While speaking with The Hollywood Reporter about the future of the zombie-infested franchise, The Walking Dead boss Scott Gimple confirmed there were plans for the character to be written off in Season 8.
"There were many iterations [of Rick's endgame]. A lot of it was down to the good people at AMC, who just said no and they thought it would be an interesting and exciting proposition to expand rather than contract the show," Gimple said. "Realistically, this decision was all about time.
"For me to want to do a limited number of episodes [of The Walking Dead] a year wouldn't feel like I was doing my job properly because playing this part has been so all-encompassing. I think I would get frustrated with that. So the idea of being able to contain the story and still work just as hard and tell a different story in maybe a more expansive narrative way seemed very exciting to me."
But fans should take solace as this is not the end of Rick Grimes' story, as many people have feared. AMC has already announced that Gimple is hard at work on the first movie in The Walking Dead universe, and it will focus on Rick's journey after he is saved by Jadis and the helicopter.
Even more, Lincoln is supposed to reprise his role as Rick in a trilogy of films that are all supposed to air on AMC in the future.
“We have a lot on the horizon – starting with a new epic featuring one of the greatest leading actors in television history and one of the best people I’ve ever met,” Gimple said in a statement. “These films are going to be big evolutions of what we’ve been doing on the show, with the scope and scale of features. We’re starting with the first part of the continuing story of Rick Grimes, and there is much more on the way, featuring yet-unseen worlds of The Walking Dead and faces from the show’s past, as well as new characters we hope to become favorites, told by TWD veterans and emerging voices. We want to break new ground with different, distinct stories, all part of the same world that’s captured our imagination for nearly a decade of the Dead.”
The Walking Dead airs Sundays on AMC.