With Andrew Lincoln and Lauren Cohan signed on for only part of The Walking Dead season 9, it looks like fans are about to say goodbye to more members of Team Family!

On Tuesday we learned that Andrew Lincoln is going to appear on only six episodes of season 9, and planning to exit the series after that. Lauren Cohan will also be on a reduced number of episodes and has an unclear future on the show.

Given all of this grim news, here’s how The Walking Dead season 9 could potentially go about writing off these characters!

Andrew Lincoln/Rick:

Rick Grimes is still alive and kicking in the comics, which means there isn’t an obvious answer for how Rick could be written out of the TV show.

With last season having followed the events of The Walking Dead Volume 21: All Out War – Part Two it’s safe to assume that next season will likely flow into the events of Volume 22: A New Beginning. If so, it seems that the new Big Challenge the group will face is the Whisperers and their leader Alpha.

What’s tricky is that much of the conflict between the Whisperers and the rest of the communities has to do with Carl and his relationship with Alpha’s daughter Lydia. That said, the series could still pull off this storyline by having Enid befriend Lydia.

If Enid were to go after the Whisperers in an attempt to save Lydia from the abuse she suffers by them (like Carl does in the comics) then it’s totally plausible that Rick could try to save her and have conflict ensue.

In The Walking Dead Volume 24: Life And Death it’s revealed that Alpha has killed Olivia, Josh, Carson, Tammy, Luke, Erin, Ken, Amber, Larry, Oscar, Rosita and King Ezekiel.

The deaths are a major blow to the communities and they begin to demand to go to war with the Whisperers. The TV show could kill off Rosita and Ezekiel like the comics do in order to create this major conflict. Or, if they need to find a way to write out Rick anyways, they could use this as a chance.

After the big war with Negan, the communities would certainly need a good reason to want to head back into conflict. And Rick’s death would be more than enough reason for the communities to want to go after the Whisperers.

Alternatively, I’m sure the writers of The Walking Dead could find a creative way for the Whisperers to want to kill Rick.

Lauren Cohan/Maggie:

Like Rick, Maggie is also still alive in the comics. She’s in a leading role at Hilltop much like on the TV show. It’s still not clear how much involvement Lauren Cohan will have going into season 9, especially given that her other TV show Whiskey Cavalier was picked up by ABC. Assuming that her new series does well, I could definitely see Cohan deciding to leave The Walking Dead entirely.

The easiest, most obvious way for the series to write Cohan off would be for her to have issues during the rest of her pregnancy or childbirth. She’s already had some issues with her pregnancy so it’s not far fetched that something would happen again. However, there is a two year time jump between the war with Negan and the war with the Whisperers in the comics.

The TV show could just ignore this time jump all together, and then they would still have Maggie’s pregnancy to deal with. However, if they do follow the time jump, dying as a result of the pregnancy would obviously be eliminated since she’d already have had her child. There’s also the matter that the show already wrote off one character that way, Lori Grimes. That might stop them from doing the same thing again.

If they don’t want to go the pregnancy/baby route, the TV series could also write Maggie out via her conflict with Negan. Maggie made it very clear at the end of season 8 that her mission going forward is to make sure that Negan is killed – which goes against Rick’s plans.

There’re definitely a few ways that the writers could go about having this conflict write Maggie out. She could either die as a result of a fight with Negan or she could be banished from the communities for going against Rick. I think it’d be better to have her go out in a badass fight — but if the writers want to keep their options open to have her character come back, banishment would be the better option.

Personally, I think losing Maggie would be a bigger blow to the show than losing Rick. I hope that she doesn’t actually get written off. In that case, the writers might be a able to find a way to make her role work on a lighter schedule.

But it all depends on if Lauren Cohan wants to stick around.

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