Prepare for The Walking Dead‘s biggest loss yet.
Andrew Lincoln, the hit drama’s leading man since the start, is set to exit the series in the upcoming ninth season, EW has confirmed from a source. AMC declined to comment.
Collider, which first reported the news, suggests that Lincoln’s final run will last only six episodes.
“I can’t wait to see this next episode,” Lincoln told EW after the season 8 finale. “It’s really interesting. It’s very different in a good way. In an exciting way. It’s more reminiscent of the pilot than any other season that we’ve embarked on, which makes me very happy. It’s a good time for it. It’s a really exciting time for it. I feel like season 1. It’s a big year, and I’m excited for it.
While The Walking Dead is no stranger to losing main cast members, the departure of Lincoln, who has starred as Rick Grimes for all eight seasons, marks the show’s toughest challenge. His impending loss only adds to the transition that the show is currently undergoing. In addition to the exit of fellow TWD original Chandler Riggs and, possibly, Lauren Cohan, Angela Kang is taking over the reigns from longtime showrunner Scott M. Gimple.
The Walking Dead returns to AMC in October.