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The Walking Dead has become a worldwide phenomenon, and AMC seems to have struck gold with their weekly tale of Rick Grimes and the rest off the Alexandria group's struggle for survival. With Season 6 in full swing, the series has very much found its groove since it first premiered all the way back in 2010. However, the zombie apocalypse show was not always going to look the way it does today. New information has come out shedding light on the original choice to portray Rick Grimes before Andrew Lincoln capably stepped in to strap on his revolver.
Uproxx has revealed that early in The Walking Dead’s development, original show runner Frank Darabont wanted to take the show to HBO and have actor Tom Jane portray lead character Rick Grimes. Jane has a fairly prolific Hollywood resume and arguably bigger star power than Lincoln; most comic book movie fans will recognize him for his somewhat underrated turn as Frank Castle AKA The Punisher in the 2004 version of The Punisher. Eventually, HBO passed on The Walking Dead, sending the series over to AMC, and by that time Jane had already committed to doing Hung for HBO – making him ineligible to portray Grimes. Coincidentally, Jon Bernthal, who played Rick's best friend Shane Walsh during The Walking Dead’s first two seasons, is slated to take over as The Punisher for the Marvel Cinematic Universe some time next year.
It’s difficult to say if this was a stroke of luck or misfortune. Andrew Lincoln absolutely dominates as Rick Grimes, but Jane could have been just as, if not more, effective in the role. He has a strong physicality and a penchant for playing dark family men that would have made him perfect for the part. However, it could also be argued that Lincoln has more of an everyman quality that makes his Rick Grimes seem more like a survivor and less like a run of the mill hero. Of course, if you want to see a despondent and bearded Tom Jane constantly worrying about his family, one could always just watch Arrested Development.
Regardless of what could have happened, we feel safe in saying that most fans wouldn’t change the show’s current ensemble. Over the course of six seasons Andrew Lincoln has taken Rick Grimes through an absurdly complex character arc that has proven equal parts tragic and engaging. The Walking Dead will return, with Andrew Lincoln front and center, on February 14, 2016.