It’s the end of an era.

The Walking Dead Season 9 will debut on Sunday, October 7 on AMC, it was revealed at San Diego Comic-Con, and the new footage shown at the panel reveals big changes ahead for the juggernaut zombie series – but no change is bigger than the exit of Rick Grimes.

Star Andrew Lincoln confirmed rumors that he will be leaving The Walking Dead, getting visibly emotional while revealing the news.

“This will be my last season playing the part of Rick Grimes,” Lincoln confirmed. “I love this show, it means everything to me, I love the people who make this show – I promise not to cry… I am particularly fond of the people who watch the show, and this has been the most extraordinary amazing experience of my career and largely because of you guys and the relationship we have here and also in rooms across America and across the world.”

He added, “We’re deeply, deeply proud of the work we’ve done this season, Angela [Kang, the new showrunner] is astonishing and leading with such class… it’s enabling us to really breathe and deepen the relationships on screen. I suppose what I wanted to say is, my relationship with Mr. Grimes is far from over… There are two episodes that are my favorite episodes since the pilot. The rest of the cast is doing the greatest work I’ve ever seen. No one is bigger than the story, and the story is beyond incredible.”

More to come…

San Diego Comic-Con runs from July 19-22, and IGN will be on location to provide you with live coverage from the event. Check out our guide on how to watch Comic-Con 2018 live on IGN, and be sure to bookmark IGN’s SDDC hub page, where you’ll be able to keep up with all the big trailer reveals, panel reactions, and more.

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