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Mick Carter’s been a staple part of Albert Square since December 2013, but with Danny Dyer set to exit EastEnders later this year, we’ll soon be saying goodbye to his Walford alter-ego.
But how will the Queen Vic landlord call time? Is he destined to get a happy ever after with wife Linda? Might he end up back behind bars? Or are the soap’s writers set to shock us all by killing him off in spectacular style?
We imagine some possible scenarios that could lead to Mick’s departure…
He kills Gray and goes to prison
One secret that’s remained buried is Gray Atkins’s murder of Tina Carter. But in Walford, all crimes are eventually discovered, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if Tina’s remains were found in the run-up to Mick’s exit.
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If the truth comes out, Mick may well find himself seeking revenge on Gray – and perhaps even putting his sister’s killer six feet under. If that happens, Mick may well end up leaving in a police car, destined to spend the foreseeable future behind bars.
He takes the rap for Shirley
With Shirley having led the quest to find Tina, she may end up raging at Gray should his guilt be revealed. After all, it was Shirley who once gave Gray a shoulder to cry on.
So, if Shirl does Gray in, her son Mick may decide to take the blame. It would be a typically selfless decision for Mick to make, as he sacrifices his liberty so that his mum can keep her freedom.
His incarceration would also give Shirley a new plotline where she wallows in guilt as Mick serves time for a crime she committed.
He dies a hero
Mick’s bond with his childhood friend Stuart may have soured in recent years, but the undertaker’s breast cancer diagnosis could be the one thing to bring them back together — albeit with tragic consequences.
A possible scenario could see Stuart sinking into depression and then contemplating taking his own life by walking out into traffic.
Realising what Stu is about to do, Mick jumps in to push his buddy out of the path of an oncoming bus, only to be hit himself.
It’s been hinted that the soap is “keeping the door open” for Mick, but what if writers are planning to kill him off as a big surprise for viewers?
He’s framed by Janine – who then takes ownership of the Queen Vic
Janine was spurned by Mick at Christmas, which ordinarily would be enough reason for her to now seek revenge. But perhaps her end goal will be not only to humiliate Mick but get her mitts on the Queen Vic, too?
It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that she’ll cook up one of her patented wicked schemes and rope in a cash-strapped Rocky before the two of them end up turfing Mick out of the pub and installing themselves as landlady and landlord.
The end result being that Mick is framed for a crime he didn't commit - one for which Janine is really responsible.
He exits with daughter Frankie
EastEnders has made a big deal of announcing that Strictly Come Dancing champion Rose Ayling-Ellis has resumed filming. But with offers no doubt flooding in for her, maybe Frankie’s return will turn out to be a temporary one?
So, imagine this: thanks to a legal loophole, abusive Katy Lewis is released from prison and her conviction overturned. Frankie panics that her mum will want to re-establish contact, so Mick makes a pledge to keep her safe.
Choosing Frankie over his marriage, Mick leaves with his daughter in tow – and keeps their destination a secret for fear of Katy tracking them down.
He and Linda leave together
At the moment, the Carters’ marriage is once again on the brink of collapse. When Kellie Bright cameoed at Christmas, we saw Linda falling off the wagon in dramatic style, while back on the Square, Mick has recently divulged to Rainie that he’s not baby Annie’s father.
But Mick and Linda have, in the past, managed to put marital ructions behind them and start afresh. So they may well reunite ahead of Mick’s exit and decide to begin again somewhere far away from Walford. And it would be fitting to see them depart in the same manner as they debuted: as a proper united force.
He quits after Linda reunites with Max
EastEnders may feel the need to get an alpha male back on the Square, seeing as Mick is about to call time. And who better than shady Max Branning, who was last seen turning his back on the Square after being rebuffed by Linda?
Now, though, with the truth about little Annie’s paternity having been revealed to Rainie, it kind of feels right to have Max return.
Linda could be disgusted with Mick for having blown the secret and end up turning to a newly returned Max in her hour of need.
As they decide to make a go of things and Max vows to be a dad to Annie, Mick may decide he can no longer be around them. Cue him packing his bags and getting the first cab out of town.
He has an affair with Rainie
Mick's will-he-won't-he drama with Whitney a few years ago was a bit of a misstep, with writers ultimately deciding that he and Linda needed to reaffirm their vows and remain rock solid.
But now, with the soap having to somehow end Mick's time in Walford, they may go for broke and have him properly stray. But not with Whitney this time - rather, it's Rainie to whom he turns.
She was seen recently offering support as he suffered a panic attack. so might Mick and Rainie cross that line? And after doing so, could Mick end up feeling so guilty that he decides to leave town and put some distance between himself and the Square?
Watch: Relive Mick's first appearance on EastEnders