The Walking Dead fans finally got the massive, years-in-the-making update that we’ve all been waiting for, when AMC and franchise overseer Scott Gimple announced that Andrew Lincoln would be returning to the role of Rick Grimes for an upcoming limited series alongside Danai Gurira’s MIchonne. That shift replaced the long-delayed film trilogy that was previously announced, and solidified that Rick will be back on our TVs in primetime in 2023. Beyond that, some fans were already convincing themselves that the star-studded spinoff Tales of the Walking Dead would also bring the eldest Grimes survivor back, only in the form of a pre-apocalypse flashback. But it appears those assumptions won’t match up with reality, at least if the UK actor heading up that episode is to be believed.
Considering The Walking Dead has featured a selection of British actors rocking American accents over the past eleven years, it wasn’t too out of the ordinary when Moonshot and Bridgerton actor Eric Tiede signed on for a role in an episode of the Tales spinoff. But given the fact that he’s a fit white dude with the same number of heads and other appendages as Andrew Lincoln, some fans started speculating that Tiede’s character name “Nolan” wasn’t legit, and that he’d actually be playing a younger version of the former Team Family leader. And while it’s not necessarily common for TWD franchise stars to come out and debunk viewers’ theories and hopes, this was apparently a special case, as Tiede took to Twitter to compliment some fanmade imagery while also putting the kibosh on the Rick rumors.
To the amazing fan who sent this- I love you, but there’s only one Rick Grimes & that’s Andrew Lincoln. So despite the intriguing theory, I am not playing a younger version of Rick in #TalesOfTWD Sorry to burst the bubble, but hey, maybe he’s got a cousin out there somewhere 🤔 pic.twitter.com/ZOYRzxRlgkJuly 30, 2022
For what it’s worth, Eric Tiede sounds about as grateful and respectful as someone can be while also castrating the hopes and dreams of an entire fanbase. Okay, maybe that’s a bit too dramatic, even though I’m sure it applies perfectly in some cases.
I do like that Tiede offered up a silver lining olive branch kind of an idea there by putting the idea out into the ethers that his character could perhaps tangentially be tied to Rick Grimes by cousin-ish relations. That’s almost definitely not canonical in any respect, but the lack of working genealogists in the Walking Dead universe means it’s still possible. After all, Rick does have a brother on the other side of the world in the comic book universe, as introduced in the Alien one-shot from Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin.
For all that Eric Tiede took the time to gently let the air out of the Rick Grimes prequel episode theories, I’m sure he’s at least partly aware that some fans are going to continue to believe in such speculation up until and through the episode that introduces Nolan into this world. Since throwing people off the scent is exactly what someone would want to do in a case like this. Or would they?
Honestly, given AMC’s SDCC reveal for Rick and Michonne’s return, I’d actually think the network would be going extremely hard on promoting Tales of the Walking Dead if one of the episodes was a standalone Rick Grimes story. At this point in the franchise’s run, when ratings are a pale shadow of what they once were, cluing fans in on such a marquee event would almost definitely set up a bigger viewership payoff than keeping things a secret until airing.
Tales of the Walking Dead should still be a fun and unique sidestep within this universe, with a cast of awesome stars such as America’s Got Talent host Terry Crews, The Boys star Jessie T. Usher, The Staircase’s Parker Posey, Hacks’ Poppy Liu and more. The spinoff will also bring Samantha Morton back into the fold for at least one episode looking back at her character’s pre-Alpha life. It’s likely that Morton’s return helped fuel the Rick-geared theorizing, too.
With The Walking Dead Season 11 set to hopefully answer all of our remaining questions with its final episodes starting on Sunday, October 2, the upcoming spinoff Tales of the Walking Dead will make its anthologized debut on Sunday, August 14, at 9:00 p.m. Head to our 2022 TV premiere schedule to see what other new and returning shows are on the way that also won’t feature Rick Grimes flashback episodes.
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Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper. Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.