"It is being reported that Lincoln will be exiting the AMC series in its ninth season which is now in production", according to Comicbook, which confirmed the news from multiple independent sources on Tuesday.
When Walking Dead showrunner Scott M Gimple stated that season nine of AMC's zombie hit would be "very much a new show", he wasn't joking. According to Collider, Andrew Lincoln will exit the AMC TV show during season nine.
Meanwhile, Norman Reedus (Daryl) is reportedly negotiating a new deal in light of Lincoln's departure.
In December, Lincoln told the Hollywood Reporter that "there needs to be an end game and that is something that is definitely being talked about". Whether or not that's the same endgame that's in the producers' heads or the people I work with, is another matter.
In Robert Kirkman's source material, Rick Grimes has always remained the central character with his son Carl as another major part of nearly every storyline that's taken place throughout the comic book series. Then again, in a harsh environment like the post-apocalyptic world of Walking Dead, nobody is safe.
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The Walking Dead Season 9 will return for Season 9 in the fall.
Lincoln and Cohen are great actors, but if they want to move on, let them, but don't sacrifice the story in the process. Co-star Norman Reedus is now negotiating a new deal that will reportedly pay him around $20 million per season to become the new face of the series.
In a 2015 USA TODAY interview during Season 5, Lincoln said he wasn't ready to leave, but that the show could continue without him. The loss will be heavy for the AMC show, since the actor plays Rick Grimes, one of the main characters, and has starred in the show since the very beginning.
Rick's exit would be a major deviation from the source comics, as he is still alive and well.