The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live episode 1 gives fans the comic-accurate Rick they've been (morbidly) waiting for

Andrew Lincoln as Rick in The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live
(Image credit: AMC)

Warning! This article contains spoilers for The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live episode 1. If you've yet to watch the premiere and don't want to know what happens in it, turn back now!

Well – or should we say, welp? – there you have it: Rick Grimes has finally become the handless hero we know from the comic books thanks to The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live's first episode.

'Years', which aired on February 25, opens with Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and a bunch of other Civic Republic Military consignees being forced to clear walkers that have wandered a little too close to the city. It's nighttime, they're on wire leashes, and some of the undead are on fire, which makes it seem like a precarious task for the get go, but nevertheless, Rick starts charging at them as best he can with an axe.

Before long, Rick makes out like he fell and cuts his hand off, allowing him to wriggle free of his shackles and run off. He cauterizes the open wound in the remains of a smoldering zombie, but his escape attempt sadly doesn't pan out.

Due to Lincoln sporting a thick leather glove on in a lot of The Ones Who Live's promotional material, as well as on-set snaps, The Walking Dead fans have long been speculating whether the eagerly anticipated spin-off would honor a huge part of the source material. In issue #28, The Governor cuts off Rick's right hand when the former deputy sheriff refuses to give up the location of his camp – and fans have been morbidly, kind of, wishing it to happen since the series began in 2010. It's not that they want Rick to suffer but rather, they want certain, significant aspects of Robert Kirkman's graphic novels to carry over, just as Carl (Chandler Riggs) losing his eye or Negan killing Glenn did.

The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live

(Image credit: AMC)

There were several nods to the moment in the original show, too, like when Rick cut Jessie's forearm off to free himself from her grasp after a horde of zombies broke in to Alexandria in season 5. For a moment, it looked like he was going to chop his own fist off, and when it didn't transpire into the comic book reference, viewers felt a little cheated. 

In season 6, eagle-eyed tuner-inners thought Rick's hand was a goner when some infected walker blood seemingly got into an open wound on his palm but again, he managed to keep all his grabbers. Then, in a much later season, Rick comes very close to lopping Carl's hand off at the behest of Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan).

"To be perfectly honest, the practical difficulties of having a guy who doesn't have a hand is extremely complicated in the comic and would be impossible in the show," Kirkman once said during an installment of SundanceTV's The Writers' Room, which explains why they've been so reluctant to do it so far. Guess the reluctance eventually wore off... and viewers are here for it. Check out some reactions below...

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The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live airs every Sunday on AMC and AMC Plus. Ensure you don't miss an episode with our guide to The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live release schedule, or work out how best to binge the franchise with our breakdown on how to watch The Walking Dead franchise in order.

Amy West

I am an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering all things TV and film across our Total Film and SFX sections. Elsewhere, my words have been published by the likes of Digital Spy, SciFiNow, PinkNews, FANDOM, Radio Times, and Total Film magazine.