*Warning: Spoiler Alert for AMC’s The Walking Dead*
AMC’s zombie drama The Walking Dead has been bleeding viewers over the last three seasons, but it still remains one of cable’s most-watched shows. So it’s interesting to hear that the upcoming ninth season may very well be star Andrew Lincoln’s last.
According to a report for Collider, Lincoln’s Rick Grimes will be written out of the post-apocalyptic series after just a half dozen episodes in season nine. Whether that means the character is killed off or not remains to be seen. It’s also unclear if this decision comes from Lincoln’s camp or from AMC, which is planning a multi-medium expansion of The Walking Dead brand.
It seems odd to plan an expensive spinoff rollout without the show’s biggest star, though perhaps the network is looking for some new blood.
AMC declined Observer’s request for comment.
Lincoln has portrayed the show’s leading protagonist throughout all eight of its previous seasons, but very few original cast members remain, especially after the death of Chandler Riggs’ Carl Grimes. One of the last OG stars left is Norman Reedus, who Collider reports is being offered a significant raise to remain as the show’s lead.
The Walking Dead veteran Lauren Cohan will also be departing after six episodes as her relationship with the network has been a bit touch-and-go of late as she attempted to negotiate for a better contract. With her ABC pilot Whiskey Cavalier ordered to series, fans shouldn’t expect to see all that much of Maggie. (We still miss Glen.)
The concluding chapter of season eight scored 7.9 million live viewers, the show’s second-least-watched finale ever. Overall, the season averaged 7.8 million live weekly viewers, the third straight year of decline for the show. However, in live+7 metrics, The Walking Dead averaged around 12 million total viewers last season (a 27 percent dip compared to season seven), keeping it near the top of Peak TV’s food chain overall.