‘The Walking Dead’s Michael Cudlitz: Killing Rick Grimes Would Have Crossed a Line

The Walking Dead star-turned-director Michael Cudlitz says it was a “very smart” choice to keep Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) alive.

“I like it. I do think it keeps the door open,” the Abraham Ford actor told ET of Lincoln’s exit from the television series.

“It keeps the door open for telling other stories with that character, very much in line with all these sort of other comic franchises where you have sort of alternate universes and concurrent universes and characters mingling that typically wouldn’t. It’s a world that they’ve created, and I think to keep that character alive was a very, very smart choice because I think if they killed him, that’s when you really cross the line, that you can’t come back from.”

Rick sacrificed himself to save Michonne (Danai Gurira), Daryl (Norman Reedus) and the five communities from an advancing herd of walkers, later washing up alive in a riverbank where he was rescued by Anne (Pollyanna McIntosh) and whisked away in a helicopter to parts unknown — a fate unbeknown to his left-behind family.

Walking Dead chief content officer Scott Gimple has since announced Lincoln will reprise his role in three made-for-TV movies to premiere on AMC. The first film will detail where Rick and Anne absconded and will answer secrets surrounding the helicopter group and the “A” and “B” classification system.

Cudlitz’s fan-favorite character was whacked by then-new villain Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) in the Season Seven opener. The star has since returned to the series as director, making his directorial debut in 907, “Stradivarius.”

Lincoln, who also has spent time on set shadowing directors after wrapping on Rick Grimes earlier in the year, intends to make his own directorial effort on The Walking Dead in Season Ten.

“He was still around when I came back out. I went back out to direct, two episodes after he left the show, and he was still poking around and sorting his stuff out,” Cudlitz said.

“I think it’s great for the show, honestly. I think the show has, in some ways, veered so far away from the comics that the comic book fans were getting very frustrated. Now they’ve sort of cleaned the slate.”


“They’ve gotten rid of anyone’s ability to say, ‘Well, this isn’t right, that’s not right,’” he added. “Guess what? It’s a totally new show now.”

The Cudlitz-directed episode of The Walking Dead airs Sunday, November 18 at 9/8c on AMC.