WARNING: Possible The Walking Dead spoilers ahead
The news that Andrew Lincoln will be leaving the series after a “handful” of episodes in season nine caught many fans off guard after the news broke on Tuesday. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Lincoln will exit the show “in a fashion similar to co-star Lauren Cohan” who will appear in six episodes of season nine before moving on to her ABC series Whiskey Cavalier.
Rumors about Cohan’s exit spread after the season eight finale, but the loss of Lincoln’s Rick from the series will see it lose the main character that is still the focus of Robert Kirkman’s comic series. But according to THR, Norman Reedus might be primed to step up into the lead role for the series thanks to his lucrative new deal ahead of the next season:
Sources note that contracts for Lincoln and Reedus were up after season eight. Unlike in the past, AMC was slow to announce a season-nine renewal as the series was negotiating a larger pact with now-former showrunner Scott M. Gimple. Reedus and Lincoln closed new deals at the time to return for season nine, with the former now looking to cash in given the latter’s pending departure. Sources say Reedus has already begun work on season nine in Atlanta as he negotiates his new pact, which, while it isn’t a done deal, is said to be worth north of $20 million.