The Walking Dead Star Andrew Lincoln Leaving After Season 9 - Report

Andrew Lincoln will exit after the next season.

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Now Playing: The Walking Dead's Andrew Lincoln Leaving After Season 9--Report - GameSpot Universe News Update

Andrew Lincoln has headed up the cast of AMC's zombie drama The Walking Dead since it started back in 2010, playing group leader Rick Grimes. However, it has now been reported that Lincoln will leave the show after the next season, which premieres later this year.

The news comes via Collider, which reports that The Walking Dead Season 9 will be the actor's last. collaborates the story "from multiple independent sources," and additionally states that AMC will officially announce Lincoln's departure ahead of his final episodes.

While it's unsurprising that Lincoln might want to leave The Walking Dead after nearly a decade of playing that single role, Rick has been at the center of the show since the very beginning. In the comic books on which The Walking Dead is based, Rick remains the main character, so expect a serious deviation from the story when Lincoln does make his exit.

This follows the news that co-star Lauren Cohan, who has played Maggie since Season 2, will also appear in a reduced number of episodes in Season 9. In March, it was reported that Cohan was holding out on signing the contract for Season 9 in order to improve her deal. Although she did ultimately sign on for the next season, Cohan will only appear in six episodes, as she will also be filming the ABC drama Whiskey Cavalier.

Collider notes that with Lincoln and potentially Cohan leaving the show, AMC is looking to make Norman Reedus, who plays fan-favorite Daryl, the lead and have offered him "substantial compensation" to remain on on board.

The Walking Dead Season 9 does not yet have a premiere date, but it is expected to hit screens in the Fall. This will be the first season under new showrunner Angela Kang, who replaces Scott Gimple. Although the show is still popular, viewership for Season 8 was well down from the record-breaking audience numbers that it has enjoyed in the past.

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