‘Virgin River‘ is a Netflix show developed from the namesake book series by American author Robyn Carr. It starts with the arrival of nurse practitioner and midwife Melinda “Mel” Monroe (Alexandra Breckenridge) in Virgin River and revolves around various residents of the fictional titular town in California — their hopes, dreams, and desires. Rick “Ricky” Sudder (Grayson Gurnsey) is one such resident. At the start of the series, he is about to graduate high school and works as a bartender and waiter at Jack’s bar. If the events of the season 4 finale have made you wonder whether Ricky as a character is being written off and Gurnsey is leaving the series, we got you covered. SPOILERS AHEAD.
What Happens to Ricky?
Ricky is a recurring character in the first season. But in season 2, he becomes part of the main cast. This is the same season that Lizzie (Sarah Dugdale), Connie’s troublemaking niece from Los Angeles, is introduced. Lizzie and Ricky are about the same age, but their personalities are vastly different. But as they say, opposites attract. Soon enough, they start dating. In season 2 episode 9, titled ‘Hazards Ahead,’ they sleep with each other.
The time that Ricky spends in the company of Jack and Preacher deeply influences him. He decides to become a Marine like them. When Lizzie finds out that Ricky has decided to join the Marines, she breaks up with him — not because of his decision but because he chose to hide it from her. Although she knows that Ricky did it not to hurt her feelings, she would have preferred honesty over deception.
Ricky spends most of the third and fourth seasons attempting to win Lizzie back without success. Moreover, she grows close to the new young man in town, Denny, who is the grandson that Doc didn’t know he had until recently. Ricky and Lizzie later become friends again. Eventually, Ricky is informed that he has been accepted into the Marine boot camp. Ricky says goodbyes to the town and departs.
Is Grayson Gurnsey Leaving Virgin River?
There is a sense of finality in how Ricky’s departure sequence plays out. Lizzie is the one who arranges the farewell gathering for him with Denny’s help. Jack drives him to the bus stop and gives him the tightest of hugs. As Ricky leaves, he seems sad, even wistful.
However, it is possible that the writers are simply allowing the character to change away from the main narrative. So, when Ricky finally makes his return, he might have a completely different personality. That is exactly what Carr has done with the character in her books. Ricky comes back to Virgin River in ‘Paradise Valley,’ the seventh book of the series. Other residents of the town soon discover that the carefree, optimistic they all knew and loved is gone. In his place, there is a man drastically altered by his experience in Iraq. It is ultimately Lizzie that pulls him back from the mouth of the abyss.
The series creators have taken plenty of creative liberties over the years. So, there is always a possibility that they might decide to go in a unique direction, and Gurnsey is indeed leaving the show for good. Either way, there is a significant chance that Ricky might not appear in season 5. In July 2022, the official Instagram account of the show shared a photo of the season 5 table reading, and Gurnsey is visibly absent in it. This makes sense, given that Ricky will be busy at the boot camp in season 5.