Andrew Lincoln to leave 'The Walking Dead' during upcoming Season 9

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Andrew Lincoln, who has starred as the lead of AMC's The Walking Dead since the pilot, will reportedly be leaving the series after appearing in only a handful of episodes in the upcoming season nine. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the actor will be "phased out" in the season, in a way similar to co-star Lauren Cohan, whose character Maggie Rhee will appear only in six episodes. However, Chandler Riggs, the actor who played Carl Grimes up until his character's death in season 8, may have already suggested the series would be ending soon. He's even been around since the first season, which gives him a similar edge to Rick Grimes in that longtime viewers may want to stick around and see what happens.

Reportedly, AMC is preparing for Lincoln's departure by throwing a sizable amount of money in the direction of Norman Reedus, with the aim of making Reedus' Daryl Dixon the series' main protagonist after Lincoln leaves.

While there's no specific information on how Lincoln's character will be written off the series, it is expected to be revealed before the season 9 finale.

"We knew for a long time that this season was, in many ways, the end of a chapter of the show", Gimple said of season eight. Reedus, who has a good relationship with AMC, also has another television series on the network called 'Ride with Norman Reedus'. It's not clear exactly how he'll exit the story, but this is a show about the zombie apocalypse.

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Lincoln will be included in six episodes, and whether he'll succumb to the same fate of his fictional wife and son before him and be killed off or find another way out is yet to be seen.

The departure of Lincoln's Rick would be momentous in terms of the character's prominence in the show and also his longevity.

How will Rick Grimes meet his end on The Walking Dead?

Bosses at AMC announced a huge shift behind-the-scenes at the start of the year, as former showrunner Scott received an impressive promotion to expand the franchise.