Warning: This post includes spoilers about The Walking Dead S9E5 “What Comes After.”
Andrew Lincoln will appear in 3 Walking Dead spin-off telemovies following his exit from the TV series after 9 seasons.
The surprise announcement follows a medical evacuation for Rick Grimes via helicopter after a bridge explosion decimated hundreds of walkers.
Showrunner turned chief content officer for AMC Scott M. Gimple confirmed Lincoln will be in all three telemovies, which will explore the period between Rick’s helicopter rescue and a time jump that was featured at the end of the episode — and stretch beyond that period.
“The story of Rick will go on in films,” Gimple says. “Right now, we’re working on three but there’s flexibility in that. … Over the next several years, we’re going to be doing specials, new series are quite a possibility, high-quality digital content and then some content that defies description at the moment. We’re going to dig into the past and see old characters. We’re going to introduce new characters and new situations.”
Meanwhile Lincoln also discussed the episode with the Hollywood Reporter.
Going back to the conversation you and (former showrunner) Scott M. Gimple had in season four, was the original pitch for Rick Grimes to die in season eight?
AL: Yes. There were many iterations [of Rick’s endgame]. A lot of it was down to the good people at AMC, who just said no and they thought it would be an interesting and exciting proposition to expand rather than contract the show. Realistically, this decision was all about time. For me to want to do a limited number of episodes [of The Walking Dead] a year wouldn’t feel like I was doing my job properly because playing this part has been so all-encompassing. I think I would get frustrated with that. So the idea of being able to contain the story and still work just as hard and tell a different story in maybe a more expansive narrative way seemed very exciting to me.
Would you have made the decision to walk away from this franchise if there wasn’t a series of TV movies or other offshoot with Rick?
AL: Yes, I think I would. It’s a very hard industry and when you get the golden ticket you want to hold onto it. I totally understand that. But my situation is a bit different. It was getting harder for me to have longer absences because we couldn’t move the kids as freely as we used to be able to. It’s very difficult explaining to a 6-year-old boy why their father has to leave for three months. I wasn’t willing to keep doing that. It’s not been easy to be like, “OK, brilliant, job done, clean my hands off and off I go back to domestic life in the countryside.” That’s not who I am. It’s been a big pull. But there is a certain sense that because I have known about the ongoing story of Rick Grimes, it has tempered that feeling of the curtain closing. It was complicated going to [San Diego] Comic-Con and telling 10,000 people that this will be my last season because I didn’t want it to come out and seem disingenuous when people realized that Rick’s not going [anywhere]. I didn’t want it to feel like an obituary tour. I wanted people to experience it in real time, say, “What the hell?!” And then realize there’s a helicopter involved.