Andrew Lincoln is reportedly walking out on The Walking Dead during Season 9 of AMC’s hit zombie show.
According to Collider, Rick Grimes will only be onscreen in six episodes of next season, which is currently in production. For anyone who’s avidly been following the show since its premiere in 2010, this is a huge bummer—as perhaps the only comparably cool character on the show is Norman Reedus’ Daryl Dixon.
As for Reedus, his crossbow-wielding badass of a character has reportedly been offered enough motivation to not only stay on board, but take over as protagonist. Since Dixon is very much a fan favorite, this is a smart play by AMC, and will likely help to keep fans watching.
Lauren Cohan, too, will remain firmly aboard The Walking Dead’s cast, even though she’s publicly been bargaining for a better contract on social media. Fortunately for her, her character, Maggie, was left in quite an important and powerful position by the end of Season 8—which AMC surely doesn’t want to raze in favor of withholding a raise.
However, Cohan, too, will reportedly only grace the show with her presence for a mere six episodes. This is presumably due to her ABC pilot Whiskey Cavalier being greenlit as a series, which will likely lead AMC to nix her from the show alongside Lincoln.
Ultimately, this is simply how it goes—for a show as massively popular and lucrative for a stunning eight years, it’s no surprise that it’s slowly but surely coming to an end. The most important thing, of course, is how narratively truthful and character-based both Lincoln and Cohan’s departures will be handled. To find that out, we’ll just have to wait until Season 9—which has yet to garner an official premiere date.