Big news from the world of the undead: The Walking Dead will reportedly lose lead star Andrew Lincoln after season 9 wraps.

Collider reports that Andrew Lincoln and AMC are planning Rick Grimes’ exit from the series, with the character only appearing in half of season 9’s episodes.

What’s more, AMC is reportedly trying to lessen the blow that’ll hit fans by offering a big payday to Daryl actor Norman Reedus, who would take on the show’s leading role. The character is arguably the most popular face on the series. Still, losing Rick would be a risky move.

Since he’s only appearing in half of the upcoming season’s episodes, one wonders if he’ll leave by the mid-season finale — typically a big episode for The Walking Dead — or if he’ll just appear less often before being killed during the season finale.

The reason for Lincoln’s departure isn’t entirely clear. We assume that Lincoln is ready to move on to other projects — Not only is the show pretty old, but its ratings and reviews have been sinking in recent years. The network hopes that a new (female!) showrunner will help turn things around.

The Walking Dead killed off Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) in season 8. The series killed off Rick’s wife Lori, played by Sarah Wayne Callies, way back in season 3.

Filming on season 9 is currently taking place in Georgia. The show is expected to return this October to AMC.

Source: Collider

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