It’s official, “TWD” fans, Rick Grimes will be no more after episode 6 of the upcoming season 9 of “The Walking Dead.” Andrew Lincoln, who plays the role, confirmed the bad news at Comic-Con, shortly after the first trailer for season 9 was aired.

It has been rumoured for some time that Lincoln was leaving and fans are worried that the zombie horror show cannot continue without him. With falling ratings, that may truly be the case.

‘TWD’ without Rick Grimes

Collider reported in May that Andrew Lincoln was leaving the series after a nine-year stint at Rick Grimes.

Now he will only appear in the first six episodes of season 9, which premieres in October this year. The trailer, included below and released on 21 July, certainly does hint at his demise.

Reportedly Grimes’ departure from the show is to make fan-favourite Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) the future main character in “The Walking Dead.”

As reported by Rolling Stone, Lincoln spoke to fans at “TWD’s” Comic-Con panel, where he confirmed the sad news to many devastated fans. He said it would be his last season as Rick Grimes and when they groaned, he asked them to hear him out. He said he loves the show and that it means everything to him. Lincoln said he loves the people who make up the show. He then went on to promise he wouldn’t cry, as he has done enough crying on screen in the series.

Andrew Lincoln directly addressed fans

Lincoln went on to say he is particularly fond of fans who watch the series. He said it has been the most extraordinary, beautiful and amazing experience of his acting career, and that it was mainly due to "TWD" fans and the relationship they have with him.

Robert Kirkman, who created the comic book source material for the AMC series, was asked about the exit of Rick Grimes as while ago.

Variety reported him as saying it looks like Rick will leave and that it does enhance the difference between the comic material and the TV show. However, he added that at the end of the day, it is about Lincoln himself. He said he is a human being and someone he has known for nearly a decade. Kirkman went on to say that he loves him and that Lincoln has been sweating in the Georgia heat away from his family for a long time.

Rolling Stone reports that Lincoln wants to do something special as he leaves "The Walking Dead" and Kirkman said they have something amazing planned.

Can ‘The Walking Dead’ continue without Rick?

As reported by the Independent, Lincoln’s departure from the show could prove troublesome, especially as there has already been a drop in ratings and so-so reviews during the last few seasons. Fans were devastated during the last season when Chandler Riggs’ character, Carl – Rick’s son – left the show. This was followed by another popular star, Lennie James, doing a crossover to “Fear the Walking Dead.”

The only original characters that will remain will be Daryl Dixon (Reedus) and Carol (Melissa McBride).

Carol, and particularly Daryl, have been fan favourites for many years. Reedus has now been offered a generous pay increase as he will now become the hero of “The Walking Dead” and reportedly among the highest-paid TV actors.

Lauren Cohan, who plays Maggie Rhee, will apparently only be in the occasional episode as she has landed the lead role in a new ABC comedy series, “Whiskey Cavalier.”

With or without Rick, “The Walking Dead” season 9 premieres on AMC on 7 October and will be on FOX in the UK the following evening. Enjoy the trailer for “TWD” included below.