It’s been no secret that the current season of The Walking Dead will be series regular Andrew Lincoln’s last. Not only is Lincoln a regular, but he’s been the star of the show since day one – his character the forefront of the overall story. From the first episode where we see a confused Rick awake from a coma, in a zombie-invested world, to reuniting with his family, only to lose them in the end. Rick’s path has been an emotional ride for viewers, and his decisions are single-handedly the driving force for every other character.
While it’s heartbreaking to lose the talented actor, and an iconic character, his personal reason for exiting the show is respectable. He simply wants to spend more time with his family in London, rather than hustle back and forth to Atlanta, where the show films. Nearly 10 years of doing so would be tough on anyone.
As fans come to deal with the impending departure of Lincoln, there is no short of theories on how the character’s absence will be explained in the show. It has been announced that Season 9 will bring us The Whisperers, an extremely violent group, who prey on the living. That has people convinced Rick will meet his end at the hands of them. But this is why I don’t believe Rick will perish at the conclusion of Lincoln’s run. Not by The Whisperers, not by walkers… Rick will not die at all.
It’s Too Easy
Rick being gone from the show was a bit confusing for fans, considering the character is alive and well in the comics. Though the show doesn’t necessarily follow its novel counterpart, killing off Rick would technically be up for grabs. However, that’s just too easy. Almost every actor that has departed the series, has seen their character die. Whether by a walker, or in battle – there have been few who’ve left the show by simply walking off unscathed. Rick’s absence needs to be different. His character deserves a different route than simply dying off. It needs to be something we haven’t seen before – something not predictable.
Ricks Death Wouldn’t Change Anything
With his son Carl gone, Rick only has Michonne and little Judith as his true family. While the two love Rick deeply, his loss wouldn’t affect Judith in any way notable to the storyline, she’s simply too young and a side character. As for Michonne, her grieving Rick’s death would only mimic Maggie’s when she lost Glenn. I wouldn’t expect the writers to repeat this situation again.
On a leadership front, Rick technically still holds the title of team captain, but others in the group have seemingly moved on and gained voices of their own. Especially in this new season, as we see our original group all spread among three communities. His missing voice wouldn’t be so awful as it would have been in earlier seasons.
They Need To Leave A Fresh, Open Wound
It’s no secret Andy loves his castmates and crew. He’s even announced he will be back to direct his own episode later on in the season. Leaving his character’s departure open ended would allow Andy the opportunity to come back on screen, if he ever decided. Mind you, he just wants to cut back on travel and being away from his kids, not that he’s over the show.
He Sorta Said It Himself
You also have it straight from Lincoln himself, when he said this at NYCC recently, in regards to his character dying:
“So, yes, there is that way, and then there is obviously the other way which we’ve done quite a lot. Obviously, I’m not going to tell you which way. I mean, I prefer the Lennie James of it all, but I think what we have in store this season is truly remarkable and I’m very, very proud of the work that we’ve done.”
I know I’m only speculating, much like anyone claiming he’ll be killed off. However, I think there’s enough opportunity for him to survive and live past the actors departure. Rick is a character that simply cannot be tossed out like any other. He is the first person we see in the pilot, and he should still be the last we see when the show inevitably ends.
How do you think Rick’s absence will be explained in the show?