Last May, about a month and a half after The Walking Dead's season eight finale, Andrew Lincoln announced that he was leaving the show during its' ninth season. The news shocked millions of fans all over the globe and left them all wondering what this meant for the future of AMC's biggest hit television show ever.
The biggest question was whether or not the show was going to come to a screeching halt without Rick Grimes manning the lead role. But the show creators decided that his "demise" was not going to change their plans for the future of the show. They have already moved on from him following a mid-season time jump that has put us five years into the future.
Although the ratings have taken a slight hit since his departure, The Walking Dead has continued to bring in nearly five million viewers each week, making it still the biggest show on AMC, and it is not even close. It has more than double the number of viewers of any other show on the network and continues to bring in more viewers than former hit shows like Breaking Bad and Mad Men.
From a financial standpoint, there is little reason for AMC to think about cancelling the show without Andrew Lincoln, so they will keep writing checks for now. But if things get very bad, who knows what could happen in the future. All we know is that Rick Grimes is gone, and there is a debate going on about whether it was a good thing or a bad thing. Here are 20 reasons why the show will get better, or worse, without him.
20 Got Better: Forces Writers to Become More Creative, Finally
The Walking Dead TV show has thrived off the pre-written ideas from the comic books. The concept is not original and the storylines are taken from ideas that have already been created. All they are doing now is taking the comic book storylines and adding some flair to make it either the exact same thing, or slightly different.
With Rick Grimes finally out of the way, the show's writing staff is going to be forced to come up with some very creative storylines and ideas using this world and the characters that have grown along with it. It truly makes forces them to open up their minds and find that creativity that fans have been waiting for since season four.
19 Got Worse: Negan Isn't Very Intriguing Anymore
We are going to make you a promise not to continuously revert back to the comic books when talking about character development and future storylines because we do not want to spoil anything for those fans that have not read the comics.
That said, we will mention that Negan is no longer an interesting character now that Rick is gone. The show has done their best to replace Rick's situation with Negan with Michonne and Judith but it simply is not the same. He is a star and could end up being a major character once again. But without Rick, bringing Negan back seems more like a financial decision that could backfire fairly quickly.
18 Got Better: Brings Older Fans Back To The Show
If you are one of the many former TWD viewers that left the show a few years ago, than you have a good reason to return. Rick is gone. That changes everything and opens the doors for many new, original ideas.
That is the sales pitch that should bring back a lot of the former fans that have wanted to return but have not had a good enough reason yet. Rick's departure alone is enough to bring the most curious of former viewers back just to see what the show is going to do now that their main character is gone.
The ratings have not plummeted yet so the odds are, the viewers that have stuck around, and those that have returned, are enjoying the new show and hopefully will stick around for the future.
17 Got Worse: What Is Left To Watch?
When a television show becomes a hit, the biggest mistake anyone can make is to tinker with the formula that has carried it to the top. From the very first scene of the series, Rick Grimes has been the main character of The Walking Dead. Everything that happens, is because he either did it or helped with the decision-making that led to the event. The entire storyline centers around Rick and his family.
But Rick is gone and a lot of viewers, including us, only stayed around because of him. There have not been many television characters that have had such a huge character arch in just a few seasons than Rick Grimes. His life is a roller coaster and the way he handles these situations is a testament of Andrew Lincoln's underrated acting. Now that he is gone, what can they possibly do to keep us interested enough to hang around and not get bored of it?
16 Got Better: New Characters Have Room To Develop
Another big complaint of the show was how the writers would introduce a new character, get us very excited about this person, and than switch over to another story. There have been many times that the show has wasted a perfectly good character by not giving them a proper introduction, or even to continue developing them so the viewers would become attached to them.
That was mainly because there was already so many characters on the show that centered around Rick Grimes and his family. There was simply no time, or room, to develop anyone new longer than one or two episodes. So they would write them off and leave us wishing for something better.
15 Got Worse: Fairweather Fans Use This As An Excuse To Leave
A fairweather fan is a phrase that is often used in sports to describe the fans that only show up when a team is winning. They quickly get off the train when the losing starts because they want no part of cheering for a loser. These are also known as bandwagon fans.
The Walking Dead has had just as many as any sports team in professional sports because of how successful the show was in its' first few years. But then it started to get boring and many of those fairweather fans left so they could talk trash about it on social media for several years instead of simply moving on with their lives. The fact that they stuck around and talked trash meant they cared and it meant that they wanted the show to get better so they could be themselves and jump back on the wagon.
Rick's demise gives many of them another reason to hit the eject button and leave, this time for good.
14 Got Better: The Possibilities Are Endless
Since we already know that the comic books are a huge influence on the television show, The Walking Dead has not really been able to explore Game of Thrones territory (Game of Thrones has passed the books and is now doing its own original storylines). There is a good chance that Rick's departure from the show can open up the possibilities of where the show can go.
We have already seen what the show can do without Rick just seconds after he was airlifted out of the area, after his people believed him to be gone, when they did a five year time jump. They have skipped ahead in the past but not this far, and not without Rick. What else can they do now that is seems as if the show is starting over fresh, with a new world that is five years into the future?
13 Got Worse: Norman Reedus is Awesome, But Isn't a Lead
We love Daryl. The world loves Daryl. Daryl, played by Norman Reedus, is an original character that was never in the comic books but became a fan favorite from the first moment we were introduced to him back in the days of the downtown Atlanta department store. In fact, Merle is also an original television character. He is played by Michael Rooker and is Daryl's brother on the show.
Norman Reedus had one major claim to fame before The Walking Dead and that was the cult classic film, Boondock Saints. He is one of those guys that could play any role and make it his own. But, a leading man he is not. At least, Daryl isn't. He has always been Rick's top guy, since replacing Shane in season two, but was never a leader. Without Rick, Daryl is either going to take over, or find himself unemployed very quickly. It is just a matter of how they are going to do so.
12 Got Better: Ends Redundancy
The Walking Dead has created a pattern each season that any faithful viewer can explain. Each season begins where the first couple episodes are exciting and remind us all why we love the show. Then, the middle of the season, usually between the fourth and seventh episodes, the show stalls and turns into a moneymaking machine for AMC. If you can suffer through the boring, drawn out episodes known as fillers, than you can make it to a major character loss, which occurs between the eighth and ninth episodes.
Then we get a mid-season break followed by a very good second half premiere episode before going back to the fillers until we end up at the finale, where we won't get many questions answered and might even wind up with even more questions than we had before.
Rick's departure means that the show will have to end this pattern moving forward or it will fail.
11 Got Worse: Fans Will Protest AMC, Even More Now
If you are a new viewer of The Walking Dead, than you might not understand this one. But for the rest of us, AMC has always been the main cause for the show's roller coaster ratings. It became obvious during Season three when we were treated with episodes between the prison and Woodbury in alternating weeks. There were times it felt as if scenes were added simply to reach their goal of however many episodes AMC was paying for that year.
That turned into a series long battle that has always turned out mixed reviews. Every single season, you knew there was going to be that one episode that you could miss and still be right there the following week, without missing a beat. That is because it was a filler episode used to create even more money for the AMC's upper management.
By not ending the show with Rick's "demise", fans could turn against the show the longer it stays on the air.
10 Got Better: Allows For The Feature Films We Have All Been Waiting For
The Walking Dead is such a massive hit on television that we can only imagine what a feature film would look like with a budget that is ten times bigger than the television show.
But there is only one way that they could create a film that viewers would be guaranteed to watch and that's if Rick Grimes was in them. Since leaving the show, the rumors of a Rick Grimes trilogy of films have been confirmed and will be filmed by AMC Studios. They will have a film budget and be able to tell a story of another world out there that answers the question about the helicopter and what is with this "A" and "B" labeling.
9 Got Worse: Who Is In Charge Now?
What do you call a leader with no followers? A guy taking a walk.
This is a show that is built on leadership and democracy. Rick Grimes was the alpha, and the unquestioned leader of this group since the first season, which worked because the group did everything through him. He made the tough calls and kept chaos from ensuing within the family. But now that he is gone, who is in charge?
The show did a time jump to eliminate a lot of the issues that they would have had to answer about who is going to replace Rick. Instead, we are pushed ahead five years where the communities have already established a council that makes decisions as a group, not just as one person.
However, without one central leader, like a President, chaos can destroy everything they have built and just might, we have to wait and see.
8 Got Better: Other Characters Have A Chance to Grow
Entering the second half of season nine, The Walking Dead had Carol, Daryl, Ezekiel, Michonne, Eugene, Rosita, Enid, Tara, Father Gabriel, Siddiq, Negan, Aaron, and Alpha as part of the main cast. That does not even mention the 15 other characters that are important like Lydia, Beta, and Judith. There is simply no more room to grow characters and allow them to adapt to the new world.
But this problem had a lot to do with the show constantly having to fall back on Rick, and make sure his story was the central point of everything. That is over with. There is now time to start letting characters change, like they have already done with Michonne.
7 Got Worse: Ratings Continue to Fall
Television ratings can be responsible for the rise or fall of a show. If the ratings are trending up, the future is bright. But when the ratings start to fall, it does not take very long before the show meets its' ending.
However, The Walking Dead is a ratings beast that has dominated AMC for so long that even if they lose half their audience today, they would still be the second highest rated show on AMC, ever. So it would have to take a pattern of decline that is obviously related to the departure of Rick Grimes before the ratings matter and so far, they haven't.
That does not mean things can change quickly if fans simply hate the new version of the show without Rick Grimes.
6 Got Better: The Whisperers Will Be Unpredictable Without Rick Grimes
When Rick Grimes is in charge, and their is a centralized villain trying to destroy his world, and his family, we know how it will end. He is going to show no fear, talk to the other community, ask them three questions, and destroy them all if he is left with no other options. Has Rick ever encountered anyone, that wants what he has, and not been able to destroy them?
This is going to be the first time we get to see what these people are made of without Rick Grimes leading them to victory. He was the head coach, the point guard, and the quarterback all rolled up into one. He helped keep the communities together and fight as a unit. But without him, it could spell trouble for a lot of people who once felt safe under his leadership.
5 Got Worse: The Other Characters Aren't That Interesting Anymore
Rick Grimes was a complicated man. Since the first time we were introduced to him, he has seen his wife, son, best friend, and most of his closest friends perish because of something he did or didn't do. He carried those burdens with him each and every season, effecting all those around him in the meantime.
Other characters can feed off of his pain and strife and use it to bound together, and be a family. Most of the characters we love today are part of a group that has always been led by Rick. There was never more than one Alpha in the group, and it was always Rick.
But without Rick, is there really enough of a storyline that the show will remain interesting?
4 Got Better: His Demise Stood For Something
As Michonne has already shown us, Rick's demise meant something to the survivors of all the territories. It had to. If he can fall, anyone can perish and that is something that could have been a devastating thing for all the people in his life. So when he "perished" and left the group believing he is no longer around, it changed everyone.
Daryl has turned into a stronger, tougher guy that no longer needs Rick Grimes. Michonne has taken the losses of Rick and Carl, and used their dreams to create a world that runs off the belief that we all have to stop hurting one another eventually. It has to be tough to off someone and showing mercy is a way to do so. Rick's demise is motivation for the communities to be merciful and kind to strangers, not just destroying people on site.
3 Got Worse: The Show Could Go On Forever, And Ever, And Ever...
Rick is not immortal. He does not sparkle in the sunshine or have some kind of magical powers that prevents him from aging. He was eventually going to perish and that could have been much further into the future leaving the show a chance to end the series the right way.
However, now that he is gone, and the show continues on without him, it tells us that even if you eliminate the show's lead character, you can keep it going for many seasons. So what's to say they will ever stop making the show?
2 Got Better: Allows The Show To Breakaway From The Comic Books
By now you should know that there are two types of fans of The Walking Dead. There are the ones who only watch the show and then there are the fans that read the comics and watch the show. You might think that there are also a group of fans that only read the comic books but you would be sadly mistaken.
Without giving anything away and spoiling the future of the show for the ones that never read the comic books, we are going to tread lightly and simply say that Rick's demise is an idea unique to just the show. This could let the show go down a different path but keep the main ideas in the comics like using the groups but creating their own story.
1 Got Worse: Rick Is The Center of The Universe
Since the series premiere, when Rick Grimes was sitting in his cop car having a conversation with his lifelong best friend, and colleague, Shane Walsh, it was apparent that this show is going to run through Rick and his family. By the end of season two, Rick had turned into the leader of the group and even called it a "Rick-tatorship".
Every season that followed ran through Rick and every decision he made. No one inside his group, besides Daryl, ever tried to take over his role. But even Daryl did not really challenge him. He basically just questioned him and even that did not happen until the eighth season.
So with so many characters, and storylines, interconnected because of, and through, Rick Grimes, losing him could find that things begin to fall apart whether they like it or not.