(Spoilers for The Walking Dead series finale will be found below.)
After 11 seasons and nearly 200 episodes, The Walking Dead came to an end on Sunday. It was a remarkable run for the zombie series, one of the highest-rated shows on cable ever; at its peak, over 20 million people watched Rick, Daryl, & Co. escape a group of cannibals. The Walking Dead isn’t nearly as popular these days, but AMC hopes there’s enough interest for multiple spinoffs, including the existing Fear the Walking Dead and Tales of the Walking Dead, as well as Dead City (which is focused on the unlikely pair of Maggie and Negan), Daryl Dixon (in Paris), and Rick & Michonne.
The Rick in “Rick & Michonne” is, of course, Rick Grimes, who left The Walking Dead in season nine. He hasn’t been seen since — until the series finale, “Rest in Peace.”
Rick appears in the final moments of the episode after Daryl rides off into the sunset (and a bunch of zombies got blown up real good in an impressive-looking explosion). “I think of the dead all the time,” he said in a voice over, while writing a letter. “And about the living. Who I lost. I think about them all every day. Their faces. What I learned from them. How they made me who I am. So much more than all of this made me who I am.”
The other half of Rick & Michonne (last seen in season 10) is also writing a letter at the same time as Rick, or so it seems. They’re actually in two different timelines: Rick in the past; Michonne in the present. Rick is trying to get back to his family, including daughter Judith, but he’s interrupted by a Civic Republic Military helicopter; he’s told that there’s “no escape for the living,” but he has enough time to place his letter into a bottle and toss it into the water, and chuck his bag into a boat, which eventually finds it way to Michonne. The last time we see Rick, at least until the spinoff, he has a curious smile on his face as the helicopter approaches and the screen fades to white.
The episode then cuts to Hilltop, where Judith and her brother R.J. (Rick and Michonne’s son) are admiring the peaceful scenery surrounding them. The final lines of the show: “We get to start over. We’re the ones who live.” And it’s largely thanks to Rick.
Rick & Michonne premieres in 2023.