Andrew Lincoln's time on The Walking Dead is almost over. Before we say goodbye to the good sheriff Rick Grimes, though, the actor has something to say to those who have watched him evolve from that confused coma patient waking up in undead hell into the relentless leader who's sacrificed so much to keep his people safe and still believes in a better future.

Lincoln penned a letter of farewell to fans and media who have supported the show throughout its run (including TV Guide) to thank them for sticking with the oft-frustrating journey his character went through over the course of eight-and-a-half-seasons.

"Thank you... For coming with us on this journey. For the nine years of fear, heartache, anger and, let's face it, guts you've shown by making it through these 115 episodes and counting," Lincoln wrote.

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He also thanked viewers for understanding the series' need to step outside of the basic premise of surviving the onslaught of walkers and become a character drama focusing on the living. "Despite the high volume of undead, this is actually an ongoing story about what it is to be alive," he wrote. "A story of hope, family and friendship. People with nothing in common discovering that they have everything in common. United in their search for humanity and a place to call home. A story that has perhaps even more relevance now than it did when we began."

Lincoln went on to credit his career-making role as the pistol-toting small screen survivor as being "the most exciting, challenging and satisfying role of [his] career" and expressed gratitude that the completion of his work has been done in the way that he hoped it would. "This season feels like the show I fell in love with all those years ago, and the world we were always heading toward when we wrapped the pilot episode," he wrote.

To conclude, he added, "So thank you. For all of it. For the good, the bad... and of course, we wouldn't be a free press... without the ugly. Until our paths cross again. Keep Calm and Carry a Red Machete... Andrew Lincoln."

The full letter is below.

"Thank you...

For coming with us on this journey. For the nine years of fear, heartache, anger and, let's face it, guts you've shown by making it through these 115 episodes and counting. And for services to journalism that go way behind any civilised levels of human endurance.

For understanding that despite the high volume of undead, this is actually an ongoing story about what it is to be alive. A story of hope, family and friendship. People with nothing in common discovering that they have everything in common. United in their search for humanity and a place to call home. A story that has perhaps even more relevance now than it did when we began.

It's been the most exciting, challenging and satisfying role of my career — and for the best part of a decade, the greatest adventure of my professional life. This season feels like the show I fell in love with all those years ago, and the world we were always heading toward when we wrapped the pilot episode.

By my own rough count, I've killed over 400 zombies during the apocalypse. Lost a horse, found a horse. Lost a girl... that didn't go well. Ate a dog once. Wore a meat poncho twice. Escaped from a bunch of hipster cannibals. Not to mention I've been shot twice, baseball batted, stabbed three times, bit a man's throat out (I'm sorry — that was weird — and tasted like chicken), and had my cowboy boots resoled... 12 times.

We began as an indie movie, and years later became a three-letter acronym (wtf?). And along the way, we've had the unique pleasure of meeting zombie enthusiasts all over our beautiful blue planet. From Tokyo to Trinidad, people have been united by their love of this story of survival... and Norman Reedus' extraordinarily luscious hair.

It's been a wild ride, shaped by the relationship between the show and the fans of the show, and in no small part you good people of the press.

I look forward to following your coverage of the show and my friends in Atlanta for seasons to come — what they have planned is quite incredible.

So thank you.

For all of it.

For the good, the bad... and of course, we wouldn't be a free press... without the ugly.

Until our paths cross again.

Keep Calm and Carry a Red Machete...

Andrew Lincoln"

Rick Grimes' final episode of The Walking Dead airs Sunday, Nov. 4 at 9/8c on AMC.

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Danai Gurira and Andrew Lincoln, <em>The Walking Dead</em>Danai Gurira and Andrew Lincoln, The Walking Dead