Walking Dead Finally Delivers a Rick Grimes Moment Fans Have Been Waiting For

The first episode of The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live belatedly depicts a big event from the comics.

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

This article contains spoilers for The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live episode 1.

The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live is likely to be the last we see of Rick Grimes and Michonne … at least for awhile. Though AMC has not yet confirmed it, this six-episode Walking Dead spinoff seems like the perfect opportunity to conclude Rick Grimes’ story.

Rick actor Andrew Lincoln exited the flagship TWD series midway through its ninth season so that he could spend more time with family in England. Michonne actress Danai Gurira departed in season 10 so she could move on to a movie career that includes playing Dora Milaje warrior Okoye in multiple Marvel films. Getting both performers back for one more stint in The Walking Dead universe was no small feat. Based on something that happens in The Ones Who Live‘s premiere, the show is very much aware of it. That’s because episode 1 “Years” finally does something to Rick Grimes that fans of the comic have been waiting to see for a decade: it chops off his freaking hand!

“Years” begins with Rick Grimes in the clutches of the Civic Republic Military and given the role of “consignee.” Even though the CRM promises Rick that he will get a home of his own after six years of walker-removal duties, the former sheriff is desperate to get back to his family in Alexandria. So in a desperate escape attempt, Rick uses his CRM-supplied axe to chop his left hand off so that he’s no longer handcuffed to his handler nearby. Unfortunately the gambit is not successful, and Rick is bandaged up and put right back to work.

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If you heard the sound of thousands of couches rumpling in unison while watching this moment, that’s because countless readers of The Walking Dead comic were leaning forward to do the Leonardo DiCaprio pointing meme from Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

The Walking Dead comic fans are very familiar with the concept of a one-handed Rick Grimes because the grizzled hero has been missing his right hand since the early days of the series. In The Walking Dead Issue #28, Rick, Michonne, and Glenn are in the clutches of the villain known as the Governor in his Woodbury office. The Governor wants to know where Rick and company’s community is and to extract that information he cuts Rick’s right hand off with a knife. The Walking Dead comic ultimately ran for a lengthy 198 issues, which meant that Rick had access to only his left hand for 170 of those (or roughly 86% of the series run).

Despite both Andrew Lincoln and Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman advocating for Rick to lose his hand in the AMC series, he never did – presumably because it would have been a logistical challenge to depict. If Rick lost his hand at the same point in the TV series story as he did in the comic, it would have meant more than five seasons of editors meticulously making sure Lincoln’s right hand was never in a shot.

Eventually The Walking Dead did elect to Luke Skywalker one of its characters by chopping off their right hand. Instead of Rick, however, it was Aaron (Ross Marquand) who was de-handed in season 9. He then got to wear an incredibly cool-looking prosthetic for the rest of the series’ run.

Ross Marquand as Aaron - The Walking Dead _ Season 11, Episode 17 - Photo Credit: Jace Downs/AMC

Now The Ones Who Live‘s relatively short runtime and probable status as Rick Grimes swan song has allowed The Walking Dead to give comic fans what they’ve long been waiting for in the form of their one-handed hero. If you thought Rick was capable with two hands, just wait until you see what he can do with only one.

New episodes of The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live premiere Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.

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