Following the bombshell news that Andrew Lincoln is leaving The Walking Dead after Season 9, a new report claims his longtime co-star Norman Reedus is going to cash in on his friend's exit in a very big way. Reedus, who has been part of the show since Season 1, is eyeing a new deal that will make him the main star of the show, which could potentially be worth upwards of $20 million. Reedus has already started filming The Walking Dead Season 9 in Atlanta as he negotiates his new deal.
The deals for both Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus expired in Season 8, with both actors eventually signing one-year deals for Season 9. AMC was slow to announce a Season 9 renewal though, with the network hammering out a new deal for former showrunner Scott M. Gimple, who is now overseeing the entire Walking Dead universe for AMC, with Angela Kang being promoted to showrunner for Season 9. When Lincoln leaves the show, there will be only two actors left who have been with the show from Season 1, Norman Reedus, who plays the beloved crossbow-wielding Daryl Dixon, and Melissa McBride, who plays Carol Peletier.
Another beloved series regular, Lauren Cohan's Maggie Rhee, will also be phased out of the show in Season 9, with the actress slated to film only six of the show's 16 Season 9 episodes this year. Cohan landed the lead role in the ABC pilot Whiskey Cavalier, which the network has picked up to series for a midseason debut. Cohan had been trying to renegotiate her deal with AMC to shorten the pay gap between her and co-stars Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus. AMC reportedly only offered her a modest raise in exchange for a long-term contract that locked her in for several more seasons, but she turned it down and now her time on the show is coming to a close.
There is still no word yet about how Andrew Lincoln's Rick Grimes or Lauren Cohan's Maggie Rhee will be written off the show, if they will be killed and turned into zombies or if they'll find another way to keep them alive for any sort of possible guest star return. Lincoln's Rick Grimes is still the primary focal point of Robert Kirkman's Walking Dead comics, but then again, so is Rick's son Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs), whose Season 8 death sent shockwaves through the show's fan base, while his character remains alive in the comics.
The Walking Dead has often altered characters and plot points to fit the show's needs, which would make Norman Reedus' possible ascension to the top of the show's call sheet quite ironic. Norman Reedus revealed in a 2015 interview that he actually first read for the role of Merle Dixon, even though he had heard Michael Rooker had already landed that role, but he was later told by series creator Frank Darabont that he had created a new role specifically for him, Daryl Dixon, Merle's brother, who was not in the comic books. With Rick leaving the show at some point in Season 9, it's ironic that the show will supposedly now be lead by an actor playing a character who doesn't have roots in the comic book the show is based on. The Hollywood Reporter broke the news on Norman Reedus' potential new deal on The Walking Dead.