The Walking Dead has done surprisingly well in terms of storyline after the departure of former lead character Rick Grimes last year, with the quality of the show certainly stepping up under the very able direction of showrunner Angela Kang.
However, there’s no escaping the fact that ratings are enormously down, which has led to calls for Rick to return and bolster interest in the show. Should the actor be interested in such a deal, we’ve already come up with plot angles that can accommodate Rick back on The Walking Dead and set up various other storylines. To know further, read on these 10 ways Rick can actually be back.
10 Through Flashbacks
This has already been used as a framing device by the series as Season 4 of Fear the Walking Dead had viewers believe former protagonist Madison was alive while she was actually shown exclusively in flashbacks.
Rick can still be an essential piece to the story by having episodes hark back to times where his experiences could bring context to how the heroes are currently placed. We can have Daryl remember how Rick taught him to lead from the front, or Michonne recalling how she had fallen in love with Rick. Another way could be by having the current leader emulate Rick’s style of leadership and have flashbacks where we see him rally everyone.
9 With Maggie And Georgie
Maggie will be returning by Season 11, and there’s no doubt there will be at least one episode that shows extensively how her adventures went considering she’s supposed to be “far away” at the moment.
A huge twist could be the return of Maggie taking a backseat by having her reveal that she found Rick wherever she was with Georgie and has brought him back. Another way could be having Rick and Maggie seen together in the new community where Rick refuses to return to Alexandria due to some mental conflict.
8 With The Introduction Of The Commonwealth
This is easily the most straightforward way we can have Rick back, as the Commonwealth storyline was meant to be firmly on Rick’s shoulders since this was the final plot in the comics where Rick also met his death.
On the show, we could have Rick be found by the Commonwealth, who would deny him release to go and see his family at Alexandria and only be reunited with his friends when the latter party happen upon the Commonwealth by themselves. This can also give way for a story about the corruption running deep within the Commonwealth.
7 Returning With Morgan
The Walking Dead has never addressed Morgan’s disappearance, and those who haven’t seen Fear will have no clue what the heck happened to him after Season 8. Since Fear is currently placed way in the past compared to the flagship show, there can easily be a point in time where Rick once again met Morgan.
Season 5 of Fear ended with an ambiguous situation over Morgan’s fate, and it would be poetic to have Rick save Morgan’s life this time. The Walking Dead can then fill in the blanks by showing Rick and Morgan’s journey as they return to Alexandria at present day.
6 A Prisoner Of The Whisperers
The Whisperers have been rather hit-and-a-miss so far, but a recent twist of Dante being a spy for them has brought in new life to their characterization, and there can be an even bigger twist by showing that Rick has been their prisoner all along.
It can be shown that Rick somehow found a way back after being captured by the Helicopter Group and almost reached Alexandria before Alpha caught him. This can also be presented in a way where we could see Daryl rescuing Rick and bringing him back.
5 As The Leader Of Another Community
We don’t need the Commonwealth or Maggie’s group for Rick to be seen as part of a community, especially considering Rick has always been an alpha male and wouldn’t make much sense being a simple worker somewhere.
For this reason, the heroes can be seen coming across an entirely new community somewhere far off (Eugene’s friend on the radio can be placed here) and the leader over there could just happen to be Rick. There are numerous ways to explain why we didn’t return, such as amnesia or feeling ashamed that he never could find his way back. The plot could shift toward Rick’s indecision to return or stay with his new community.
4 A Simultaneous Story About His Journey
We’ve been speculating this whole time about Rick and various communities and alliances, but let’s spare a moment to consider Rick as a loner without a cause. This can be kickstarted by having the Helicopter Group who took him away fall to the zombies, leading Rick to be left to his own devices out in the American Frontier.
In this angle, the main characters can be shown fighting their fights, while Rick’s story could become an unrelated one where we see him try and survive the zombie-infested world with no-one to help. This would make The Walking Dead exponentially larger and truly make it seem like an entirely different universe.
3 Teaming With Negan
Despite not being in the wrong, Negan was still treated as a villain by the communities which led to him escaping. In the comics, he still wasn’t forgiven after the Whisperer war and was set free away from civilization.
Since Rick and Negan have superb chemistry and an established dynamic, we can have a storyline where Negan travels far away on his own before coming across Rick. The Walking Dead can then have a separate plot where Rick and Negan become firm friends, resulting in the latter’s redemption and the two heading back to reunite with Judith.
2 Brainwashed By Jadis
Even though it was made to seem like Jadis had Rick’s best interest at heart during their last appearance, it’s entirely possible this was all an act to have Rick become her loyal subordinate. After all, we saw Jadis be both attracted to him and perceive him as a useful tool in Season 8.
The next time we see Rick, he can be seen as a lieutenant for Jadis after being brainwashed to forget about his time at Alexandria. It would be interesting to see how someone like Daryl would try and appeal to Rick, only to be met with hostility.
1 Within Judith's Imagination
Finally, who says we need the actual Rick on The Walking Dead at all? The show’s doing well enough without him at the moment, but Judith is one character who would be established as the undisputed protagonist by having a connection between her and Rick.
She’s heard about Rick’s heroics all her life, so it’s not far away from the realm of possibility to have the little girl imagine her father around her to guide Judith during her trying times. Michonne is expected to be written out too, and there’s an easy storyline waiting where the grief stricken Judith imagines her father in an idyllic setting to make up for the loss of a parental figure in her life.