After exiting The Walking Dead, Andrew Lincoln plans to return to the series as a director. While his character, Rick Grimes, may be gone after just six episodes in season 9, Andrew Lincoln's ties to the zombie drama will remain, but in a different way.
Shockwaves were sent through the fan community when it was first reported that Lincoln would be departing the series in season 9. Lincoln's departure will come less than a less full season after the death of Rick's son, Carl (Chandler Riggs). The loss of Carl was the show's most shocking death to date. However, losing Rick, the series' lead, will be an even a greater blow to the fans. It's worth noting though that Rick may not leave the show as tragically as Carl, since there is a chance that Rick won't die in his final episodes.
Lincoln revealed to EW that the actor isn't done with The Walking Dead. The actor will return to the set during season 9 to shadow a director so that he'll be able to helm his own episode in season 10. Lincoln says he's too "invested" in the show to walk away completely:
I can’t be that far away because I can’t bear it. That’s how much I am invested in the show and the continuation of the story.
\ Lincoln would be the third actor in The Walking Dead universe to direct an episode. Colman Domingo, who is a series regular on Fear the Walking Dead, directed a recent episode of Fear the Walking Dead's fourth season, and will direct another episode during season 5. Michael Cudlitz, who played Abraham from season 4 to season 7 of The Walking Dead, will be back to direct the seventh episode of season 9. Before sitting in the director's chair, both actors learned the ropes by shadowing directors, which is what Lincoln hopes to do as well.
Since it was officially confirmed that Lincoln is leaving the series, the actor has repeatedly expressed his love for working on the show. Lincoln says the decision to leave was made because he wanted to spend more time with his family, who lives in England. Every season, Lincoln usually spends half a year filming in Georgia. With this mind, it makes sense why Lincoln would rather direct than continue starring in the series. As a director, Lincoln would still be associated with the series while also spending a much shorter amount of time on set.
Season 9 of The Walking Dead premieres October 7th on AMC.