Walking Dead‘s leading man Andrew Lincoln will depart the hit series in its upcoming 9th season, according to US reports.
Sources say Rick Grimes (Lincoln) will be phased out in season 9 in a fashion similar to co-star Lauren Cohan (Maggie), who will film only six episodes of the series.
London-based Lincoln has made no secret that he saw his time with The Walking Dead coming to an end sooner rather than later. In February, he told the Hollywood Reporter that “there’s certainly an endgame in my head. Whether or not that’s the same endgame that’s in the producers’ heads or the people I work with, is another matter. That’s open for discussion.”
Meanwhile, co-star Norman Reedus (Daryl) is in the midst of negotiating a rich new deal that will pay him more than $20 million to continue.
News that Lincoln is leaving comes as the franchise is poised to reinvent itself again in season nine with Angela Kang becoming the show’s fourth showrunner and replacing Scott M. Gimple.