There could be more trouble ahead for The Walking Dead, as a new survey suggests a potential mass exit of fans if Andrew Lincoln's Rick Grimes dies during Season 9. It's already been reported that Lincoln will only appear in six episodes of the next season before being phased out, but depending on how he leaves, Rick could be taking a large number of viewers with him
From 2010's pilot episode, Lincoln has been the de facto lead of The Walking Dead. Although Rick continues to be a major part of Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard's ongoing comic series, rumors suggest that Norman Reedus has been offered up to $20 million to take over as the show's main character.
A huge shake-up is promised when new showrunner Angela Kang joins in Season 9, but a Reddit survey suggests a significant number of fans may not stick around to see if she can successfully reinvent The Walking Dead. According to the fan survey, 44% of the 900 people who participated said they will be jumping ship alongside Lincoln. 37% were undecided, and only 18% promised that they will keep watching. Even more shocking is the fact that a whopping 72% of those who took part think that The Walking Dead should end with Season 9.
Admittedly, 900 people on a message board devoted to the series is a relatively small cross-section of those who still watch the show. However, it makes for pretty grim reading nonetheless. Fans of The Walking Dead are some of the most loyal out there, once coining the phrase, "If Daryl dies we riot." Thankfully, Reedus doesn't seem to be going anywhere as the long-haired fan-favorite, but the survey puts into perspective how many viewers are annoyed by Rick's impending swan song.
The Walking Dead faced controversy in Season 8 when AMC's zombie apocalypse saw a dramatic tumble in ratings. With the lowest ratings since back in season 1, the "All Out War" arc of the comics failed to transpire as well as the network hoped on TV. Despite this decline, The Walking Dead remains one of the most-viewed shows on television, averaging 7.82 million viewers each week in Season 8.
Some fans believe the show will never recover from its ratings slump, and losing big names like Lincoln and Lauren Cohan is only hammering more nails into the coffin. There have already been petitions for AMC, the writers and Lincoln to reverse the decision, but each day makes it more and more apparent that Rick Grimes isn't long for this undead world.
The Walking Dead stars Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon, Lauren Cohan as Maggie Rhee, Danai Gurira as Michonne, Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier, Lennie James as Morgan Jones, Alanna Masterson as Tara Chambler, Josh McDermitt as Eugene Porter, Christian Serratos as Rosita Espinosa, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan.