No, it’s not a major character death, but it’s close enough.
The Walking Dead star Andrew Lincoln has disclosed that he’s leaving the long-running AMC zombie TV show at some point during the upcoming season. Initially reported by insider blog Collider, there was no reveal about how Lincoln’s character, Rick Grimes, will ultimately sign off, but fans should expect to see a lot less of him in Season 9.
Lincoln’s Rick is only appearing in approximately six episodes.
“I can’t wait to see this next episode,” Lincoln told Entertainment Weekly after the Season 8 finale. “It’s really interesting. It’s very different in a good way. In an exciting way. It’s more reminiscent of the pilot than any other season that we’ve embarked on, which makes me very happy. It’s a good time for it. I feel like Season 1. It’s a big year, and I’m excited for it.”
*** WARNING: ‘THE WALKING DEAD’ SPOILERS BELOW ***
Over the last several seasons, TWD fans have had to cope with major character deaths, including fan favourites Glenn (Steven Yeun), Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) and Carl (Chandler Riggs). In fact, the majority of the original cast is no longer on the show; Rick has undoubtedly carried it, so it’s up in the air where TWD will go without its figurehead.
Collider reports that AMC has offered Norman Reedus, who plays Darryl Dixon, a substantial raise to keep him on the show’s roster and to move into the lead role.
Earlier this year, there were rumours that another member of the cast, Lauren Cohan (Maggie Rhee), was contemplating leaving TWD as well due to compensation issues. At the end of April, she revealed at CinemaCon that she would be returning for Season 9.
Apparently, Cohan is only returning for six episodes as well, since she’s signed on to ABC pilot Whiskey Cavalier. She’s cast as the lead on that show so the majority of her time will be spent on it.
TWD is undergoing a transformation at the moment, and not just in front of the camera. Behind the scenes, Angela Kang is taking over as showrunner from longtime head Scott Gimple.
AMC declined to comment on Lincoln’s departure.
New episodes return in October.