With AMC planning another decade’s worth of content for The Walking Dead, one can’t help but wonder whether the flagship zombie drama is beginning to overstay its welcome.
But that’s a debate for another day – one person who won’t be around to see The Walking Dead past 2019 is Andrew Lincoln, who has announced plans to exit the AMC juggernaut mid-way through season 9. Firm details of Rick’s finale are being kept under lock and key – ditto for Maggie’s own farewell – but we’ve learned that his death (?) will occur during the first half of The Walking Dead‘s ninth season.
Whatever the case, while outlining his upcoming swan song to Entertainment Weekly, Lincoln admitted that he had always planned to leave by season 8 or 9.
I had a conversation during season 4 with [executive producer] Scott Gimple about this. You know, we shared young families and there was a lot of synchronicity between the two of us that were two heads of a show that seemed to be getting bigger and bigger. We spoke about it and said, ‘There’s got to be a shape. We need a shape to work out if we get to season 5 then maybe we’ve got a couple more.’ There were all these ifs and buts and strategies. And I said, eight sounds like a good number.’
Of course, because that conversation took place during The Walking Dead season 4, a lot has changed, including Andrew Lincoln’s end goal.
Season 8 came and it got more complicated. I realized that rather than have the funeral, I had to prepare for the funeral and I had to make sure everybody was comfortable with the funeral arrangements. And I don’t think I was ready for the funeral! You know what I mean? I was like, I don’t think I’m ready to go yet!
You’ll also remember that Lincoln began to get emotional during San Diego Comic-Con earlier this year, when he decided to stay for a little while longer before he bowed out of The Walking Dead for good.
It was at Comic-Con that year that I made the decision that I couldn’t leave that year. I said to my wife, ‘I feel overwhelmed. I don’t think I’m ready. I can’t do it. I’ve got Norman, I’ve got Danai, I’ve got Jeffrey, I’ve got Melissa McBride, I’ve got Greg Nicotero — all these beautiful friends of mine and I don’t know if I can do it yet. I don’t know if it’s time.’ So that happened.
Season 9 of The Walking Dead kicks off on Sunday, October 7th, and we’ll be bringing you wall-to-wall coverage of Rick’s last hurrah between now and then.