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What happened to Rick Grimes in ‘The Walking Dead’?

When can we expect to see our favorite character again?


If you were born in at least 2010, chances are, you’ve watched television. And in doing so, you’ve most likely heard of Rick Grimes.

His name isn’t ringing a bell? Perhaps then, you’ve heard of the TV show he was featured in, The Walking Dead, or perhaps the comic book universe in which the TV series is based.

Grimes was the lead protagonist and leader of the humans who survived the zombie outbreak that ravaged much of the country, including his home, which varied depending on the media in which he appeared. Before the zombies overwhelmed his respective area, he was a deputy for the county’s sheriff’s department which gave him enough experience and fortitude to lead things once the going got extremely tough.

But after the going did indeed get tough, what happened to him?

A comic book is where fans first saw Rick

Rick Grimes was living his days as a small-town police officer in his debut in The Walking Dead #1 in 2003. The comics, created by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore, represent the original storyline and source material for anything that’s based on the characters from that universe. That said, Grimes was an officer in the town of Cynthiana, Kentucky, not King County, Georgia, where the TV show began.

After being shot and subsequently comatose through the zombie apocalypse, Grimes awakens to find his environment and those around him drastically changed, to say the least. He embarks on a journey to find his wife and son, who he finds once he arrives in Atlanta, Georgia. Grimes had been presumed dead after being injured in Kentucky and harsh drama ensues among the survivors over leadership and plans to resettle. Rick, his family, and the rest of the followers venture to a prison for shelter but encounter a small population of prison inmates who never escaped.

Through five years of comic episodes, Grimes and his family eventually grow by one but not before a severe clash between aggressive inmates that lead the more noble survivors to a small town in Georgia where they encounter “The Governor,” a man who’s actually worse than the inmates they once encountered. Having escaped capture and torture under The Governor and his own people, Grimes and some of his followers reunite with the rest of his family but are then attacked by The Governor, resulting in Grimes sustaining personal losses.

He continues on and encounters new survivors as he goes on a mission to Washington, D.C., where a supposed cure for the zombie virus is located. On the way to Washington, they discover the cure is fake and that the nation’s capital is just as bad as anywhere else, but push on to Alexandria, Virginia to settle. They soon learn of a man named Negan, and things go from “normal,” to worse. Grimes and his people survive another hardship there that eventually results in Alexandria actually thriving after a number of years.

Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever as hard times befall Grimes, his son, and some close followers. They find some safety in the Commonwealth, a separate community of uninfected humans but not without some tensions that resulted in the original leader being removed from power. Rick’s compassionate actions do keep violence at bay within the community, even though a revolt had occurred.

Grimes was, however, murdered in response to the uprising and was hailed as a hero of the people.

The TV series differs slightly from the original comics but is still admired by its fans

In the television version of the storyline on AMC, Rick Grimes — played by Andrew Lincoln — is still the main protagonist and focal point of the overall plot. While his story does begin in law enforcement, Grimes is, however, a deputy sheriff whose shooting injury and resulting coma occur in Georgia, thereby cutting out his travel in the original comics from Kentucky to Atlanta.

Another difference on television is the fact that the zombie apocalypse — the virus, that is — was explained to Grimes very early on, directly after he came out of his coma, to be exact. He still makes his way to Atlanta to encounter his long-lost family, who figured him for dead after he was shot. Some of the internal and personal drama is the same from comics to screen but timing and a few details here and there are different, perhaps for the sake of episode runtime and whatnot. And that’s just the first two seasons.

The group of survivors also discover and mostly survive through prison, the wrath of The Governor, and the difficult journey to Washington, D.C., in a very similar fashion to the pages of the comic series. Minor details such as how characters met their fates or the timing of events was yet again slightly skewed for television. Grimes and his followers also found refuge in Alexandria prior to encountering Negan and his followers.

The war between Grimes’ followers and Negan’s lasts three seasons before Rick’s side prevails. Those who made it out of all that fighting were led by Rick but divisions within the entire population grew before long over how the war against Negan ended. Opposition to Rick’s leadership eventually compromised the safety of the community, putting Grimes in a position where he seemingly sacrificed himself to save everyone else.

However, perceived signs that Grimes was still alive surfaced, leaving his death — or survival — a mystery after season nine.

What’s next for Rick Grimes?

Well, Grimes’ continuation on television is perhaps expected, since Rick did indeed survive his ordeal in season nine. He was last seen secretly taken away in a helicopter to be treated for his injuries but hasn’t been seen by audiences since.

AMC, the network that has featured The Walking Dead ever since its first television episode, had announced back in 2018 that fans should expect a trilogy of feature-length movies that at the very least, update Grimes’ whereabouts. The production schedule has been delayed, like most other projects over the last few years because of the COVID pandemic. However, a short teaser trailer was announced in 2019 but not much else has been happening as far as tangible production so far.

As recent as last year, Robert Kirkman, one of the co-creators of the franchise hinted that the earliest fans could catch up with Grimes is 2023. Lincoln was last caught on the record, also in 2021 explaining that he hadn’t even started shooting. But he was still in lockdown from the pandemic, which has since lifted almost everywhere by now.

The original Walking Dead series ended after 11 seasons in 2021 but it’s all about television spinoffs until Grimes makes his long-awaited reappearance. The Walking Dead: World Beyond has come and gone. Fear the Walking Dead is still going strong on AMC and the network has Tales of the Walking Dead, Isle of the Dead, and another untitled series featuring popular characters Daryl and Carol currently in the works.

Hassan Green
About the author

Hassan Green

Hassan is a proud dad, a habitual night owl, and a passionate fan of many sports, James Bond films, visiting Canada (well, Toronto to be exact), the power of humor, and great food. He often believes that coffee can and will save the world. Hassan tries to be charitable with some of his free time and energy to his local community. In the meantime, he's also attempting to get his one-man podcast back off the ground.