The Walking Dead: How Is It Holding Up Without Andrew Lincoln?

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Being a drama set in a post-apocalyptic world overrun by the undead, The Walking Dead has said goodbye to its fair share of prominent characters over the years. 

However, the most significant exit to date is Andrew Lincoln, who played Rick Grimes on the series from The Walking Dead Season 1 Episode 1 all the way through to The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 5

Just Throw A Band-aid On It - The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 5

Lincoln's exit was a pivotal moment for the series, and while many thought Rick would meet his maker, the show opted to go in another direction by having him taken away on that pesky helicopter by Anne. 

Anne really came into her own in just a few short episodes, and while I think the helicopter plot was wrapped up a little too quickly, it definitely helped give Rick an exit that nobody expected. 

Related: AMC Orders Three The Walking Dead Movies Starring Andrew Lincoln!

Still, it was a little bit out there to announce a trilogy of movies centering on Lincoln after AMC made such a big deal about the character exiting the series. 

I'm still scratching my head wondering whether it was a great marketing ploy or if the network manipulated viewers into thinking Rick's storyline was complete. 

Stop Bleeding All Over That Beautiful Horse, Rick! - The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 5

With Rick being presumed dead, and the other characters moving on to take on The Whisperers, it's time to take a look at how the series is holding up post-Rick. 

From a quality standpoint, the series has been on a slippery slope for a few years, with poorly executed reveals and clunky storytelling. 

The war against Negan, the deaths of fan-favorites, and the increased violence alienated a lot of fans. Plots that should have spanned a handful of episodes were dragged out for a full season. 

The good thing is that it was Andrew Lincoln's decision to leave, and new showrunner, Angela Kang had plans in place to spice the series up if the exit became reality. 

Get Off Your High Horse - The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 4

Kang's influence on the series was apparent from The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 1 which took place a considerable amount of time after The Walking Dead Season 8

After watching The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 6 and The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 7, it's apparent that the series is staging a return to form. 

Related: The Walking Dead: Andrew Lincoln Quits!

The Whisperers are the new villains, and Eugene and Rosita have already had a horrifying encounter with them. Their introduction was handled well, but a lot of fans were quick to rule that the series had jumped the shark. 

If you look at the comments across social media, many took issue because they thought the new villains were legitimately talking zombies. 

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If you're a fan of the comics, you know that there's a lot more to this tale than meets the eye, and if it's executed well, viewers are in for a treat. 

The second big-time jump of The Walking Dead Season 9 successfully shook up the dynamics and gave the series a much-needed jolt of adrenaline. 

Whether that's going to continue to be the case, I have no idea, but Kang has already proven that she's all for making some changes if the series requires it. 

There's a good chance the series could revert back to the predictable and boring, but for now, what we have is a revamped series that packs a bite. 

Back At It - The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 6

Regarding ratings, the series is holding up as well as can be expected. Lincoln's final episode secured a 2.1 rating, while Sunday's penultimate episode of 2018 scored a 1.8 rating. 

That's still a decent rating for any show on TV these days, but the real test will be whether viewers will return after the midseason break, especially considering the fact that Lauren Cohan is likely done with the series. 

Related: The Walking Dead Slumps in the Ratings

Maggie got a low-key exit, and that was probably for the best. She's off setting up a community with Georgie, but it leaves the door open for a return down the line if Cohan is open to it. 

It's hard to imagine Maggie being killed off-screen, so I dare say that Lauren Cohan will pop back up in the role at least once before the series wraps up. 

Time To See Negan - The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 5

With AMC opting to extend the franchise, and the fact it is doing a similar thing with Breaking Bad, I wouldn't rule out a movie fronted by Cohan and chronicling what became of her and Hershel after leaving the Hilltop behind. 

As far as Rick's movie trilogy goes, my one true hope is that this new world he will be taken to will keep him away from the characters of The Walking Dead. 

There's no logical way for Rick to cross paths with these people again, only to leave again. 

Okay, The Walking Dead Fanatics!

What are your thoughts on the post-Rick Grimes The Walking Dead?

Hit the comments below. 

Remember you can watch The Walking Dead online right here via TV Fanatic. 

The Walking Dead continues Sunday at 9/8c on AMC.

Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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The Walking Dead Quotes

You can breathe. You can blink. You can cry. Hell, they're all gonna be doing that.


Daryl: What is it?
Judith: I can't believe we just left her in a ditch. What if you were lost and no one could find you? Where RJ was or mom?
Daryl: You gonna tell me where this is coming from?
Judith: I just want us to be back together again ... at home. That's all.
Daryl: I radioed your mom, so she knows not to go home, so she's safe. That way she can find us.
Judith: You talked to her?
Daryl: No, but I'm gonna keep trying.
Judith: It doesn't matter. I talked to her after the fire, and I'm worried. Maybe she won't come home.
Daryl: What did she say?
Judith: She went to go help some people she met, who needed her. I didn't want to tell you.
Daryl: Why is that?
Judith: Because maybe you'd leave, too.
Daryl: I won't.
Judith: You promise.
Daryl: I can't.
Judith: Why?
Daryl: Because I can't lie to you. I don't know what's gonna happen. There ain't no one that can tell you they do. There's one thing I know, there's a whole bunch of people back there that would do anything for you. One day, when you're older, they're going to need you to do anything for them. You got a whole lot of family. Nothing can take the place of someone you love being gone. That doesn't mean that everything that follows is going to break your heart.