Andrew Lincoln has confirmed the rumours that have been swirling online, revealing at the San Diego Comic-Con that he is leaving The Walking Dead.
Lincoln, who has played Rick Grimes since the first episode of the show, told fans that he loved the show but that he was moving on.
Speaking during a panel event, he said: “I want to say something, because there seems to be an elephant in the room.
“This will be my last season playing the part of Rick Grimes. Now hear me out, please. I love this show. It means everything to me. I love the people that make this show. I promise not to cry, I’ve done enough crying onscreen.”
He went on to say: “I suppose what I wanted to say is that my relationship with Mr. Grimes is far from over. And a sort of large part of me will always be a machete-wielding, stetson-wearing, zombie-slaying sheriff deputy from London, England.”
Adding that the show was ‘the most extraordinary, amazing and beautiful experience’ of his career.
He then told fans that the character would be going out with a bang.
“We’re deeply, deeply proud of the work we’ve done this season,” he said.
“I’m really, really excited about this season. I think there are two episodes that for me that are my favorites since the pilot.
“This has always been an ensemble and it will continue to be an ensemble. No one is bigger than the story, and the story this year is unbelievable.”
As the panel wrapped up, Lincoln’s co-star Norman Reedus started a standing ovation for the actor before they all joined together for a big group hug.
The Walking Dead’s executive producer Robert Kirkman told Entertainment Weekly that they had some big plans for Grimes in the latest season.
He said: “We’ve got something amazing planned. I wouldn’t want to spoil anything, but anybody who’s been a fan of his journey, who loves Rick Grimes, who loves the world of The Walking Dead, you’re going to want to see what we do.”
The ninth season of the show returns to our screens in October.