For the past several weeks, AMC has been teasing the exit of Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) on The Walking Dead. Many people took that to mean he'd die a gruesome death, but things didn't exactly unfold in that manner. Instead, AMC phased the character out so that he can be involved in a completely different way.

The premium cable channel this week announced that Rick Grimes will star in three movies set in The Walking Dead universe, taking place after his exit from the show. These films will be designed to further expand the scope of the show, while focusing on Grimes' character.

"We have a lot on the horizon—starting with a new epic featuring one of the greatest lead actors in television history and one of the best people I've ever met," said Scott M. Gimple, The Walking Dead's chief content officer.

Gimple expanded his comments:

These films are going to be big evolutions of what we've been doing on the show, with the scope and scale of features. We're starting with the first part of the continuing story of Rick Grimes, and there is much more on the way, featuring yet-unseen worlds of The Walking Dead and faces from the show's past, as well as new characters we hope to become favorites, told by TWD veterans and emerging voices.

AMC said it wants these movies to tell "different, distinct stories" that are separate from The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead. In the future, it won't just be Rick the movies focus on, but other characters within The Walking Dead universe, too.

Production on the first movie starring Rick Grimes should begin next year, with a release to follow shortly.