Brace yourself for the biggest loss yet, Walking Dead fans.

According to Entertainment Weekly, Andrew Lincoln, the hit drama’s original leading man, is set to exit the series in the upcoming ninth season. (AMC has not commented; Collider was the first to report the news.)

Lincoln, 44, has starred as Rick Grimes since the series premiered eight seasons ago in 2010.

According to Collider, Lincoln’s final run will last only six episodes.

Andrew Lincoln in <em>The Walking Dead</em>

“I can’t wait to see this next episode,” Lincoln told Entertainment Weekly after the season 8 finale. “It’s really interesting. It’s very different in a good way. In an exciting way.”

“It’s more reminiscent of the pilot than any other season that we’ve embarked on, which makes me very happy,” he added. “It’s a good time for it. It’s a really exciting time for it. I feel like season 1. It’s a big year, and I’m excited for it.”

Lincoln’s impending departure comes amid a transitional period for the series. In addition to the exit of fellow TWD original Chandler Riggs and, possibly, Lauren Cohan, Angela Kang is taking over the reigns from longtime showrunner Scott M. Gimple.

The Walking Dead returns to AMC in October.

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