"Well, nine years I was thinking about it because that's where we live," Lincoln said during a press conference at San Diego Comic Con. "I suppose it was a lot to do with a conversation Scott [Gimple] and I had a few years ago, maybe in season four about the shape and finding some way to complete something that was never going to be completed."
Lincoln previously expressed a feeling of completion when describing the Season Eight finale, which saw his character resolve most of the show's loose ends in the aftermath of Carl's death. However, he knew the show must go on from there.
"And then not, obviously, disturbing the mothership," Lincoln said. "There was a sort of sense that the story has been a man waking up and you experience this world through this one man's eyes and it opens up into the extended family. Now, what's exciting, I think for me, is the fact that the narrative is being freed up. And it's already been freed up from the beginning of this season. You'll see the trailer. It's a different tone. It feels like the show that I always felt we would head toward when we wrapped the pilot. And so yeah, even sure it was something that I started to think about as my children got older and less portable."
During The Walking Dead's panel in Hall H at San Diego Comic Con, Lincoln first made the news of his departure official.
"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."
Fear the Walking Dead returns for the back half of its fourth season on August 12th at 9 pm ET on AMC. The Walking Dead returns for its ninth season on October 7, 2018. For more updates and insider info all year long, follow @BrandonDavisBD on Twitter!