Andrew Lincoln Of ‘The Walking Dead’ Is TV’s Best Cheerleader

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“We’re going to come out swinging,” Andrew Lincoln told The L.A. Times about the final episode of The Walking Dead’s up-and-down seventh season. “And it’s not going to stop.”

“I’m more excited for Season 8 than I’ve ever been,” Lincoln added. “I think it’s going to be big, but it’s also going to be terrifying. And I mean that from the very depths of my cynical soul.”

Andrew Lincoln, who plays Rick Grimes on the biggest show on television, is already hyping the eighth season of The Walking Dead before the seventh season has even completed its run.

If “excited” and “big” and “terrifying” sound familiar to you, it’s because Lincoln has been echoing these sentiments not only before every season of The Walking Dead, but often before every episode. “The Walking Dead is f**king crazy,“; it will “go off the chain“; Negan has the “greatest entrance ever written,” the next episode “made me sick to my stomach.”

Andrew Lincoln’s favorite episode of The Walking Dead always seems to be the next episode of The Walking Dead. Indeed, when Andrew Lincoln is not starring in The Walking Dead, Andrew Lincoln is selling The Walking Dead. Granted, while all of Andrew Lincoln’s superlatives may have lost some of their power over the years — especially when the quality of episodes or of entire seasons don’t exactly match Lincoln’s enthusiasm for them — it’s still refreshing to see a guy go out every week and sell his show with so much eagerness and zeal.

Seven years is a long time to be on a series, especially the top-rated one on television. The attention can be a grind. At this point in many series, the casts have gotten sick of each other, promotion has slowed down, and rumors of in-fighting and salary demands often make headlines. In fact, by this point on How I Met Your Mother, Jason Segal was trying to leave the show and could only be wooed back with a big paycheck and a less demanding schedule, much of it away from the main cast. In its final seasons, the cast of Friends was making ever increasing demands for more money. Big Bang Theory, even this year, avoided ended its run only after producers agreed to pay two of its cast members more money. Remember Michael C. Hall in the final year of Dexter? He had almost no enthusiasm for the series (and it showed in his performance), and was sometimes even critical of the show he starred in. He had checked out two seasons before, sticking around only for the paychecks.

And yet, seven seasons into the series, Andrew Lincoln is still having a blast. While stars of other high profile series (or even stars of The Walking Dead) spend their off-seasons making movies or working on other projects, Andrew Lincoln hasn’t had a starring role in anything else since The Walking Dead began its run in 2010. The closest he’s gotten was an appearance in the short Love Actually sequel for the Red Nose Day charity. Instead, Lincoln seems content spending his off months promoting The Walking Dead, going to Comic Con and other fan conventions, hanging out with the fans, or talking with critics. For those who haven’t seen it, here’s Andrew Lincoln just a week ago at Paleyfest having an absolute ball describing how he thinks Rick Grimes should die on The Walking Dead.

Seven years in and Andrew Lincoln is still as excited as ever to be a part of the AMC series, one that often asks him to carry the show and makes demands of him to perform out in the woods on humid, 100 degree days in Georgia covered in fake blood and guts. He seems un-phased, even as he collects smaller paychecks than other similarly situated actors on less popular dramas. (Two years ago, he quietly renewed his contract and never made a stink of it publicly).

One gets the feeling, too, that Lincoln would be happy to continue carrying the water on The Walking Dead for as long as it airs, whether it be 12 or 20 seasons. By the 19th season, The Walking Dead may be on its 6th showrunner, and it may have rotated through 100 series regulars by then. Carl will be pushing 30 wearily playing a 17 year old, and Lincoln — having survived the riots after Daryl died in season 15 — will still be hyping the next episode as the “best ever,” just as excited for the 19th season of The Walking Dead as he was the first. The Walking Dead is lucky to have him as a performer, but they’re even luckier to have him as the face of the series.