Several familiar faces will return to The Walking Dead for Season 9, the show’s makers have revealed.
The series was out in force at New York Comic Con this weekend, ahead of Season 9’s premiere on Monday night. The show picks events up a year and a half after the end of the war in Season 8, as Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) leads the rebuilding of civilisation. 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: The Whisperers, led by Samantha Morton as Alpha.
The season has already fuelled a lot of hype and speculation with the reveal that it will be Andrew Lincoln’s last, as he prepares to bid farewell to the role of Rick Grimes. But before that departure hits viewers, they can also look forward to seeing some older characters return after their departure in previous years. They include Jon Bernthal’s Shane Walsh, Scott Wilson’s Hershel Greene and Sonequa Martin-Green’s Sasha Williams.
“There were some rumors going around … we were trying to lie, but we want to confirm that Jon Bernthal is coming back,” showrunner Angela Kang said at the NYCC panel.
The news, though, arrived at the same time as the sad news that Wilson has passed away.
“Scott was one of the greats, both as an actor and a man. [We] are truly grief stricken. He lived life to the fullest with his true love, his wife Heavenly. He is now a shining star in heaven spreading kindness and light forever,”said The Walking Dead EP Gale Anne Hurd.
“Scott will be remembered as a great actor and an even better person. The character he embodied on The Walking Dead, Hershel, lived at the emotional core of the show. Our hearts go out to his wife, family, friends and to the millions of fans who loved him,” The Walking Dead’s official Twitter account said in tribute to the actor.
The Walking Dead Season 9 will premiere at 9pm on FOX UK on Monday 8th October.
Andrew Lincoln to depart The Walking Dead in Season 9
30th May 2018
Andrew Lincoln is reportedly set to depart The Walking Dead in Season 9.
The British actor, who broke through on the small screen with his role in BBC Two’s This Life (leading to a role in Channel 4’s Teachers), has been the star of AMC’s zombie thriller ever since its first episode. Over the following eight seasons, the programme has grown to become one of the biggest shows on the box, with Lincoln’s Rick the focal point for most of the family drama, moral conflict and gruesome violence.
The series is based on Robert Kirkman’s comic book series, but has increasingly diverted from the source material to plough its own undead furrow, with Season 8 featuring the departure of one major character who is still alive in the graphic novels. Lincoln’s departure, then, would mark another significant difference between the TV show and the original text, but it comes as no surprise, with Lincoln speaking previously about ending the series.
“There’s certainly an endgame in my head. Whether or not that’s the same endgame that’s in the producers’ heads or the people I work with, is another matter. That’s open for discussion,” he told the THR in February.
Season 9 was only recently announced by AMC, with a slow-than-usual renewal for the franchise, following an eighth season that left viewers divided. As part of that renewal, both Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus (who plays fan favourite Daryl) had their contacts up for negotiation. Now, sources have confirmed to THR that Lincoln will appear in a small number of episodes before leaving forever. With Morgan (Lennie James) recently departing the show to cross over into spin-off Fear the Walking Dead, though, there is no guarantee that Lincoln’s exit need be a fatal one.
THR also reports that Reedus is now negotiating his salary in light of Lincoln’s pending departure, with sources pegging it north of $20 million. A shift towards Daryl as a leading man for the show would fit in with a similar behind-the-scenes shift: Season 9 will see the show appoint Angela Kang as a new showrunner, replacing former showrunner Scott M. Gimple, who has closed a deal to become Chief Creative Officer of all things The Walking Dead-related at AMC (Kirkman, meanwhile, has ended his AMC deal in favour of an agreement with Amazon Studios).
“We knew for a long time that Season  was, in many ways, the end of a chapter of the show,” Gimple toldTHR, following the final episode. “The differences that people will be seeing in season nine and beyond are going to be pronounced. It’s going to be a very different show with characters handling very different issues, challenges and threats than we’ve seen before. These characters will be different in a lot of ways.”
Correction: This article originally said that Andrew Lincoln’s breakthrough role came in Channel 4’s Teachers, rather than BBC Two’s This Life. This has now been updated (with thanks to @silentbazz).