Like many Walking Dead fans, Norman Reedus doesn’t want Andrew Lincoln to leave the show and even tried to convince him to stay. Lincoln has previously explained that he was exiting this year to spend more time with his family. So it looks like survivors of the zombie apocalypse will have to soldier on without his leadership, which may end during the first half of this upcoming season.
A lot of change is going to be happening in season 9 of TWD. Lincoln isn’t the only actor departing. Lauren Cohan, who plays Maggie, will also be leaving. How their characters exit the show remains to be seen but it has already been confirmed that Maggie won’t die and there’s a chance Rick won’t either. While the actors seem set to leave, the door so far remains open should they want to return. Showrunner Angela Kang has already stated her hope that Cohan will return in season 10. Lincoln, meanwhile, doesn’t plan on leaving the show entirely, telling fans about his interest in directing an episode for season 10.
Reedus, who plays fan-favorite Daryl Dixon, wasn’t ready to just let Lincoln leave. According to ComicBook, Reedus tried to convince him not to, saying,
“He told me like ages in advance and, of course, I tried to talk him out of it and, ‘Move your family to New York! I’m in New York, you know it’s an hour and a half!’ I did all of the tricks but I understood why he left, you know, I get it. I totally get it. He had two kids and you live a million miles away.”
Ever since word spread of Lincoln’s exit, fans have been speculating as to who will likely step up and take on the burden of leader. Due to his popularity, Daryl has popped up as a possible candidate. Reedus has argued otherwise, stating his belief that the character is ill suited to the role. Reedus has previously commented on the shift in power audiences will witness this season. He called season 9 as being “driven by women,” especially by Maggie, Michonne (Danai Gurira), and Carol (Melissa McBride). With Cohan also set to be in only six episodes, it looks likely that Michonne and Carol will be the ones to take on more responsibility. According to Kang, Michonne will enter a “position of power” and looks to be a likely candidate for a leadership role.
There can never be a “new Rick” according to Reedus, and he has a point. No character can simply replace another. But, for humanity to continue surviving, someone must lead. Either that or Negan will happily fill the vacancy Rick leaves behind. The loss of two major characters means yet another emotional season for Walking Dead fans. The same can be said for the cast who weren’t ready to see their coworkers leave without a fight. But, like Reedus, viewers can respect Lincoln’s desire for more time with his family.
The Walking Dead season 9 premieres October 7 on AMC.