Warning: This story contains spoilers from The Walking Dead series finale, “Rest in Peace.” Sunday’s last episode The living Dead ends with an answer to the question that has plagued fans for years: Will Rick Grimes return? At San Diego Comic-Con in July, Andrew Lincoln and Danai Gurira announced they would be reuniting for the Rick & Michonne spin-off coming to AMC in 2023. Originally planned as a Rick movie trilogy, the new series will reveal what happened to Rick after he was taken aboard a Civic Republic Military helicopter in the season one episode “What Comes After” 9. It will also answer what has become of Michonne, whose departure in the Season 10 episode “What We Become” saw her head north in search of Rick.
Read on to see if Michonne and Rick return The living Dead‘s series finale, titled “Rest in Peace.” Spoilers ahead.
Four years after Rick’s last episode aired in 2018, a coda revealed what happened to Rick and Michonne in the time since we last saw them on The living Dead. In the five-minute epilogue, Rick and Michonne are separated by time and distance, each writing letters to their loved ones back home.
“I think about the dead all the time. And the living I lost,” Rick’s letter reads in voiceover. Memories flash before him, a montage of the dead: Carl. Lori. Shane. Valley. T-dog. Hershel. Glenn. Rick thinks of the living: Daryl. Carol. maggie.
“I’ve tried again and again to reach you and your brother. It’s too far for the radio now, I know,” Michonne writes to her daughter Judith Grimes (Cailey Fleming), and son Rick doesn’t yet know that he: Rick “RJ” Grimes Jr. (Antony Azor). “But I still got you, and you got me. We’re connected. We’re still connected to everyone we’ve ever loved.”
“I think about it every day,” says Rick. “Their faces. What I learned from them. How they made me who I am. So much more than all of this has made me who I am.” Michonne tells their children, “We will always be together, even when we are apart. We, together, are the strongest. We are love and love is endless.”
Rick and Michonne’s narration becomes intertwined:
“So we, the ones who are gone…”
“…All our lives…”
“…Become one life.”
“We are endless,” says Michonne.
“Goods together,” Rick is done, memories of Michonne running through his mind. “Pieces of a whole that pass for what we gave each other. One life that can’t be stopped. You showed me that. You gave me that.”
But Rick and Michonne are not together. They are in a different place and at a different time.
Last time fans saw him, Rick’s scruffy hair was short, his gray beard long. Now Rick, covered in dirt and barefoot in jeans, has longer hair and a shorter beard. Rick wears a brown-and-orange worker’s jacket emblazoned with the three-circle symbol of the Civil Republic. Elsewhere, Michonne is dressed in a warrior costume consisting of leather armor and tabard, Rick’s ring on a chain around her neck.
Michonne holds the cell phone with a lowercase “rick” and drawings of Judith and Michonne etched into it under Japanese letters that translate to, “Believe a little longer.” Also in Michonne’s possession are Rick’s bag and his cowboy boots that she found on Bloodsworth Island in Maryland – clues that Rick survived his apparent death in a bridge explosion six years earlier.
“I know you’re there. I know your brother is there. Just as sure as I know he’s out there. Somewhere,” Michonne says. ‘Not just as part of us. He lives out there.’ Somewhere out there, Rick is sitting on a muddy riverbank. His belongings are scarce: the cell phone, a bag and his threadbare boots are next to canned food with the three-circle badge and a kill stick.
Rick’s belongings suggest he is an employee at a Civic Republic Cull Facility, decontamination centers for mass walker cleanup seen on The Walking Dead: World Beyond.
In another time, Michonne packs up Rick’s belongings that she found on a boat labeled “672”, washed up on Bloodsworth Island. Sometime earlier, Rick puts that same phone in a black trash bag in his backpack.
“I’ll find him,” says Michonne. “Because I know he’s trying to find us.”
On the riverbank, Rick gets out over severed walker parts. He folds up his handwritten note, puts it in a glass bottle and throws it into the water. The sound of whirring helicopter blades sent him scrambling. Rick raises his bag and tosses it onto a nearby boat: 672. Dozens of zombie bodies lie in the water.
The helicopter pilot’s voice booms above us: “Addressee Grimes! You have been located and you have been ordered to surrender. Remain in place with your hands up.”
Elsewhere, Michonne wears a soft armored helmet. The katana-wielding warrior rides horseback into a chasm teeming with a horde of the undead. “Remember what I said. It’s what he said. Keep it in your heart. It’s true. Forever,” Michonne says of the secret saying she shared with Rick and Judith, “WE ARE THE ONE WHO LIVE.”
It is revealed that Rick is off the coast of a post-apocalyptic Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: the site of the Civic Republic. A CRM helicopter like the one he flew out of Virginia descends in front of Rick, hands in the air.
Rick Grimes laughs, because they’re cheating on the wrong people: “We’re the ones who live.”
Rick and Michonne return inside The Walking Dead: Rick & Michonne, premiere in 2023 on AMC and AMC+.