Walking Dead actor Andrew Lincoln reportedly leaving season 9

Walking Dead actor Andrew Lincoln reportedly leaving season 9

With Lincoln now set to exit the series, questions about the future of The Walking Dead will undoubtedly begin surfacing as season 9 draws closer to debuting later this year.

Collider is reporting that Lincoln, who has played series lead character Rick Grimes since the first episode in 2010, is preparing to depart the flagship AMC series during the course of its upcoming ninth season. Whether it'll be a violent exit or a peaceful one remains to be seen.

The Walking Dead is not a safe place for any of its characters - aside from a few core cast members, anyone has been fair game for a sudden exit, either through zombie or human means. AMC declined to comment to ET. Collider states that AMC is looking to up Norman Reedus' pay to stay on board and to take over as the series' lead. Earlier this year, The Walking Dead went away from its comic book source material, killing off Rick's one-eyed son, Carl (Chandler Riggs), after he was bitten by a walker.

This news comes as a big surprise considering Rick is still alive in the Robert Kirkman comics.

The departure of Lincoln's Rick would be momentous in terms of the character's prominence in the show and also his longevity. Series showrunner Scott Gimple was promoted to a role that oversees "The Walking Dead" and its spinoff, "Fear the Walking Dead", with writer Angela Kang filling his role. If the TV show is to survive, it should ignore him completely. The show will reset with Reedus' Daryl Dixon in the spotlight even more.

In a 2015 USA TODAY interview during Season 5, Lincoln said he wasn't ready to leave, but that the show could continue without him. Co-star Norman Reedus is now negotiating a new deal that will reportedly pay him around $20 million per season to become the new face of the series.

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