Andrew Lincoln nearly exited The Walking Dead during season 8

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, Danai Gurira as Michonne - The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Gallery - Photo Credit: Alan Clarke/AMC
Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, Danai Gurira as Michonne - The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Gallery - Photo Credit: Alan Clarke/AMC /

While fans are preparing to lose Rick Grimes in season 9 of AMC’s The Walking Dead, there were plans to have Andrew Lincoln leave one season sooner.

By now, fans know that season 9 of The Walking Dead are being tabbed as Rick Grimes’ final episodes. However, the character nearly didn’t make it out of the AMC zombie survival drama show’s eighth season alive.

According to Entertainment Weekly, Andrew Lincoln (the actor who plays Rick) and former showrunner and executive producer Scott M. Gimple were discussing the future of his character as well as the show while filming season 4.

That conversation centered around the story arc of Rick Grimes and how long it would last on the popular AMC show. Here is what Lincoln said to EW about the situation:

"“You know, we shared young families and there was a lot of synchronicity between the two of us that were two heads of a show that seemed to be getting bigger and bigger. We spoke about it and said, ‘There’s got to be a shape. We need a shape to work out if we get to season 5 then maybe we’ve got a couple more.’ There were all these ifs and buts and strategies. And I said, eight sounds like a good number.’ Eight seasons was certainly something. Last season was a shape that I had in my head and it was certainly something that Scott was possibly thinking about as well that was a completion of a certain chapter which could be called Rick’s falling.”"

Thankfully, eight was not a number that worked out. Fans of The Walking Dead get to see Andrew Lincoln during season 9 and the iconic character will get to say farewell in episodes focused on his own situation.

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So, what happened? Why wasn’t season 8 the curtain call for Rick Grimes?

"“Season 8 came and it got more complicated,” says Lincoln. “I realized that rather than have the funeral, I had to prepare for the funeral and I had to make sure everybody was comfortable with the funeral arrangements. And I don’t think I was ready for the funeral! You know what I mean? I was like, I don’t think I’m ready to go yet!”"

Plus, the decision to stick around a little longer was one made out of love from Andrew Lincoln for the cast and the team behind the show.

"“It was at Comic-Con that year that I made the decision that I couldn’t leave that year. I said to my wife, ‘I feel overwhelmed. I don’t think I’m ready. I can’t do it. I’ve got Norman, I’ve got Danai, I’ve got Jeffrey, I’ve got Melissa McBride, I’ve got Greg Nicotero — all these beautiful friends of mine and I don’t know if I can do it yet. I don’t know if it’s time.’”"

Losing Rick in season 8 would have been extremely tough. With the show already losing Carl Grimes, Eric, Shiva, and others while fighting during the All-Out War against Negan and The Saviors for freedom, saying farewell to the man who introduced everyone to the zombie apocalypse on the show would have been extremely tough to swallow.

Thank you to Andrew Lincoln for giving fans more than eight seasons of Rick Grimes. The action, drama, and joy he brought to the character during his run on the show brought joy to many viewers and that will never be forgotten.

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You can see Andrew Lincoln along with the rest of the show’s cast when season 9 of The Walking Dead kicks off on Oct. 7, 2018.