Warning: spoilers for the most recent episode of The Walking Dead ahead!
The Walking Dead introduced a brand new character on Sunday night, but judging from the scene he appears in, some fans were left wondering if we were supposed to know who he was from appearances in past episodes or seasons. So, who is Big Richie?
In the Feb. 10 episode, "Adaptation," Negan (a very grizzled looking Jeffrey Dean Morgan) makes his big return to the Sanctuary. While there, he encounters a highly rotted walker banging on the door of a room, and refers to him by name, saying, "Big Richie, loyal to the end." It immediately became clear that Negan couldn't bear to kill this particular zombie (played by stuntman Anthony DiRocco) — where was that sense of mercy for Glenn, hmm? — and obviously the two characters share a connection. However, it doesn't seem like we've ever seen Richie in episodes before (at least not explicitly).
One Twitter user theorized that, "It's one of his lieutenants . . . Probably was hard to see him as last one standing. So it means he is definitely alone." So, rather than being an important character, Richie instead functions as a symbol of just how far Negan has fallen down the totem pole; he is now well and truly alone. Of course, we can't know for sure if that's the actual meaning behind Richie's appearance, but it seems to check out, no? The once-bustling Sanctuary is now a shadow of its former self, abandoned and overgrown. The same can be said of Negan.
Although Negan initially decides to keep Richie alive, locking him away in the Sanctuary's courtyard space, the former Big Bad has a change of heart when his zombified lieutenant ends up attracting more walkers into the building. Negan reluctantly tells Richie goodbye and smashes his head in with a pipe, before finally heading back to Alexandria by the end of the episode.
Since Big Richie seems to be symbolic, rather than an important character we should've remembered, some fans have found themselves confused. If you too were thrown by his cameo, keep reading to see reactions to the character.