After leading the cast of AMC’s shambling, seemingly undying apocalo-drama The Walking Dead since the show first premiered in 2010, Andrew Lincoln, who plays sheriff’s deputy and group leader Rick Grimes, is finally hanging up his boots.
Lincoln (or off the stage, Andrew James Clutterbuck) is one of very few of the show’s now sizable cast roster left to have been with it since its third season – as is Black Panther star Sanai Gurira, whose contract is due to expire soon. For this reason it has been speculated Gurira may also leave the show – likewise Lauren Cohan (Supernatural), who, having taken a new role with the ABC network, was a notable holdout in renewing her contract ahead of season nine and is only scheduled to return for six episodes.
“There’s only me left in the top 10 [of the call sheet,]” Lincoln previously said in conversation with ComicBook.com during the airing of season eight. “Norman [Reedus] and Melissa [McBride] and Danai [Gurira] and [Lauren Cohan], they’re all in the twenties…This job is, as I said before, glorious and unique. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. The stinger is the fact that I seem to be the guy left on the pier waving people away. That’s powerful.”
Lincoln went on to specify that he was ready to see the end of Rick Grimes’s storyline – having, after all, devoted eight years of his life to the Georgia-based production despite his family being based in the UK – but stressed he was excited to work with the new showrunner for season nine, Angela Kang, who replaces Scott Gimple in the role and has written for the show since the second season.
Exactly how Lincoln will leave the show is, as yet, unknown, and would obviously be a spoiler. However, given that it’s a setting full of threats – zombies, decaying infrastructure, natural disasters, other survivors – the writers are spoilt for choice.
Lincoln has received critical acclaim and several awards, including two Saturn awards for best actor, for his turn as Grimes – but, while he may be leaving, the show certainly isn’t. US Weekly recently reported that co-star Norman Reedus (who, with Lincoln gone, will be one of the longest-serving cast members remaining) received a handsome bump in salary to stay on, bringing his take-home pay to $20 million.
The show’s ninth season is scheduled to air in October 2018.
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