A major sea change is about to occur on AMC’s The Walking Dead.
Doing good on all those rumors and speculative morsels of intel, it was revealed that Andrew Lincoln’s ninth season on The Walking Dead will be his last, at which point he’ll hand over the reins to fan-favorite Norman Reedus, whose Daryl Dixon is expected to become the show’s new leading man beyond 2019.
Reedus, who has appeared in the AMC zombie drama from day one, is said to be negotiating a plum new deal worth more than $20 million – a deal good enough to make him one of TV’s highest-paid stars.
Should the stars align, Reedus’ salary will surpass those earned by Game of Thrones duo Emilia Clarke and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, while falling just short of Robert De Niro’s own deal, who is allegedly expected to earn around $775,000 for his key role in the as-of-yet untitled TV project from David O. Russell.
It seems Andrew Lincoln’s Rick finally has an endgame in sight, then, and it’s fair to say that the British actor has made no bones about his desire to return home and spend time with his family. That, and the fact that his on-screen death was foreshadowed numerous times all throughout season 8.
So, there you have it; Andrew Lincoln’s loss is Norman Reedus’ gain, as the latter actor looks set to assume leading man duties for The Walking Dead season 9 and beyond. Word is Lincoln has agreed to star in only six episodes of the upcoming season – ditto for Lauren Cohan – though the jury’s still out on how Rick Grimes and Maggie Rhee will be phased out of the long-running zombie series.