The Walking Dead season 9: Andrew Lincoln's Rick Grimes is leaving sooner than expected

Jacob Stolworthy

The synopses for the next five episodes of The Walking Dead have been released – and it seems Andrew Lincoln is leaving the show sooner than expected.

Which episode exactly will mark the departure of Rick Grimes remains to be seen, but AMC’s decision to release a synopsis for every episode bar the ninth season’s sixth outing hints that it could arrive as early as three weeks.

The synopsis for episode 9x05 – titled “What Comes After” – reads: “Rick is forced to face the past as he struggles to maintain the safety of the communities and protect the future he and Carl envisioned.”

It seems the events of Rick’s expected departure episode will change everything. The synopsis for the season’s seventh episode reads: “Carol seeks out an old friend living alone in a wilderness teeming with walkers; survivors make the perilous trek to a new home.”

The mid-season finale’s synopsis reads: “A small rescue mission braves a dangerous herd in their hunt for a missing comrade, only to discover a surprising threat that could doom them all.” The episode is titled “Evolution.”

Critics are hailing the current season of The Walking Dead as its best in years. Lincoln’s departure paves the way for Daryl star Norman Reedus to take over as the show’s lead making him one of the highest-paid actors on television.

The Walking Dead continues in the US on AMC every Sunday with the simulcast airing in the UK at 2am. The episode is also available to watch on NOW TV ahead of its repeat on FOX at 9pm the following evening