The Walking Dead's Rick and Michonne Reunion Nearly Happened Differently

The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live co-creators reveal a "tug of war" with AMC over Richonne's reunion.

[Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers for The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live.] It took one episode for The Walking Dead to separate Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) — and a single episode to bring them back together. Sunday's "Years" premiere of new series The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live spanned Rick's eight-year absence after the Civic Republic's army helicoptered him away back in season 9 of The Walking Dead, and the episode ended explosively when someone shot down Rick's chopper.

In a full-circle moment, a CRM helicopter came crashing down to reunite Rick and Michonne eight years after a CRM helicopter airlifted him up and away. It was a moment that fans have been waiting for since 2018 — and one that network AMC wanted to prolong a little while longer.

(Photo: Gene Page/AMC)

"I saw people worrying [Rick and Michonne] were only going to meet in episode 6," Gurira, who co-created the six-episode series with Lincoln and showrunner Scott M. Gimple, said during a panel at New York's 92nd Street Y. Gimple penned the premiere's teleplay from a story he co-wrote with Gurira and Lincoln, with the three collaborators choosing to end the episode on a cliffhanger that will continue from Michonne's perspective in episode 2. 

"There was a lot of tug of war — not between us — with that structure," franchise overseer Gimple said diplomatically. "It was AMC, I don't care," Gurira interjected to laughter.

Gurira, also an executive producer alongside Gimple and Lincoln, added that Dan McDermott, AMC's President of Entertainment and AMC Studios, conceded that the trio made the right decision to reunite Rick and Michonne at the end of the first episode. "'That was great what you guys decided to do with that,'" Gurira recalled, laughing. "It's like, 'Aren't you glad we didn't listen to you?'"

Gurira and Gimple explained the episode's ending in an interview with EW, saying that their decision to structure the Richonne reunion this way "made sense."

"Because we had to get into the meat of the story, which is: What happens when these two people who obviously have been changed by all this time apart come back together? What does that look like with this massive barrier and obstacle of the CRM being between them? How do they get through that? What is it going to be?" Gurira said. "We can't do that until we connect them."

She continued: "I love that the audience gets thrown by the fact that BOOM — there she is! Just as they think Rick is settling and accepting the fact that Rick is basically broken and going to stay here and not fight it anymore — just as they feel like they've lost him, he's found. In my mind, that's good drama. So I think that was what was behind the decision."

Eight years after the couple last saw each other at the bridge, Gimple added, "They look like two different people. They are two different people. And I don't mean from each other, I'm saying from themselves. They're different than when the audience last saw them and when they last saw each other. They're completely different people than who they were."

New episodes of The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live premiere Sundays on AMC and AMC+. Stay tuned to ComicBook/TWD and follow on Facebook for more TWD Universe coverage.