Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) from The Walking Dead was at one time a sheriff's deputy in King County, GA. However, he is soon forced to lead a band of disparate personalities across the southern U.S. following a zombie apocalypse. After awaking from his hospital bed and finding himself in the midst of a zombie ruled city, Rick fears for his wife and son's safety, Lori Grimes (Sarah Wayne Callies) and Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs), until stumbling upon their home with missing photographs. Rick understands nobody would want to steal pictures of his family, unless his wife took them while retreating for safety. He faithfully hopes for their survival, looking for them in the wreckage of civilization, all the while trying to keep himself from becoming another member of the walking dead. This leads Rick to venture to Atlanta, where Rick comes across more survivors. Rick and the other survivors besides a harsh character, Merle, manage to flee the city. He eventually finds his family by circumstance, living among a small group of survivors on the forested outskirts of Atlanta. Eventually this need to be with his family is overcome by a bond formed amongst the group of survivors by circumstance and a genuine altruism, an altruism which disintegrates as the series continues.
Rick is both the protector of the group and its moral compass. Soon after finding his family again, Rick forces himself to return to the city because of a wrong he dealt to Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker). Rick had chained Merle to the roof of a building, attempting to keep him from shooting another member of their group. Although, he soon realizes that he has to go back and rescue Merle, despite every worry that going to Atlanta could leave the group unprotected. When he and several survivors return from their unsuccessful trip to find Merle, who has cut his own arm off to escape, they find the small encampment of survivors under a fatal attack from zombies. Rick's evolution and de-evolution as the group's protector/moral compass is the window which the show uses to look inward toward humanity's truest value system.
As the show continues, and one of the group's members Jim (Andrew Rothenberg) begins to waste away due to a zombie bite, the group begins to question Rick for leaving and often times blaming him for the deaths occurring during the zombie attack. Rick begins to wonder how much one man can do under such moral pressures. Rick desperately explains to the group that they must move on to a safer site, hoping that a larger governmental institution might be able to take this tremendous burden off his shoulder. He tells the group they will be going to an institution run by the Center for Disease Control, hoping the entire time that his choice hasn't led them to a certain death. Upon arrival and admittance of the CDC installation, Rick learns that those once chosen to lead humanity, have been in the same boat as everyone else. Dr. Edwin Jenner (Noah Emmerich), has failed in finding a cure for the zombie apocalypse and it has taken his wife's life in the process. Dr. Edwin Jenner commits suicide through an explosion and termination of the CDC as Rick and the rest of the survivors carry on.
Many fans of The Walking Dead have noted that the show has already greatly differed from The Walking Dead graphic novel series by Robert Kirkman, upon which the show is based. Some critics have noted that a large amount of the graphic novel's most seminal events have not only been altered by the AMC show, but in many cases they have been completely eliminated. However, many of them agree that even after only the first short season of the series the sisyphean life of Rick Grimes, central to the comic, appears to be very similar.
Memorable Quotes from Rick:
"We don't have to be afraid anymore. We're safe here."
"You don't know what it's like out there. You may think you do but you don't. It's only a matter of time. There's too many of those things."
"We don't kill the living!"
"Do not enter the city. It belongs to the dead now..."