In peace, sons bury their fathers. In war, fathers bury their sons. And on The Walking Dead, fathers follow their sons out through the exit door.
So while Chandler Riggs bid adieu to AMC’s undead flagship earlier this year, it’s since been confirmed that his on-screen father, Andrew Lincoln (AKA Rick Grimes), is about to follow suit, meaning season 9 will herald the actor’s last appearance on The Walking Dead.
Much like Lauren Cohan, he’ll reportedly be phased out of the series, appearing in only six episodes of season 9 so that Norman Reedus (Daryl Dixon) can take over as leading man. He’s on the verge of a huge $20 million pay packet, too, though he’s yet to sign along the dotted line.
For Andrew Lincoln, though, his exit has been long foretold, given Chandler Riggs had previously alluded to the actor’s departure while promoting his own final episodes on The Walking Dead:
I get that you guys have been doing this since we started, but I have a request. Out of respect for me, for Carl, and for one of the last few seasons of the show, I’m using you to not spoil the ending of 8×08 once your sources inform you of what happens.
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First spotted by ComicBook.com, Riggs’ previous comments will only fuel rumors that The Walking Dead is nearing its conclusion, and that’s despite the fact that former series showrunner Scott M. Gimple hoped TWD could continue for a 10th season…and beyond.
I wouldn’t speak to any of that but I’m very confident of a 10th season. I think it is a question but there is some business to handle with the things you just said. I’m not sure if they’re entirely on the money, as far as timing and everything like that, but I think we are tending to a lot of stuff before we jump into that. In the same respect, there’s a super long-term plan and we’re continuing to follow it. I know that’s a lot of double-talk but I would say everything is quite cool.
Gimple has since handed over showrunner duties to Angela Kang, who came in to spearhead The Walking Dead season 9. It’ll mark a pretty significant sea change for the hit series, though it remains to be seen whether TWD can retain its audience when it returns.