The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live has “changed a great deal” from the scuttled Rick Grimes movie trilogy

Showrunner Scott M. Gimple explains how the new series has evolved -- or not -- from the planned movies.

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes - The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live _ Season 1 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes - The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live _ Season 1 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC /

After years away, this weekend (Sunday, February 25) Rick Grimes, played by Andrew Lincoln, is finally back on our TV screens. Only, at first, Lincoln was supposed to return in a trilogy of theatrical movies focusing on the character. Then that was downsized to one movie, and finally, we’re getting to see his return in a six-episode miniseries airing on AMC and AMC+.

However, according to The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live showrunner and TWD Universe boss Scott M. Gimple, a lot of what is in The Ones Who Live was set before Lincoln – and his co-star, Danai Gurira – left the mothership show.

“The DNA that's left is actually ... it's really the stuff that was laid in before, like the mythology that was built in the series, though not revealed,” Gimple told Bam Smack Pow. “We had to know what Rick's situation was and where Michonne was going. So the premise was locked down in the series, even though we didn't say what it was, because that was for everybody to find out, but it was the foundation that was already built that really has always remained constant.”

Lincoln left The Walking Dead in Season 9’s “What Comes After,” an episode that seemingly blew Rick up on a bridge, only to reveal him lying on the riverbank, half alive. He was rescued by Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh), who took him away in a helicopter run by the mysterious CRM (Civic Republic Military). Two seasons later, Michonne (Gurira) left the show as well after discovering years later that her husband Rick might, in fact, be alive.

Given the two-season gap and Gurira’s extremely busy schedule – she’s appeared as Okoye in multiple Marvel movies, and has a prolific career as a playwright – Gimple was able to rework the story with his team once it became clear that Lincoln and Gurira were both available at the same time.

“The story has changed a great deal,” Gimple continued, “but I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that did Danai and Andy were available at the same time, so the story in and of itself changed a great deal, because it was about two characters and their relationship and their obstacles and their quests all at the same time, which is different from when we started, just because we didn't know that Danai was going to be available or that the process would've gone on as long as it did.”

When asked, Gimple clarified that the intent wasn’t to have just Rick in the trilogy of movies – it always would have been Rick and Michonne.

“I always thought it would be Rick and Michonne,” Gimple added. “I just didn't think we would be getting to it until Danai was available exiting the show. And it was just a very different world. It was a very different timeline. But no, I mean, in my mind, Danai was going to get in there as soon as we could have gotten her in there.”

Luckily for fans of the characters, it all worked out. And now the duo of Gurira and Lincoln are co-starring in what Gimple has called an epic love story set in the zombie apocalypse, over the next six weeks. Who needs a movie or three when we’ve got Michonne and Rick finally coming back to us?

The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live premieres Sunday, February 25 at 9/8c on AMC and AMC+.

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