The Walking Dead lost Rick Grimes when Andrew Lincoln exited the AMC zombie series in its ninth season. However, while Rick Grimes is no longer on the series, there is a character who took on a striking resemblance to the Rick Grimes fans know from Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead comic. Donning a short hair style, a long beard, and missing a hand, Ross Marquand's Aaron is almost everything Rick was in the comics, in terms of appearance. As it turns out, this is completely coincidental and not an intentional move by the TV series.
"No, no, I can assure people it was, it's funny, when I met with [showrunner] Angela [Kang] last year for a meeting I asked her if she was cool with me growing a big old bushy beard because I prefer having a beard and I had a beard when I got the [part]," Marquand told ComicBook.com. "When I first got on the show I had a beard and they were like, 'Yeah, that's gotta go,' and I was bummed because I feel like I look and feel better with a beard. So, I was just asking more out of, A, this would feel better for my skin to not shave every day, but also, I think at a certain point we'd all be kind of looking pretty haggard and, like, we should look kinda terrible, you know? And I was saying that I want him to physically look bad after losing Eric."
Then came the moment which Lincoln longed for for his Rick Grimes with Marquand's Aaron would (unfortunately for him) achieve. "Shortly after that [Kang] informed me that they were gonna be hacking my arm off. 'How do I feel about that?' And I said, 'Oh, that's awesome, I love it.' So it was very accidental, it was just kind of a one-two thing of, like I pitched the beard, she liked it, and then she said, 'How do you feel about losing your arm?' I said, 'I love that,' and so it just kinda went from there."
Heading into the show's tenth season, Marquand is getting plenty of opportunity to shine as Aaron, as the character is heading into a pivotal year following the terrible losses of Eric and Jesus, among others.
"It's a tricky thing for the writers and the showrunner to manage everyone's hopes and dreams for the character and give everyone enough screen time and character development to make sure that they are feeling like they're adding value to the show," Marquand said. "I really feel like last year and this year they've grown Aaron in such a huge way, given him so much to do with Gracie and being a father but also having something to live for in the wake of losing Eric has been really good for him because he's, I think, finally ditching the diplomacy and instead embracing a real proactive, more violent, brutal way of dealing with the Whisperers because that's the only way you'll survive against that enemy, you know?"
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9pm ET on AMC.