What would AMC's hit television show be like without Andrew Lincoln? Since the beginning he's given the the fiercely protective papa bear, killer, and mercenary a questionable morality and enduring sympathy unlike any other that could've played him. When the storylines are intense, Lincoln goes all in guns blazing. When the storm calms down, Lincoln can be inspiring or heartbreaking, just as we expect Grimes to be. No matter the changes thrown towards his character, Lincoln manages his biggest struggles: to be an effective leader, to keep Team Family alive while watching some of them die, to relinquish living in a world of death, and determine what it means to be a human.
Sure, he can grow one hell of beard, and still look hot when he's covered in literal grime and guts, but it's been an awesome journey to see Rick adjust his ideas of law and order in order to protect his family. Despite the great, and sometimes plotholed-fill direction of the show, Lincoln delivers a great performance year after year. To celebrate this hero and anti-hero, here is a list of my favorite performances. (This post includes major spoilers of all the seasons so far!) What episodes do you consider to be the Best of Rick Grimes? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
CodaThe group finally discovers Beth is being held hostage at a hospital in Atlanta by some crooked cops. Daryl, Tyrese, Sasha and Rick team up to get her back, but Rick's reluctantly lets Daryl take the lead of this operation. With a steely silence and unwavering sense of disagreement, Rick ultimately knows any way the exchange for her goes down, people might end up dead. Good-hearted Tyrese suggests that nobody has to die in order to save Beth, to which Daryl agrees. It's all the more heartbreaking when things don't go as planned, and they have to witness the loss of a songbird.
As Rick shoulders the responsibility of leading the group, Better Angels is one of the most epic showdowns in the series's history. After not being able to decide the fate of a young straggler they picked up, Shane has finally snapped. Leading Rick out to the middle of nowhere with the intention to kill him, Shane throws everything at his arsenal to get him to raise his gun. Rick refuses...but that doesn't mean you can't bring a knife to a gunfight. While this is a highlighting moment in the episode, no one can equally forget the words passed down from a sheriff to his son about trying to survive.
ClearTalk about a moment when The Walking Dead still threw genuine surprises at its fans. Rick, Michonne, and Carl make a run back into their old neighborhood, where Morgan who has been missing-in-action for three seasons pops up. Like Rick, he has become the Mayor of Crazy Town. Because Morgan saved him at the start of the apocalypse, Rick tries giving him a second chance and showing him he can come back. It's a great performance between Andrew and Lennie who slip back into the groove after so many episodes.
SpendThe saying goes when the windows are in tact, so is society. But from the moment he entered Alexandria in season five, Rick's been cautious to the point of planning to overthrow the community if they don't change their ways. Except for a select member or two of Team Family, he's kept his ego-maniacal ambitions to take-over the safe haven a secret. Problems come to a head when Rick discovers that Deanna has let an alcoholic doctor abuse his wife, and the two fight it out right through the window and into the street. It was only a matter of time before he came to blows Pete and the rest of the community, making it one of Rick's best desperate declarations.
It's no easy feat to give an actor an episode where they are literally playing Hide and Seek for forty-five minutes. Andrew Lincoln does it so well. As Michonne and Carl get to know each other more on a supply run, Rick gets trapped in a house by an unruly group of survivors. Except for a small conversation with his son and to-be-girlfriend, it's almost an entirely wordless performance. He creeps from spot-to-spot in an effort not to get caught by these jerks, and keeps us on the edge of our seats.
30 Days Without An AccidentEveryone's had a hard time throughout the apocalypse, seen things they wouldn't imagine and endured too many deaths of loved ones. As the center of the show, Grimes experiences a lot of devastation that pushes him over the edge, or about as close anyone could get. Putting his gun away and taking up a nonviolent mentality, Grimes runs into a woman in the forest asking for his help, someone who's really trying to kill and feed him to her zombie husband. Compared to the rest of the episode, it's such a random act of devastation Rick has to shoulder, but you can feel the desperation he's facing as Grimes tries to handle what's been thrown at him.
After losing his wife Lori in season three, Rick starts suffering hallucinations and believing people are calling him on a dead telephone. But Lincoln's performance is more than Rick just wandering Crazy Town. It's the last shred of his self-conscious trying to break through as he talks with people they've lost so far, especially his wife. It's by far his biggest emotional downfall, tethering him between normalcy and the brink of madness.
Those who survived the prison fall-out looking for hope and a new start unknowingly start making their way to Terminus, "a sanctuary for all". Immediately upon arrival, Rick's instincts are on-point and he realizes that nothing is what it seems. When he and Team Family find out they're up against cannibals and on the menu, he's somehow still confident in telling their leader Gareth he's going to kill them. With the help of a saving grace named Carol, he does manage to break out, but soon that predator nature falls away to reveal a father finally reunited with his daughter. Lincoln, as always, manages to run on all cylinders for the action and the emotional root of Rick.