According to Collider, Andrew Lincoln is expected to leave "The Walking Dead" in its upcoming ninth season. "The Walking Dead" has said goodbye to countless actors and actresses over the course of its run, but none have been quite as dramatic as this. Rick Grimes has been the definitive protagonist of “The Walking Dead” since Episode 1. While “Game of Thrones” killed off its main protagonist in the first season and continued to be very successful, the difference is that this was planned to happen. In the comic series that “The Walking Dead” is adapted from, Rick is still alive and going strong.

He is arguably the most integral character of the show and it is hard to imagine how the story could continue without him. AMC has yet to confirm or deny this news, but if this does end up true, the series is going to need someone to step up and fill some very big shoes. Not just any character can do this though, this character needs to be dynamic, able to lead, and played by an actor with a lot of range.

Characters that should take Rick Grimes’ place

One of the most obvious choices as to who should take over for Rick is Lauren Cohen, who plays Maggie Rhee. Maggie has been in the show from almost the beginning, appearing early on in Season 2. She is a very dynamic character that has grown exponentially over the course of the series.

She is a proven leader and Lauren Cohen is one of the best actors on the show. Unfortunately, The Hollywood Reporter has reported Lauren Cohen is leaving the series soon herself, as the pilot she starred in "Whisky Cavalier" has been picked up for a full series. If by some small miracle she did stick around and was able to devote enough time star in “The Walking Dead,” she would be my first choice to lead.

My second choice would be for either Morgan Jones or Madison Clarke to become the new main character. The reason I group the two together is that both characters are currently on "The Walking Dead’s" sister show “Fear The Walking Dead.” Morgan crossed over to “Fear” just this last season and I see no reason why he couldn’t cross back over again.

Morgan could also potentially bring Madison and friends along with him. Lennie James, who plays Morgan, rivals Andrew Lincoln for the best actor on the show and Morgan is the only other character besides Rick to still be alive from the pilot episode. Despite never leading before, it would be an exciting new challenge for the character. It would also give him a desperately needed new storyline as his comic version perished long ago. If Morgan’s lack of leading experience proved to be a problem, then perhaps he could lead with Madison. Madison is the current protagonist of “Fear,” giving her plenty of experience in the role. Now, this would likely mean canceling “Fear,” but with ever decreasing ratings, this could be the only way to save both shows.

Lastly, my third pick for who should be the new leader is a bit of wildcard, but hear me out. Despite being a relative newcomer to the show, Dwight should lead “The Walking Dead.” Having worked with both Rick’s group and the antagonistic Saviors, Dwight has led both the life of a hero and villain. Dwight would be the perfect character to bring these two opposing sides together. It would also be a nice adaptation of the comic where Dwight takes up leadership of the Saviors and vies with Rick to take charge of Alexandria. Austin Amelio has proven he has a lot of range as an actor and he is still young enough that I could see him sticking around for as long as “The Walking Dead” needed.

Characters that shouldn’t take Rick Grimes’ place

Daryl Dixon, at this time, seems to be the most likely to take Rick’s place if the rumors are anything to go by. This would be a huge misstep. Despite having been on the show since the first season, Daryl has arguably not grown as a character since Season 3. Beyond that, Norman Reedus doesn’t exactly show off the greatest amount of range as Daryl. Most of his lines are grunted and he plays Daryl stoic for the most part. Lastly, Daryl is a good right-hand man or source of muscle, but he’s no leader. Daryl is anti-social and a loner. While the connections he has made are strong, he’s not the kind of guy that could keep communities of survivors united.

It’s for these reasons, I believe Daryl would be the worst possible choice for the new protagonist.

The second worst choice would be Carol. Even though Melissa McBride is a fine actress, Carol suffers from similar issues to Daryl. Carol has grown to distrust people and doesn't seem to like being around them. She scares children and is just far too blunt to be able to make new relationships. Only people like Ezekiel, who have the patience of a saint, can get through to her and a leader needs to be able to communicate above all else. Maybe if Ezekiel died, I could see her taking over The Kingdom, but not the show.

My last worst choice would have to be Negan. Now don’t get me wrong, Negan is definitely a character that could lead.

Jeffery Dean Morgan, who plays Negan, can act and has shown great range. Negan is even a very dynamic character, so why can’t he be the protagonist? Well, for one very big reason, Negan was the main antagonist of the show for two whole seasons. There is no way storywise it would make sense for any character to trust him to ever lead again. Otherwise, he would probably make a pretty great choice.

These are just my opinions, so there’s no telling who AMC will choose or if it’s even true that Andrew Lincoln is leaving for sure. Honestly, I would prefer Rick was staying, but with more and more evidence building up every day, it looks like this isn’t the case. With so many characters on “The Walking Dead” who do you think should lead?