‘The Walking Dead:’ Beloved Cast Members Return For Rick’s Emotional Last Episode

‘TWD’ is giving Rick Grimes a great send-off — with the help of a few old cast members, of course! Take a look at who made the cut.

Andrew Lincoln, 45, who plays Rick Grimes on The Walking Dead, is the only cast member remaining from the first episode — and now, eight and a half seasons later, he’s off the show! But AMC couldn’t end his iconic run without an epic goodbye, right? So it’s no surprise that they brought three dead characters back to the silver screen for Rick’s last episode. With so many tragic deaths over the course of the show — it is about the zombie apocalypse, after all — there was a long list of beloved actors to choose from, including Rick’s family members. Chandler Riggs, 19, who played Rick’s son Carl died in the middle of season eight, and Rick’s wife Lori, played by Sarah Wayne Callies, 41, has been gone for six seasons. But while these two didn’t come back, the three people who did still felt just as much like family!

The first to return was Jon Bernthal, 42, who played Rick’s best friend and fellow police officer in the first season. Remember him? Considering he slept with Rick’s wife while he was in a coma, then plotted to kill him, the guy’s impossible to forget — which is why fans freaked when they saw him in a preview of Rick’s final episode. The two appeared to be back in the cop car from the show’s very first scene, staring at an upside-down vehicle while sharing a burger and fries. Since real-life Rick was bleeding out on the back of a horse, it was unclear whether he was hallucinating the scene or was already dead, but he was as confused as the audience, asking Shane where his family was — which Shane called his family. Yikes!

“How is my baby girl, by the way?” he asked. Rick, who had always guessed little Judith wasn’t his, joked, “She hasn’t got your nose!” To which Shane added that it was a good thing she didn’t get his ears either. They had a good laugh before things turned serious and Rick apologized for killing Shane, but his ex-partner wasn’t hearing it. “You need to forget that sh*t,” he said, encouraging Rick to fight, to summon the angry, animal part of himself and survive.

Then Shane’s face morphed into a walker’s and Rick was back in his body, fighting off a huge herd. The same shocking transition happened when the next two characters returned. They built him up, only to be replaced by the dead, still trying to take him down.

Hershel’s moment with Rick was sweet before it snapped back to the present. Maggie’s dad, played by Scott Wilson who passed away the day before season nine aired, has been sorely missed since he was killed off in season four. So it only seemed fitting that he and Rick reunited in front of a gorgeous sunset. While it was unclear whether the scene was filmed before Scott’s death or added in later with CGI, it was an emotional, tear-jerking few minutes all the same.

Sasha’s reappearance, though, began in a more disturbing manner. Rick was standing on a sea of dead bodies, stretching out as far as the eye could see, when he realized that all the members of his group were right at his feet. Sasha, played by Sonequa Martin-Green, 33, rose from the bodies and tried to put Rick at peace with his death, and with all he had done for his loved ones. “You did your part like I did mine, like the others did before us,” she said. “The others draw strength from us. We change each other. We help each other. It never ends.”

Her sentiment was so well-put — and so true of this show! While so many characters have come and gone on The Walking Dead, they still feel so present and as much a part of the group as the living. From Carl and Lori down to Andrea and Dale, the bond each member of Rick’s group shares surpasses all. So even though Andrew Lincoln’s character will be MIA for the rest of the series, it’s clear that the leading man is going to keep affecting those left behind.

We can’t wait to watch that play out! The Walking Dead airs on Sunday nights at 9:00 on AMC.

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