We have followed Rick Grimes for eight seasons through the hardships and victories of surviving in the walker (zombie) apocalypse. However upon Carl’s death Rick lives on as the last member of the Grimes family.
When we first met Rick Grimes on The Walking Dead we caught a glimpse of his life. Back then he had a wife Lori, son Carl and worked with his best friend Shane as deputy officers for King County, Georgia. Since then he has lost both and almost his sanity.
When Judith was born there was a lot of speculation as to whether Rick or Shane was the father. It remained a mystery for several seasons until Rick came clean to Michonne in season 7’s episode ‘Service’.
Turns out, Shane was the father.
Though the truth hurt, Rick loved Judith as his own. She became a daughter to him and Michonne.
While Judith spent some of her time with other characters such as Beth, Tyreese and even Negan (briefly), Rick had spent most of his time with Carl.
They had their arguments but also bonded and learned from each other in very believable scenarios (even for a fictional show about the end of the world). The fact is neither were prepared or expected to be dealing with the situations presented to them.
While most fathers would have been helping their sons to excel in school, Rick taught Carl how to shoot a gun. Instead of talking about their day in regards of work and classmates, they were trying to figure out if Siddiq was someone worth saving.
Rick was constantly walking that tightrope of balancing being a leader and father. This meant taking care of his people in Alexandria while being responsible for those at The Hilltop and The Kingdom before Maggie, Morgan and Carol exerted their partial-leadership.
This doesn’t include establishing his relationship with Michonne; while Rick and Michonne moved beyond friendship, Carl was befriending Enid.
The Walking Dead has the capability of reminding us just how human Rick is every time he is faced with a challenge or obstacle. This couldn’t be better exemplified when it came to season 8. Characters will always have to make tough decisions, sometimes with seconds to spare. Such a decision led to Carl’s death, which shocked many fans and broke a lot of hearts.
His sacrifice to save another resulted in him spending his last day enjoying the small things while making one final attempt to end the war through the letters he wrote.
Losing his only child has left Rick in this strange state of mourning. From crying his eyes out to spewing continuous threats at Negan, we can see he’s avoiding the loss instead of becoming consumed by it as we saw with Lori back in season 3. From what we know: with Carl gone, Michonne not pregnant and no other encounter with anyone else from Rick’s family; Rick is the last Grimes standing.
This is monumental and earth-shattering for several reasons.
For one, it is through the son that a family name is continued. Carl was Rick’s only son. Second, Carl was Rick’s only child.
From the beginning, Rick’s mission was to find and protect his family: Lori and Carl. Since then Rick considers his people his family through love and loyalty not just blood.
Rick literally lost his entire family, just like Daryl, Carol and Morgan.
At the moment the show has two small children (Judith and Gracie) with Maggie and Glenn’s baby on the way. Opinions have been shared on both sides about the idea of babies in the apocalypse.
While some view them as a dangerous liability for the mother and those involved others see it as inevitable. Rick and the group cannot live forever and either a new generation will take over or it will be the end of humanity.
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If Michonne and Rick have a child together then the Grimes family line will continue. Michonne could be a mother once again. But it may also be a painful reminder of the son she lost as well as her best friend.
Rick knew Carl was the future. Everyone did. No doubt he was going to be the next leader when Rick passed on. With Carl gone, if the day should arise when Rick dies who will take over and protect not just his people but everyone they will encounter in the future?
These thoughts will be going through Rick’s head. They will be worries he never thought he’d have to concern himself with.
Currently Negan has Rick’s full attention and it is unlikely he will be able to properly mourn Carl’s death until the war is over. The painful realization that he just buried his child will be haunting him for awhile.
But will Carl’s death put Rick and Negan on some common ground? Negan lost his wife because he was unable to save her. Rick lost his son because he was unable to prevent it.
One thing is clear: Surprises are around every corner and who knows maybe another Grimes will rise to the occasion. If not, who will lead when Rick is no longer capable?