'Walking Dead' star Andrew Lincoln among those leaving series, reports say

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The Walking Dead traditionally opens each season in October, with eight episodes in the fall and eight in the spring.

For Andrew Lincoln, his impending exit will allow Norman Reedus (Daryl Dixon) to take over at The Walking Dead's primary lead.

Star Andrew Lincoln, who has played beleaguered former sheriff Rick Grimes since the show's premiere, will exit the AMC zombie drama in its upcoming ninth season, sources confirm to The Hollywood Reporter. Lead characters can always be killed off and AMC shouldn't be afraid to do it.

The news caps off months of upheaval for The Walking Dead.

Allegedly, Lauren Cohan is set to only appear in six out of the first eight episodes of season nine as she will be starring in Whiskey Cavalier on ABC. Rick, too, is still alive and well (well, alive at least) in the comics, so Lincoln's departure will represent the biggest branching-off from Kirkman's original storylines to date. No word on how his character will be written off the show.

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These past couple seasons have been brutal for the series, and this past season saw the departure of Chandler Riggs, who played Karl in the show.

"The Walking Dead" fans are well accustomed to saying goodbye to fan favorite characters, but they better start preparing to say an ultimate farewell next season.

In a 2015 USA TODAY interview during Season 5, Lincoln said he wasn't ready to leave, but that the show could continue without him. "The differences that people will be seeing in season nine and beyond are going to be pronounced". Cast moves on the series will also see Norman Reedus stay put under a new $20 million contract.

However, the character was allowed to live as Rick attempted to show him mercy. Behind the scenes, Angela Kang is taking over as showrunner from longtime head Scott Gimple.

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