Norman Reedus finally addresses Andrew Lincoln's upcoming exit from The Walking Dead in season 9. After much speculation following reports that Lincoln would be leaving his role of Rick Grimes after season 9, Lincoln confirmed the news at San Diego Comic-Con last week.
The Walking Dead comics creator Robert Kirkman was the first to officially confirm the news, despite it being an open secret for almost two months. Eventually, Lincoln chimed in and said he wanted to take a break from acting and spend more time with his family back home in the U.K., which is more than understandable considering he spends months at a time filming the hit AMC zombie series in Georgia. And while a lot of his fellow cast members have yet to speak out about his departure, one person in particular is making it clear that he will miss Lincoln on set.
In an interview with EW, Norman Reedus opened up about Andrew Lincoln's upcoming exit. He said that he understands why Lincoln chose to leave the show at this point, saying that he himself finds it difficult constantly traveling up to New York to see his family:
“When he told me he was thinking about doing this, I get it. I have a son in New York, and I’m constantly bouncing back and forth all these nine years to go see him. And I get it. He’s got two beautiful children, a beautiful wife. His whole family’s awesome, and you can’t be mad at him for going. It’s very understandable, but I’m going to miss the hell out of him.”
Reedus will no doubt be forced to relive the loss of his friend when Lincoln's onscreen departure is addressed on The Walking Dead. The characters have grown just as close as the actors have. Daryl has grown to become the heart of the show. Once a rugged outsider, he now shows devotion and loyalty to his group and Rick has always been a major part of that character development. It will be interesting to see how dark Daryl becomes after losing his "brother," but then again, the two characters had their fair of issues with each other throughout season 8.
There has been some debate over how Lincoln's exit will be carried out. The death of Rick seems to be the most logical conclusion, given the nature of the show. But reports and some theories have suggested that may not be the case. Lincoln himself noted the departure of Lennie James' Morgan, who has carried over to the series' sister show Fear the Walking Dead. Another spinoff featuring Rick in a new location isn't entirely out of the realm of possibility. Scott Gimple does want to expand the franchise after all. But Rick leaving Judith and Michonne behind seems unthinkable. At least, in terms of staying true to the character; it seems Rick's death is inevitable.