Actor Norman Reedus seemed to hint at Andrew Lincoln's upcoming exit from The Walking Dead on social media today. Earlier this week, news broke that Lincoln would only appear in a half-dozen episodes of the upcoming ninth season. With each season being 16 episodes, it's possible The Walking Dead's longtime leader could meet his end prior to the midseason finale.
Reedus, one of the few cast members left from the original Atlanta camp, helped take Daryl Dixon from a tweaked out biker to the show's most popular character. That does make him the logical choice to take Rick's place as leader. Showrunner Scott M. Gimple has already said that season 9 will be like an all-new show, and (presumably) killing off the main character would certainly shake up the status-quo.
As a possible commemoration of this news, Reedus posted a photo to Instagram of him and Lincoln hugging one another. The caption was simply a heart emoji, which seemed to express Reedus' feelings over his long-time co-star leaving the series. Though season 9 is currently filming, this particular image is taken from when Rick and Daryl emotionally reunited at the Hilltop in the middle of season 7. You can see the Instagram post below.
There's been no official word as to how the show will handle Rick's upcoming exit. Considering the high-stakes world of the zombie apocalypse, it's a safe bet he won't be walking off into the sunset. Lauren Cohan, who's played Maggie since she show's second season, is also appearing in a limited number of episodes in the upcoming season. The last season ended implying that Maggie would be going to war with Rick. She was looking for vengeance over Negan killing Glenn (Steven Yeun), so Rick's decision to take Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) prisoner instead of kill him didn't sit well with her. With both characters slated for a limited number of episodes, it sure seems like things could get ugly between them.
Reedus, who's been around since the first season, is in talks for a huge a pay raise. This strongly implies that Daryl will become the show's focus. He's been a fan favorite for years, so pushing him into the spotlight makes sense. Especially considering how the character's felt underused the last couple seasons. It's anyone's guess how long his reign could last though. The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman has made it clear that there is one character he'd never kill, and it isn't Daryl Dixon.
The Walking Dead season 9 premieres this fall on AMC.
Source: Norman Reedus