Andrew Lincoln Confirms Departure From The Walking Dead

"This has been the most extraordinary, amazing and beautiful experience of my career."

Andrew Lincoln has confirmed whispers that he's set to leave The Walking Dead while appearing on a panel at San Diego Comic-Con on Friday.

In an emotional speech to fans, Lincoln revealed that he would be stepping away from the hugely popular zombie drama and from his role as the show's central character, Rick Grimes.

"This will be my last season playing the part of Rick Grimes," Lincoln told the crowd.

As the audience reacted to the bombshell, Lincoln pleaded for their attention, saying, "Now hear me out, please. Please."

"I love this show. It means everything to me. I love the people who make this show," he said. "I promise not to cry. I've done enough crying on screen."

 

"I'm particularly fond of the people who watch the show -- you people," he added.

"This has been the most extraordinary, amazing and beautiful experience of my career and made largely because of you guys and the relationship we have, here, with you."

After 10 years on the series, the actor revealed his reasons behind parting with the iconic show, stating he wished to spend more time with his family.

"These guys here and everybody back in Atlanta are the greatest surrogate family I could wish for, but I do have a real family, and it’s time for me to go home,” Lincoln said.

“It’s been so much a part of my life. I’ve breathed it for 10 years. There are a couple of things that I’m thinking about doing, but I’m so in love with Rick Grimes and the people in this show that I don’t if I can put him down yet. But the short answer is: I’m going to bed.”

Stars of"The Walking Dead" panel embrace after Lincoln's emotional farewell during Comic-Con. Getty Images.

Norman Reedus then asked the crowd to join him in a standing ovation for Lincoln, with Lincoln then assuring fans that their hero would always be part of him.

“My relationship with Mr Grimes is far from over, and a large part of me will always be a machete-wielding, Stetson-wearing zombie-slaying sheriff’s deputy from London, England.”

You can check out the trailer for season nine of The Walking Dead below.

Feature image: Getty