For those who stuck with The Walking Dead for the past nine seasons, the series’ latest episode marked a very forlorn moment for fans. It was Andrew Lincoln‘s final episode on the lengthy zombie apocalypse drama. We knew this was coming, considering it was highly reported; however, it doesn’t look like the actor’s ready to join the walker crew. That’s because he is confirmed to appear in three The Walking Dead original TV movies for AMC. What could these movies be about and why is he staying around if he wanted to leave the show? More on this below. Spoilers will follow. So don’t say I didn’t warn you if you didn’t see the last episode, which aired last night.
The Hollywood Reporter confirms Lincoln will return to reprise his role as Sheriff Rick Grimes for three TV movies that will start production in 2019. (This was also confirmed on last night’s episode of AMC’s Talking Dead.) All of this, according to content producer Scott M. Gimple, is part of a plan to expand The Walking Dead franchise. While the start and air dates have yet to be determined, Lincoln’s exit from the television series was made in order for him to spend more time with his family in England (the TV series shoots in the United States).
It’s a great move on AMC’s part. Lincoln has stayed committed to the show for the past nine years. Of which, he has spent nine months out of each year working in Atlanta, GA, where the show is produced. That is major dedication. And since he wants to continue to be a part of this franchise, it only makes sense that he continue the Grimes’ story with a trio of TV movies, which “are the first of multiple new scripted ventures that will come from Gimple as AMC kicks off its long-term plan to grow its multibillion-dollar franchise.”
Plans for these films had been in the works since season 4. It was only decided in season 8 that they would follow through on those plans, starting with Lincoln’s exit from the TV show. Here’s what Gimple had to say:
“The story of Rick will go on in films. Right now, we’re working on three but there’s flexibility in that. … Over the next several years, we’re going to be doing specials, new series are quite a possibility, high-quality digital content and then some content that defies description at the moment. We’re going to dig into the past and see old characters. We’re going to introduce new characters and new situations.”
If you are this far by now, you already know about the spoiler that is about to happen. But Gimple pretty much confirms that Grimes survives his injuries in his final episode. In explaining how Lincoln would continue on with the franchise while also being closer to his family, he said:
“Rick Grimes is an amazing character and Andy has done an amazing performance. There were story ideas brewing that, as the years went on, seemed very compatible with continuing to tell the Rick story in another format that would allow him time with his family.”
Given how Gimple speaks about Grimes and how he was being airlifted by helicopter at the end of the episode, it would seem that we would continue Grime’s story of survival, while his friends and family believe that he is dead. “Gimple confirmed Lincoln will indeed be in all three AMC movies, which he says will explore the period between Rick’s helicopter rescue and the years-later time jump that was featured at the end of Sunday’s episode — and stretch beyond that period. Each movie will tell a complete story about Rick. ‘It is about who he is and who he’s going to be — and certainly how he deals with the situation he’s in,’ Gimple says. ‘We know Rick Grimes, he would want to be home.'”
But there will be more to the expansion than just the three movies. In addition to the prequel sister series Fear The Walking Dead, there are also digital shorts. And Gimple has bigger plans for growing the franchise. The plan is to have a new generation of storytellers introduce “content with brand new characters, revisiting old fan-favorite and obscure ones and, maybe, spinning off others in shows that could run anywhere from 16-episode seasons to short-order miniseries.”
“We don’t want to see people doing the same thing, with the same motivations or people with the same lives; it needs to be differentiated from each other in the types of stories that they’re telling, themes and the tones we’re exploring.”
In a way, Grimes’ time in England will allow us to see what the world is like across the pond. So a variety of new locations is crucial to this plan. Just how much of the world we will see is still unclear. So Gimple’s plan is to tell different stories from very different viewpoints rather than just repeat the stories of Daryl, Maggie, and Michonne. He adds, that there may be a chance to see some older characters make a return.
“I have one of those stories in progress right now. [That would] not only give us a chance to work with these wonderful people again, but to answer questions about their characters.”
Of course, three TV films seems like it wastes the emotional impact of Grimes’ sacrifice. However, for those who have stood by the series since the beginning, it gives them another chance to be with their beloved character. Even if it is just for three films. And when it does reach that third and final film, it will be interesting to see what kind of send off he gets.