It's a story years in the making; truthfully, we're surprised we're actually getting it.
As previously reported, The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live premieres Sunday, February 25, 2024, bringing back Andrew Lincoln and Danai Gurira as fan favorites Rick and Michonne -- or as we like to call them -- Richonne.
Their relationship was such a big part of the original series that it's shocking we've been waiting this long for their reunion.
The Long Road to the Richonne Reunion on The Walking Dead
Andrew Lincoln's exit from The Walking Dead was accompanied by the announcement that he would headline a trilogy of movies.
That was in 2018, but details slowed to a halt after that.
With no new announcements and The Walking Dead's end in sight, it seemed there was a chance that Rick and Michonne's storylines would remain unresolved.
Thankfully, AMC officially picked up TWD: The Ones Who Live in July 2022, revealing that it would be a six-episode limited series to bring the stories of two fan favorites full circle.
Even better, fans finally saw Rick and Michonne in the flesh on The Walking Dead Season 11 Episode 24, which aired in November 2022.
The shocking scenes showed that Michonne was still laser-focused on finding Rick to reunite their family.
The bad news? Rick was still under the rule of the CRM.
The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live Can Help or Hinder the Franchise
At one point, The Walking Dead was one of the biggest shows on TV.
It featured stellar storytelling, shocking deaths, and diabolical villains that caused uproar amongst avid fans.
Unfortunately, the series started playing things too safe, and despite some very strong episodes in the final seasons, it could never live up to what came before it.
One of the biggest mysteries that wasn't resolved on The Walking Dead involved the Civic Republic Military (CRM).
The CRM was also featured briefly on Fear the Walking Dead, with the wonderful addition of Sydney Lemmon as Isabelle.
Unfortunately, the CRM disappeared shortly thereafter, but we did hear reports that they realized they were no match for Morgan Jones' plot armor. We kid (mostly!).
The CRM was the main attraction of the ill-fated TWD: World Beyond, which was bogged down with teenagers at the wheel of the story.
The CRM storyline has been brewing for years, and there's a high probability viewers will be left unsatisfied with how it's handled.
Still, we got many answers about them on TWD: World Beyond and even met General Beale's son.
We've heard a lot about General Beale, as his name sends a shudder down the spine of those in the know.
We'll finally meet him on TWD: The Ones Who Live, played by the always-talented Terry O'Quinn (Lost, Resident Alien).
That's what we at TV Fanatic call casting done right.
O'Quinn is a masterful actor, and he'll perfectly embody a villain in the TWD universe, bringing with him more experience in the arena than most actors get in a lifetime.
The tricky part of bringing this particular villain to life will be not only crafting him as a person others follow but one people fear crossing, too.
Elizabeth was terrified of crossing him on TWD: World Beyond Season 2, so the stage is truly set.
Rick and Michonne have faced many merciless villains during their time traversing the zombie wasteland, and seeing how Rick was apprehended on the series finale of The Walking Dead, we see how difficult he is to evade.
That's more of a testament to the number of people inside the CRM and strewn worldwide.
With the meandering quality of later seasons and shows like Fear the Walking Dead, TWD: World Beyond, and Tales of the Walking Dead delivering sub-par storytelling, the future prospects of the franchise as a whole hinge on the resolution for Rick and Michonne.
The series has a great chance of success because fans who fell away from the show when Rick left (there are millions of them!) could return to see how his storyline ends.
We know the acting will be up to scratch because Lincoln, Gurira, O'Quinn, and Lesley Ann Brandt are phenomenal actors.
The two most recent spinoffs delivered six-episode seasons of terrific storytelling and have single-handedly given The Walking Dead universe some of its best content in years.
Sadly, there are higher expectations for TWD: The Ones Who Live because it's a limited series that will end Rick and Michonne's stories to (hopefully) reunite them with RJ, Judith, and everyone else they've left behind.
It would probably be more comforting if AMC set this up as an ongoing series because then the expectations wouldn't be as high to provide an ending befitting such beloved and badass characters.
I don't believe the CRM can be taken down in six episodes, but maybe the events will have more far-reaching ramifications on TWD: Daryl Dixon and TWD: Dead City than what we believe.
It could also lead to another spinoff because AMC doesn't seem ready to say goodbye to this franchise yet.
The most crucial thing TWD: The Ones Who Live can do is bring Rick and Michonne back together to continue their enduring love story and reunite them with their family.
Knowing this franchise, it wouldn't surprise me if one of them died along the way, but that wouldn't be satisfying after so many years of build-up, and it would be a collective punch to the gut of fans who have waited so long for them to have their happy ending.
Check out the promo below, which also features some exciting sentiments from the cast.
Over to you, The Walking Dead fanatics!
Do you think TWD: The Ones Who Live is crucial to the franchise's future?
There's much to discuss.
We'd love to know what you think, so share your thoughts below!
Paul Dailly was an Associate Editor for TV Fanatic.Follow him on X.