One of the biggest chapters in The Walking Dead has aired: the buzzed-about exit of lead character Rick Grimes, played by Andrew Lincoln.
Spoilers ahead for The Walking Dead, season nine, episode five.
So yeah, the hype was that Rick would be gone; the question, surrounded whether or note he would be killed off or if he would manage to ride off into the sunset, never to be seen again. But fans should know better by now: AMC is looking for how to juice this thing for every. single. drop. And that means Rick can’t really go.
Season nine’s fifth episode, titled What Comes After, found Rick seemingly meeting his end when he sacrifices himself by blowing up a bridge to stop a herd of the undead. Wouldn’t you know it: he survives. It’s revealed that an injured Rick has been found by Anne (Pollyanna McIntosh), who takes him to a chopper, and they fly off. Where to? Who knows. And then, another kicker: 6 years later. That’s right, it’s another time jump, and this time we’re following an 11-year-old Judith Grimes, played by Cailey Fleming. Yep, Rick’s daughter looks to be a lead character in the next phase of TWD.
As for Rick, AMC has big plans. Get ready, folks, for three movies with Andrew Lincoln back in the role. TWD chief content officer Scott M. Gimple has told THR that AMC is looking to have Rick feature in three television films, with feature film-sized budgets and run times of around two hours each.
Those worried about that ‘Rick on a chopper’ cliffhanger need not worry; these films will be providing the answers. We’ll be finding out what happened to Rick after the chopper rescue and before the six years-later jump we were given, and a lot more, including the potential inclusion of other characters.
The first film will be exploring more of the strange community looking for “A or B”-type people, an angle that Gimple said “serves the overall story to this next story we have for Rick.”
“The story of Rick will go on in films,” Gimple said. “Right now, we’re working on three but there’s flexibility in that.”
Added AMC programming president David Madden: “There is a multiple-year plan that could include additional series, digital content and specials. We’re looking to broaden this into a universe where the movies that Andy will be in are the highest-profile things that we do.”
Lincoln told THR that Rick was originally to be killed in season eight, but that they decided to continue on the character’s story in a manner that gave AMC more options to expand the franchise and gave Lincoln more time to balance his work-life balance.
The movies will be AMC Studios Original Films, with AMC to likely serve as the air platform. If all goes well, there’s also a plan to bring in another cable company to share in the production costs. Production on the films is expected to kick off in 2019.
The Walking Dead has seen its ratings going down over the years, but the current numbers still makes it one of the most popular shows around, with season 9 seeing an average 9.4 million viewers in the US alone.