Beard spoilers in the story below for anyone who hasn’t watched the latest episode of The Walking Dead.
Saying goodbye to someone can be one of the hardest things in the world. Hell, even saying goodbye to a fictional character can be tough for some people. But I think we can all agree that the biggest tragedy of all is the death of a fictional character’s facial hair, and tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead forced fans everywhere to say goodbye to Rick Grimes’ beard. And now the world, along with that bathroom sink’s plumbing, will never be the same.
In an episode where a major male comic character was changed into a woman, the most shocking moment was Rick taking a hot shower for the first time in ages, followed by a full face shave. (And Andrew Lincoln’s upper cheeks weren’t the only ones in the spotlight.) In multiple fell swoops, Rick did away with one of the character’s most distinguishable characteristics. One that not only covered his face, but clued audiences in to just where the character was situated psychologically. Are we supposed to believe that he is a clean, calm and collected new man now that the group has made it to Alexandria? Not likely.
But instead of wondering what’s ahead for Rick like we so often do, let’s take a look back at a beard that was manlier than Carl Grimes could ever hope to be. The first time we saw Rick rocking some facial fuzz, it was in Season 1, just as he awoke from his coma in the hospital. No sponge baths or hot towel haircuts for this guy.
Rick managed to keep the beard and mustache pretty absent in that first season, sometimes allowing a 5 o’clock shadow to poke through. But that’s still when things were relatively normal for the group, in as much as a post-apocalyptic lifestyle can be normal. Things got a little more regularly hairy for him as the story opened up, and he adopted what we’ll call “professional stubble.”
At several points, Rick’s mental state snapped and arguably still hasn’t returned to normal, and it probably never will. Obviously, that led to him just not giving a shit about what he looked like, since his wife wasn’t around to care, and it eventually brought about the viscera-catching beard seen below. It’s enough to set my Beard OCD off like fireworks just looking at it again. Somebody grab a hose.
Then we get to this latter half of Season 5, in which Rick’s beard has been dealing with the deaths of Beth and Tyreese. Mere hours before shaving it all off, Rick looked as if he were trying out for the stage version of Duck Dynasty. (A thought far more terrifying than zombies.)
But now Rick is back to the baby face that we knew from his pre-zombie days, when he was a kickass cop alongside Shane, who had the worst hair problems by far on The Walking Dead. (And it doesn't seem like he's enjoying all of the shocked attention that his face is attracting.) So in closing, let’s give Rick’s former beard a 21 razor salute, with hopes that the stubble will one day rear its mighty follicles again.