It’s official. Andrew Lincoln is leaving The Walking Dead after season nine.
Although the news had already been circulating for some time, the actor confirmed his exit during the show’s panel in Hall H on Friday at Comic Con.
“This will be my last season playing the part of Rick Grimes,” he said to the unusually silent audience of 7,000 fans. Lincoln went on to say, “It’s been such a part of my life. I’ve breathed it for ten years. I believe in the story so much, but this is a really terrific season for Rick’s story.”
It’s an incredible time for Lincoln to be stepping away. Season nine of The Walking Dead is jumping two years from where season eight ended and is shaking up much of what fans are used to from the AMC series. With longtime writer and executive producer Angela Kang moving up to showrunner (Scott Gimple is now overseeing the entire Walking Dead franchise for AMC), TWD is experiencing a creative reboot. Just take a look at the trailer that debuted at Comic Con Friday.
Season nine draws its story straight from the comics to show us the aftermath of Rick’s war with Negan. Kang noted that the show is transitioning to being less about fighting wars and more about building a new civilization. How will Rick’s impending end play into that new plot? Neither Kang nor anyone else was telling.
For now, most of the focus is on Lincoln’s decision to leave the show.
“I’m particularly fond of the people who watch the show — you people,” he said. “This has been the most extraordinary, amazing and beautiful experience of my career and made largely because of you guys and the relationship we have, here, with you.”
As the panel came to an end, Norman Reedus started a standing ovation for Lincoln and the rest of the cast and the audience quickly joined in. To say he’ll be missed by all is clearly an understatement.
The Walking Dead’s ninth season premieres on Sunday, October 7th on AMC.
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