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.
As they put it, Reedus will now be the top name on the call sheet and will be the person who helps to lead the show as it tries to “reinvent itself” with new showrunner Angela Kang — replacing Scott Gimple who moved on to a larger role with AMC proper. Gimple did tell THR one tidbit about the future of the series ahead of his departure and following the season eight finale:
“The differences that people will be seeing in season nine and beyond are going to be pronounced. It’s going to be a very different show with characters handling very different issues, challenges and threats than we’ve seen before. These characters will be different in a lot of ways.”
Removing two major characters and shifting the focus of the series are certainly “pronounced” changes. Maybe it is just what the series needs, though.
(Via The Hollywood Reporter)