that idea was stripped from us before it could happen *still hurt and confused*.
The heart of this show, is/was Rick and Carl and their absence will undoubtedly be felt.
We didn’t even get a full season to acclimate to Carl’s death before we must grapple with the loss of Rick. This has left many fans reeling, bewildered, angry, and even hurt. Many feel that the show lost its groove long ago *hello Glenn dumpstergate*, *stares at season 6 cliffhanger* . But many still cling onto a thread of hope that it can improve. After all, when you’ve invested almost 10 years into a show you don’t want to just give up.
TWD has shifted so far from the comic source material, people are curious what direction the show will take. The new showrunner, Angela Kang, certainly has a lot on her hands with maintaining the integrity of the show, while also inevitably having to shift the direction without the main character at the reigns.
This season of TWD post-Rick will obviously be a whole new feeling. That feeling however, can make or break the legacy and success of the show.
Here are a few ways the show can possibly be redeemed once Rick is out:
The multilayered samurai goddess and Queen of Rick’s life deserved better. She will absolutely need more airtime. We need to see how she grieves through this process. She’s lost her biological son, her surrogate son Carl, and now she will lose Rick. Sis literally just said they’d both loss so much. Now she loses the love of her life?
How will she react toward the group, especially with many of them not being in Rick’s corner as much lately? We need to see how she copes with the new sole responsibility of raising Judith AND being the leader of Alexandria. We need to see the rage, the tears, and the memories. Will she break as badly as she did after Andre? Danai Gurira is a phenomenal actress who is more than capable of delivering all of that plus more. We just need the writers to give her that opportunity.
A Richonne Baby
Yes, we need that. Rick’s legacy ended with Carl (no shade to Judith, but just being technical). The writers gave us a glorious scene where Rick voiced his desire to impregnate Michonne in order to further the growth of civilization; that SHOULD be a clear foreshadowing of what’s to come.
Hopefully, that wasn’t just a teasing moment that leads nowhere. We deserve a thoroughbred bad-ass Baby Grimes after all of this. Michonne deserves to have some semblance of the life she and Rick shared together. They’re already robbing us of the epic Richonne coupling, at least give us their pure blooded legacy.
The group was split and divided for much of the last two seasons and that is not what the core audience wanted to see. The Negan storyline was necessary for progression. However, it was excessively drawn out and Negan became exhausting to listen to.
Nobody wants to hear long-winded monologues from the person who’s killing your favorite characters. His speeches may have translated better in the comics than they did in the 60-90 minute (or less, when you include commercials) television slot. Going forward, less filler and more to the point action and storytelling could do a world of good for the show.
Many people believe Rick’s exit will lead to this becoming the Daryl show. Which, could be utterly terrible. However, if the writers give Daryl some GROWTH, it could actually be a pleasant surprise. Daryl needs to stop making the same stupid hothead generated mistakes. Give him someone else to genuinely care about, give him some emotional range and/or breakthroughs and truly show Rick’s impact on him. Daryl needs to actively work on growing up and coping with his issues. He has a lot of work to do in order to become a leader or the head of this show. Placing him at the helm can make or break it.
Deepen the Relationships of the Main Cast / Have More Memories
Reestablish the core group! We need more mentions of characters we’ve loss. Even though it’s a new beginning, we want to feel connected to the past. The mention of fallen characters has had the tendency to be few and far between. It was nice to hear Maggie mention Herschel and Glenn. Daryl also mentioned Glenn, Sasha, and Abraham. We need more of those moments, especially with Rick’s departure.
More than ever, we want to feel those connections moving forward. Grieving for one or two episodes is not sufficient or realistic for characters you’ve spent years growing attached to. It’s important to see the main characters bond over their losses to show that they haven’t forgotten those they’ve lost, because we sure haven’t!
The Whisperers Need to be F***ing Terrifying
It’s strange enough to imagine this storyline without Rick and Carl. But, if done right this arc could be a huge turnaround for the show. The Whisperers are a greatly anticipated arc from the comics that puts true suspense and horror back into the mix. This must be done well in order to continue taking the show seriously. With Rick and Carl gone, there is literally free range to do whatever with no strings attached. At this point, nothing can be expected and no rules apply for this show anymore. That could be in the favor of the writers to integrate new and unexpected twists into the arc.
If All Else Fails, End at Season 10
If the show doesn’t successfully redeem itself after Rick’s demise, it is probably best not to tarry on too long. Yes, we want to see The Whisperers. So give us that. Then, just bow out gracefully. 10 years is a phenomenal milestone for a truly iconic and incredible show. Ending it with a proper series finale before the legacy of the show is dragged on and tarnished is so much more honorable.
Everyone Dies – New Start
Starting with a blank slate could be a cool way to end the show as we know it without ending it totally. Maybe there could be another spin-off with likable new characters, or delve into the past backstory of someone random and interesting from the current cast, maybe even a whisperer.
Better yet, a spin-off with a 10-15 year time skip. Everyone else is dead or gone except for Rick and Michonne’s katana and colt python toting teenage kid (maybe with Judith). It’d be interesting to see what that world looks like years down the line. Will it be super-decayed and empty? Or will civilization have totally reignited in a whole new way? I’d stan the journey of Richonne’s offspring.