Fans of AMC’s The Walking Dead are about to receive another shock. It was reported on Tuesday by multiple sources, including Entertainment Weekly and Deadline, that the series star Andrew Lincoln is about to leave the show after season nine.
Andrew Lincoln, who played the series’ central character Rick Grimes for eight seasons, will make his exit from the show in the first half of season nine according to these reports. His co-star Norman Reedus, who plays Daryl Dixon, will remain on the show and receive a new and improved contract which will be worth around $20 million per season.
Andrew Lincoln’s reported exit from The Walking Dead comes after Lauren Cohan, who stars as Maggie Greene, embraced a diminished role on the series in the upcoming season. After a contract dispute with AMC, Cohan agreed to return for around six episodes in season nine.
Based on the comic book series of the same name created by Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead premiered on AMC in 2010 and became a huge hit for the network. At one point, the series was among the most-watched shows on television, including attracting more than 17 million viewers for the premiere of season seven. Since then, however, the ratings for The Walking Dead are in decline, with the finale of season eight attracting only 7.9 million viewers. AMC also produced a spinoff titled Fear the Walking Dead, which premiered in 2015 and is currently airing its fourth season.
Despite the struggles, it is hard to believe that The Walking Dead is close to being over. Back in 2014, one of the producers of the show, David Alpert, said that there is enough material to keep the series going for through 2021.
“I happen to love working from source material, specifically because we have a pretty good idea of what Season 10 is gonna be”, – said Alpert at the time. “We know where seasons 11 and 12 [will be]… we have benchmarks and milestones for those seasons if we’re lucky enough to get there.”