Andrew Lincoln is leaving ‘The Walking Dead’. Will Norman Reedus become the new lead?

The actor has been in the show since its debut in 2010

Andrew Lincoln will be leaving The Walking Dead by the end of season 9, with sources suggesting that Norman Reedus will step up as lead character.

The actor has starred as former Sheriff Rick Grimes since the show’s first episode in 2010. He will reportedly only feature in half a dozen episodes in season 9 before being “phased out”.

There are currently no exact details about how Lincoln will exit the show but THR reports that it will be “similar” to co-star Lauren Cohan’s departure. Cohen was reportedly trying to negotiate a new deal with showrunners but to no avail.

“There are lots of unanswered questions, and we owe a debt to all of the viewers to answer a few of those,” Lincoln said in February when asked about Rick’s rumoured death. “So, yes, once they’re answered, there is an endgame. I’ve said it before. There’s certainly an endgame in my head.”

Back in February Lincoln hinted at his exit, stating, “there’s certainly an endgame in my head. Whether or not that’s the same endgame that’s in the producers’ heads or the people I work with, is another matter. That’s open for discussion.”

Speaking of the season eight finale, former showrunner Scott M. Gimple said, “We knew for a long time that season [eight] was, in many ways, the end of a chapter of the show. The differences that people will be seeing in season nine and beyond are going to be pronounced. It’s going to be a very different show with characters handling very different issues, challenges and threats than we’ve seen before. These characters will be different in a lot of ways.”

Meanwhile, Norman Reedus (Daryl) is reportedly negotiating a new deal in light of Lincoln’s departure. He will become the ‘new number 1’ on the show and sources detail a deal worth $20million.

Reedus is also expecting a baby with his girlfriend Diane Kruger.