Exclusive: Andrew Lincoln to Exit AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead’ in Season 9

Mild spoilers ahead for folks who aren’t caught up on The Walking Dead.

We’re hearing that, by the end of Season 9 of AMC’s hit drama series The Walking Dead, Rick Grimes himself will be walking away. That’s right TWD enthusiasts, Andrew Lincoln will be growling his way through the post-apocalyptic setting for just one more season before calling it quits. And while we won’t be spoiling just how the series’ founding character makes his exit, we do know that fans can only expect to see Lincoln in half-a-dozen episodes of the upcoming season.

Any time a major character from the show shuffles off this mortal coil (or heads to a spin-off series), it’s a big deal, but for the characters who have been there from the beginning like Rick Grimes & Co., their loss is catastrophic. We saw that effect when Chandler Riggs left the show just last season and we’ll likely see an even bigger fan fallout when Lincoln leaves in Season 9. To fill the void in the show’s leading man status, we’re also hearing that AMC has offered substantial compensation to long-running series star Norman Reedus to not only stay on board, but to take over the show’s leading role.

Image via AMC

Off-screen drama has been fairly common for The Walking Dead this off-season with star Lauren Cohan, who’s not quite a TWD original but close, making waves across social media by holding out for a better contract. Her case was strengthened by the Season 8 finale, which put her character Maggie in a position of power that ironically mirrored Cohan’s own bargaining position at the negotiating table. Cohan is confirmed to be back for Season 9 of The Walking Dead, though it’ll only be for six episodes as well; her ABC pilot Whiskey Cavalier has been ordered to series, keeping her plenty busy. It’s possible that AMC will cut ties with both Lincoln and Cohan this season … or vice versa. Lincoln has been relatively locked down in the eight-plus years of starring on The Walking Dead, and while it’s a lucrative job, it limits the versatile star from taking on other creative challenges. Cohan, too, has been a sought-after talent during the recent TV pilot season and has increasingly high-profile films on deck at this stage in her career.

Don’t worry though, fans; Daryl Dixon is here to stay for the foreseeable future, so there’s no need to riot just yet.

But what do you think? Is it time for these talented actors to spread their wings and move on from The Walking Dead or do you want to see Rick and Maggie stick it out to the bitter end? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Image via AMC

Image via AMC

Image via AMC

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