It turns out that killing Carl Grimes was instrumental in Andrew Lincoln's decision to exit The Walking Dead in season 9. The idea that anyone can die at any point for absolutely any reason has rung true time and again ever since the series debuted in 2010. And since the TV show differs in many ways from Robert Kirkman's comic book series of the same name, killing (or writing off) certain characters on screen while their comic book counterparts are still alive have kept viewers on their toes.
Most recently, that meant killing off Carl (Chandler Riggs) in the first half of season 8, thereby sending shock waves throughout the fandom until the series returned from its midseason hiatus. When it did, fans wondered what his father, Rick Grimes (Lincoln), would do next. After all, keeping his children and his (extended) family safe was his primary - if not arguably his sole - purpose as a character in the series. And so, with Carl gone and Negan defeated, it seems like it's time for Rick to bow out, which is what Lincoln apparently thought so as well.
In an interview with Digital Spy, Tom Payne, who plays the Hilltop's Jesus, believes that Carl dying was the impetus for Lincoln's decision to inevitably exit The Walking Dead - professionally, that is. On a personal level, Lincoln wanted to move back home to spend more time with his family. Spending months at a time in another country can obviously take its toll, and it's understandable that Lincoln would want to call it quits (for now).
"I think when Carl died last year and Chandler left, I think that was a moment for him of: 'OK, where does this leave Rick? And how does he move forward?' I think that was a pause for thought. As far as Andy goes, I'm completely with him on the fact that he needs to spend some more time with his family. He had just had a baby when the show got picked up. He's in Atlanta for eight months out of the year – for eight years, now. So that's tough on anyone, and I completely agree with [his] decision to concentrate on his family for now. And I would do the same."
Lincoln recently said that there were talks of Rick Grimes being written off in season 8, as a conclusion to a certain chapter of The Walking Dead, but it seems that it wasn't working out in the way that everyone wanted. And now, fans can expect Lincoln to officially exit the immensely popular zombie drama sometime in season 9. However, that doesn't mean he's done with the franchise forever; Lincoln is planning to direct an episode of The Walking Dead in season 10, so he'll be joining his former co-star, Michael Cudlitz, in moving from in front of the camera to behind it.
Interestingly, is that this is the first time (along with Lauren Cohan's exit as Maggie Rhee) that fans are aware of who is being written off. But what's important is that the franchise as a whole is at a point in which characters can exit one show and still be alive. There are more communities working together now than ever before on the flagship series - and it's certainly possible for one character to leave for another community that may not appear on screen for quite some time. Characters can now even move onto other shows as well, like Fear the Walking Dead.
Source: Digital Spy