Andrew Lincoln started mapping out his 'Walking Dead' exit years ago and was almost killed off the show on season 8

Jackson Lee Davis/AMCWe could have had less episodes with Andrew Lincoln, but he thought it was necessary to stick around.

Warning: There are spoilers ahead for season nine, episode five of “The Walking Dead,” “What Comes After.”

Andrew Lincoln may have said farewell to AMC’s “The Walking Dead” Sunday night, but he could have been killed off the show during season eight.

“I tried to leave the show last season,” Lincoln told Yvette Nicole Brown on series’ aftershow “Talking Dead.” “There was a plan. The tree that I was bleeding out under, there was an ‘A,’ ‘B,’ or ‘C.’ There was a version where I died, there was a version presumably where a helicopter may have arrived and whisked me away, then.”

Walking dead rick tree 816AMCAndrew Lincoln didn’t think this was probably the right way for his character to go out.

However, Lincoln said there was a moment where he realised he couldn’t leave the AMC zombie drama just yet.

“I think it was when I was at Comic-Con last year and I wasn’t ready, for many reasons – my dear friends that work on the show all around the camera, the fact that the kid [Chandler Riggs] was leaving and I thought there wasn’t enough real estate to do justice to his story, and then for Rick to go?” Lincoln continued. “I don’t know if we took out the whole Grimes family in one season, I think that might have been a little bit too punchy.”

Instead, Lincoln started planning out how his story would end. He said he didn’t have creative input in how he would go out, that was all showrunner Angela Kang.


Read more: Rick Grimes isn’t the only beloved character who departed ‘The Walking Dead’ and fans are not happy with how it was handled

“I love the fact that he’s [Rick] alone as he began the story, bleeding to death on a horse. It’s perfect, leading 10,000 zombies away from those communities,” said Lincoln, who explained how the show can go on without him.

Walking dead season 1 season 9 rickAMCSeason one Rick vs. season nine.

He said “The Walking Dead” isn’t just the story of Rick Grimes. It’s also the story of Michonne, Daryl, Carol, and more people who he sacrifices his life for on his final episode of the series.

“By taking Rick out of the narrative, you do free it up. You free up this show in a way we’ve never done before. And, I think, to be able to have these extraordinary actors leading the show in their own way, spinning off stories with Angela at the helm, I do feel that I’ve left this show in a better place than I’ve found it.”

The walking dead 816Gene Page/AMC‘I don’t think I was ready. I had to make my funeral arrangements,’ Lincoln said of not leaving on season eight. ‘There’s so many people that I love on that crew and I love them dearly and they have made my time and my experience of working in America one of the greatest experiences of my life.’

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Lincoln said he and chief content officer Scott M. Gimple, who oversees the “Walking Dead” universe now at AMC, started mapping out his exit strategy on the show back during season four.

Lincoln said, at the time, the two of them just “plucked a number out of the air” and eight sounded like a reasonable number. When season eight was a reality, Lincoln said the idea of doing several movies instead of coming back every now and then for a few episodes of the show made more sense to him.

“There were many iterations [of Rick’s endgame]. A lot of it was down to the good people at AMC, who just said no and they thought it would be an interesting and exciting proposition to expand rather than contract the show,” Lincoln told THR. “Realistically, this decision was all about time. For me to want to do a limited number of episodes [of The Walking Dead] a year wouldn’t feel like I was doing my job properly because playing this part has been so all-encompassing. I think I would get frustrated with that.”

You can follow along with our “Walking Dead” coverage here.

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