When The Walking Dead was first introduced to audiences in 2010, no one could have predicted how popular the series would be with TV viewers. While other networks like HBO and Showtime have had incredible success with ratings over the years, AMC only had a handful of breakout shows and it wasn’t for sure that audiences would take to a show about a zombie apocalypse. Yet, the ratings for the series skyrocketed and fans became obsessed with all things zombie as each new season premiered. Understanding that this theme was resonating with audiences, there were a number of other zombie apocalypse shows and films that were released. Even Brad Pitt joined in on the hysteria when he starred in the 2013 film, World War Z. Other zombie shows have started to pop up like Z Nation and Fear the Walking Dead but none have had the same success as The Walking Dead.
The success of the series may be due to the fact that it’s spawned from a successful comic book series or perhaps it’s because the showrunners have kept the storyline intriguing. Yet, many believe that the success of the show is due to how captivating the Rick Grimes character has been throughout the series. While he’s known for being the tough-as-nails leader, he hasn’t always been. Like any human being, he’s had his weak or cowardice moments over the years. While waiting for the series to start up again, check out our list of the 15 times Rick showed a cowardice or weak moment and see that even a leader can have a flawed character.
15. Rick The Cop Gets Shot
In the series premiere, viewers were introduced to the Rick character through his role as a small town police officer. When he responds to a call about a high speed chase, he seems to be a pretty intelligent guy when he arrives on the scene with his partner, Shane Walsh. While waiting for the spikes to take out the suspect’s car, Rick even makes a comment to one of the other deputies to make sure he’s prepared. Yet, once the suspect’s car flips over and it’s discovered that he has a gun, Rick stands all out in the open while he’s firing back. Not only does he not take cover while taking fire but he is obviously a terrible shot. Once the suspect is taken down, Rick doesn’t even check and see if the area is clear. He starts standing around joking with Shane and that’s when he was shot in the back by the second suspect. This just shows the audience that Rick didn’t start off as the badass character he would later become. In fact, he wasn’t even that great of a police officer. Yet, fans don’t blame him for his humble beginnings since it gave his character a jumping off point, which makes it more exciting to watch his character evolve.
14. (Practically) Naked And Afraid
When Rick finally wakes up from his coma after being shot, he finds himself in a hospital bed all alone. When he fell out of bed, he called out for a nurse to come help him. When no one arrived, he wound up just getting up and taking a look around the hallways. Once he saw a dead nurse in the hallway and a doorway padlocked with dead fingers trying to claw through, he looks more than just a tad bit afraid. He winds up walking out of the hospital with nothing but his boxers, a hospital gown and some bandages. This is undoubtedly Rick at his weakest state since it doesn’t get any worse than being barefoot walking down the street and seeing a zombie crawling on the ground. Once he makes it to his home, he completely breaks down and winds up in a fetal position on the ground wondering whether or not he is dreaming. Obviously, the show needed to start off the Rick character in a state of shock since he didn’t know what was going on but it’s definitely interesting to see what he was like before he became the Rick audiences know now.
13. Rick Stuck In A Tank
When in search of his family, Rick was told by Morgan and Duane that they are probably in Atlanta. This is where people were told to go to in order to stay safe and that is also where the Center for Disease Control was located. Rick used a horse to get there after his car broke down from lack of gas. Yet, once he arrived in Atlanta, things looked extremely dire. Military vehicles were all over the street, dead bodies were everywhere and the entire city looked abandoned. Yet, that wasn’t exactly the case once he turned a corner on the main road. An entire hoard was headed his way and when he retreated, there were even more on the other side. He was thrown from his horse and the horse became a meal for the zombies. Although Rick had a huge bag of guns and ammunition, he began crawling on his hands and knees and wound up underneath a tank. It looked like he was going to commit suicide right before he saw an opening to get into the tank. Who knows how long he would have stayed in there if it hadn’t been for Glenn to help coax him out.
12. Begging With The CDC
After the makeshift camp was overrun by walkers, Rick made the decision to head out to the Center for Disease Control, much to the chagrin of Shane. Once the group finally reached it, it was already starting to become dark and the building was close to the city area where there were hoards of walkers. From the outside, the building looked completely abandoned and the group started to turn on Rick and questioned his decision on bringing them there. As everyone starts to leave, Rick sees the camera move and lets the group know. Yet, Dale makes a comment like he imagined the camera movement. Rick began screaming into the eye of the camera lens and begging for someone to open the door and let them in. The pleading and the agony in his voice was not the Rick we have come to know. There was a desperation and utter despair that showed that he was completely defeated in that moment. Although the door eventually opened, the fact that he completely lost himself and had to be dragged away begs the question as to what would have happened if the door wouldn’t have opened.
11. Losing Sophia
In the Season 2 premiere, Rick is leading the group (at least what’s left of them) away from Atlanta when they encounter a hoard on the highway. Carol’s daughter, Sophia, starts being chased by two walkers when Rick goes after them. At first, he scooped Sophia up in his arms but then all of a sudden he decides to just leave her by herself inside a shaded area in a creek. The plan he came up with was that he was going to lead the walkers away and then told Sophia that if he didn’t make it back, that she should run back to the highway. First, the fact that he couldn’t kill two walkers on his own was weak in and of itself. Although he didn’t want to use his gun because the sound would attract others, he could have easily used the backend of the gun to knock the walker’s brains out like he later did with a heavy rock. The second problem with Rick’s “plan” was the fact that he was entrusting Sophia to know her way back to the highway in the first place. This was a young kid still holding onto a stuffed animal and yet, he was expecting her to remember what direction she came from back when she was being chased by two zombies. Leaving her there and expecting her to find her way back was weak on Rick’s part and it showed that his sudden lapse in judgment was probably the real cause in Sophia’s death.
10. Can’t Deal With Gutting A Walker
After Carol’s daughter, Sophia, went missing in the woods, Rick and Daryl went out looking for her. Daryl was leading the efforts since he was an experienced woodsman that knew how to track. They were able to pick up on her tracks and even followed them for awhile but they weren’t able to find her. In the meantime, they saw a walker that had fresh blood on its face, flesh in its teeth and skin under its fingernails. In order to make sure that the fresh blood wasn’t Sophia’s, Rick suggested that they gut the corpse open and check for signs of Sophia. However, it was Daryl that wound up actually doing the gutting. He claimed it was because Rick probably didn’t have any experience in gutting an animal and that his knife was sharper. Rick didn’t exactly fight him for the opportunity and he definitely wasn’t handling the situation well. In fact, it seemed like he was going to lose his lunch while Daryl was doing all the heavy lifting. It seems strange that he would look like he was getting nauseous when it was all going down, especially since it wasn’t even him that was doing the gutting. In the meantime, Daryl wasn’t even phased by the situation.
9. Following Rules Of The Farm
It’s amazing to think that there was a time when Rick wasn’t the one calling all the shots in his group but when they all found themselves on Hershel’s farm, Rick seemed to be at Hershel’s mercy. This was long before he became the hardened version of himself that audiences saw when he threatened to take over Alexandria. During Season 2, Rick’s son was shot by Otis and the group was allowed to stay while Carl was recovering. Yet, tensions began brewing between Hershel and the group. In order to maintain an easy relationship with Hershel, Rick decided to play by Hershel’s rules. He even started wrangling them by using the same methods Hershel and his group were using. This is not the mark of a strong leader. In fact, this was one of Rick’s weakest moments because it showed that he could be pushed around and made to follow rules that simply didn’t make any sense. It took the incident where Shane unleashed the walkers inside the barn for Rick to finally snap out of the mentality that things could be done Hershel’s way.
8. Day Of Reckoning In The Woods
In the Season 4 finale, Rick is caught completely unaware in the woods while on the way to Terminus with Carl and Michonne. While there was once a time when Rick would obsessively walk the perimeter of where the group was camped out, that seems to not have been the case in this instance. Instead, he is nonchalant about the trail they have been leaving and definitely pays the price for it. The leader of the group, “The Claimers,” catches Rick completely unaware and sticks a gun to his head. The countdown begins on when he’s presumably going to kill Rick right then and there. The only way Rick was able to fight his way out of it was the fact that Daryl happened to be with their group. This is such a coincidental occurrence since this group just so happened to have run into Daryl on the road. If Daryl hadn’t been with them, Rick would have been killed on the spot. There wasn’t a way out of this without Daryl’s intervention because they were outnumbered and outgunned. Rick did redeem himself by gutting Carl’s attacker and biting the jugular of Joe but the little bit of luck with Daryl definitely bought him some time to plan and distract.
7. Farmer Rick
During the season finale of Season 4, the series offered a few flashbacks that showed how Rick transitioned between the end of Season 3 and the premiere episode of Season 4. When the season first started, Rick was heading out to work in the field and came upon a gun. He chucked the gun along with his discarded weeds and fans knew that he had definitely changed while the show was on hiatus. In the finale episode of the season, the flashbacks showed how he became “Farmer Rick” and it seems that the person to blame was Hershel. Everyone loved Hershel because he had a good heart and wasn’t as hardened as the rest of the characters on the series. Yet, that isn’t a good characteristics for the group’s leader. During the flashback scene, fans saw how it was Hershel who asked Rick to come work as a farmer. He was also the one to tell him not to bring his gun. He stated, “You’re not going to need that. It’ll just get in the way.” This little act may have been Hershel’s way of trying to get Rick to let up on his tough exterior but it started to make Rick lose his edge. This was the start in weakening Rick’s guard and was a huge reason why The Governor was able to come back and attack the group again.
6. Crate At Terminus
When Rick, Michonne, Carl and Daryl all made it to Terminus, Rick didn’t just walk right in through the front gates the way most of the visitors probably did. Yet, he didn’t take as many precautions that he should have, especially after the experiences he already had with The Governor. He already knew that the new world they were living in contained people that measured a person’s worth by what they could take from you. This was a constant theme once they made camp at the prison, so it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that the people of Terminus weren’t going exactly going to be humanitarians. While he did sneak in and hide a bag of guns, he was pretty much at their mercy by the time he entered the compound. In fact, their entire group could have been killed as soon as they handed over their weapons after they first entered. This was a definite sign of weakness on Rick’s part and if Carol hadn’t intervened, they would have all been dead.
5. Major Paranoia Leads To Destructive Behavior
After the group escaped Terminus, Rick became hardened in a way that was more than just being protective of his group. Bob tried to impart some advice before he died, about letting people in and learning to trust again. However, too much had happened to Rick that made him become extremely paranoid about those that weren’t in his immediate group. When Aaron sought them out to “audition” to become members of his community, Rick wouldn’t even listen to what he had to say. Aaron wasn’t being combative, he had given up his weapon freely and he even offered them food and water. Rick’s response to that was to punch him in the face and leave him unconscious while he ransacked his pack. This isn’t a weak or cowardice move but once he learned more about Aaron, Rick seemed to lose his intuition in his ability to know good people from bad people. Aaron told him that he would take them all to his community in a route that had been cleared of walkers. Yet, Rick refused to take that route and chose a different route, even though it wasn’t cleared of walkers. By doing this, he inadvertently put his group in harm’s way. Not only did their car become ambushed by walkers but the group became separated again. If it weren’t for Eric’s flare, the group would have probably been separated for a longer length of time. This seems to be a constant weakness on the part of Rick since he’s consistently put the group in a position where members are forced to fend for themselves due to Rick’s judgment calls.
4. Gun Placement
Guns are the major deciding factor in The Walking Dead since it establishes power for the characters. This has always been known throughout the series and yet, Rick has made some crucial mistakes surrounding guns in his group in recent seasons. Right before entering the Alexandria community, Rick decides to hide a gun outside of the gates in the wooded area. This is something he also did outside of Terminus. Yet, in the case of Terminus, Rick had a large bag of guns and ammunition and buried it. This still wasn’t extremely helpful because scouters from Terminus saw him with the bag and knew that it was probably guns and ammunition. Outside of Alexandria, Rick only hid a solitary gun and he didn’t even bother to bury it. He put it in an old blender. When he went back to go get it, someone had taken it. This meant he was short one gun and now someone else had it. This was a weak call by Rick and he should have known better to handle guns with the respect they deserve in a world of a zombie apocalypse. The same goes for the artillery situation at Alexandria. The fact that Rick allowed for each and every gun to be accounted for and signed in and out shows just how weak Rick was in being the leader of the group. As soon as they became under the thumb of Negan, the book with all records of the guns should have been burned, for sure!
3. Rick Pulls A Gun In Alexandria
When the group makes it to Alexandria, they have to make a conscious effort to try and be accepted by the community. As the leader, Rick could have played his role more intelligently in order to keep his hidden agenda out of the minds of others in the community. This is exactly the route that Carol took when she adopted a Stepford wife persona in order to stay under the radar. Yet, Rick completely lost his cool and started to look like a crazy intruder that the community would have to be forced to oust from Alexandria. The moment when Rick pulled a gun out on the members of the Alexandria community was the moment that he showed true weakness as a leader. It took Michonne knocking him unconscious in the street for him to finally knock off his crazy rant. Although the statements he made were completely accurate, he showed weakness by letting his thoughts be known to outsiders. This should have been a conversation he had solely with his own people.
2. Captured By Negan
When part of the group set off for the Hilltop Colony to get Maggie medical treatment, they are met with a number of obstacles set forth by the Saviors. The fact that he allowed his group to be captured by Negan shows that there was a definite lacking in Rick’s ability as a strategic leader. Rick hadn’t ever encountered another force that had overwhelming numbers or fighting power like the Saviors. The way he handled it was completely wrong, from the moment he walked into the woods to the moment he was put at gunpoint in front of Negan. He showed weakness when he made a threatening comment to Negan because he let his own anger dictate how he would treat his interaction with this new adversary. He obviously knew that this was a different type of threat than anything else he had encountered before, so he should have kept any thoughts he had to himself. Instead, this weakness seemed to force Negan’s hand and it set a bad precedent as the leader. Perhaps, this is why Daryl felt it would be alright to swing at Negan after the death of Abraham and perhaps, this is what led to Glenn’s death.
1. Hesitation Is A Weakness
Once Rick started to learn more about the Saviors, he quickly became aware that it was Negan that was the true leader of the group. Like any evil organization, it’s a pretty good notion that cutting the head off of the snake will likely cause the group to topple. After the showdown that led to the death of Abraham and Glenn, Rick was completely broken. Faced with the ultimatum of having to cut off Carl’s arm, Rick was probably going to do it in order to save the lives of the rest of the members of his group. Although this scenario didn’t play itself out, it led to Rick being broken down to his lowest point and further altered his behavior for the rest of Season 7. Rick had come to a place where he could no longer take another loss within his group. Since the Saviors took Daryl and were using him as a hostage, Rick seemed to lose any fight he still had left in him. When Negan came to Alexandria, he was completely vulnerable. The group could have been ready to fight with all the guns they had at Alexandria. Instead, Rick let him into the community and even willingly gave up all their guns and ammunition. He lost a crucial moment where he had Negan in a vulnerable state. Now, the group is without guns and who knows if the group will be able to get a chance like that again.