Back in January 2018, The Walking Dead was renewed for 9th season, with the showrunner helm passed to former co-executive producer, Angela Kang. However, as the new season slowly approaches, it would seem that changes to the cast are also imminent.

According to a report by Collider, the series’ lead actor, Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes), will be exiting The Walking Dead by Season Nine. Lincoln has signed on to appear in only six of the eight half-season episodes before finally closing his chapter of the series for good. Taking over the lead spot will be Norman Reedus (Daryl Dixon), who has reportedly been given a substantial pay raise for the new role.

On the other hand, Lauren Cohan, who plays Maggie Greene since Season 2, held out on signing on for the latest season until a better offer came. During the lull and contract negotiations, Cohan signed on to shoot series pilots, which included ABC’s action-dramedy, Whiskey Cavalier. AMC acquiesced and gave Cohan a substantial pay raise, but will only appear for the first six episodes of season nine same as Lincoln. It is still unclear if Cohan will continue for the latter half of the season, due to Whiskey Cavalier being ordered a full series run on ABC. Should she extend her stay in The Walking Dead, AMC and ABC would have to negotiate shooting schedules.

Andrew Lincoln is the last of the Season 1 main cast to exit the series, although Reedus and Melissa McBride had recurring roles in the same season before being promoted to regulars by the 2nd season. How the series will continue without Rick Grimes is still up in the air.

The Walking Dead was based off Image’s comicbook of the same title, created by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore. The TV series has made many deviations from the comicbook’s story, most recent of which was the death of Rick Grimes’s son, Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs).