For the better part of a decade, The Walking Dead viewers have experienced the zombie apocalypse through the eyes of Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), a humble small-town sheriff turned (anti)heroic leader of men working to rebuild society in his image. But that's coming to an end, as Lincoln has left The Walking Dead, and his final episode airs Sunday, Nov. 4.
The Walking Dead is an ensemble show, but Rick has always been the anchor who kept the group together and gave the audience someone to believe in. Even when Rick was doing horrible, brutal things, Lincoln's performance kept Rick's core goodness intact. The show will never be the same without him. Some fans are vowing to stop watching, since their favorite character isn't on the show anymore, while others are curious to see where the story goes without him. It's kind of a tough decision, with good reasons for stopping and for continuing, and it's understandable if you're torn. To help you decide, we've laid out the reasons for and against watching The Walking Dead without Rick.
1. The show is the best it's been in years.
New showrunner Angela Kang has made the long-running show entertaining again thanks to a renewed focus on character development and meaningful dialogue. It feels like Daryl (Norman Reedus) has had more lines through the first four episodes of Season 9 than he had in Seasons 7 and 8 combined. He doesn't actually have more lines, obviously, but he's getting more to do in a way that's reinvigorating him as a character. And that's true for other characters as well.
2. Other characters will step up to fill the void in interesting ways.
The sheriff has always cast a long shadow, and Rick's absence creates opportunities for characters like Daryl, Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) to define themselves outside of their relationship to Rick in a way they never could before. It will be particularly interesting to see Michonne's journey into becoming a true leader of her community develop.
3. The Whisperers are coming, and they're gonna be crazy.
The skin suit-wearing nihilists are the comic series' freakiest villains, and seeing how they're translated to screen will be a treat for fans. Their leaders, Alpha and Beta, will be played by Harlots' Samantha Morton and Sons of Anarchy's Ryan Hurst, who are both excellent actors who will breathe fresh rotting corpse-scented air into the show.
4. A bunch of other promising new characters are coming, too.
In addition to the Whisperers, the back half of Season 9 will introduce characters like the beloved comics survivor Magna (Nadia Hilker), who's sort of like a female Rick Grimes; Connie (Lauren Ridloff), the series' first deaf character; and Daryl's dog.
What if something cool happens and your friends are talking about it and you feel left out because you didn't watch?
Reasons You Should Bail
1. It's not the show you once loved.
Now that Rick is gone, Carol (Melissa McBride) and Daryl are the only characters left from Season 1. Faves like Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Beth (Emily Kinney) are long dead. Morgan (Lennie James) left for Fear the Walking Dead. Even Maggie (Lauren Cohan) will be gone soon. The Walking Dead is becoming a Ship of Theseus, with an entirely different composition than it had when it started.
2. The remaining characters aren't as compelling.
Sorry, Tara (Alanna Masterson), but you're no Rick Grimes. With the possible exception of Ezekiel (Khary Payton), none of the characters introduced post-Season 4(ish) have had the stickiness of the older characters. No one is cosplaying as Aaron (Ross Marquand), you know?
3. The show's best years are behind it.
No scripted show has ever had its best season in Season 10. It just doesn't happen. After a while, characters get exhausted and possible storylines run out, and The Walking Dead has already started repeating itself (how many times has Daryl been abducted?). It's currently better than it has been, but will it never be as fresh and creative and vital as it was in its early years. Sophia can't come out of the barn again.
4. Your time on Earth is finite.
Sure, you could keep watching The Walking Dead, but there are a thousand other shows you could watch instead. Watching things you don't enjoy out of some desire for completeness is a fool's errand. Have you watched The Haunting of Hill House yet?
5. This is a clean quit point.
If you're gonna stop watching, the end of Rick's story is a natural time to do it.
Have you made a decision one way or the other? Let us know!
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.