The Walking Dead Showrunner on if Rick Grimes, Other Past Characters Will Return

Will characters from seasons past return before the end of The Walking Dead? Showrunner Angela Kang can't say if the missing Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) or Michonne (Danai Gurira), two of only a few characters to make it out of The Walking Dead alive, might return as part of the expanded Final Season wrapping up after 24 episodes in 2022. Dead characters have returned from beyond the grave in past seasons — brought back in flashbacks, dream sequences, or hallucinations — but Kang is keeping quiet about any potentially spoiler-y surprises that might (or might not) happen in the remaining 23 episodes of Season 11.

"I've been getting this question a lot, and it is one question that I cannot get into," Kang told Deadline when asked if the missing Rick might be living at the Commonwealth, where the character played a key role in the comic books. "I'm going to have to respectfully evade."

Kang similarly dodged a question about Rick's return on Talking Dead, declining to reveal if she could answer whether Lincoln will be back for the Final Season of The Walking Dead. (Now in her third season as showrunner, Kang gave a definitive answer last season and said that Rick would not return in Season 10, adding "the door is always open" for Lincoln to come back to the show.)

"I think, you know, it really, truly, doesn't mean one thing or another, but there's other things happening in the franchise. There is universe implication. So, there's a lot that's sort of like not really under my umbrella," said Kang, referring to the wider TWD Universe under the purview of chief content officer Scott Gimple. In November 2018, Gimple announced Rick's return in a movie trilogy that has yet to materialize.

Asked if other characters or actors from past seasons might appear as part of the AMC zombie drama's long goodbye, Kang answered: "I think that's another one that I won't get into because I think it gets a little too spoiler-y if I answer, either way, and that's truly not the point in any direction of an answer, but I think it's just a little too spoiler-y."

Longtime Walking Dead viewers know that the dead sometimes show up episodes, or entire seasons, after their death. A lingering Lori Grimes (Sarah Wayne Callies) haunted a grieving Rick in Season 3, and the "ghosts" of Shane (Jon Bernthal), Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), and Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson) all appeared as hallucinations of a gravely-wounded Rick during Lincoln's exit episode in Season 9.

Past characters will return for new stories told in Tales of the Walking Dead, an anthology spin-off series expected to bring back ill-fated fan-favorites like Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz) for origin stories or other tales.

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Follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter for all things TWD Universe. The Walking Dead Season 11 airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.