It’s official – Andrew Lincoln is leaving The Walking Dead.

The news was finally confirmed San Diego Comic-Con, despite the fact that it was widely reported in the media more than a month ago.

And the Rick Grimes star admitted that he wishes his shock exit had remained a secret, telling Entertainment Weekly: “There is a certain sense of relief this morning,” he said of the news being made official.

“But I still regret that the story broke, because I believe in story and I think it would have been… It’s going to be a great season, but it would have been greater if it was not spoiled to a degree.”

Lincoln also hinted that his exit might have already been filmed, suggesting an early exit for Rick since season nine is expected to shoot through late 2018.

The new season is set to premiere on October 7 on AMC in the US and shortly afterwards on FOX and NOW TV in the UK.

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