Andrew Lincoln's impending departure from 'The Walking Dead' after season 9 leaves fans in disarray

Andrew Lincoln will be leaving 'The Walking Dead' after season 9 and fans were not very pleased to hear the news


                            Andrew Lincoln's impending departure from 'The Walking Dead' after season 9 leaves fans in disarray

This past week, it was reported that 'The Walking Dead' lead Andrew Lincoln would be bidding farewell to the show after wrapping up the shooting of the upcoming season 9. Lincoln's Rick Grimes has served as the primary protagonist of AMC's post-apocalyptic horror television series since its premiere in 2010 and his impending departure has not been received well by fans of the show.

While the nature of Lincoln's exit is unclear, it is being speculated that his character will not be killed off, but instead, be walking away from the battle that has consumed him for the better part of a decade. Currently, it is also unclear whether the actor is departing for personal reasons or whether it's an indication of the future creative direction of the show. 

Norman Reedus is set to take over the mantle of leading character after Lincoln's departure (Source: Twitter)
Norman Reedus is set to take over the mantle of leading character after Lincoln's departure (Source: Twitter)

Comicbook.com reported that the most recently-concluded season 8 drew in the show's lowest ratings since its debut, bringing in a paltry 2.9 rating in adults 18-49. It also garnered only 6.8 million viewers in Nielsen Live + Same Day numbers with episode 8x10, 'The Lost and the Plunderers,' which followed the midseason premiere of 'Honor' where Rick's son, Carl Grimes, was killed off. 

Lincoln's impending exit is not the only problem that the show might be facing either. Lauren Cohan's contract with AMC ended after season 8 and the actress has taken on a new role in ABC's 'Whiskey Cavalier,' indicating that even if she does return for season 9 — her character was central to the end of season 8 — it will be in a reduced role.

Danai Gurira, who has portrayed the katana-wielding Michonne since season 3, will also be entering the final year of her contract, while Lennie James' Morgan has moved on to the show's spinoff 'Fear the Walking Dead' at the start of its fourth season.

Lincoln had previously expressed his desire to see a fitting end to Rick Grimes' character arc, telling Comicbook.com: "There's part of me that really wants to complete something. How long that takes? I don't know but certainly, I really think the fans and my character deserves an endpoint as some time in the future."

His departure will most likely mean that another fan favorite, Norman Reedus' Daryl Dixon, will now take over the mantle of leading character in the show. AMC has reportedly offered the actor a $20 million contract for season nine, which would make him one of the highest paid actors in the industry.

However, this still hasn't stopped fans from starting a petition urging the network to 'rethink' the departure of Lincoln. Multiple petitions on change.org have been set up in a bid to get the creators and Rick Grimes to 'rethink the magnitude of the premature death of the character.'

Here are some of the reactions on social media to Lincoln's exit: