‘The Walking Dead’: How ‘The Wizard of Oz’ Hints Rick Grimes Will Reunite with His Family

Following Rick Grimes’ (Andrew Lincoln) Season Nine exit from The Walking Dead, The Wizard of Oz may provide key clues hinting Rick ultimately makes his way home to Michonne (Danai Gurira) and children Judith (Cailey Fleming) and RJ (Antony Azor).

The first clue comes in episode 903, “Warning Signs,” which ends a Grimes family fun day montage with Rick reading to Judith:

“...And as the hours passed and nothing terrible happened, she stopped worrying and resolved to wait calmly and see what the future would bring,” Rick reads from the first chapter of L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, stopping only when Scott (Kenric Green) alerts Rick and Michonne to the discovery of murdered Savior Justin (Zach McGowan).

The passage read aloud by Rick immediately follows farm girl Dorothy and loyal dog Toto’s being whisked away inside of a cyclone, which carried her house “miles and miles away as easily as you could carry a feather.”

The sequence continues with Toto falling into an open trap door — “and at first the little girl thought she had lost him,” the book reads — until Dorothy is able to pull the dog back from a strong pressure of air that had kept Toto suspended.

In 905, “What Comes After,” Rick makes his last stand on the bridge he hoped would unite the five communities, ultimately firing at and exploding pieces of wayward dynamite to halt a massive walker horde.

Rick then washes up in the bank of the river, wounded but alive, where he’s discovered by a fleeing Anne (Pollyanna McIntosh), who pleads for a nearby helicopter to rescue him. The helicopter absconds with Rick, now in the care of Anne, flying up and off far away from Alexandria, Virginia, leaving Rick’s family and friends believing him dead even as the series jumped six years into the future.

The Wizard of Oz parallels are apparent, and its famous ending — which saw Dorothy returned home to Kansas from the faraway Land of Oz, again transported through the air — could play out similarly in The Walking Dead.

Lincoln himself noted his sendoff episode was inspired by the story, citing the return of the long-dead Shane (Jon Bernthal), Hershel (Scott Wilson) and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) as hallucinated guides pushing Rick in the right direction.

“I realized halfway through, I went, “It’s The Wizard of Oz! We’re shooting The Wizard of Oz!” Hershel’s the courage, Bernthal’s the heart, and Sonequa’s the wisdom of when you have the peace. And Michonne is home,” Lincoln previously told EW.

“And it’s that whole thing of being whisked away into the helicopter, and spinning away in the house. I said, ‘We’re in The Wizard of Oz!’ And everybody was like, ‘Oh, yeah. Maybe we are.’ That’s what I’m saying anyway. It all made sense with me.”

The Walking Dead chief content officer Scott Gimple later revealed Rick Grimes is off the mothership series for good and will instead headline his own offshoot trilogy of films, which Lincoln said will continue and then complete Rick’s story.

After at least six years away, the third Rick Grimes-led movie could — and should — culminate with Rick reuniting with his family, including brother Daryl, as star Reedus recently inked a three-year franchise deal that allows for appearances outside the flagship series.

As of November, Gurira was in negotiations for a similar mega-deal ensuring her continued involvement even as the actress continues to grow as a hot commodity on the big screen, starring in Marvel Studios’ Black Panther and Avengers franchises.

The movies, Lincoln suggested on Talking Dead, are “not the beginning of the end,” but maybe “the end of the beginning.”

However Rick’s journey ends, the battered zombie slayer deserves a happy family reunion — one that will most assuredly not be achieved with a wish and the clicking together of one’s heels.


Wherever it is in the apocalypse Rick Grimes ends up, there’s no place like home.

The Walking Dead Season Nine returns with new episodes Sunday, February 10 on AMC. The network is expected to begin production on the first Walking Dead movie this year.