Andrew Lincoln Shares Heartfelt Comments About 'The Walking Dead' Exit

The Walking Dead star Andrew Lincoln has confirmed during a panel at San Diego Comic-Con that he [...]

The Walking Dead star Andrew Lincoln has confirmed during a panel at San Diego Comic-Con that he was leaving the show in Season Nine.

"There seems to be an elephant in the room, regarding whether or not this is my last year...This will be my last season playing the part of Rick Grimes," Lincoln confirmed. "I love this show, it means everything to me. I love the people that make this show. I am particularly fond of the people that watch this show. This has been the most extraordinary, amazing and beautiful experience of my career, made possibly largely by you guys. In this room and rooms across the world. And I just want to thank you....We're deeply proud of the work that we've done this season. I think that [new showrunner] Angela [Kang] is astonishing, leading with such class. What I wanted to say is my relationship with Mr. Grimes is far from over, and some part of me will always be machete-wielding sheriff's deputy from London, England. This will continue to be an ensemble show."

Lincoln, a British actor, joined the stateside series for its Georgia production in 2010. The first episode aired on Halloween that same year, launching a series which would become a true phenomenon as episodes would climb to more than 17 million viewers on a single Sunday night. Lincoln has been with the series since its first episode as Rick Grimes, the Sheriff who woke up in the hospital after being shot only to discover the zombie apocalypse had taken down the entire world. "All I am anymore is a man looking for his wife and his son," Rick said, defining himself early on.

"There's only me left in the top 10 [of the call sheet,]" Lincoln told ahead of the Season Eight finale. "Norman [Reedus] and Melissa [McBride] and Danai [Gurira] and [Lauren Cohan], 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."

Though Lincoln has expressed his excitement over the new showrunner heading into Season Nine, with Kang taking on the position, he also has told that he is ready to see an endpoint for his character which could be justified for the series.

"There's part of me that really wants to complete something," Lincoln said. "How long that takes? I don't know but certainly I really think the fans and my character deserves an end point as some time in the future."

The Walking Dead returns for its ninth season in the fall. For updates and insider info all year long, follow @BrandonDavisBD on Twitter.