Can The Walking Dead Survive Andrew Lincoln’s Exit?

Numerous sites are reporting that Season 9 will be Andrew Lincoln‘s last as Rick Grimes on AMC’s The Walking Dead. In fact, he’s already easing out of the series by only appearing in six of the 16 upcoming episodes.

Considering there was a significant backlash following Chandler Riggs character, Carl, being killed off in Season 8 this is not going to improve fan relations – even if leaving is at Lincoln’s request, unlike Riggs.

Further compounding things is Lauren Cohan signing on with ABC’s new show, Whiskey Cavalier. After tense contract negotiations for Season 9 of The Walking Dead, in which she asked for pay commensurate with that of Lincoln and Norman Reedus, she finally signed a deal that will bring her back for six of the first eight episodes. Beyond that, Lauren and Maggie’s fate on the show is unknown.

Having two original cast members leave, followed most likely by a third who’s been there since Season 2, is it possible for the show to survive to see Season 10? AMC certainly hopes so as it just offered Norman Reedus $20 million to step in as the new leading man.

With Lincoln’s limited schedule, expect to see a slow pivot when the show returns sometime in October as it shifts the focus from Rick to Daryl. While there’s no reason for fans to riot, knowing Daryl’s fate is safe as the de facto leader, can fans get behind a switch that would go completely off-page from the original source? After all, Daryl doesn’t exist in the comic.

What do you think, can TWD survive and thrive with Daryl at the helm or is it time to give this show a head-shot like the zombies they encounter? Vote in the poll below.

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