Season 8 of The Walking Dead saw a significant drop in viewers, and an overall decline in people’s opinion of the once megahit series, following the death of Carl (Chandler Riggs) – and it seems that the minds behind AMC’s zombie series have decided that the way to overcome this is to say goodbye to the show’s leading man.

Collider has reported that Andrew Lincoln, who plays the show’s gravel-voiced leader, Rick Grimes, is scheduled to leave The Walking Dead in the upcoming ninth season. Season 9 is set to air this fall with Lincoln in the starring role, but according to the site’s sources, he won’t be there for long. According to their report, Lincoln, along with co-star Lauren Cohan (whose exit had been suggested, given the actress was in pay disputes earlier this year), will leave the show six episodes into the season.

And given that this is The Walking Dead, they probably won’t be simply strolling off into the sunset.

While Cohan exiting the show wouldn’t be too detrimental to the story, saying goodbye to Lincoln would leave an insanely large hole in the show, considering the entire story has been based around Rick and his journey through the zombie apocalypse. Collider has stated that AMC is offering Norman Reedus a sizeable pay increase to stay, with plans to turn Daryl Dixon into the leading man.

However, while fans have been enamoured with Reedus’ character since the series first hit screens, there isn’t really enough to Daryl to make him a solid leading character. The whole of The Walking Dead, up to this point, has seemed to revolve entirely around Rick’s journey to find his family, keep them safe, and lead his people through a number of life-threatening hardships. As the group’s leader he has made the tough decisions to protect the people he cares about, especially since the introduction of comicbook big bad Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) whereas Daryl has always been something of a lone wolf, and in this last season, he seemed to play little to no role in the story arc.

What do you think – does Lincoln’s exit spell disaster for The Walking Dead? Or will the series be able to turn it around? Let us know in the comments!

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