UPDATE: Andrew Lincoln confirmed he is leaving The Walking Dead during the zombie series’ upcoming ninth season. “There seems to be an elephant in the room,” Lincoln said at a Comic-Con panel (via Variety) . “This will be my last season playing the part of Rick Grimes.” The Walking Dead also shared the first trailer for Season Nine during their panel as well as its October 7th premiere date:
The Walking Dead‘s creator/executive producer Robert Kirkman has addressed reports that the show’s lead star, Andrew Lincoln (who portrays central character Rick Grimes), is leaving the AMC show after Season Nine.
During an interview for IMDB conducted by Kevin Smith ahead of the show’s panel at San Diego’s Comic-Con, Smith asked, “Andrew Lincoln has said that this will be his last season?” Kirkman responded, “It’s looking that way.”
Kirkman acknowledged that the character remains a crucial part of The Walking Dead comics he pens, despite the character’s TV departure. “It does make the differences between the comic and the show a little bit more pronounced,” he said. “But at the end of the day, it’s all about Andrew Lincoln. This is a human being. This is someone I have known for almost a decade, somebody that I love. He’s been sweating in Georgia, away from his family for so long.”
As for how the show will handle the departure of Lincoln’s character, Kirkman was coy, but hinted that longtime fans will want to tune in. “He cares about the fans. He cares about the show deeply. He wants to do something special on the way out,” Kirkman said of Lincoln. “We’ve got something amazing planned. You know, I wouldn’t want to spoil anything, but anybody who’s been a fan of his journey, who loves Rick Grimes, who loves the world of The Walking Dead, you’re going to want to see what we do.”
Kirkman and several of the show’s producers and stars, including Lincoln, are set to appear at Comic-Con on Friday. AMC’s The Walking Dead returns for its ninth season in October.