AMC said that they had "no comment" on Lincoln leaving TWD when contacted by Deadline. Lauren Cohan, who plays Maggie, is only contracted to appear in six episodes in Season 9, which is now in production. Robert Kirkman's series also still features Ricks's son Carl, who was killed off the show at the end of season 8.
Lincoln's departure deviates from the comic book series, where Rick Grimes is still front and center. When writers are forced to change the narrative of a series because an actor leaves, the show suffers.
But it sounds like the next main character to leave the show will be Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln). The actor will likely be phased out in a similar fashion to co-star Lauren Cohan, who has portrayed Maggie since Season 2.
Insiders tell the magazine that AMC has negotiated a $20 million payday for the actor to stay on the show, which has lost almost all of its fan-favorite character over the course of the past two seasons.
Meanwhile, Norman Reedus (Daryl) is reportedly negotiating a new deal in light of Lincoln's departure.
As a pale shadow of it former self, The Walking Dead could continue for another five seasons without Andrew Lincoln. But for now the only thing that is certain is that beloved Rick Grimes' story is coming to an end after season 9 of The Walking Dead. The other is fan-favorite Carol, played by Melissa McBride. Co-star Norman Reedus is now negotiating a new deal that will reportedly pay him around $20 million per season to become the new face of the series.