Andrew Lincoln Breaks His Silence on ‘The Walking Dead’ Departure: ‘I Love This Show’

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes
Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes Gene Page/AMC

It’s official. The Walking Dead fans will be saying goodbye to Rick Grimes follow season 9, Andrew Lincoln confirmed during the show’s Friday, July 20, San Diego Comic-Con panel.

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“I want to say something, because there seems to be an elephant in the room. This will be my last season playing the part of Rick Grimes,” Lincoln said of his departure. “Now hear me out, please. I love this show. It means everything to me. I love the people that make this show. I promise not to cry, I’ve done enough crying onscreen.”

“I suppose what I wanted to say is that my relationship with Mr. Grimes is far from over,” he continued. “And a sort of large part of me will always be a machete-wielding, stetson-wearing, zombie-slaying sheriff deputy from London, England.”

While Rick’s upcoming exit is a downer, the actor did his best to hype up the upcoming episodes. “I’m really, really excited about this season,” he gushed of the show before moving on to the cast. “This has always been an ensemble, and it will continue to be an ensemble. No one is bigger than the story, and the story this year is unbelievable.”

Us Weekly revealed the news in May, with multiple sources confirming that Lincoln, 44, will only appear in six episodes of the ninth season. “Andrew is leaving because he’s had enough of it and wants to focus his energy on movies,” an insider told Us at the time.

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes
Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes Gene Page/AMC

Lincoln isn’t the only cast mix-up happening this season. Lauren Cohan, who plays Maggie Rhee, will be in limited episodes during season 9. Following season 8, Cohan landed the lead in the ABC drama, Whiskey Cavalier, alongside Scott Foley. This season will also feature the return of Jon Bernthal’s Shane – who died in season 2 – as well as a few new faces like Tony nominee Lauren Ridloff who will be the first deaf actress to appear on the show.

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Norman Reedus, who portrays Daryl Dixon, will be stepping into a larger role, with Lincoln’s exit. “We will be telling a great story with Daryl this season. He has some really meaty material coming up, so Daryl fans will get their fill,” new showrunner Angela Kang told TVLine. As Us Weekly exclusively reported, Reedus negotiated a $20 million paycheck to stay on.

Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon
Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon Gene Page/AMC

Season 9 will also include a time jump and many other physical changes, Kang revealed at a panel in June. “What’s really fun for me is that we’re working a season that has a really fresh look and feel. We’re playing with time in the season so we get to jump forward in the story,” she said. “We come in on some pretty fun stuff. I’m really focusing a lot on the core character relationships in the show that have been long-lasting, as well as surfacing all kinds of all our series regulars.”

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The Walking Dead season 9 will premiere on AMC in October.

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