Rumors had been echoing across the web for days beforehand, but yesterday it was officially revealed at San Diego Comic-Con that Andrew Lincoln would be parting ways with AMC’s hit, The Walking Dead.
Andrew Lincoln portrayed the main protagonist of the post-apocalyptic zombie series, a former sherriff’s deputy by the name of Rick Grimes.
After the major SDCC announcement yesterday was met with an emotional goodbye from a number of co-stars and fans, many wondered how the show would fare without Lincoln in the lead.
According to the Los Angeles Times, today Norman Reedus, who portrays fan-favorite Darryl Dixon on The Walking Dead, is responding to the Lincoln departure. Reedus is also discussing his personal thoughts on how the AMC series may go once Lincoln is absent from the cast entirely, which he appears to be optimistic about.
“I’ve shared a trailer with that guy for nine years. He’s the first person I talk to in the morning, the last person I talk to at night. He’s one of my best, best friends so I’m just going to miss him more than anything. The story is going to change, which is exactly what I think the show needs right now. The show itself has morphed into something that we’re super excited about.”
Reedus’ comments about the show needing a change come in the wake of significanly declining viewership for The Walking Dead. The decline became most prominent in the AMC series’ most-recent eighth season.
In 2010, when The Walking Dead premiered, it was considered a success with its Halloween premiere garnering more than 5 million viewers. The Season 1 finale held steady with just under 6 million viewers, setting a solid foundation for the show. By 2014, the show’s ratings had virtually tripled, with more than 17 million viewers tuning in for the Season 5 premiere on AMC. Over 15 million hung on throughout the season and caught the Season 5 finale.
However, by 2017 that massive viewership slipped by about 6 million viewers, as just over 11 million people were reportedly watching the Season 8 premiere. The number dropped further for the Season 8 finale, which drew a reported 7.92 million, returning The Walking Dead dangerously close to numbers for its Season 1 finale.
As to Andrew Lincoln’s departure, it’s expected that Norman Reedus’ will be stepping in to fill the role of The Walking Dead‘s main protagonist. Whether or not Daryl Dixon as the leading man will be the ratings boost The Walking Dead needs, remains to be seen.