For fans of Robert Kirkman's comic book series, The Walking Dead on AMC has been a source of both extreme joy and maddening frustration. The source material is a wellspring of horror and drama and, in many ways, the show has conveyed the emotion of Kirkman's ongoing saga exquisitely. On the other hand, the pacing is (at times) tedious and the series has drifted incredibly far from the source material. Even fans who only know the characters from The Walking Dead from AMC have found themselves divided ever since the deaths of Glenn and Abraham in the shocking opener of Season 7. Most recently, the death of Carl Grimes (played by Chandler Riggs) left viewers reeling; not only is the character alive and well in the comics, he was one of an increasingly small batch of characters who have been around since Day One-and that group is getting smaller.

Though it's been an open secret for weeks, it was finally confirmed this weekend at San Diego Comic-Con that Rick Grimes (played by Andrew Lincoln), the series mainstay and arguably the glue that holds everything together, will be leaving the show at some point during the upcoming 9th Season. It's a shocking turn of events that no one predicted, as Rick has been nothing short of integral to the series and the driving force of the entire story. Now, Lincoln's co-star and figurative lieutenant Norman Reedus, the actor who plays moody, still-waters-run-deep Daryl has broken his silence on his cohort's exit. Here's what he told Entertainment Weekly:

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"When he told me he was thinking about doing this, I get it. I have a son in New York, and I'm constantly bouncing back and forth all these nine years to go see him. And I get it. He's got two beautiful children, a beautiful wife. His whole family's awesome, and you can't be mad at him for going. It's very understandable, but I'm going to miss the hell out of him."

While it's assumed Reedus will become the series frontman after Andrew Lincoln's Walking Dead departure, it should be noted that his statement about it is about twice as long as the characters scripted dialog per episode. Indeed, Daryl emotes with his eyes much more often than his mouth, so it's difficult to imagine him easily filling the shoes of Rick, whose passionate eloquence has been a source of inspiration for those who follow him. While Maggie (played by Lauren Cohan) might seem a better choice for the focus of a Rick-less Walking Dead, it's already been announced that the actress/character will in fact have a diminished role in Season 9, appearing in only 6 of the next 10 episodes. While no one seems to have the heart to say it out loud yet: Maggie is most likely leaving the show for good soon too.

And to those hoping Rick will go the way of Lennie James' Morgan, who walked off into the sunset and into Fear the Walking Dead at the conclusion of Season 8, I say: Don't hold your breath! Morgan was a broken man, a tortured soul who lost his wife, son, and humanity during his team's struggle against The Saviors. While Rick has also experienced considerable losses (at times becoming a mere shell of his formerly-moral self), he still has one child left alive, not to mention a smoking hot girlfriend with a katana (Michonne, played by Danai Gurira). The idea that he'd go from respected leader to deadbeat dad in order to slay zombies in another location is just ridiculous. Get ready to be emotionally gutted when The Walking Dead returns to AMC in October, because Rick's a dead man walking. This news first appeared on Screen Rant.