Andrew Lincoln is finally breaking his silence on leaving ‘The Walking Dead’ after season 9. The actor revealed what’s ahead and teased his final episodes at the show’s SDCC panel.

Andrew Lincoln addressed the elephant in the room at the start of The Walking Dead SDCC panel. “This will be my last season playing the part of Rick Grimes,” he told fans at the panel. “I love this show. It means everything to me. I love the people who make this show… I’m particularly fond of the people who watch this show… This has been the most extraordinary, amazing, useful experience of my career.” He later added toward the end of his emotional speech: “My relationship with Mr. Grimes is far from over.”

Andrew also praised the cast, saying they’re “doing the greatest work I’ve ever seen.” As for Rick when season 9 picks up, Andrew teased: “He’s been through a lot of stresses and strains. He’s had a tough time.”

Back in May 2018, fans were shocked when they found that Andrew was reportedly leaving the hit AMC show after the show’s upcoming ninth season. It was reported that he was only set to appear in about half a dozen episodes, according to Collider. Andrew has been played Rick Grimes on the show since it premiered in 2010.

Robert Kirkman, who created The Walking Dead comic books, confirmed that Andrew was leaving the show and that the actor “wants to do something special” in his final episodes. “He cares about the fans; he cares about the show deeply; he wants to do something special on the way out; we 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,” Robert told Kevin Smith during an interview for IMDb.

The Walking Dead season 9 is set to premiere this fall on AMC. The show also stars Norman Reedus, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Danai Gurira, Lauren CohanLennie James, and Melissa McBride. Stay tuned for more TWD scoop!

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