Andrew Lincoln will be leaving The Walking Dead after its ninth season. The signs were all there, you just had to know how to read them…
For some readers, you’ll know that that line is taken (sort of) from S4 when Daryl is training Beth after the fall of the prison, and he tells her that she can track if she knows what she’s looking for in the dirt.
If you’ve been following The Walking Dead for the last several months, you wouldn’t have been surprised by the news that surfaced Tuesday that Andrew Lincoln was planning on leaving AMC’s leading drama.
He, Norman Reedus, and Lauren Cohan took several months for negotiations with the upcoming season. Eventually, Lincoln and Reedus signed on for only season nine. Cohan signed several weeks later, after her ABC show, Whiskey Cavalier, was picked up for a mid-season debut. This meant that Cohan’s character, Maggie Rhee, would be losing a lot of screen time in the upcoming season which was at odds with what the season eight finale projected for her future.
That episode showed Maggie, Jesus, and Daryl planning on making Rick pay for his choice of saving Negan. It appeared the writers were finally going to give Cohan room to run with Maggie’s character. Her character development has been sacrificed repeatedly over the last few seasons for a “tell the audience she’s a leader, we don’t have time to show it” mentality.
Now, Cohan will be limited and Lincoln will be gone entirely after season nine. So, how did we get here?
AMC and The Walking Dead writers chose this hill to die on the moment they greenlighted the idea of Carl Grimes’ death.
Andy has always been very vocal of his love for Chandler Riggs and how he always imagined that Carl would carry the series after Rick died or faded into the background. I would even argue that the reason it took Lincoln and Reedus so long to sign back on for season nine was how they felt about Riggs’ departure. He was treated dirty and you can read about it HERE.
Since Lincoln will be leaving and Cohan will be taking a backseat, that leaves Reedus’ Daryl Dixon to fill the void.
I adore Daryl. He’s been one of my favorite characters since the first season, but they haven’t given Daryl a lot to work with the last two seasons. He’s barely had dialogue and he’s usually away from the group.
If Daryl takes over as the lead, the way he handles things will be much different than how Rick did it. He would have killed Negan. He wouldn’t talk as much as Rick or have tried to make friends with Jadis repeatedly.
Daryl Dixon is observant, but he can be impulsive and indecisive, too. Look at his decision to ram a vehicle into the Sanctuary last season or his waffling feelings about Dwight.
Now, if they had season three or season four Daryl Dixon?
Yes, I’d watch the hell out of that, but I don’t have faith in the writers that they can make that transition believable.
Photos from set have already revealed an older looking Rick, so there’s probably going to be a big time jump from the end of last season to the beginning of season nine. They’ll probably be telling us how Daryl has changed instead of letting us see that character arc.
I really wish the best for Reedus as he decides on this best course of action, and I hope that the writers will take care with his journey as he steps out of Rick’s shadow.
The same goes for Lincoln. He has played our favorite apocalyptic hero for nine seasons. We’ve watched his decisions go from really brutal to wishy-washy and the cycle repeated. He has said previously that he wanted there to be an endgame for his character, and I always thought it would put Carl in the front seat like the comics did, but here we are.
The audience can only hope that the writers give Rick Grimes the ending he deserves; not the one they cook up for emotional torture or shock value– a type of death that’s become a staple of the show.
TLDR; The Walking Dead has me back on my bullshit because Andrew Lincoln is stepping away, and I don’t trust them not to screw it up.
The Walking Dead is currently filming season nine and will return to AMC this fall.