7 Great Ways Andrew Lincoln Can Exit The Walking Dead in Style

By Noah Davis
Published on August 02, 2023
The Walking Dead Season 9 Andrew Lincoln

I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure exactly how to feel right now.

It’s been revealed that Andrew Lincoln, the man who plays the iconic Rick Grimes role on AMC’s The Walking Dead, will be taking his talents elsewhere.

More specifically, Lincoln is expected to reprise his role for just six more episodes in the upcoming ninth season of The Walking Dead, sparking debate over precisely how the character could leave the show.

On one hand, I can understand why a divorce makes sense for all parties involved. The Walking Dead has admittedly gotten a bit stale, and Rick Grimes’ story arc has arguably repeated itself and ultimately can be brought to an end.

Lincoln himself has been playing the same grizzly role for almost a decade. Still in his acting prime, I bet he’s not too keen on turning down other huge roles - namely in movies - for very much longer.

While I get the shake-up, I personally still think there is a story to tell here. Grimes still has a love interest in Michonne, a child to look after in Judith, and an entire community to lead.

Beyond that, this entire show began with Rick Grimes, and for all intents and purposes, it truly is his story. Eliminating the main character doesn’t just rattle the show at this point. It ultimately ends it as we’ve grown to know and love it.

Perhaps that’s the point, though. The Walking Dead is expected to experience a bit of a “,” which could vault TWD world into a whole new era.

In addition, there are so many big characters worthy of expanded roles (Negan, Maggie, Daryl, King Ezekiel, Jesus, and others) that it’d only make sense for the biggest character to be taken out to make room for them.

I don’t want it to happen, but Rick Grimes doesn’t seem to be long for The Walking Dead. At this point, I just hope the showrunners get his exit right. Here are seven ways they can do that.

Death by Walker Herd

Spoiler alert, but this is the common theory working its way around The Walking Dead spoiler websites. Rick Grimes has survived many close run-ins with death, and it’s probably only a matter of time before his luck runs out.

Carl Grimes was killed off by a walker bite, and it’d only make sense for his dad to go out in a similar fashion.

It probably would have Rick being the hero, saving a big group of people by luring a huge herd of biters away and ultimately sacrificing his life in the process.

Rick Pulls a Glenn

I actually like this idea, as Grimes may still die, but it’s still possible we get faked out.

There has been some speculation that Andrew Lincoln might not be completely done with the show.

What that actually means is open for interpretation, while that leak could be #fakenews.

Still, it does strike me as somewhat fishy that the news of such a high-profile character’s exit was made public well before the new season rolled around.

Maybe The Walking Dead is pulling a reverse Jon Snow like Game of Thrones did.

In Game of Thrones, Snow was stabbed to death and later revived, but it happened in a season finale, and everyone attached to the show professed the death would stick.

It didn’t, and that has to breathe life into the possibility that Grimes could be “done” after six episodes, but then not be done at all.

That, or maybe we are made to believe he does die, but we just don’t actually see it.

The Walking Dead did this with Glenn Rhee once, making it appear he was being eaten alive by a swarm of zombies. He ultimately survived, a revelation of fans were made privy to a few episodes later.

In this scenario, Grimes could either have his death teased, or he could indeed be killed off. However, not actually showing it on screen could save fans some heartache, while also leaving the door open to a return later.

Maggie Takes Over

Season eight of The Walking Dead ended with a secret meeting being held between Maggie, Daryl, and Jesus.

They’re none too pleased that Rick made a lot of hasty decisions without consulting anyone - the biggest faux pas being allowing Negan to live.

Both Maggie and Daryl want their revenge on Negan and will stop at nothing to get it. They made it clear they’re drawing a line in the sand between them and Rick, and at some point, they probably plan to kill Negan.

Due to Rick’s desire to use Negan as an example to rebuild a new society, that creates a bit of a problem. Could Maggie’s revenge tour and Daryl’s presence as her main foot soldier create a schism so wide that it leads to Rick’s own crew ousting him?

It could, but even if it does, that could leave things wide open.

Obviously, Rick getting killed off and exiting the show via death is one option, but as the new leader of the Hilltop, Maggie could also just eventually banish Rick from the community.

By death or exile, Grimes would be booted from the show as we know it.

Rick, Michonne, and Judith Live Happily Ever After

This could bleed into Rick, Michonne, and/or Judith all exiting the show together to live their lives the way they see fit. They did their job here. They helped everyone overcome the Saviors, and their own little society survived and was able to hit the restart button.

Unfortunately, Maggie and company aren’t as grateful as they probably should be, and Grimes has to hit the road.

Maybe Rick leaves town on his own accord, ready to take on a new task or simply break free from these people he’s been made responsible for these many years.

Either way, for one reason or another, it’s possible Grimes exits The Walking Dead by literally leaving town. That’d keep him alive and keep the door cracked open for a return later in the series, while also providing a fitting end to his time on the show.

Rick Joins Fear the Walking Dead

Or maybe Rick Grimes just makes a lateral move and joins Morgan on Fear the Walking Dead.

It’s no secret that The Walking Dead’s sister program on AMC hasn’t been quite as successful. Part of that has to do with a slow-to-develop storyline, less than amazing writing, and a general lack of star power.

This explains why Lennie James (Morgan) had to make the transition, while this series has already lost several powerhouse characters. Truth be told, even though none of those characters were heavy-hitters, they really didn’t get the chance to develop into iconic figures.

The Walking Dead can survive without Rick Grimes because it’s built itself upon a strong foundation and has a litany of fun, strong characters to work with.

Fear the Walking Dead doesn’t have that luxury, and siphoning Rick Grimes off of the original program may be the bold move the creators need to swing to save it.

Could Grimes go or another relative with nothing left to fight for? It’s not impossible.

Negan Gets His Revenge

While an on-screen fake-out could be fun, and Grimes could always leave the show very much alive, it’s pretty likely at this point that Rick Grimes is toast.

If he doesn’t die by the mouth of some walkers or his own people, it would make sense that an enemy close to him will get him in the end.

It’d make even more sense for that to be Negan.

Last we saw Negan, he had his throat slit courtesy of his arch nemesis and promptly had his world ripped out from under him. Negan had the upper hand ever since arriving on The Walking Dead, and now he doesn’t.

That’s all thanks to Rick, who Negan had kept alive for this whole time, assuming he’d get his people to follow him and bend the knee.

Since that didn’t work out, Negan decides to clean house and kill Rick and his people.

While that plan backfired (literally), you have to think a jailed Negan would jump at the chance, not only to regain his freedom and power but also to dish out some sweet revenge.

Negan’s rise back to power accompanied by a brutal beating of Rick via Lucille would be one way to cap a storied run.

The Whisperers Make Their Grand Entrance

Lastly, Rick’s exit could easily be attached to the arrival of a well-known group in the comics, The Whisperers.

This is a nasty group that kills people and wears human skin, while at one point, they kill a specific character in a pretty brutal way.

I won’t get too much into that, seeing as the possible exit of Grimes could go down that dark and harrowing path.

The point is that The Whisperers aren’t a very pleasant group, and in a lot of ways, they put the Saviors to shame. Needless to say, their arrival could spark Grimes’ exit and start a whole new era in The Walking Dead’s universe.


Personally, I’m pretty open to the many different ways Rick Grimes could leave The Walking Dead.

I’m also very interested in the possibility of Andrew Lincoln’s exit being a tease and my favorite character never leaving the show - or lasting until the end.

I’m sure we’ll all find out soon enough, but if any entertainment betting sites holds Rick Grimes death odds or offer prop bets as to how he may die, I’d start with this post before you place any cash down.

7 Great Ways Andrew Lincoln Can Leave The Walking Dead in Style
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7 Great Ways Andrew Lincoln Can Leave The Walking Dead in Style
With news of Andrew Lincoln’s Rick Grimes exiting season 9 of The Walking Dead, here I look at the best ways the iconic character could leave the show.
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