He has lost his on-screen son, his wife and a number of friends to the zombie apocalypse, and now The Walking Dead star Andrew Lincoln looks to be taking his own leave of the AMC blockbuster. Cast moves on the series will also see Norman Reedus stay put under a new $20 million contract.
Almost unbelievable on a show where almost no one is said to be safe, the man who has played Rick Grimes since the beginning of the series based on Robert Kirkman’s comics could be gone by the end of the upcoming ninth season, I hear. With contract talks still underway and the season in production in Georgia, the exact parameters of that exit for the lead in the ensemble cast are being determined. At this point, it looks like Lincoln will be a presence in about six episodes of the new season.
This goodbye for the CAA-repped Lincoln follows co-star Lauren Cohan drastically cutting down her participation in the new Angela Kang-showrun season for a stint on ABC’s midseason replacement spy dramedy Whiskey Cavalier. Cohan was in a contract dispute with TWD before coming to terms that will see her in only about half a dozen episodes as the now Grimes resisting Maggie Rhee when the series returns in October.
AMC said it had no comment on Lincoln leaving TWD when contacted by Deadline.
The loss of Lincoln’s Grimes would be another radical departure for the show from its comic source material. A similar shift occurred in the Season 8 midseason return of TWD in February when Carl Grimes (played by Chandler Riggs) died after being bitten by a walker. In Kirkman’s comics, Carl survives well into the chaos of the infected world as does his father, though minus a hand.
No word if Black Panther star Danai Gurira will be staying on the show past Season 9. However, the ocast of Survivors from Season 1 are not all gone yet. Though not a character in the comics, well-compensated fan favorite Reedus will definitely continue fighting the good fight, a source tells me. The show will reset with Reedus’ Daryl Dixon even more in the spotlight.
Reset may the mantra TWD wants to chant as source of much of AMC’s revenues. Having shattered cable records to emerge as the highest-rated show on all of television and at one point attracting viewership in excess of 17 million for its double death delivering Season 7 opener of October 23, 2016, The Walking Dead like most small-screen shows has seen a decline in the last year and a bit. The April 15 Season 8 finale drew an audience of 7.9 million — great numbers for almost any show but a finale low for TWD.