Andrew Lincoln “pushed for” that shocking Rick Grimes moment in the The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live premiere

You’ve got to hand it to him, it was a long time coming.

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

Right in the opening minutes of AMC’s new spinoff series The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live, we see the return of Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) to our screens after well over five years away. And not only that, we see a shocking, gruesome event that fans probably thought would never happen in the series. Spoilers past this point, but Rick Grimes chopped off his own hand.

Readers of the comic book source material by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard know that Rick lost his hand early in the proceedings – way back in issue #28, in fact, when The Governor (played on TV by David Morrissey) cut it off to show just how serious he was about hurting the group of zombie apocalypse survivors. And over the course of The Walking Dead TV shows there have been multiple times that it looked like someone was going to cut off Rick’s hand, or Rick’s hand was in some sort of serious danger.

But with Lincoln leaving the show in Season 9 to head off for parts unknown, it seemed like that would never happen. And in fact, right before Linocln left, in Season 9, Episode 2, Aaron (Ross Marquand) became the latest non-Rick character on the show to lose his arm due to a zombie bite. Not only that, but over the course of the next two seasons Aaron took on some of the plotlines Rick had in the comic book in later issues, and even adopted his final form comic book haircut.

Basically, if you know the source material well, you expected that Aaron had stepped into the gap left by Rick’s missing hand, and picked up the slack (with his other hand).

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, Lesley-Ann Brandt as Thorne - The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live _ Season 1, Episode 1 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC /

…And then we got the premiere of The Ones Who Live. With a story by Lincoln, Danai Gurira, and Scott M. Gimple, the episode, titled “Years,” finds Rick basically working as a slave for the CRM (Civic Republic Military), killing flaming walkers in the woods, but not going too far off the leash attached to his hand. In a last-ditch effort to escape, Rick cuts off his own hand at the wrist, cauterizes the wound in the chest of a flaming zombie, and makes a run for it. He’s unsuccessful, and over the course of the episode, we see how the CRM trains him to use his new metal hand, and breaks him before in the closing moments he’s reunited with his wife, Michonne (Gurira).

So why did Rick lose his hand now? Turns out, it’s all Lincoln’s fault.

“I had played with it in different ways and different possibilities on the show, and then Angela got to do it with Aaron,” Gimple told Bam Smack Pow. “And then in some of the development of the Rick stuff, I was thinking of it. But really, I think the gentleman who really put it forward was Mr. Andrew Lincoln. I believe that he was the one that pushed for it in our story because it really goes with our story. What would stop Rick Grimes or at least slow him incredibly from trying to get home?

"And seeing just how far he'd go. I mean, it really does speak to the story we're telling, and that he did in many ways injure himself permanently, both physically and mentally, spiritually, with what he went through in trying to get home; and at a point, giving up.”

With Rick and Michonne back together, though, will they be able to escape CRM and make their way back to Alexandria? And what will Michonne think about Rick cutting off his own hand? Most importantly, will Aaron be annoyed that Rick’s biting his style? We’ll have to stay tuned to find out.

The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC and AMC+.

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