It has been a tumultuous couple of months for The Walking Dead, after it was announced that leading man Andrew Lincoln would depart the series. With the cast arriving at SDCC this weekend, we finally know a little more about what we can expect from Season 9.

Andrew Lincoln

 

Obviously, the biggest thing fans wanted to know about Season 9 was whether the rumours surrounding the series’ leading man were true. Are we going to have to say goodbye to Rick Grimes?

Yes. Yes we are.

walking dead 9 rick

Creator of the comic book series, Robert Kirkman, was at first understandably reticent about confirming or denying the rumours, but in a recent interview with Kevin Smith, he explained that while this is a big change from the comic arc, fans should remember that Lincoln has been playing the role for a long time, far from his home.

“It does make the differences between the comic and the show more pronounced. But at the end of the day, it’s all about Andrew Lincoln. This is a human being. This is someone I have known for almost a decade, somebody that I love. He’s been sweating in Georgia, away from his family, for so long.”

However, Kirkman did explain that Lincoln’s love for the show and its fans will be reflected in the way Rick’s departure is handled: “He cares about the fans. He cares about the show deeply. He wants to do something special on the way out. We have something amazing planned. I wouldn’t want to spoil anything, but anybody who has been a fan of his journey, who loves Rick Grimes, who loves the world of The Walking Dead, you’re going to want to see what we do.”

 

Lincoln, for his part, discussed a little more about his feelings on leaving the show at The Walking Dead’s SDCC panel (which ended with a standing ovation for the long-serving actor).

“I want to say something, because there seems to be an elephant in the room. This will be my last season playing the part of Rick Grimes. Now hear me out, please. I love this show. It means everything to me. I love the people that make this show. I promise not to cry, I’ve done enough crying onscreen.”

Calling his work on TWD “the most extraordinary, amazing, and beautiful experience” of his career, Lincoln went on to say: “I suppose what I wanted to say is that my relationship with Mr. Grimes is far from over. And a sort of large part of me will always be a machete-wielding, stetson-wearing, zombie-slaying sheriff deputy from London, England. […] We’re deeply, deeply proud of the work we’ve done this season. I’m really, really excited about this season. I think there are two episodes that for me that are my favourites since the pilot….This has always been an ensemble and it will continue to be an ensemble. No one is bigger than the story, and the story this year is unbelievable.”

The show is indeed an ensemble piece, but there isn’t a fan out there who believes it will be the same after Rick Grimes is gone, and while we must obviously reserve judgement, many are holding out for a strong future for the long-running series.

walking dead 9 michonne

Casting News

While this season will see the departure of a fan-favourite, it also brings with it a somewhat unexpected addition to the cast, in the form of Fantastic Beasts star Dan Fogler.

Fogler, who plays Jacob in the Fastastic Beasts franchise, will join the cast of The Walking Dead for Season 9, as Luke, a member of Magna‘s (fellow newcomer Nadia Hilker) group of survivors who encounter the Alexandria group. They join Eleanor Matsuura, who will play another survivor named Yumiko, and Lauren Ridloff, who is playing Connie, “a seasoned survivor deft at using her senses to read people, situations, and trouble.” The character, like Ridloff herself, is deaf and uses American Sign Language to communicate.

Season 9 Premiere and Trailer

The Hall H panel also saw the release of Season 9’s trailer, which opens with a time jump to an older, more grizzled Rick, and sees villain Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) behind bars and the survivors living a far more rustic existence.

Season 9 of The Walking Dead premieres on October 7th.

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