As we bid a bittersweet and rather anti-climactic farewell to The Walking Dead's Rick Grimes this week, it’s easy to look back over our protagonist’s time on the show and hail him a hero. But over the course of nine seasons, Rick has done some truly terrible things – things questionable even by the standards of a world overrun by the undead.
Naturally, the kind of things that go down in a zombie apocalypse are bound to change a man and we’ve seen Rick evolve from a clean-cut, small-town cop to a grizzled, war-weary survivor who’ll do pretty much anything to protect his loved ones.
You could argue that any of Rick’s more villainous actions were justified – simply a consequence of the man he’d had to become to survive – and that not acting the way he had in his more morally questionable moments could well have gotten him or his people killed.
Nevertheless, there are definitely times went Rick went way too far. Like biting out the jugular of a man about to rape your son? Completely justified. Killing a man who’s just saved your life in cold blood? Not so much.
But that’s exactly what made Rick Grimes such an intriguing character – he was proof that the line between heroism and villainy isn’t always so clear-cut.
10. Four Walls And A Roof (Season 5) – His Savage Slaying Of The Surviving Termites In Father Gabriel’s Church
Let’s get one thing straight: the Termites were not good people. Killing people to cannibalise their flesh is never right, zombie apocalypse or not. That said, they were desperate people driven to their wicked ways by their own mistreatment at the hands of others.
That’s not to say that they deserved a second chance. They tried to kill Rick and his group, ate one of Bob’s legs and likely would’ve eaten anybody else that crossed their paths had Rick let them live.
Really, it’s not so much the fact that Rick killed Gareth and the other surviving Termites – they definitely had it coming – but rather the way he went about it. Opting to brutally hack and bludgeon them to death so as not to waste bullets on them is pretty savage. Even Maggie, Glenn, Tara and Tyreese who have seen and partaken in a fair amount of bloodshed by this point look horrified at what’s going on.
It’s not like Rick just dispatched Gareth with a quick machete chop to the head either – he full on hacked up his body and seemed to take quite a bit of pleasure in the act too. Not to mention all of this took place on hallowed ground.
Was Rick killing the Termites justified? Sure. Was it overkill? Definitely.