"This is how I want Rick to die, this is how I want to do it," Lincoln said during PaleyFest LA in March 2017 ahead of the Season Seven finale.
"So we're going through a desert somewhere, and I jump off the bus — I'm telling it, I'm saying it. He likes it," Lincoln said, pushing forward despite the protest of director-producer Greg Nicotero. "I said it in Madrid and he said, 'Don't tell anybody, 'cause it's good.'"
Rick would "in a very heroic act" jump off a bus, shout for son Carl (Chandler Riggs), "and maybe that's the last thing I say," Lincoln said.
"I jump off, and I'm like kung fu-kicking [walkers] — you know, earn my action figure, right — halfway through, I get bit. Doesn't matter, 'Keep going! Carl!' They've gone, tracks through the desert. High shot, beautiful, high shot."
"And I'm dying, on my own. On my own, just waiting to die. And then I wait, and I patch up — and then a day passes," Lincoln said, drawing giggles from co-stars Melissa McBride and Sonequa Martin-Green. "I patch myself up, I'm a survivalist! Anyway, I patch myself up... I don't die."
"The final shot is, 'Holy shit, maybe I'm the cure,'" Lincoln said. "Final shot of the whole thing, high shot, herd of zombies coming. Rick gets up, follows the tracks to go see Carl... high shot, walking, the herd comes towards him... and they separate. And he walks through. Boom!"
Carl has since been killed off the series, a development co-star Tom Payne believes acted as a major factor in Lincoln's decision to leave.
Lincoln stepped away from the series to spend more time with his young family, who live overseas. He has since returned to its set to shadow a director and will make his first behind-the-camera effort on the series in its tenth season.
Because the Rick Grimes star originally intended to depart the series in Season Eight, executive producer and then-showrunner Scott Gimple put into motion a seasons-long plan allowing Lincoln to make his exit.
"It was a possibility that we talked about. There were things that you build things into the story, maybe it''ll go this direction, maybe it'll go that direction," Gimple said at The Walking Dead's New York Comic Con panel Saturday.
"Things started moving in that way and we followed the story threads that were laid out. We were able to fulfill it this season. There was a plan. There were little turns here and there but it generally stayed with the plan."
That plan will continue to play out in Season Nine.
Lincoln, when speaking of his final episode with ET, teased his last episode will be bloody.0comments
"I think it was about day two of filming and I asked Greg Nicotero, who was shooting the episode, 'How many pints of blood does a human actually hold? Because I'm not sure I'm going to make it through the credit sequence,'" Lincoln said.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.