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Walking Dead: Rick’s Death Reveals the Meaning of His First Appearance

The death of The Walking Dead’s Rick Grimes draws a sharp comparison to his earliest injury and reveals the important role he’d play in the story.

Warning! Minor gore and The Walking Dead spoilers!

The murder of The Walking Dead’s Rick Grimes was no doubt one of the series’ biggest tragedies. But his death shines a light on how crucial he was at bringing back a semblance of normalcy to the world.

Before waking up in the post-apocalyptic nightmare he would spend his final years, Rick Grimes was caught up in a shootout that put him into a coma. After coming out of it, Rick discovered the life he knew was over and the world was now inundated with ferocious, reanimated bodies called “walkers”. While Rick was one of the last people to find out about the new status quo the world faced, he did become one of the most important figures in getting things back to a relative normal. Grimes and his allies fought and scraped against the darkness of humanity and were able to began the process of restarting civilization. Which makes Rick’s ultimate fate all the more devastating.

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Grimes meets his maker in The Walking Dead #191 by Robert Kirkman, Charlie, Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano, and Cliff Rathburn. A disgruntled member of the Commonwealth, Sebastian Milton, confronts Rick in his bedroom in the middle of the night and holds him at gunpoint. Sebastian reveals his contempt for Rick and the growing influence he’s beginning to have in the Commonwealth, going so far as to replace Sebastian’s mother, Pamela, as its new leader. Rick attempts to talk Sebastian down, but before he even knows what’s hit him, Milton shoots Grimes in the chest several times before running off. Just as a gunshot brought Rick into the world of The Walking Dead, a couple of bullets take Rick out.


Rick Grimes Death The Walking Dead Image Comics

It’s a dark symmetry in Rick’s final moments. Not only is Grimes shot in the exact same spot he was years before, but both attempts on Rick’s life are caused by him attempting to bring order to the world. It’s no doubt intentional that the character’s final moments echo the way he was brought into the story. It also serves as a reminder of how much worse things could have gotten for the world had he not survived his initial brush with death.

In the final glimpse at the future in The Walking Dead, Rick has gone down in history as a beloved cultural figure. The walkers are able to be managed and newer generations are moving past the collected trauma of the “Trials”. Humanity is actually getting back on track, and it’s because of the struggles of people like Rick. Though he’s ultimately felled by a gunshot, it’s because he survived his initial shooting that civilization had a shot at coming back. Had Grimes died from his first assault, there’s no doubt that much of what transpired wouldn’t have happened, putting humanity’s restoration into question. But Rick pulled through something that should have killed him and he was able to go on with the seemingly impossible feat of restoring order in an apocalypse. Despite the tragic way it mirrors the story’s beginning, the death of Rick Grimes reminds fans of The Walking Dead that he made the most of his second chance at life.


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