Even with AMC’s warnings that The Walking Dead Season 9 has been Rick Grimes’ final episodes, you might still not believe that Andrew Lincoln is really leaving the show. But in honor of his final appearance in “What Comes After,” it’s only right to relive Rick Grimes’ most memorable moments from The Walking Dead. Whether he was saving the day, kicking ass, hanging with his son Carl (or, “Coral,” in Rick speak), or simply doing very important stuff and thangs, Rick Grimes has given The Walking Dead fans years of cherished — and totally bonkers — memories.
While there’s no denying that The Walking Dead is an ensemble show, Rick has always been the lead. Just like in Robert Kirkman’s comics, viewers of the TV show first experienced the zombie apocalypse through Rick’s eyes. Even though a coma meant he was months late in experiencing the epidemic that turned most of the world into walkers, he is (was??) a natural leader. Every place Rick went to, he almost instantly became the person in charge.
Because even when he wasn’t on his A game — like when he was seeing ghost Lori all over the prison — he was the best humanity had. That’s why this author has been placing the words, “Rick Grimes for president” into Walking Dead articles for more than four years now.
So while you may be feeling as disoriented as Rick did when he woke up in the hospital, it’s time accept the reality of the situation: Lincoln is leaving The Walking Dead. But rather than look back in anger, prepare yourself for Rick’s final episode with some of his greatest moments over the years.
Although he had just met Morgan and his son Duane, it seemed like Rick was the only survivor in the world when he rode into Atlanta on his trusty steed in the series premiere. This scene comes directly from the comics and parallels how Rick will be riding a horse in his last-ever episode.
Always a visionary, Rick was the first person to suggest that they use walker blood and guts to camouflage their living scent. Rick and Glenn tried this experiment all the way back in the second episode and became fast friends.
When no one else could bear to kill Carol’s reanimated zombie daughter Sophia in Season 2, Episode 7, Rick took matters into his own hands and shot her as the fearless leader he is.
Season 2 also taught viewers the lesson that sometimes in the zombie apocalypse, you gotta kill non-zombified humans for the good of the group. When Rick’s dear old buddy Shane went off the deep end and tried to kill Rick, there was nothing for Rick to do but kill him first in the penultimate episode. “This was you, not me! You did this to us!” Rick cried. But Shane has lived on through Judith, his child with Lori that Rick raises as his own, like the champion that he is.
Killing Shane changed Rick as he showed in the Season 2 finale when he declared, “This isn’t a democracy anymore.” And thus, the Ricktatorship was born. In the immortal words of David S. Pumpkins, “Any questions?”
One of the most hilarious memes to be born out of The Walking Dead comes from the way Lincoln pronounced the word “things” (“thaaaangs”) when he was being dismissive of Lori in the Season 3 premiere.
After watching Rick’s last episode, it’s advisable to look up Rick’s “stuff and thangs” to cheer yourself up since you’ll never see Rick doing stuff and thangs ever again.
Some of the stuff that Rick was doing in Season 3 was saving Hershel from becoming a walker. Thanks to Rick’s quick thinking and hatchet skills, he amputated Hershel’s lower half of his leg also in the Season 3 premiere. Amputate first, ask questions later. Honorable mention goes to when Rick kills prisoner Tomas with a machete to the head in the very next episode. Again, machete first, questions later.
Rick understandably really lost it when Lori died in childbirth at the prison in Season 3, Episode 4. Fans dealt with Rick’s emotional reaction to Coral the only way they knew how — to meme it. For Rick’s dad jokes, people often use this scene as the background. Honorable mention goes to hallucinating Rick, who gets calls from no one and sees ghost Lori while he’s still in mourning later in Season 3.
Season 4 has Rick starting off as a peaceful farmer at the prison, which was simply no fun. But once the prison is overrun with zombies, thanks to the Governor, Rick has to get back into fighting mode. In Season 4, Episode 11, Rick’s just trying to get some much-deserved rest while Carl and Michonne are on a supply run. But Rick wakes up to Joe and his Claimers scavenging the house. He uses some super skills to escape and saves Carl and Michonne along the way.
But the most epic interaction Rick had with Joe was in the Season 4 finale. One of the Claimers tried to rape Carl and well — Rick turned part walker himself and bit Joe’s throat out. Rick, you beautiful, crazed man, you. Rick also calls Daryl his brother after this because Rick Grimes is spicy and sweet.
As if Rick wasn’t badass enough in the Season 4 finale, he also gives this rallying cry after the gang is locked by the Terminus cannibals in a box car. And if you needed any more reason to love Lincoln, he originally said the line as, “They’re “f*cking with the wrong people.”
… and Rick was, of course, right. After Carol saved everyone from Terminus and Rick emotionally reunited with baby Judith, Rick led a brutal massacre of Gareth and the rest of his people-eating gang at Father Gabriel’s church in Season 5, Episode 3.
Rick’s beard was particularly swoon-worthy in Season 5 before he sadly trimmed it up in Episode 12.
As the constable of the Alexandria Safe-Zone, Rick had no tolerance for Jessie’s abusive husband Pete. He beat Pete up in a very bloody fight and started screaming at the people of Alexandria until Michonne knocked him out in Season 5, Episode 15. (Richonne!) Don’t worry, he ends up killing Pete in the very next episode.
After a time jump, Season 6, Episode 10 revealed that the beautiful badasses that are Rick and Michonne finally got together. We’re not worthy.
Jadis threw Rick into her junkyard pit to battle the Scavengers’ creature Winslow in Season 7, Episode 10. He wins, obviously, but it’s super messed up. And then again in Season 8, Episode 7, Rick must junkyard battle again. This time, he’s clad only in his boxers.
Rick and Daryl’s dynamic — and their synchronicity in battle — is one of the most glorious things to come out of The Walking Dead. So even if their relationship didn’t end on the greatest note, let this car and motocrycle fight (complete with Rick jumping from one moving vehicle to another) from Season 8, Episode 4, remind you of good times.
After promising to kill him (hmm, about that), Rick faced off with Negan mano a mano in Season 8, Episode 12. Well, it’s not technically mano a mano since Rick used a flaming Lucille as a weapon against this villain, but it was good to see Rick let loose on Negan.
Like “thangs,” Lincoln had a hilarious pronunciation of Carl. And when poor “Coral” died, fans mourned Rick’s son as well as the fact that they wouldn’t hear Lincoln say “Coral” as much.
Now it seems Rick will join his son in the afterlife. But expect plenty more memorable moments during his swan song on Nov. 4.