It is no secret that Andrew Lincoln — the lead on The Walking Dead for the last eight seasons — will exit the series in the front half of the upcoming make-or-break ninth season. From what we understand, he’ll also be leaving the series before he has the opportunity to meet the next big villain on the show, Alpha, who will be played by Samantha Morton. (Lincoln found out about her casting during San Diego Comic Con, presumably well after he’d already filmed his final episode on the series.)
There remains a lot of speculation, however, about how Rick will exit the show. Will he sacrifice himself? Will he be killed by Maggie? Negan? Will he get bit by a zombie? Or will his character leave Alexandria and relocate? Showrunner Angela Kang told Entertainment Weekly earlier this week that she “really wanted to be respectful of that character and send him off in a great way.” Is the best way to be respectful to Lincoln to kill him off in spectacular fashion? Or is it to allow him to leave Alexandria, head held high, knowing that he helped rebuild the community after the All-Out War?
Andrew Lincoln himself certainly has a preference, as he told the press after Comic-Con. Lincoln would much rather remain upright:
“Lennie James is a perfect example of leaving without dying and doing rather well on it, so there is that way,” Lincoln said, referencing his former co-star Lennie James who head off to Fear the Walking Dead as Morgan Jones. “And then there is obviously the other way, which we’ve done quite a lot… Obviously, I’m not going to tell you which way [Rick leaves] I mean, I’d prefer the Lennie James of it all. But I think what we have in store this season is truly remarkable, and I’m very proud of the work that we’ve done.”