Five episodes into season 9, The Walking Dead hit what has to be the most significant character exit of its decade on television, as Andrew Lincoln bowed out as Rick Grimes after leading the post-apocalyptic drama from the start. As we all know, we can expect more from the former deputy sheriff in those upcoming movies, but it was still a blow to his friends in the cast and crew who wouldn’t get to work with him everyday anymore.
Chief among them is Norman Reedus, who’s also played Daryl Dixon since the beginning of the show and is famously close friends with Lincoln. While speaking on Popcorn With Peter Travers, Reedus recalled the final day that Lincoln was on set, which hit him pretty hard. There was even a suitably emotional yet grisly moment that could have come right out of the series itself.
“I remember the day he left. I got my lunch, I went back in my trailer, it was so depressing,” Reedus said. “Then the chair that he always sat on, he had left an imprint of his body and blood on it, like the shroud of Rick Grimes. They came in to clean it up, I’m like, ‘Leave it there!’ That was a sad day when he left.”
As much as it saddened him to see his pal go, Reedus went on to say that he completely understands Lincoln’s reasons for leaving the series, as he wanted to spend more time with his family back in his native England.
“I understood why he left. He lives in England, he’s got two little kids, he wasn’t seeing his kids as much as he would like,” Reedus continued. “It’s easy for me, I’m in New York an hour away [from Georgia]. But for him, it was time.”
Reedus concluded his thoughts by outlining his conflicting position on Lincoln’s TWD exit, saying:
“I think his wife was like, ‘You’ve been there a long time.’ So I got it,” Reedus added. “I didn’t agree with it, but then again, I also understood it.”
These days, The Walking Dead has a few episodes to go on its tenth season. Norman Reedus and Melissa McBride are the joint longest-running cast members, as both debuted in season 1’s third episode. Danai Gurira, meanwhile, is currently in second place, first appearing in season 3, but she’ll soon exit the show, too. Though she may also join Lincoln in those theatrically-released films, the first of which is still yet to shoot.
Episode 10×13 “What We Become” – Gurira’s final hour – airs this Sunday on AMC.