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The Walking Dead: World Beyond sets up challenges in Rick Grimes’ future return

He was, after all, kidnapped.

AMC’s The Walking Dead - Rick Grimes Photo: AMC

The Walking Dead: World Beyond virtual panel at New York Comic Con Metaverse wasted little time before mentioning the spinoff’s big connection to Rick Grimes’ whereabouts, and how he connects to the new series. The former sheriff and protagonist has been missing on The Walking Dead since 2018, but his absence looms large over the entire franchise.

“The show obviously serves as an introduction to the organization/civilization that Rick has gotten somehow tied up in, in some way,” Walking Dead Universe chief content officer Scott M. Gimple told moderator Chris Hardwick, who asked if fans need to worry about Rick given what we’ve since learned about the group that took him in Season 9. “Rick Grimes kinda takes care of himself,” Gimple continued. “He’s pretty good at that sort of thing. But it does look like his situation is going to be challenged in some kind of pronounced way. That I will say.”

Gimple’s tease is vague and calculated, but if you were holding on to hope that Rick had been recruited for a community that would uphold him as a hero and welcome him into their ranks, it might be time to let that dream die.

World Beyond, which premiered on Oct. 4, focuses on a generation of young survivors who came of age in the apocalypse, and takes place in a community living in the shadow of the Civil Republic Military. And the first few minutes of the first episode made it clear that these are the people who kidnapped Rick Grimes. This is now the third time the CRM has shown up in the larger Walking Dead universe. After helicopters bearing the CRM’s three ring symbol whisked Rick away on The Walking Dead, one of their soldiers appeared on Fear The Walking Dead in Season 5. That woman, Isabelle (Sydney Lemmon), warned Al (Maggie Grace) against crossing the ruthless and future-focused organization. The World Beyond revealed the CRM’s full name, the location of their research facility in New York State, and at least one of their goals: to study the virus that caused the zombie apocalypse in order to find a cure and restore society.

Gimple also clarified for the viewers at the top of the panel that World Beyond takes place contemporaneously with the most recent episode of The Walking Dead. Since the anchor series jumped forward in time after Rick was kidnapped by the CRM, this means that the series’ first protagonist has been with the CRM for a little over six years unless he escaped, or died, in that gap.

Since the World Beyond characters are on a journey to find the CRM’s research facility, on a quest the NYCC panel compared to The Wizard of Oz, more may be revealed or teased about the specific challenges Rick Grimes has been facing. Of course, all of these questions about Rick will be answered by the planned Walking Dead films, which will serve as an epilogue/final adventure for the beloved character. Those are still happening, by the way.

The Walking Dead: World Beyond airs Sundays on AMC at 10 p.m. EST.

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