BySloan Remy Orion, writer at


Whoever said ‘one man can’t make a difference’ didn’t watch The Walking Dead, because for six seasons, Rick Grimes and the Atlanta group have done just that. During a typical TWD-a-thon in preparation for 6B, a thought flashed though my mind – ‘without Rick, your character would be so dead right now!’ We’ve all noticed the similarities between season 6’s Arc – The Alexandrians journey of Survival and season 1’s survival journey of the Atlantans; but I couldn’t shake the thought of how different the entire show could have been without Rick.

So let’s go back to the beginning.

After a high-speed police chase and shoot out; a rouge bullet sends Rick into a coma, only to awaken in the new ‘Walking Dead’ world.

Splinter 1) Rick never wakes.

If Rick never wakes, he never meets Duane and Morgan, and the trio never raid the Sheriff Departments armory to retrieve the guns. Now, following the Morgan / Duane thread, what’s likely is: in Duane’s death, Morgan either dies alongside, or without fire-power and no Aikido skills, is killed soon after.

Splinter 2) Rick makes it all the way to the tank.

Imagine if there wasn’t a conveniently open ‘hatch’ under the tank: Rick would likely have blown out his brains and become a Lunch Time Buffet for every Walker who shimmied for their supper! Glenn, having seen him, would have radio’d in vain with only the Tank Zombie to hear the iconic line ‘Dumbass’. And after a respectable moment of silence, Glenn would have moved on.

Splinter) 2b – Rick is swarmed after the tank.

Assuming Rick had made it though the tank but gotten caught by the swarmed on the outside, Glenn again would have waited but moved on.

Now lets’ not forget, the day Rick met the group he did a lot.

1) Glenn rescues him from the tank.

2) Rick’s gunfire draws every walker in the heart of the city.

3) Rick drops the bag of guns.

4) Rick handcuffs Merle to the roof.

5) After a botched escape attempt in the sewer the group discover the only way out (of the city) is through the streets of Walkers – as Walkers.

6) Rick hotwires Glenn’s ‘diversion’ sports car and they all escape in a stolen truck.

BUT - without Rick for the following:

A) The group sneaks in, grabs supplies, Merle doesn’t fire (as many / if any) shots off the roof or irritate the group to the point everybody’s secretly happy he gets left on a roof; Glenn considers the Gun Bag a lost cause and they all make it back to camp in time for Daryl’s squirrel stew.

B) The noise from Rick and Merles gunfire draws an unbeatable herd and without Ricks Walker-Imitation escape plan, the group have neither the insight or ability to get themselves out alive.

Truthfully, my best ‘C)’ guess here says they head for the roof: since a ‘one handed’ Merle made it off ok, so we know there was a route out. Glenn, the expert at handling himself on a run, would have made it out fine too; but trigger happy Andrea would likely have fired, missed and gotten herself bit. Jackie, the woman who took the first available out in the season one finale, would have likely met her end there too. Morales and T-Dog, both big and brawny, would have taken on a few walkers, meelee style, and one or both ended up dead.

Any surviving members, would have made it back to camp and over a ‘walker gnarled venison’ told the story of how a kamikaze cop who got himself killed, and how they lost people in the escape. Would the gun bag have come up? Maybe. Would they have risked the return for it? Unlikely; until the next planned supply run. Lets not forget in our reality: Rick pushed for the gun retrieval and it was the added rescue of Merle that made it a happen. Regardless, it’s irrelevant as Guillermo’s group saw the guns and being stationed in the city would have scooped them up long before it was even a thought. Any attempt by the Atlantans to retrieve them would have found only The Sheriff’s Hat.

Accepting Ricks’ death long before this: Shane, Lori and Carl would have their makeshift family and would gradually become more ‘public’ in the group. Additionally without Ricks return, the Shane/Lori breakup never happens, nor does Shanes’ descend into a crazed obsession. Is it worth mentioning Judith?...

One thing, and sorry Daryl fans: with Merle off the roof, and with both hands, the plan to rob the group in the middle of the night and split would have definitely happened.

Which begs the unanswered question of the fish fry: who was in the right? As we remember the group split. Half went back for Merle and the bag, while the other half had a fish fry as Dale recited a poem (that would later be remembered in Season 5’s titles); before walkers crashed and ate half the group.

Splinter 3) Without Rick and the guns, the fish fry would have had a full - non combat ready – group. Despite the strength in numbers, they might well have still lost half or more. Shane as a leader, would have gotten Lori, Carl and a fair few others into the RV / other vehicles safely, allowing the walkers to continue eating the remaining dead until they moved on.

Key deaths would still include Amy and Ed, no changing that. It’s likely that Carol; had she survived, would still have the cathartic moment of bludgeoning Dead Ed. But would Andrea, had she survived, still have had the opportunity to wait all night for Amy to turn before giving her mercy?... Doubtful.

If we remember, Jim was bitten in the attack and was outted by Jackie. Assuming Jackie had made it to that point; it was a Ricks’ behest that the group travel to the CDC, and not to fort Benning as Shane suggested, in the hope of a cure.

Splinter 4) CDC vs Fort Benning.

Had the group followed Shanes’ suggestion of Fort Benning, which is a high probability, then Jenner, having lost the last remaining tissue samples of TS19 would have killed himself as planned before the CDC facility atomized itself.

Would the group have even made it to Fort Benning? In our reality, they didn’t and later learned it was overrun. It’s entirely likely they would have discovered this themselves or died journeying to find out.

Even if some other advocate swayed the group to the CDC, it was due to Rick’s initial drunken confessions of mortal fear and pressures of leadership and later, when soberly facing imminent death did his pleas for life touched the Scientist to allowed them a chance to escape; and ONLY from his retrieved grenade – thank you Carol – that made escape possible!

The very fact is, without Rick not a single Atlantan, (except maybe the Dixon Brothers and possibly The Morales families) would be dead be the Season one finale.


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