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The official Twitter feed for The Walking Dead casts doubt on Rick Grimes dying early on in season 9. Recent reports revealed that Andrew Lincoln will be exiting The Walking Dead in season 9, but many fans assumed that they would get a full season to say goodbye.
Later reports got more specific, giving an exact time of death for Rick. The current rumor suggests that Rick would be killed in the fifth episode of season 9. That rumor was based on various set photos and a leaked script page, as well as educated guesses, but it seems the rumor may be unfounded.
The show's official Twitter account might have knocked that detective work down this week. The quick statement from The Walking Dead says, simply, "Don't believe everything you hear." It isn't clear from that snippet that this is a direct response to the Rick speculation, but the tweet did come out shortly after the rumor started spreading online.
Like in the comics, Rick has been the center of the story since the beginning, and removing him from the show represents both a huge departure and a creative challenge. It was surprising enough when Chandler Riggs went out during the midseason finale last year. Fans considered his character, Carl Grimes, as bullet and zombie-proof, but that ended up being proven wrong. Unfortunately, for faithful adaptations, TV shows have limits that books don't. Actors' contracts expire, or the production company fires them, or they just want to do something else. But comic book characters never complain about being unlikable or having just the worst dialogue. They can come and go based on the writers' desires.
Taking Rick out during such an odd time of the season would also be a huge shift. The Walking Dead has traditionally saved its major character deaths for the beginning, middle, and ends of seasons. Secondary villain Shane went out in the penultimate episode of season 2. Andrea's (overly long) death scene came during the season 3 finale. And fans had to wait all summer to find out it was Abraham whom Negan clubbed to death at the end of season 7 ... and then they got a double-header when he also took out Glenn in the premiere. So it would be strange for Rick Grimes to be killed off in episode 5 rather than the midseason finale. But whether it happens then or at the end of the year, The Walking Dead is going to have a tough job putting a new leader at its center.