Rick Grimes Gets a “Good Exit” in ‘The Walking Dead’ Season 9

The Walking Dead’s Rick Grimes gets a “good exit” that propels the story in an exciting new direction, Negan star Jeffrey Dean Morgan teased.

“I think that it’s a good exit,” Morgan told Access. “Look, it’s a hard deal, Rick leaving the world of The Walking Dead. So I think his exit... is an okay exit, all things considered. It’s befitting of Rick Grimes.”

When it comes to losing actor Andrew Lincoln, “I hate it,” Morgan said. “Andy told a couple of us, probably a year ago, that this was going to be it. And I really, in our off season last year, I kept thinking, ‘He’ll change his mind. He’ll miss it and want to be back and he’ll not leave us.’”

Lincoln ends his eight-year run as the character this season because of a need to spend more time with his growing family. Morgan, himself a father of two young children, said, “I get it, 100%.”

Morgan, whose Negan has served as the archenemy of Lincoln’s Rick, will miss antagonizing the Alexandria leader.

“That being said, one of the reasons I joined the show was so that I could work with Andy Lincoln. And really, he was — out of this whole cast — the guy that I worked with most,” Morgan said. “So I took it hard, I know the whole cast took it hard, we miss him. It’s his show, and we miss him, and that’s just the way it is.”

Looking on the positive side, Morgan did note that Rick leaving “has propelled our story in a way that it could never have gone before.”

“I think the fans are going to be super excited to see the direction the show’s going this year,” he added. “It’s a very good year.”

Speaking to Access separately, Lincoln said he had to step away to be more present in his children’s lives — and expressed his excitement in later returning to the series infrequently as a director.

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“I mean, there’s only so many sports days you can miss and really call yourself a father, so I think it was time for me to get back for some important days and just be around and have some continuity back home,” he said.

Lincoln’s co-stars and crew mates dropped cryptic hints over the manner in which Rick exits the show, calling his ending “cool” and “trippy.”