'The Walking Dead' has been going through some major changes as of late. The AMC series, based on Robert Kirkman's comic book series of the same name, has killed off some major characters, including Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) in the last season. The biggest shock however came after season 8 came to an end, when it was revealed Andrew Lincoln would be bowing out of the series and retiring the role of Rick Grimes.

Andrew Lincoln is set to say goodbye to 'The Walking Dead'Andrew Lincoln is set to say goodbye to 'The Walking Dead'

No official announcement ever came, but the news was regarded as being official after being spoken about by those who worked on the show, on social media and the like. Now though, Lincoln has broken his silence on the decision to quit.

Speaking during the panel for the show in Hall H at San Diego Comic-Con, Lincoln started: "There seems to be an elephant in the room... This will be my last season playing the part of Rick Grimes... I promise not to cry."

As the room reacted in sadness to Lincoln's confirmation, the actor continued: "I love this show. It means everything to me. I love the people who make this show. I'm particularly fond of the people who watch this show. I'm really, really excited about this season. No one is bigger than the story, and the story this year is unbelievable."

At the end of the panel after being thanked by a fan for dedicating a decade to 'The Walking Dead', Lincoln concluded: "These guys have been the best surrogate family I could have hoped for. But I do have a real family and it is time for me to go home, but Norman [Reedus, aka Daryl] and Danai [Gurira, Michonne] send me scripts so I can keep one eye on the series. It's been everything to me for 10 years. I believe in the story so much that I can't spoil it for you. This is a really terrific season."

Lincoln isn't the only one moving onto new pastures. Lauren Cohan, who plays Maggie in the show will only be a part of six episodes in season 9, before moving onto her new ABC series 'Whiskey Cavalier'. The move came after AMC spent too long in the negotiating room with Cohan in regards to her pay; she wanted the same amount as the show's leading men, and AMC seemed to not want to up her cheque to those heights. A shame, as she's certainly one of the fan-favourite characters in the series.

More: Rebuilding Communities Will Be At The Heart Of 'The Walking Dead' Season 9

'The Walking Dead' will return for its ninth season at some point in October on AMC in the US and FOX in the UK.