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Courtesy of AMC

The Walking Dead’s Andrew Lincoln already told us how he wants Rick to die, back in 2014

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Jul 5, 2018, 12:43 PM EDT

As fans anxiously await Rick Grimes' fate when Season 9 of The Walking Dead returns this fall, it's worth revisiting what longtime leading man, Andrew Lincoln, imagined his character's final moments should be if that day ever arrived.

With Lincoln's departure from AMC's hit zombie drama said to be a fait accompli, the Dead-verse has been mulling all sorts of exits for Rick - some grisly, some not - especially after the tragic death of his son, Carl. One buzzed-about rumor online, in fact, suggested the end is nigh in the fifth episode of the upcoming season after which Norman Readus' Daryl Dixon takes over number one on the show's call sheet.

Of course, it didn't take long before the official Twitter account of The Walking Dead blasted out a statement saying "Don't believe everything you hear," effectively downplaying such speculation.

So what does Lincoln have to say about it? Well, while the 44-year-old star has been mum on Rick's current trajectory, way back in 2014, he did lay out the ideal death he'd like to see for his alter-ego, whether he finds a better world or not.

"I’ve always said, I don’t care how it goes, but maybe a kid should take me out," Lincoln told EW. "It’s funny, because I was in the car yesterday, and I texted [showrunner] Scott Gimple and I said, 'Promise me, when I die, on the credits sequence, you play Johnny Cash’s version of ‘Hurt.’'” And he just said, 'I can’t make that promise obviously.' So when I die, please print it in your magazine so that the fans will know to play it, even if we can’t. Even if Scott Gimple decides not to, please everybody play 'Hurt.'"

Well, a haunting Johnny Cash cover of the Nine Inch Nails classic certainly sounds like a fitting end to Rick's journey. Especially give the post-apocalyptic hell and Walker hordes he and his ragtag group of survivors have endured since the hit cable series vaulted into the public consciousness eight years ago and became a phenomenon.

And while The Walking Dead has seen a slide in the ratings of late, however Rick dies (if he does?), at least one key figure from his past will figure prominently in the storyline. Jon Bernthal, who played Shane Walsh, Rick's former partner-turned-antagonist in the first two seasons, is reportedly coming back for one episode next season.

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