Sunday night was a big night for the sturdy brand of people known as The Walking Dead fans.
Andrew Lincoln, who has starred as Rick Grimes since The Walking Dead debuted in 2010, had confirmed at San Diego Comic-Con in July that he was leaving the show in season nine, and the assumption was that his character might finally succumb to the zombie apocalypse that has ravaged his world since he woke up from a coma in the series premiere. But, as is the nature of this interminable drama about interminable beings, there was one final twist.
In season nine’s fifth episode, “What Comes After,” Grimes was wounded but escaped onscreen death, instead being whisked away by helicopter. And now, according to AMC and The Walking Dead’s creative team, the character and Lincoln will appear in a series of movies.
“What Comes After” saw Grimes appear to sacrifice himself to save his friends and chosen family by blowing up the bridge he was standing on, along with a herd of zombies. But he survived the blast, and Jadis, a character who has clashed with Rick in the past but has since become an ally, radioed a helicopter that swooped in and saved him.
With Grimes seemingly alive, AMC announced after the episode that The Walking Dead universe — which already includes another series, Fear the Walking Dead — will further expand into a series of films starring Lincoln as Grimes that will reportedly air on the network.
“These films are going to be big evolutions of what we’ve been doing on the show, with the scope and scale of features,” The Walking Dead chief content officer Scott M. Gimple said in a statement.
“We’re starting with the first part of the continuing story of Rick Grimes, and there is much more on the way,” he added.
Lincoln also appeared on Sunday’s episode of AMC’s Walking Dead aftershow, The Talking Dead, where he teased the idea of continuing to grow the show’s universe beyond the current series.
“It’s not the beginning of the end, it’s the end of the beginning. And I like the idea that we get to tell a bigger story, maybe with a sort of wider vista. And I’ve always been interested in what’s going on out there, you know, whether or not there is contact with the wider world. I want to know the meta of it all,” he said.
This summer, when it was first announced that Lincoln would be leaving The Walking Dead, the actor said that working on the show, which films in Georgia, prevented him from spending a lot of time to spend with his family in the UK. Making a series of Walking Dead films will presumably allow Lincoln to remain part of the franchise while having a more flexible schedule.
At the time of the announcement, Lincoln was a little cryptic and evasive when pressed for details, carefully saying that it would be his last season “on the TV show.” And now, with this film announcement, we know why.