The Walking Dead’s main narrative started out with the character of Rick Grimes in the driver’s seat, helping the audience understand the world he and his fellow survivors were living in. Actor Andrew Lincoln departed the show in season 9, but his presence lived on, thanks largely to a series of long-lasting quotes.
Many of these quotes sent shivers down the spines of longtime fans, as each one would become more profound over time. Rick’s character went through many twists and turns, from light to darkness, and back again, and his evolution was driven largely by trauma, chaos, and bloodshed. Still, his resolve allowed him to pull through until the very end.
Updated on March 23rd, 2022 by Derek Draven: With the main Walking Dead show coming to a close this season, it’s important to take a look back at the main character who served as the linchpin for the entire show – Rick Grimes. Though he’s no longer a part of the main narrative, his quotes live on, many of which are spine-tingling. Rick’s actions led to everything the remaining survivors are currently fighting for, whether better or worse and for that reason, he continues to be the most important and pivotal character of the entire show.
Turning Over A New Leadership Leaf
“How You Live, How You Die… It Isn’t Up To Me. I’m Not Your Governor.”
In the early seasons of The Walking Dead, character development was essential when it came to establishing the paths taken in future episodes. After Hershel’s farm burned down, Rick made it clear that the other survivors had to maintain a “ride or die” attitude if they wanted to remain a part of his group.
Season 3 saw the rise of the Governor, a character tied with Negan for the ultimate Walking Dead villain. Rick made a profound statement when he essentially backed off of his previously tyrannical attitude, muttering this powerful quote that referenced the Governor directly. It was a signal that Rick was starting to embrace new ways of doing things.
Slipping Into Darkness
“I’m Not The Good Guy Anymore.”
In season 2, Shane degraded Rick for trying to survive, while simultaneously being the “good guy,” something he believed to be impossible. Rick corrected his ex-best-friend by dropping this quote to show that he was starting to change, and not in a good way.
Fans saw what Shane was becoming, but Rick was already heading down a similar path. By the time Shane was killed and the survivors had scattered, Rick was fed up, frustrated, and paranoid. He was starting to slip from hero to villain, with all the psychological trappings that come with such a shift.
His Beef With God
“Last Time I Asked God For A Favor And Stopped To Admire A View, My Son Got Shot. I Try Not To Mix It Up With The Almighty Anymore.”
Season 2 saw new challenges, threats, and heartbreaking Walking Dead events, not the least of which was Rick’s young son Carl getting shot by accident whilst in the woods. For a while, Carl’s life teetered on the edge of a knife, but he finally managed to pull through and recover.
Rick was left devastated by the ordeal, and it changed his way of looking at the concept of religious belief. He was used to praying for good things to happen, only for terrible events to unfold at almost precisely the same time, as evidenced by this quote.
About Fear Of Death
“Rest In Peace. Now, Get Up, And Go To War.”
During a heavy storm in season 5, Rick and the group took shelter in a barn where he spoke about his grandfather, who had fought in WWII. The anecdote was designed to show the survivors that fear of dying would end up becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.
He shared his grandfather’s wisdom on the subject, which was summed up in this quote. In Rick’s own words, “And then after a few years of pretending he was dead, he made it out alive.” Ironically, this sentiment would be mirrored in future seasons featuring the Whisperers, who shared the same view but with a much different outlook.
“There’s A Compound Bow And A Machete With A Red Handle. That’s What I’m Gonna’ Use To Kill You.”
When Rick and the group made it to the town of Terminus, they didn’t expect the kind of reception they got. Terminus was a community that just so happened to cannibalize other humans for food, and they became eerily comfortable with the entire process.
Their leader Gareth was eager to get his hands on a bag of guns belonging to Rick’s group, to which Rick offered to take him out into the forest and show him where they were. He then added this quote at the end with a sense of complete relaxation and confidence, which was spine-tingling to watch.
Sympathy For The Zombie
“I’m Sorry This Happened To You.”
Before walkers became commonplace in The Walking Dead, the show used them to tell stories about what may have happened to these former humans. One of the first walkers ever to appear on the show was a woman severed at the waist that Rick came across in the series premiere.
He would revisit the undead zombie later in the episode, uttering this quote to her in an attempt to show sympathy, making him one of the best Walking Dead characters in the franchise. That sentiment would fade quickly, with Rick growing to loathe the undead for all the misery and bloodshed they caused. He quickly viewed them as destructive vermin; a plague upon the world that needed to be vanquished.
The Cold, Hard Truth
“You Don’t Know What It’s Like Out There. You May Think You Do, But You Don’t.”
When Rick and the survivors made it to Alexandria, it was practically a slice of heaven. The community was self-sustaining, civil, and seemed to be run by good people. It had all the comforts of the pre-apocalypse world, not the least of which was a sense of safety and community.
However, the group quickly realized that Alexandria’s residents were soft, and had never known much in the way of adversity. By contrast, Rick and his group had gone through the meat grinder several times, and the horrors would stay with them for years. They knew what the world outside Alexandria’s walls was really like.
His Own Personal Hypocrisy
“We Don’t Kill The Living.”
Rick Grimes’ evolution was certainly the one that The Walking Dead focused on the most. A significant aspect of this was the fact that Rick went from a by-the-book sheriff deputy to an unpredictable killing machine, in just a few seasons.
Having gone on several murderous rampages, while making many questionable decisions, viewers were sometimes reminded of his previous sentiment, which bears out in this quote. Killing the living was regrettable, but necessary at times. For Rick, it just became easier and easier as time went by.
Rick’s Change Of Attitude
“I Don’t Take Chances Anymore.”
When Rick first stumbled his way out of the hospital and into a zombie-infested world, he tried to keep as much of his civility and compassion as possible. He believed it was necessary in a world gone mad, but his softness had left his group vulnerable on more than one occasion.
After getting burned multiple times, and losing people he cared about, Rick began to change his stance. He was far less forgiving of others, particularly those outside his group. Anyone who crossed him would undoubtedly be killed, and Rick viewed it as necessary to maintain guard at all times.
Fighting With Pete
“Starting Right Now, We Have To Live In The Real World!”
Season 6 featured one of Rick’s most notable emotional meltdowns. shortly after he and his group made it to Alexandria, which is full of interesting hidden details. At the time, he was beating on an abusive man who tormented his wife and kids. After Rick reached his breaking point and initiated the brawl with Pete on the streets of Alexandria, he soured his reputation with the entire community.
It took the intervention of Michonne to put a stop to his behavior before he went too far. Rick was spiraling down a chasm of his own making, and without the leverage to reel him back to reality, he would surely have turned into a Negan-type character in relatively short order.
Forcing Carl To Grow Up
“No More Kid Stuff.”
For Carl Grimes, the apocalypse was a huge adjustment. It wasn’t long before this harsh new world forced him to grow up long before he had any reason to. In season 2, Rick took Carl aside for a talk, a moment which would echo in his mind months later when he was faced with the decision to put his own mother down.
Rick’s cold dose of reality was bitter but necessary. “No more kid stuff. I wish you could have the childhood I had, but that’s not gonna happen. People are gonna die. I’m gonna die. Mom. There’s no way you can ever be ready for it. I try to be, but I can’t.”
Fighting With Lori
“I’m Doing Stuff, Lori… Things. Isn’t That Enough?”
After an offscreen winter insinuating the group’s struggle to survive in the wilderness following the fall of the farm, it was revealed that Lori and Rick’s marriage was essentially on the brink of collapse. In the midst of the stresses involving the need to survive on a day-to-day basis, Rick snapped at Lori with this quote.
It came hot on the heels of a realization that Lori had become intimate with the late Shane, whom Rick was forced to face down in season 2. His death split the two apart, and it didn’t help that Rick had taken on a more dictatorial attitude towards the group. Isolated and withdrawn from the others, Rick sabotaged his own relationship.
“I’m Gonna Kill You. Not Today, Not Tomorrow… But I’m Gonna Kill You.”
After encountering Negan and watching in horror as he beat two of his friends to death before his very eyes, Rick was left traumatized. The villain had proven his point, and he spent a great deal of time driving that point home in the most brutal and grotesque manner possible.
Despite all that, Rick muttered this quote to Negan, face-to-face in hushed tones as a warning of what was to come. Negan tried to intimidate that attitude out of him, but it only steeled his resolve. Ironically, when faced with the opportunity to kill Negan and claim vengeance, he spared his life and chose not to become the very person he hated.
Becoming A Dictator
“Let’s See How Far You Get. No Takers? Fine! But Get One Thing Straight. You’re Staying, This Isn’t A Democracy Anymore!”
Some individuals become tyrants and dictators because they believe they know what’s best for those under their care. Power corrupts quickly, and with relative ease, and a man like Rick was no exception. After the tragic events of season 2, Rick’s personality had shifted into much darker territory.
He dropped this quote at the end of the season in order to dictate how things were going to be from that moment on. Anyone who wanted out was free to go, but for those who stayed, they’d have to abide by Rick’s rules. This attitude ended up alienating a large portion of the group and did Rick no favors.
Losing His Grip On Reality
“I Got A Call.”
Still reeling from Lori’s tragic death, Rick – in mid-breakdown – began hearing the sound of a phone ringing at regular intervals. While the audience suspected that Rick might have started to lose his grip on reality, he was still holding onto hope that someone would be on the other end.
Rick spoke to several phantom callers including Amy, Jacqui, Jim, and his dead wife Lori. In the midst of this, Hershel found Rick waiting by the phone, mumbling this unsettling quote. It was one of many reasons why Rick Grimes would never survive a real-life zombie apocalypse.
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