For the better part of a decade, Rick led an ever-changing band of survivors through the trials and tribulations of the zombie (or "walker") apocalypse. He's been one of the most constant variables throughout the show, grounding viewers in the anguish, pain, and sometimes celebration of the human condition under such dire circumstances.
We'll definitely be sad to see Lincoln leave after the upcoming season, but our sadness is nothing compared to that of his fellow Walking Dead co-stars. To mark Rick's departure, Entertainment Weekly asked the show's principal cast members to write down their feelings about working with Andrew. What resulted are 24 heartfelt farewells to the leader of the human resistance.
We won't post all of the notes, for obvious reasons, but here are a few of our favorites...
"I always considered Andy my 'TV dad.' He was always someone that I looked up to with the utmost respect because of how dedicated he was to his role. Every single day he showed up knowing every word of the script — everyone else’s lines, the stage direction, everything. There were times on the show that I felt unmotivated or exhausted, but then I looked to Andy and saw how much work he put into his role and became inspired to push forward." -Chandler Riggs (Carl Grimes)
"Andy’s really the only guy I’ve ever worked with who has that amount of dedication and that amount of commitment, but remains completely open and completely available for anybody. I think when it comes down to it, it’s just an ultimate love for the project, a love for the work, and a love for the community of people that make the work." -Jon Bernthal (Shane Walsh)
"Andy took a responsibility for The Walking Dead like no other actor I have ever come across or heard about. He only ever wanted what was best for the show and transferred that desire to his fellow actors, the writers, the producers and the crew. And he did it by demanding nothing more of them than he did from himself. He led from the front and led by example." -Lennie James (Morgan Jones)
"He’s the first person there, and he’s the last person left. And he wants to talk about it, which is exhausting at times. But he wants to break it down, he wants to put it back together. He wants to talk about your parts, my parts, everyone’s parts. Watching how much time Andy puts into his job inspires other actors on the show to put the same amount of time in." -Norman Reedus (Daryl Dixon)
"For me, he was an anchor, as a leader must be, but he was also someone who never failed to effortlessly earn my deepest respect. I spent many a long, long work day in sweltering hot Georgia with Andy, and watched how this man never tired, never stopped giving more than 100 percent, and kept everyone around him motivated and excited to be there. And never, ever did he lose his manners." -Danai Gurira (Michonne)
"He’s the top. He is the patriarch of The Walking Dead family and he leads with his heart, passion, excitement, and love… as well as some really bad singing. (Usually right before the camera rolls.) There is no replacing him. Nor will we try." -Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Negan)