Rick Grimes, the Family Man
Before the outbreak, Rick Grimes lived with his wife Lori and his son, Carl. A Sheriff in Cynthiana, Kentucky, Rick lived a simple life with his family. He also worked with his best friend, Shane Walsh, until that is, he took a bullet from an escaped convict.
The remainder of the series occurs after the zombie apocalypse. Unlike other series, The Walking Dead does not focus on “how” or “why” the incident happened. Instead, the AMC version focuses on the people and their need to survive.
A wounded Rick Grimes awakens in the hospital, dead flowers next to his bed. Grimes gets up and eventually makes his way outside, still in a hospital gown. While searching for answers, Morgan’s son Duane hits Rick in the head with a shovel.
Morgan tells Rick the new ways of the world. Eventually, Rick decides it’s time to search for his family. While it’s unlikely that anyone else is alive, Rick has hope that he will see his wife and son again. After running out of gas, he eventually finds a farm and a horse to make it to Atlanta.
Rick Grimes almost dies when he rides up on an enormous herd of walkers in downtown Atlanta. Luckily, he makes it inside of an abandoned tank, and only his faithful horse turns into walker chow.
Inside, the voice of Glenn offers help, with a side of sarcasm. “Hey, you. Dumbass. Yea you—in the tank. Cozy in there?”
Rick Grimes, the Sheriff
In the first season, Rick Grimes wants to find his wife and son. Despite Morgan’s warning, he decides to search for them alone. This almost gets him killed several times, but Glenn and the others help him escape the tank and many other obstacles.
Early on, their efforts were a bit of overkill. All of the walkers were killed with bullets when available. It took some time for the survivors to learn how to survive best (as showcased again by Carol outside the Kingdom in Season 7).
Regardless of the method, Rick soon found his family with a group of survivors outside of the city. Here, he caught up with Shane, who was with his wife at the time and Daryl Dixon. At this point, Rick Grimes was still the Sheriff. He even put a gun to Daryl’s head to remind him, “We do not kill the living.”
This, of course, was idealistic at the time. Rick Grimes soon learned the people were the real monsters. While walking through the woods at the farm, Rick’s son Carl Grimes was accidentally shot by a hunter when the bullet passed through a deer. At the farm, Hershel acting as a doctor treated the boy, and he got better.
In many ways, the farm was the first haven for the group. Hershel was also too idealistic, as he tried to keep walkers alive in the barn. At this point, they still believed there was a cure. For those who made it out alive, the story revolved around protecting those around you.
Rick Grimes realized this when he had to kill two men to save Hershel. Two strangers, armed and dangerous, wanted to take away the farm. Once you find something, you have to protect it. This practice became the arc for the series.
For Rick, the goal to not kill the living was impossible. Later, he even had to kill his best friend, Shane Walsh, to protect his family. To protect his own family, Hershel forces Rick’s group to leave the farm.
Rick Grimes, the Farmer
Our hero Rick Grimes has often been referred to as the “Ricktator.” Unlike the modern version of the word, however, Rick’s dictatorship refers back to the Roman Republic in 458 BC. Back then, when a city was under attack, the city would choose one man to make the decisions to protect the city as a whole.
In Roman Law, the Senate chose Cincinnatus for the job. A humble farmer, the man was taken away from his peaceful life to lead the city. This story arc has been used in films like The Outlaw Josey Wales, The Patriot, Braveheart, and on The Walking Dead, within the story arc of Rick Grimes.
After leaving the actual farm, Rick Grimes and company find shelter in prison. There, Rick is forced to kill prison inmate Dexter to protect his group. He also meets Tyreese and Sasha but eventually decides to let them stay. Here, Rick must make the best decisions for the group.
With the prison being his castle, Rick finds better protection than the farm. Eventually, he even invites the Greene family to come survive in the prison. The fence keeps out the walkers, but the safety net brings other threats. Michonne, a peaceful warrior, is invited inside, but then they meet The Governor.
Before this new enemy, Rick only wants to settle down. He wants to pass the torch to another and live as a farmer. He even starts to teach Carl how to grow crops. But, the people of Woodbury are different from those in the prison.
Soon, The Governor wants to take over, and Rick must decide to fight. Like Cincinnatus, he puts down his shovel and picks up his weapon once more. In prison, Judith is born, but at the death of Rick’s wife, Lori.
In many ways, Rick Grimes still lives by this creed. Even in Season 7 the newest trailer for Season 8, Rick tells both Michonne and Maggie that they are the ones who should be leading. There is also speculation that Carl Grimes will one day lead.
Rick Grimes, the Killer
The Governor’s attack destroys the prison, kills Hershel, and puts everyone else out into danger. Carl Grimes is angry with his father, but the two manage to make it to a safe suburban home where Rick Grimes can recover. Eventually, the Grimes men and Michonne meet up with Eugene, Abraham, and Rosita who are headed to Washington, D.C.
While on their travels, Rick Grimes and company come across some of the worst men they’ve ever met. A group of savages attempt to molest Carl Grimes and Michonne, so Rick is forced to take action. Here, we see a different side of Rick as he bites out a man’s throat and kills another with his bare hands.
“Let him go,” whispered Rick, moments before he broke Joe’s nose with a headbutt. There’s a bit of a scuffle, but when Joe bear-hugs Rick, he takes out a chunk of his neck. Michonne and Daryl then break free and kill their captives as well. Rick, blood-soaked as a vampire, stabs the final rapist to death without a second thought. The scene is brutal, but it leads to a newfound brotherhood between Daryl and Rick.
After the Season 4 finale, Season 5 begins with the group heading to Terminus. Rick, now with a full beard, is a different man than the farmer in his prison-castle. When the gang makes it to Terminus, they find out it’s not what it seems.
Inside of an abandoned train cart, Rick finds Glenn, Bob, and Maggie, among the others. “They’re going to feel pretty stupid when they find out,” said Rick Grimes. “They’re screwing with the wrong people…” Rick and the others do end up on a chopping block, but then Carol annihilates the Termites.
Later, Rick Grimes keeps his promise to Terminus leader Gareth and kills him in the church. From the darkness, Rick takes out the men one-by-one with a handgun. “No point in begging, right?” said Gareth, who then tried to reason with Rick Grimes. At this point, it’s clear Rick is thinking about everyone. He kills Gareth so that Gareth will never cross anyone’s path again.
Rick, the Killer, starts to see his enemies as the enemies of the world. Rather than hiding from evil, he confronts it. This is still true when he later meets the Saviors.
Rick Grimes, the Leader
After Terminus, when Rick and company make it to Alexandria, he sees hope once more. “How long have you been out there?” asked Deanna Monroe, the leader of Alexandria. “Since the beginning,” said Rick Grimes in a raspy voice. “How did you all find each other? Did you know each other before?” she asked. “We didn’t know each other before,” he said. “You should keep your gates closed… It’s all about survival…”
Aaron recruits the group to visit Alexandria when they once again learn things are not the way they seem. The suburban area looks almost as if there aren’t walkers outside the gates. Thanks to a tractor-trailer barricade, most of the walkers have passed the area, as if it’s an island of safety amongst the chaos.
Deanna isn’t sure what to do with Rick Grimes. She knows that she needs his knowledge and abilities, but he also appears to be a fox in the henhouse. Soon, she decides to make Michonne and Rick the Security within Alexandria. Seeing evil within the walls, however, Rick is soon forced to kill wife-beater, Peter Anderson.
Rick Grimes then resumes his leadership from the prison. Regardless of their failing democracy, he takes over. Not surprisingly, this move angers some citizens within Alexandria and confuses others. Amidst the chaos one evening, Rick’s son Carl Grimes is shot in the eye by Peter’s angry and aggressive son.
After leading the community to the best of his ability, Daryl and Rick Grimes eventually run into a thief named Jesus.
Rick Grimes, the Futurist
Despite their uneven first encounter, Rick Grimes later decides to work with Jesus. As promised by this new ally, Rick’s world does get a great deal bigger. The Alexandrians agree to start working with Hilltop, where they also learn of Negan. At this point, it’s unclear just how big “Negan” and the Saviors actually are…
In an effort to help the two groups, Rick makes a deal with Gregory to go and kill the outpost of Saviors that hold them captive. Rick gets half of everything they have to make the Saviors go away. In an epic scene, we see another glimpse of Rick, the Killer as he and the others take out a dozen Saviors with knives in the night.
Every move makes from this point on are in regards to the future. During the past few seasons, Rick and Michonne have grown close, Judith has gotten older, and Rick’s son Carl Grimes has grown up. While trying to figure out what to do next, however, Rick makes the mistake of underestimating Negan.
When the real Negan does arrive, it’s with a bang. In an instant, he kills Abraham and Glenn, but this only angers Rick Grimes. It’s not until he throws him into a pit of walkers, shoots at him, and then tells him to take his son’s arm that Rick gives in. Then, in a moment never seen before, we see a broken Rick Grimes.
Still, his efforts are with the interest of the others in mind. Like Gregory and King Ezekiel, Rick Grimes only wants for his people to be safe. At this point, that means giving half of everything he has to Negan’s people. When Michonne sees that Negan burns their mattresses, however, we learn it’ll never be enough.
At some point during their encounters with Negan, Rick loses himself. Not only does he do everything for Negan, but he goes above and beyond. There’s even a moment when he tells Negan about Michonne’s rifle and deer, which he would not have ever found out about.
Unfortunately, however, Rick’s people are still working within the guidelines of the old Rick. Both Carl Grimes and Rosita attempt to kill Negan at different points, which leads to Eugene being taken hostage. It’s not until much later, when Rick finds guns and an army that he believes he has what it takes to kill Negan’s Saviors.
Now, with “All Out War” right around the corner, we’re going to see a new side of Rick. Thanks to Negan, the new Rick Grimes will likely be a Sheriff, a Farmer, a Killer, a Leader, and a Futurist as he builds a new world for his friends and family.