We're still months away from what will presumably be one of the most jarring TV moments of 2018, but The Walking Dead fans cannot stop thinking and talking about Andrew Lincoln's impending exit in Season 9. To be expected, it was a big topic at this year's San Diego Comic-Con, and during the AMC drama's press conference, Lincoln was asked when he first started thinking about Rick bowing out, and the actor said it's actually something that he and former showrunner Scott Gimple have been discussing for years now. In Lincoln's words:
Many Walking Dead fans may have assumed that the decision to take Rick out of the zombie apocalypse was one born of rash thinking and a self-imposed need to shock viewers. But that's not the case at all, as the plan originated quite a few years back, possibly around the time Team Family was dealing with the Governor's group or the Claimers, two villainous factions that came very close to pulling Rick's plug in brutal ways. Because after all, there are only so many dangerous predicaments that one man can live through before luck and talent run out. I believe Carl knew that more than most in his final minutes.
The thought process behind potentially killing Rick off (or, alternately, letting him ride a horse off into the sunset) is multi-fold. The TV show is almost always in need of differentiating itself from Robert Kirkman's comic source material, and what better way to do that than to subvert the entire hero's arc by taking out said hero? And in that same vein, The Walking Dead features several different leads that are equally deserving of taking a main-character spot in his absence, so it's also about creating opportunities for others to take over the spotlight. Even if no one officially "replaces" Rick outright.
On the other side of the coin, Andrew Lincoln also had his own personal life to think about, since his family remains stationed in the U.K., as opposed to having moved out to the U.S. to be around for each season's production. With each year that passes, the actor loses that much more time with his wife and growing children, which starts to take a major toll after a while. And once those children get beyond the toddler stages and are making legit imprints in the world, staying away from them for months on end likely becomes harder to deal with than saying goodbye to a job, even one as beloved as this career-maker.
One thing is for sure, though. Andrew Lincoln will absolutely miss the fans, his co-stars and The Walking Dead crew just as much as everyone will be missing him. He sounds as sincere in his words about his final days as Norman Reedus was in his comments about Daryl and Carol. So be sure to bid Andrew Lincoln farewell in an honorable way by tuning into Season 9 on AMC starting Sunday, October 7, at 9:00 p.m. ET. Rewatch that excellent first trailer, and to see what other new and returning shows will be hitting before then, head to our summer premiere schedule.
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Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper. Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.