Is Andrew Lincoln Considering Leaving 'The Walking Dead'?

Eight years into The Walking Dead, its lead actor's tune may be one with the light at the end of the tunnel in mind.

Andrew Lincoln, an actor who often speaks of the AMC zombie drama with a slew of enthusiasm and excitement for its seemingly never-ending narrative suddenly appears to have an end in mind -- at least for his character. Lincoln is including words like "end game" and "change at some point" in his interviews.

"There’s only so many ways you can bend and stretch this and that,” Lincoln told Entertainment Weekly ahead of Season Eight's premiere. “I’m not saying that the show would ever finish, but I certainly think that there’s an opportunity for the show to change at some point, and I think it should.”

While those remarks came prior to The Walking Dead's Season Eight's launch and possibly before the actor was aware of Chandler Riggs' apparently sudden exit from the series, a more recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter sees the actor outright mention interest in a conclusion. "I've said to you before and I really feel that the fans — and also for my own satisfaction — that there deserves to be an end point," Lincoln said. "There needs to be an end game and that is something that is definitely being talked about. I can't get into all of that. But all of that will be answered. As I've said to you before — and I will continue to say — my relationship with Rick Grimes is far from over."

Now, with the world aware of Carl's demise and the major change it is inevitably going to prompt in Lincoln's Rick Grimes, the actor was asked by EW if he believes the show should start taking bold chances. “I think, well, why not?” Lincoln said. “Loosening and untethering us from a lot of the story in the comic is one really interesting way of moving the story forward, and perhaps we can look at a bigger story outside of the one that we’ve been focusing on for eight years — which could be incredibly satisfying for Rick’s journey, and the characters that are around Rick, but also for the audience.”

A bigger story "outside" of Rick's? A story which is "satisfying for Rick's journey"? It sounds like Lincoln is preparing te audience for the fulfillment of Robert Kirkman's promise to kill Rick Grimes (though he is probably talking about the comic books, seeing as the show has so significantly deviated from his writing).

With former Walking Dead showrunner Scott Gimple moving to a Chief Content Officer position, a role described as overseeing the entire Dead universe and its expansion, the plans seem to be in place to expand far beyond Rick's story. This may be an indication of Lincoln's comments being an indication of the brand and its fictional world's growth, rather than Lincoln's desire to step away from the top-rated show on cable.

Heading into Season Nine, Lincoln will be on a fresh contract. Contracts, however, mean little in the writer's room of a show built on a "no one is safe" mantra. Though Rick is the leader and main protagonist of The Walking Dead, the show has proven it is not afraid to move away from its original cast members as the future becomes the present.

"There's only me left in the top 10 [of the call sheet," Lincoln told ComicBook.com. "Norman and Melissa and Danai and LC, they're all in the twenties...This job is, as I said before, glorious and unique. I wouldn't trade it for the world. The stinger is the fact that I seem to be the guy left on the pier waving people away. That's powerful."

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Is Andrew Lincoln preparing to leave the series? It's a guessing game at this point. However, fans should prepare themselves for a Walking Dead without his Rick Grimes, as the day will inevitably come.

he Walking Dead returns for the second half of its eighth season on February 25, 2018. For complete coverage and insider info all year long, follow @BrandonDavisBD on Twitter.