One of the questions that really loomed over the upcoming ninth season of The Walking Dead has finally received an answer. Andrew Lincoln, the man behind the series lead Rick Grimes, is confirmed to be departing the series in the new season.
Rumors and reports had been swirling around most of the summer, but The Walking Dead comic book co-creator and TV series executive producer Robert Kirkman put the questions to rest during a pre-recorded interview with IMDB & Kevin Smith for San Diego Comic-Con, according to The Hollywood Reporter. When asked during the panel whether Lincoln was leaving or not Kirkman replied: “It’s looking that way.”
“It does make the differences between the comic and the show more pronounced,” continued Kirkman, acknowledging that Rick Grimes remains an active part of the Walking Dead comics even as the character is about to exit the TV adaptation. “But at the end of the day, it’s all about Andrew Lincoln. This is a human being. This is someone I have known for almost a decade, somebody that I love. He’s been sweating in Georgia, away from his family, for so long.”
As Kirkman noted, Rick Grimes is still alive and well in the comic book world which is quite a ways ahead of its TV adaptation, the Negan War a bit of a way behind the characters for the most part. There is no telling how Lincoln would even exit the series as killing such a high-profile character after having survived so much and after just killing his son Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) last season might not go over so well with fans.
On the other hand, finding a way to have Rick walk away from his friends and the communities he helped build and save that won’t feel out of character could be just as detrimental to the series.
“He cares about the fans,” Kirkman said about Lincoln. “He cares about the show deeply. He wants to do something special on the way out. We have something amazing planned. I wouldn’t want to spoil anything, but anybody who has been a fan of his journey, who loves Rick Grimes, who loves the world of The Walking Dead, you’re going to want to see what we do.”
According to previous reports, Lincoln will only appear in around six episodes of the upcoming season before making his exit. The same is reported to be true, but not fully confirmed, about co-star Lauren Cohan (Maggie Rhee) who is departing the series because of ABC picking up her new series.
Reportedly Norman Reedus, who plays wildcard Darryl Dixon, is in negotiations for a $20 million raise to take over as the leading man. Whether that would include taking over as the leader in Rick’s absence is unclear, though there are many that would argue that Darryl isn’t the best candidate for such a role but he is highly popular with the fanbase.
The Walking Dead will likely drop it’s usual Comic-Con trailer soon and will return sometime in October to AMC.