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The Walking Dead Director Explains The Importance Of Having Rick Return For The Series Finale

The following contains spoilers for "The Walking Dead" series finale.

Without a doubt, one of the most exciting aspects of the series finale of "The Walking Dead" is the long-awaited return of former series lead Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) — who exited the series during its ninth season. Following a scene in which Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) leaves the Commonwealth to search for Rick and Michonne (Danai Gurira), we're greeted with a shot of Rick lighting a cigarette in the dark, and he delivers a chilling monologue about all the people he's lost and about the endless power of love.

We're then given a brief scene in which Rick and Michonne are forced to surrender to a helicopter, Rick looking even worse for wear than the last time we saw him, and Michonne in the form of makeshift armor. We also see that they're on a beach on the outskirts of a city and that the beach is clogged with sunken walkers stuck in the mud. Although at first glance, this brief scene seems to be nothing more than a setup for the forthcoming Rick and Michonne spinoff series, director Greg Nicotero says there was actually a fundamental reason for bringing Rick back in this final episode.

Greg Nicotero says that Rick needed to be in the finale because the series is about his journey

In a recent interview with ComicBook.com, "The Walking Dead" director and executive producer Greg Nicotero explained that including this epilogue was important because it felt wrong not to include Rick Grimes in the finale since the entire series is really about his journey.

"The show was always Rick Grimes' journey. You can't really wrap up the story of 'The Walking Dead' without Rick Grimes," admitted Nicotero. "It didn't feel right, it didn't feel authentic." Although this certainly isn't the end of Rick Grimes' journey (which will continue in the aforementioned spinoff), there is a certain finality to this scene that makes it a fitting transition into the next stage of Rick's story.

Indeed, the scene itself ends with a scene featuring Rick and Michonne's children, Judith Grimes (Cailey Fleming) and R.J. Grimes (Antony Azar), staring out at a vibrant and rich landscape while Judith tells her brother that "We get to start over. We're the ones who live" — further emphasizing that the true end to Rick's journey should see him reunited with his children at long last. Although this epilogue may not be the true end of Rick's story, it's clear that Nicotero felt his presence was necessary for the story of "The Walking Dead" to come to a close.