The ninth season of The Walking Dead will the last for actor Andrew Lincoln, who played as the face of the franchise as Rick Grimes. Lincoln will be phased out of the series in a similar was as his co-star Lauren Cohan (Maggie). She will be apart of only six episodes in season nine. Once she decided to leave the drama she took the lead in ABC’s Whiskey Cavalier. With this news Norman Reedus (Daryl) is negotiating a twenty million dollar deal because he will become to new face of the franchise with Lincoln’s departure.
Lincoln’s departure comes as a shock, but it will become another divergence from the source material (where both he and Carl are still alive). The way that he exits is unknown, but he is expected to be gone before the season nine finale. As of right now, Lincoln will possibly be still present in about six episodes of the new season.
Lincoln has told sources that there does need to be an “end game” for his character. In December he said, “there needs to be an end game and that is something that is definitely being talked about.” In February he also said, “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.”
With these departures The Walking Dead is reinventing itself under new showrunner Angela Kang (who replaced Scott M. Gimple, whom is now AMC’s chief creative officer for the series). Gimple said, “We knew for a long time that season [eight] was, in many ways, the end of a chapter of the show. The differences that people will be seeing in season nine and beyond are going to be pronounced. It’s going to be a very different show with characters handling very different issues, challenges and threats than we’ve seen before. These characters will be different in a lot of ways.”
The Walking Dead will return for its ninth season in the fall.