‘The Walking Dead’ season 9: everything we know so far

Walkers keep on walkin'

The Walking Dead‘s eighth season ended in mid-April 2018 and is due to return for season 9 in later in the year. Here’s everything we know so far.

Latest updates:

  • New Season 9 first look photos release with photos teasing the “time jump”
  • New promotional material hints at how Rick might leave the show
  • A lengthy new plot synopsis has been revealed
  • The first episode of the new season will be one of the longest in the shows history

What’s The Walking Dead season 9 release date?

October, probably. 

For the past eight seasons, The Walking Dead has begun in October. We can assume season 9 won’t be any different.

Is Andrew Lincoln leaving the show?

Collider reported that Andrew Lincoln, who plays central protagonist Rick Grimes, will leave during season 9. The actor has starred as Grimes since the show’s first episode in 2010. He will reportedly only feature in half a dozen episodes in season 9 before being “phased out”.

While network bosses at AMC are yet to officially address the reports, Lincoln’s expected departure was seemingly confirmed by Michael E Satrazemis, a long-time director of the show. Satrazemis acknowledged Lincoln’s exit in a tribute post on Instagram – which has since been deleted.

The director’s written caption for the post read: “Many of us have spent the last 8 yrs [sic] of our lives living, working, creating, high fiving, hugging and sometimes even bleeding real blood with Andy [Lincoln]. All to make something special. He is one of the greatest men I’ve ever met. And a friend.”

“The show will miss him as much as you,” he continued in reference to life on The Walking Dead following Rick’s departure. “It will be different but it will still be great. All of us who love making [The Walking Dead] keep creating our asses off and sometimes even bleed for you.”

A new promotional poster released today (September 6) also hints at Rick’s end. Wearing the sheriff’s had adorned by Carl in Season 8, zombie’s loom ominously in the background and Rick is coloured head to toe in red – could this hint at his end? Carol, Michonne, Daryl and Maggie are also head to toe in red. Could this hint at more deaths in the show?

Here’s the poster:

The Walking Dead Promotional Poster – Credit: AMC

Who will replace him?

Sources close to the show have suggested that Norman Reedus, who plays central character Daryl Dixon, will be offered the chance to step up to become the new face of The Walking Dead.

Reedus is reportedly negotiating a new deal in light of Lincoln’s departure. He will become the ‘new number 1’ on the show and sources detail a deal worth $20million.

Are any other cast members leaving?

After speculation earlier this year that she may leave the show for good due to a pay dispute, Lauren Cohan – who plays Maggie – confirmed on April 25 that she’ll reprise her key role in season 9 of The Walking Dead.  “I’m going back,” she told Entertainment Weekly. “There’s a lot more Maggie story to tell.”

However, it has now been reported that Cohan will also be “phased out” and will only film six episodes of the new series. It is claimed that she is parting ways with TWD in order to play the lead role in ABC’s Whiskey Cavalier after attempting to negotiate a new deal with AMC went awry. AMC are yet to respond to the claims.

What other changes should we expect?

Speaking immediately after season 8 ended, former showrunner Scott Gimple teased the show’s transformation for season 9, calling it a “quantum leap forward”. Some have interpreted this comment as a hint that the show will follow the comics in implementing a two-year time-jump following Negan’s defeat.

“The show will evolve in a huge way [in season 9],” he said. “They’ll be dealing with things we haven’t seen them deal with before and dealing with each other in ways that we haven’t seen before. What [the writers] have planned … it just feels new. It feels like an evolved show. [The past eight seasons] very much lived in the world that Rick began with. It was so informed by the pilot. It just takes this quantum leap forward in the stories we’re telling.” Gimple then added that he knew this sounded like “a time jump tease” but didn’t say whether or not it was.

New showrunner Angela Kang has said there will be a time jump – like in the comic series, where there is a two-year time jump – in the upcoming season. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Kang said at a panel event in June: “We’re playing with time in the season, so we get to jump forward in the story.”

Kang also seemed to hint at a time jump in an Instagram Story that same month that read: “Welcome to season 9! Here’s to a great year ahead and ‘A New Beginning'”. ‘A New Beginning’ is the name of a Walking Dead comic volume, which picks up two years after its previous issue.

Lauren Cohan in ‘The Walking Dead’

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly in July, Kang said “we’re really looking at the start of a new chapter of the show.”

“We’ll explore what happened as man made objects and structures break down,” she said. “Infrastructure like roads and bridges are changing and crumbling. And we’ll also explore what happens as resources are getting low.”

“There’s a fun Western vibe that has emerged,” Kang added. “We are going into a period where a lot of the things that we’ve seen in previous seasons have broken down, so they’ve got these horses and carriages that are being drawn around instead of cars. Things are lit with oil lamps. People are using different kinds of weaponry. There’s a real grittiness to it that I think will be fun and fresh for the viewers.”

The Newnan Times-Herald reported back in April a pre-production permit request has been made to erect a 55-foot windmill on the Alexandria site. This further suggests the show could be about to skip ahead in time, to at least a point when the windmill’s construction is nearly done, or totally complete. The structure, as fans will know, is a fixture in the comic series on which the TV programme is based.

Will Maggie and Rick be enemies?

At the end of season 8, Maggie vowed to bide her time and show Rick he was wrong to keep Negan alive; Daryl and Jesus seemed to be on her side. Fans were livid that the former friends might turn on one another – but if there’s a time-jump, maybe all of the drama will have been resolved. That’s what Norman Reedus, the actor behind Daryl, seems to have suggested, reassuring fans he is not turning on Rick:

What else is going to happen in season 9?

In the final episode of season 8 Dwight went off in search of his long-lost wife Sherry. It’s likely we’ll see more of his search.

According to Angela Kang, in season 9 we’ll see “our group together working in unity in a lot of ways, but you’ll also see some changes in the way that they deal with each other.

“In some ways, you’ll see that the vision has succeeded beyond anybody’s wildest imagination. But you’ll also see the cracks in that.”

A hint about Daryl’s storyline may have been revealed by Norman Reedus, the actor who plays the character, after he spoke to TVLine about the character’s sex life. The actor alluded to the character’s, erm, lack of steamy scenes in the show so far, speculating on some reasons as to why that be.

He said: “I think when it happens, it’s gonna be a big deal…but I’m glad that we have played him the way we’ve played him. I think if we would have had some hot steamy barn sex somewhere, it would be over and done, it wouldn’t be a thing.”

“I don’t think he’s that type of a guy. I think he’s the type of guy that when he does it, he’ll be in love. Like, he will fall in love. He wears his heart on his sleeve.

“Everything he means he says, when he cares about someone, he cares about them. And I think playing it in that direction is better than having an episode or a scene in one thing. It means more to him. He’s sensitive.”

The actor spoke last year about Daryl’s sexuality, revealing that they initially considered Daryl to be a gay character in the show. He said: “It never happened, obviously, but I’m not against it and if it happened, I would be down for it and I’d try to kick ass at it, but I don’t know if that’s where we’re going with it.”

Could this be a hint of either a love interest for Daryl or a change in direction for his character?

Meanwhile, the programme makers teased a new logo (September 6) complete with an intriguing afterthought: “The new Walking Dead logo has stopped decaying and started growing. Thoughts?”

A new lengthy plot synopsis has also been released today (September 6). It reads: “Last season brought the culmination of ‘All Out War,’ which pitted Rick Grimes and his group of survivors against the Saviors and their cunning leader, Negan. With Negan’s life in his hands, Rick had a character-defining choice in front of him.

By making the unilateral decision to spare Negan, Rick upheld the values his late son, Carl, championed in order to build for the future, but created conflict within his group. Now, we see our survivors a year and a half after the end of the war, rebuilding civilisation under Rick’s steadfast leadership.

It is a time of relative peace among the communities as they work together, looking to the past to forge the future, but the world they knew is rapidly changing as man-made structures continue to degrade and nature takes over changing the landscape and creating new challenges for our survivors.

As time passes, the communities confront unexpected obstacles, danger, and of course, walkers, but nothing quite prepares them for the formidable force they are about to encounter, which threatens the very idea of civilisation that our survivors have worked so hard to build.”

It has been announced that the first episode of the new season will be one of the longest in the show’s history, coming in at 86 minutes long, according to ComicBook.com

Will any characters be returning?

Possibly. According to TVLine, Jon Bernthal is set to make an appearance as Shane Walsh, who was killed off in season two.

Walsh briefly appeared again in season three, in Rick’s imagination, so he could do something similar in the upcoming season – or he may appear in a flashback.

Bernthal’s return as Walsh has yet to be officially confirmed – although fans have spotted him with The Walking Dead cast near the show’s set in Georgia.

New cast photos have also emerged today (September 6):

Will we meet The Whisperers?

Fans think so. 

After Negan and The Saviours, the next big bad in the comics upon which The Walking Dead is based is a group called the Whisperers. This creepy lot go by names like Alpha and Beta; they wear walker skin and only talk in whispers, to avoid being attacked by the undead. The heads of their enemies are placed on poles outside their territory. They’ll be an intriguing addition to the canon of Walking Dead TV characters; let’s hope we meet them soon.

How many episodes will there be?

16 – probably.

Since season 3, each season has been formed of 16 episodes, split into two halves.

Is there a trailer?

Not yet, no.

A first look at the upcoming new season arrived on July 6 with the first promotional poster for season 9 – featuring helicopters, abandoned government buildings and hair cuts.

The poster features Carol, Michonne, Rick, Maggie and Daryl – the gang’s all here.

The first image from the new season arrived on July 12, with Michonne front-and-centre riding a horse. This look a bit like a Westworld / Walking Dead crossover to us…

Any new cast members?

On July 18, it was widely reported that Eleanor Matsuura will be playing Yumiko – who is a character from the Walking Dead comics who, like Daryl, uses a crossbow – in season 9. Matsuura strongly hinted that she had joined the cast after posting on Instagram that she’d just moved to Atlanta – a mere stone’s throw away from the show’s regular filming location in Senoia, Georgia.

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Lauren Ridloff, meanwhile, will become the first deaf actress to feature on The Walking Dead. She’s joined the cast for season 9 to play the character of Connie.

What about the crew?

Former showrunner Scott Gimple is taking charge of The Walking Dead as an entire franchise, so Angela Kang has become the new showrunner for the series, having written for it since season 2.

Has filming begun?

Yep, filming is underway, having started at the end of April.

And there’s going to be a video game too?

Yes, a The Walking Dead game is coming to Windows PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One from November 8 (November 6 in North America). Created by developers Overkill, the game will be a 4-player, first-person shooter, with new characters introduced for the game called Aidan, Grant, Heather and Maya.

The game will be released on July 12.

Watch a trailer for the game below: