The Walking Dead: “Door Is Always Open” for Rick Grimes Star Andrew Lincoln to Return to the Show

Showrunner Angela Kang says “the door is always open” for Rick Grimes star Andrew Lincoln to return to The Walking Dead. Kang confirms Rick won’t be back on the small screen in Season 10 — he was abducted by a shadowy organization and flown away by helicopter after narrowly surviving a bridge explosion in Season 9, and has been believed dead by Michonne (Danai Gurira), Daryl (Norman Reedus) and others for more than six years in-universe — but Lincoln, who reprises his role in a planned trilogy of big screen movies under former showrunner turned TWD chief content officer Scott Gimple, is welcome to return to the mothership series either in front of or behind the camera.

“Not this season, but man, I would love it if he did,” Kang told Deadline when asked if there was a chance Lincoln could return to small screen TWD. “You know we were talking about having him direct something for a while, but then he wanted to focus on some acting stuff, and he didn’t want to drop out on us at the last minute if something came along, and you know he’s been doing a movie lately.”

Lincoln planned to make his TWD directorial debut in Season 10, but it was revealed during San Diego Comic-Con over the summer Lincoln was forced to drop out over scheduling conflicts. Beyond his commitment to the still-untitled TWD movie, Lincoln filmed true story drama Penguin Bloom with Naomi Watts in Australia.

Despite Lincoln’s busy schedule, Kang said “the door is always open. Andy, you can come back any time.”

Immediately following Lincoln’s final episode of The Walking Dead one year ago, Gimple said episode 9x05, “What Comes After,” is “the end of Rick Grimes on The Walking Dead.”

“This is not going to be the end of Rick Grimes’ story,” Gimple said on Talking Dead, adding “there’s a lot of story to tell.” It was there Gimple first announced Lincoln’s continuing role in TWD Universe in the soon-launching movie side of the franchise.

Speaking to EW, Gimple stressed last November it was “really important for the audience to know that we are going to be continuing to tell the story of Rick Grimes in these AMC Studios original films. We don’t want this thing to be like, ‘Oh, well, he’ll be back on the show any moment now.’”

Despite not appearing on-screen since 9x05, Rick has had a lingering presence in Seasons 9 and 10. Rick was referenced as recently as the Season 10 midseason finale, which hinted Michonne could reconnect with Rick in the movies through new connection Virgil (Kevin Carroll).

Until a possible Richonne reunion happens, TWD executive producer Denise Huth is hopeful Lincoln follows former co-star Michael Cudlitz as the latest star-turned-director on the show.

“I would love for Andy to come back and direct,” she previously told Radio Times. “He’s so tight with this crew, he understands the show so well… it is a beast, and I think it’s tough for people to come in and have this be the first thing that they really direct, but obviously he brings to the table an understanding that other first time directors would not have.”

“He’s got other stuff going on,” Huth continued. “He’s a busy guy, but if there was a way to bring him back, in that capacity, it would be really exciting for all of us.”

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AMC and theatrical distribution partner Universal Pictures have not yet announced a release date for The Walking Dead movie.

The Walking Dead Season 10 returns with new episodes Feb. 23, 2020 on AMC. For more TWD intel, follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.