Last night’s episode of The Walking Dead was billed as the final appearance of Rick Grimes, and while that turned out to be technically accurate, viewers who turned in to see how Andrew Lincoln’s character would meet his end found themselves on the wrong end of yet another bait and switch. Instead of getting a walker bite to the beck, Rick caught a helicopter ride out, and while Lincoln is indeed off the series, his departure was followed by the immediate announcement that AMC’s chief content officer (and former TWD showrunner), Scott M. Gimple, is embarking on a series of Walking Dead movies, with Lincoln in the lead. “We’re starting with the first part of the continuing story of Rick Grimes, and there is much more on the way, featuring yet-unseen worlds of The Walking Dead and faces from the show’s past, as well as new characters we hope to become favorites, told by TWD veterans and emerging voices,” Gimple said in a statement. Lincoln added that he was looking forward to the movies exploring “the meta of it all,” whatever that means.
Given that fans have been deserting The Walking Dead in droves since the gruesome death of Steven Yeun’s Glenn and its ratings are now at record lows, doubling down on the franchise is a truly mind-boggling action, made more so by the focus on Lincoln, who over the course of over a hundred TWD episodes has more than worn out his welcome.* (On the upside, maybe a few more years in the role will give Lincoln a chance to finally nail down Rick’s accent.) The show hasn’t been at its best for years, but when it was, it was usually when it was focused on characters other than Rick. The ideas of a Walking Dead universe that keeps him but dumps Daryl, Carol, Michonne, and Morgan, among others, is a truly baffling—or, from an alternate point of view, utterly hilarious—one. If churning out more Walking Dead product is what helps AMC keep the likes of Better Call Saul on the air, then it’s arguably a fair trade-off. But with the show’s audience already bottoming out, this seems a little like throwing good money after bad rather than going to the trouble of coming up with anything new.
No dates have been set for the movies, but they could begin shooting as early as next year, and will air on AMC.
Correction, Nov. 5, 2018: This piece originally misspelled Steven Yeun’s last name.