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The Walking Dead will go through its arguably biggest change in the whole history of the series when star Andrew Lincoln takes his leave. The show hasn't yet revealed how Rick will be written out and if he really does have to die for the story to make sense, but Lincoln himself has confirmed that he's departing the show that made him a household name. Once upon a time, Lincoln was supposed to leave the series at the same time as Norman Reedus. The two friends and co-stars once had a pact to leave The Walking Dead together. Reedus revealed the pact, saying this:
You don't need to worry that this was Norman Reedus' shocking way of dropping a bombshell that he's leaving the zombie apocalypse behind as well. No, Reedus was sharing the pact at the same time that he admitted to breaking it. It's no secret that Reedus is sticking around for Season 9, and he even got a big payday for stepping into the spotlight once Andrew Lincoln in gone. The two may be friends and brothers-in-zombie-apocalypse-arms (who pull off the occasional prank), but EW confirms that Reedus wasn't ready to leave.
Norman Reedus' changed tune since the pact originated in Season 3 or 4 shouldn't come as a surprise. Back in January, Reedus revealed that he doesn't want to leave the series until the very end, which indicated that fans could probably rest a lot easier about Daryl's fate than just about anybody else. Of course, few of us could have predicted that Rick would be gone in Season 9, so we should probably thank our lucky stars that Norman Reedus' huge deal to stay on The Walking Dead means that Daryl won't bite the dust.
It makes sense that Norman Reedus and Andrew Lincoln formed their pact sometime around Season 3 or 4. After Shane's death at the end of Season 2, Daryl really stepped up as Rick's right-hand man, meaning Reedus and Lincoln had reason to spend a lot of time together on screen. Although their characters were split up in Season 4's midseason finale that left Rick nearly beaten to death and Daryl on the run with Beth, one of their most bromantic came when they were finally reunited on the road to Terminus.
Now we can only speculate what would have happened if both Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus had decided to leave The Walking Dead at the same time. Would they have taken off on an indefinite journey together until either the show ends or the two actors are ready to reprise their roles? Would they have gotten a Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid kind of ending? Would they have killed each other? We'll never know.
It's only a matter of time before we find out how Rick at least is written out, and we'll have to content ourselves with watching and rewatching the trailer for now. The Walking Dead returns with the Season 9 premiere on Sunday, October 7 at 9 p.m. ET. The premiere will be followed by an episode of Talking Dead, which finally sorted out its hosting issue. For what you can watch between now and the return to the zombie apocalypse in October, check out our summer TV premiere guide.