The Walking Dead Casting Shocker: Wait... Who's Leaving?!?

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A major cast member is set to make a run from The Walking Dead.

And it's not hyperbole to say the show will never be the same after he's gone.

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A multitude of sources has confirmed to Us Weekly that series star Andrew Lincoln will leave the blockbuster drama after its upcoming ninth season.

In fact, he'll only appearin six of the scheduled Season 9 episodes.

Why would Lincoln depart such a successful program?

For starters, most fans believe the best days of The Walking Dead are far behind this AMC hit, as both quality and ratings have dropped significantly in recent years.

Moreover, Lincoln has both a personal reason and a professional reason for making this decision at this time.

“Andrew is leaving because he’s had enough of it and wants to focus his energy on movies,” an insider close to Lincoln tells the aforementioned tabloid.

Lincoln, of course, got his truly big break in the romantic comedy Love Actually.

To many people, even still, he's the guy who held up signs of affection for Keira Knightley's character in that beloved holiday film, not the guy who splatters zombie guts all over the place on a weekly basis.

Rick Is Ready for War

AMC is not expected to cancel its most-watched show in the wake of Lincoln's departure, however.

A source tells Us Weekly that Lincoln’s costar, Norman Reedus, has negotiated a $20 million paycheck to stay on.

The Walking Dead is known for major cast turnover, having killed off numerous original characters since its debut.

Just last season, many viewers reacted in shock and anger when Rick’s son Carl, played by Chandler Riggs, lost his life.

But Lincoln has portrayed Rick Grimes since the very beginning and it's hard to imagine the series without him front and center.

Rick in Trouble on The Walking Dead Season 8

It's also worth mentioning that Lauren Cohan, who plays Maggie, will be starring in the new ABC drama Whiskey Cavalier, and will therefore only return to The Walking next season on a part-time basis.

The end may truly be near for this long-running smash.

Following the Season 8 finale, Lincoln opened up to Entertainment Weekly about what’s next for Grimes after he took out down Jeffrey Dean Morgan's Negan.

“I think there is always going to be a sense of he’s lost all of the most important parts of himself, and yet he has the legacy and gift that Carl gave him that is going to fuel his ambitions for the future,” the actor said, adding:

“He’s got a renewed purpose because of this and because of his son. So it’s absolutely a new man.

This is the man who couldn’t see what Deanna saw about the future and still couldn’t see it for a long, long time even throughout all of this and the battle he was hell-bent on vengeance.”

Rick Grimes on The Walking Dead Season 8

No word yet on just how Rick will be written off the show.

But let's be serious, right?

We somehow doubt he'll stroll happily into the sunset.

Will you keep watching The Walking Dead after Lincoln departs?

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