How The Walking Dead Will Deal With Losing Andrew Lincoln

The Walking Dead producer explains how the TV show will deal with Andrew Lincoln's exit as Rick Grimes in season 9. Rumors of Lincoln's impending exit started up about two months ago, and it's a story that has been hanging over the show's head ever since. But the series' producers are confident in their abilities to take the story in a new direction that will satisfy old and new fans alike.

After nine seasons watching Rick Grimes suffer some of the most personal tragedies, his own life will, presumably, come to an end. While the rumor mill got wind of Rick's departure a while ago, official confirmation comes just as fans of the show find themselves still reeling from the loss of Carl Grimes, played by Chandler Riggs. Riggs, himself, was shocked to learn his onscreen father figure was heading for the exit. Adding to the situation is the fact that Lauren Cohan will have a reduced role as Maggie in The Walking Dead season 9. While Maggie's future is still in limbo, Rick's story is coming to an end - and the show's producer now explains how they plan on dealing with that.

Related: Andrew Lincoln Addresses Walking Dead Season 9 Exit at Comic-Con

Gale Anne Hurd was asked about this loss of main characters (referring specifically to Rick) during an SDCC interview. Her response was optimistic, saying, while the show has lost characters before, there is plenty of material to explore from the long-running comic books written by Robert Kirkman. She spoke about the opportunities that comes with all that and took the chance to draw attention to new casting news, “...we get to then tell stories with new characters. Someone who was announced this Samantha Morton...pretty awesome addition to the show."

Morton, noted for her Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them role, will come on board as Alpha, the leader of The Whispers in season 9. The next season of The Walking Dead will not only see the official introduction of The Whispers, but, with the apparent demise of Rick, Norman Reedus' Daryl Dixon is slated to take over the lead character duties for the show.

As The Walking Dead prepares to say good by Rick Grimes after nine seasons, the show is left with only two of its original characters, Daryl Dixon and Carol Peletier, the latter portrayed by Melissa McBride. While audiences have borne witness to the loss of numerous beloved characters, that same audience has also dropped off significantly with viewership closer to its first season numbers. How will the continued loss of original characters affect future ratings? Producers are hedging their bets on the wealth of material from the comics and new characters to keep audiences' attention and possibly attract new viewers. But will that be enough to drive ratings higher or are people simply dealing with TWD fatigue after nine seasons? As with most things, time will tell.

More: The Walking Dead Season 9 Casts Magna & Whisperers Leader Alpha

The Walking Dead season 9 premieres on AMC on October 7.

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