Andrew Lincoln’s Rick Grimes Is off ‘The Walking Dead’ for Good

Andrew Lincoln will not be returning to The Walking Dead as Rick Grimes, reiterated Scott Gimple, chief content officer for the Walking Dead brand.

Gimple confirmed on Talking Dead Lincoln’s exit is “the end of Rick Grimes on The Walking Dead.”

“This is not going to be the end of Rick Grimes’ story,” he said, adding that story will continue in AMC original films and that “there’s a lot of story to tell.”

As revealed by Lincoln’s last episode of the flagship series Sunday, Rick will live on following his rescue by Anne (Pollyanna McIntosh), who collected a severely wounded Rick and flew away with him aboard a helicopter connected to a clandestine community.

That story will unfold in the first installment of a trilogy of television movies to premiere on AMC, which will see Lincoln reprise his role of Rick Grimes.

“It is really important for the audience to know that we are going to be continuing to tell the story of Rick Grimes in these AMC Studios original films. We don’t want this thing to be like, ‘Oh, well, he’ll be back on the show any moment now,’” Gimple told EW.

“We are telling Rick’s story in another medium, and it’s going to be these AMC Studios original films. They’re going to be on AMC, most probably. They’re centered around Rick Grimes. We’re going to tell the story of what happens after that helicopter flight, and these are going to be big, epic entertainments.”

Gimple confirmed Anne, formerly Jadis, will be moving over to the movie franchise.

While Lincoln is not yet through with the world of The Walking Dead, he has ended his time with the mothership series. The show Lincoln headlined for the past eight years will now focus on the continuing survival of Michonne (Danai Gurira), Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), and a nine-year-old Judith Grimes (Cailey Fleming).

Sunday’s revelation Rick Grimes made it out of The Walking Dead alive comes after showrunner Angela Kang noted Lincoln’s stepping away from the series would be permanent, telling the BBC, “He is definitely out of the show this season. The intention is, this is his exit from the show.”

Because Lincoln ended his run with the show to rejoin his family who live overseas, the three television movies could be filmed in or near Lincoln’s native England. Production on that franchise is eyeing a 2019 production start.

The trilogy won’t be filmed in Georgia, where the television series has filmed for its entire history, “only because we need everybody making The Walking Dead,” Gimple told EW.

Walking Dead has a lot of big stuff going on, and we’re going to be continuing to make that show. Also, he’s flying off in a helicopter, away from Virginia, and it’s going to be a new world — a very new situation with its own history, and very, very different from what we’ve seen before.”

Lincoln hinted at Rick’s survival as far back as July, telling ComicBook.com, “My relationship with this part is far from over.” Lincoln dropped the cryptic hint after publicly confirming his exit from the series for the first time during San Diego Comic-Con.

Lincoln’s desire to wrap up Rick’s time on the show conflicted with his desire to continue to tell Rick’s story, only wanting to leave the show because “kids become less portable as they get older,” Lincoln told THR.

“And yet there was a part of me that thought, ‘I don’t think I'm done with the guy.’ I love this character; I love the world that we inhabit. So why don’t we try to potentially continue this story in a different way and maybe complete his story so the mothership can continue.”

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In addition to the three-movie series planned for Lincoln’s continued tenure in the role, Gimple will oversee for AMC the development of additional films, specials, series, and other digital content to further broaden the Walking Dead world.

The Walking Dead Season Nine continues to debut new episodes Sundays at 9/8c on AMC. The network has yet to stake a premiere date for Lincoln’s first Walking Dead movie.