Is Andrew Lincoln leaving The Walking Dead?

The apocalyptic drama’s lead actor has played sheriff-turned-zombie-slayer Rick Grimes since the very first episode

Andrew Lincoln attends

Devastating news for fans of The Walking Dead as Andrew Lincoln is set to leave the zombie drama during the forthcoming ninth series, according to various US reports.

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Lincoln has played lead character and sheriff-turned-zombie-slayer Rick Grimes since the show’s first episode in 2010.

He is believed to only be appearing in six episodes of season nine, as reported by Collider.

We don’t yet know what form Lincoln’s departure will take, but last year The Walking Dead’s creator Robert Kirkman confirmed that Rick Grimes would eventually die.

It is also being reported that Lincoln’s co-star Norman Reedus – who plays Daryl Dixon – will become the show’s new leading man.

And the cast shake-up doesn’t end there: fans were heartbroken earlier this year by the death of Carl Grimes (Lincoln’s on-screen son, played by Chandler Riggs) in series eight.

Meanwhile Lauren Cohan, who plays Maggie Greene, is also tipped to be quitting the show after the first six episodes of the new season.

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Series nine of The Walking Dead is expected to land in October 2018.