AMC released the Season 9 trailer for its hit TV series The Walking Dead at San Diego Comic-Con. The trailer is almost six-minutes long and features a time skip after the Season 8 finale and begins with Andrew Lincoln‘s Rick Grimes visiting Jeffrey Dean Morgan‘s Negan in prison.

It is implied that Rick often meets with Negan to update him on how the community is progressing without the Savior’s reign of terror. Rick tells Negan that the survivor communities are “building” “growing,” but Negan is still cocky, insisting that everything Rick has worked for will soon be destroyed. The trailer goes on to show that Rick is an esteemed leader in a network of survivor communities. The communities are thriving by trading with each other peacefully, but there is discontent among community members. 

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New mother Maggie is clearly still angry that Rick spared Negan’s life and is ready to become a leader in her own right. Carol is frustrated with new community members. Even Daryl, Rick’s right-hand-man, is regretting the loss of their original small group in favor of a larger community. Former members of the Saviors are also threatening to reinstate their regime. The end of the trailer implies a new threat that fans of The Walking Dead comic books were quick to recognize: “The Whisperers,” a dangerous group of survivors that blend in by wearing Walker skins and guts.

Almost two months ago, lead actor Andrew Lincoln announced that Season 9 would be his final season on the show. Fans and critics alike buzzed with speculation about how the show would progress without its titular character. Show writer and co-executive producer Angela Kang was promoted to showrunner earlier this year and the trailer shows that she is gearing up to create a story without Rick Grimes. The trailer introduces several new characters, including the show’s first deaf character — Connie, played by Lauren Ridloff.

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The Walking Dead is set to change and only time will tell if fans, critics and AMC are along for the ride. In 2014, executive producer David Alpert said that the creative team already had a clear vision of Season 10 and that the comics gave them enough content to work with for Seasons 11 and 12. If the creators are up to the task, these new changes might be everything the show needs to keep going for three more seasons. Season 9 will premiere on AMC on October 7, 2018.

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