It has been reported by Collider that Andrew Lincoln, who is famous for his role as Rick Grimes in popular zombie drama The Walking Dead, will be leaving the series following its ninth season.
Lincoln has filled the role of Rick Grimes since the show first premiered in 2010, and has remained the show’s main character just as he was in the original comic books it was based on. But after nearly a decade in the role, he has announced that he will be leaving following the conclusion of the show’s newest season, which premieres later this year. Lincoln’s departure has not been officially confirmed by AMC as of yet, but the claim has been confirmed by multiple independent sources, and will apparently be confirmed by AMC just prior to his final episodes with the show. It is unclear how exactly Lincoln will exit the series, though it is expected to come before the season finale.
Though it is the most recent news of a major actor leaving the series, Lincoln’s departure from the show is far from the only one being discussed right now. Dana Gurira – who plays Michonne in the show, and recently Okoye in Black Panther – is also in the final years of her contract, and actress Lauren Cohan, who plays Maggi, will also appear in fewer episodes in the upcoming season due to her participation in another project, and may be exiting alongside Lincoln by the end of the season. Whatever means are used to remove Lincoln’s character form the story, his role in it has been major since the beginning, so people can likely expect a major shift in the plot of the show when Rick Grimes finally does exit.
The Walking Dead season 9 is planned to premiere some time in late 2018. You can watch a trailer for it right here.