Why Andrew Lincoln's Exit Can Be Great For 'The Walking Dead'

News of Andrew Lincoln exiting The Walking Dead in Season Nine has rocked the fan base but it could turn out to be a positive for the AMC zombie show.

Let's start with a preface, though: Andrew Lincoln and Rick Grimes have been the heart of The Walking Dead since its opening moments and nobody should want him to leave the show. This is simply trying to make lemonade.

Immediately, when an actor is exiting The Walking Dead, fans assume the character they portray will die. All of the speculation surrounding the new seasons points to Rick Grimes going out in a grand finale of sorts early in Season Nine, however, it might not be the case. In fact, a story published earlier on ComicBook.com prompts a few scenarios which surround Rick's survival and the other characters who could be involved with such a narrative.

Regardless of the circumstances, if Rick Grimes is to go missing from The Walking Dead and its continuing survivors, the show will take on an important narrative which it has never dealt with before. The remaining characters are burdened with finding their lost leader.

Rather than going to battle with The Whisperers immediately upon arrival as fans of the comics might be hoping for, an overarching story might be introduced simultaneously.

The Walking Dead taking on a search and rescue mission, with the stakes higher than ever before as it is the main protagonist Rick Grimes who is both missing and unable to help,

The first footing for this theory comes from the fact that the Season Nine key art features a helicopter, likely the same one which ate a few seconds of screen time in Season Eight and is connected to Pollyanna McIntosh's Anne character. Whether or not she survives or sticks around long enough to provide information regarding this helicopter, its pilot, or the community from which it hails is unknown. However, the notion of fighting the Whisperer War while simultaneously searching for clues regarding Rick's whereabouts could be a great and organic new storyline for the AMC show.

A brand new and completely fresh story is something The Walking Dead can use after spending a couple of years pitting the survivors against Negan.

Then again, this might be a highly optimistic outlook on Lincoln's exit from the AMC show after spending eight years being an ocean away from his family. If Lincoln's true desire is to spend more time with his family, though, some time to do so while The Walking Dead's narrative calls for production without him or his Rick Grimes would be a welcome way to have an open door for his eventual return.

Above all else, The Walking Dead is now being forced to develop its supporting characters like never before.

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The entire picture regarding Rick and Lincoln's futures as they pertain to The Walking Dead will become more clear at San Diego Comic Con later this month. How do you want to see Rick Grimes go out, if he is in fact leaving the AMC show? Leave your thoughts in the comment section.

The Walking Dead will return for its ninth season in the fall. Fear the Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 pm ET on AMC, returning for the second half of its fourth season on August 12th. For complete coverage and insider info all year long, follow @BrandonDavisBD on Twitter.