Get ready to say goodbye to the roughest, toughest, most overly emotional sheriff in the apocalypse.
By the end of season nine, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) will exit AMC’s The Walking Dead, according to Collider.
Fans can enjoy just one more season of watching Rick fiercely protect his people, probably with a face full of someone else’s blood. Just a few more episodes of doling out the justice in the name of what’s right (while murdering so many people to do it). One last chance for our long-loved frontman to struggle with whether or not killing is OK or totally wrong.
Word is still out on just how Lincoln will exit stage left, but the season finale of season eight sets up a plot for Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Jesus (Tom Payne), and Daryl (Norman Reedus) to overthrow our fine sheriff, AND Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is still alive and has a smile just as maniacal as ever, so we’re sure there’s more to come on that front. One thing we do know: Fans will only get to see our beloved Rick Grimes in six episodes throughout the season.
Long-term character departures are nothing new for The Walking Dead. This season we lost Carl to a zombie bite (because, remember zombies?), and while fans were shocked such an integral character was leaving the show, it somehow felt less than catastrophic.
But who will replace our fearless leader? Daryl is stepping up to the plate, crossbow in hand, as the new leading man.
And Rick isn’t the only one saying his goodbyes. Maggie will also only appear in six episodes of season nine, and could be through with the show after that.
Are these departures really that shocking? The Walking Dead, once a ratings juggernaut, has fallen in recent seasons. According to Deadline, the season eight finale was the least-watched finale in the series, down more than 30 percent from the season 7 finale.
While the show likely is not going anywhere anytime soon—it still has about 6 million viewers after all—it will definitely be a different experience without some of the long-time frontrunners. However, a new story arch is launching in season nine that could go on for several years. As great of a villain as Negan is, it is definitely time to switch things up and move on (we’re bored).
In the same way fans get fatigued after eight seasons, the actors do, too, so it’s no shock to lose some heavy-hitters such as Lincoln and Cohan, who is moving on to her own series Whiskey Cavalier on ABC. At least our favorite motorcycle-loving, vest-wearing, zombie-killing, peanut butter-loving bad boy Daryl is here to stay.