The Walking Dead season 9 is going to represent a monumental shift for the hit AMC series. It recently came to light that Andrew Lincoln, who has anchored the series since the very first episode, will be leaving the show next season. That news, not surprisingly, dominated the headlines and the conversation during the last week. However, what was sort of lost in the shuffle is the news that Lauren Cohan will also exit the show following season 9.

This news, in some ways, is less surprising but no less important. Lauren Cohan, who has been a mainstay fixture of the cast since debuting during season 2, was in contract negotiations with AMC for the upcoming season. During the course of those negotiations, Cohan booked the ABC pilot Whiskey Cavalier. Since that show has been picked up to series, there was almost no way that Cohan could juggle both shows. As such, it's being reported that the actress will film just six episodes of The Walking Dead season 9 and will bow out.

At one point, it appeared as though Lauren Cohan had worked things out with AMC when news broke that she had been given a new contract. That may have been true to some degree, but that contract is going to be for just six episodes. In any case, The Walking Dead is losing two of its biggest stars next season and is going to have to shift its focus dramatically moving forward. The series has suffered ratings declines over the past couple of seasons and change is needed. But will losing both Cohan and Andrew Lincoln be helpful or harmful? That's the big question.

Related: The Walking Dead Spin-Off Trailer Arrives from New York Comic Con

Norman Reedus, who plays fan-favorite Daryl Dixon on the show, is now going to be the heir apparent. It doesn't appear as though he's looking to leave, at least not any time soon, and AMC is willing to pay him big bucks in order to anchor the show moving forward. Reportedly, he's going to receive a contract worth north of $20 million to become the new lead following Andrew Lincoln's departure. That's an awful lot of money, but AMC can't afford to have Reedus leave as well if they want to keep the show on the tracks.

The Walking Dead season 9 is currently filming and it looks as though there is going to be a bit of a time jump when the show returns this fall. There are still a great many unanswered questions now that we know two major stars are leaving and we can bet some of those questions will be answered during the show's panel at San Diego Comic-Con this summer. This could either be the beginning of the end for the show or the radical change that is needed to win fans back over. This news comes to us courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter.

Ryan Scott