Andrew Lincoln’s ‘Tearful’ First Statement Over Shocking ‘Walking Dead’ Exit

Jesse GrantGetty Images for AMC

Andrew Lincoln made a tearful, shocking statement regarding his departure from The Walking Dead at the end of Season 9. The actor confirmed his departure and addressed the elephant in the room during the show’s Friday, July 20, San Diego Comic-Con panel.

“I want to say something because there seems to be an elephant in the room. This will be my last season playing the part of Rick Grimes,” Lincoln said of his departure, as per Us Weekly.

“Now hear me out, please. I love this show. It means everything to me. I love the people that make this show. I promise not to cry, I’ve done enough crying onscreen.”

The actor then noted that his relationship with the character was “far from over” and that he would always carry the machete-wielding, Stetson-wearing, zombie-slaying sheriff deputy from London, England in his heart.

Lincoln then went on to address the show’s loyal fans, who were notably riled up over Rick’s exit.

“This has always been an ensemble, and it will continue to be an ensemble. No one is bigger than the story, and the story this year is unbelievable,” he explained to the fans at Comic-Con.

Lincoln noted that after his final scenes are finished, his plans are to take a much-needed break and spend time with family.

Vulture reported that Norman Reedus cut in right before the panel ended and asked the crowd to join him in a standing ovation for Lincoln, his co-star of eight years.

Us Weekly revealed in May that the actor would only appear in six episodes of the show’s ninth season.

An insider told the publication that the actor wanted to focus more of his energy on movies.

The show will continue to shake it up for fans, as Lauren Cohan, who plays Maggie Rhee, will only be seen in a limited capacity in Season 9. She will be seen in the ABC drama Whiskey Cavalier, alongside ex-Scandal star Scott Foley.

Season 9 will also welcome back Jon Bernthal’s Shane, who died in Season 2, according to Us. Tony-nominated actress Lauren Ridloff has also joined the cast, according to EW. She will play a character named Connie for a “multi-episode arc” as a character described as “a seasoned survivor deft at using her senses to read people, situations, and trouble. Her character is deaf and uses American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate.” Ridloff is deaf in real life.

Norman Reedus, who portrays Daryl Dixon, will largely be stepping into Lincoln’s shoes with the actor’s exit from the series. Series showrunner Angela Kang told TVLine that “Daryl will have some meaty material coming up.”

The Walking Dead Season 9 will premiere on AMC in October.