After months of reports and speculation, Andrew Lincoln officially announced at yesterday’s Walking Dead panel at San Diego Comic-Con that he’s going to leave the zombie drama behind after the upcoming ninth season. Seeing as the British actor has been the protagonist of the show since the very beginning, this is arguably the biggest exit TWD‘s ever had.
So how will Rick Grimes be written out? That’s the question on the lips of every Walking Dead fan. It’s generally assumed, given the series’ usually bloodthirsty, trigger-happy nature, that Rick will be spectacularly killed off. But maybe for his important farewell, the show will buck its own trope and the character will simply move on to new pastures.
At the panel, Lincoln was asked for his thoughts on whether Rick would die or not and, as you’d expect, he gave a measured response that was careful not to spoil anything. However, he did remind everyone that a non-lethal method of leaving the show is possible, as the season 8 finale saw Morgan Jones depart to jump over to spinoff series Fear the Walking Dead.
“Hey, Lennie James is a perfect example of leaving without dying and doing rather well on it. I just talked to him about five minutes ago and he looks incredibly healthy; he looks terrific. So yes, there is that way. And there is obviously the other way, which we’ve done quite a lot. And obviously, I’m not going to tell you which way. I mean, I’d prefer the Lennie James of it all. But I think what we have in store this season is truly remarkable, and I’m very, very proud of the work we’ve done.”
The same panel also saw the debut of the epic first trailer for season 9, which teases what’s in store for Rick in his last few episodes. Following Negan’s defeat, the assembled communities have got as close to a civilization as we’ve seen on the show, with Mr. Grimes as their appointed leader. However, civil unrest is brewing, with even Rick’s old friends Daryl and Maggie rallying against him.
Whatever happens to the character to necessitate Lincoln’s exit, you can bet it’ll be an emotional end to someone who’s been the linchpin of the entire series since the start. And we’ll find out exactly what’s in store for him when The Walking Dead season 9 premieres on October 7th.