The Walking Dead season 7 trailer, cast, release date, and everything you need to know

Fast Facts: 

  • The Walking Dead season 7 release date: October 23, 2016 (US)/October 24, 2016 (UK)
  • Director: Greg Nicotero
  • Cast: Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Steven Yeun, Lauren Cohan, Chandler Riggs, Danai Gurira, Melissa McBride, Michael Cudlitz, Lennie James, Sonequa Martin-Green, Josh McDermitt, Christian Serratos, Ross Marquand, Jeffrey Dean Morgan
  • Writer: Scott M. Gimple

The Walking Dead season 7 promises more zombie apocalypse madness

The Walking Dead’s sixth season signed off with a number of unanswered questions, from  Carol’s fate following her Savior-inflicted bullet wounds, to the identity of the body-armored horsemen. These mysteries, however, are mere child’s play compared to the finale’s ultimate nightmare-conjuring cliffhanger: Whose brain met the business end of Negan’s barbed-wire baseball bat? 

The controversial conclusion left fans divided, but there’s no doubt everyone and their walker-loving grandma will be pinned to the edge of their seats when the season 7 premiere finally reveals the victim. While we won’t know which member of Rick’s group to mourn until next month, we’ve compiled all of the intel we currently have on The Walking Dead season 7.

The Walking Dead season 7 release date hits just in time for Halloween

We won’t have to wait much longer to find out who Negan reduces to a pulpy puddle, as The Walking Dead season 7 premieres October 23, 2016 in the states and just 24 hours later in the UK. The season is starting nearly two weeks later than it did last year, but the opening episode promises to pick up right where April’s finale left off. Because the premiere’s also directed by the same person--executive producer Greg Nicotero--who helmed the season 6 finale, we can expect an especially seamless transition between last season’s nerve-fraying finish and season 7’s blood-soaked beginning.

The Walking Dead season 7 trailer teases Negan’s victim

Unveiled at this summer’s San Diego Comic Con, the first trailer for TWD’s seventh season spends the majority of its three-minute run time intercutting Negan’s twisted take on “eeny, meeny, miny, moe” with feel-good clips--like Daryl bottle-feeding baby Judith--of his potential victims. From there, we’re offered tantalizing teases of new characters, like more of those spear-wielding men on horseback and, most notably, King Ezekiel and his pet tiger Shiva.

While the trailer features plenty of in-your-face gore, like a close-up of Negan’s bat Lucille absolutely drenched in blood, some of its more subtle moments are equally chilling. Seeing the new big bad silhouetted in sunlight, while menacingly knocking his bat against Alexandria’s gate, for example, gives us goosebumps the size of golf balls. As does a scene where his obedient followers hurry to kneel before him as he obliviously walks by. The unsettling image of two pigs feasting on a fresh corpse is another I’ll have trouble scrubbing from my brain anytime soon.

The latest trailer, released recently on the show’s official Twitter account, shifts gears a bit by showing what life is like with Negan after that fateful night in the woods. The fresh footage begins with a literal bang, as the villain forcefully connects Lucille with his victim’s cranium. The remainder of the trailer, though, sees him flashing his sinister/charming smile, while playfully swinging his bat and dropping antagonizing gems like “This is the only way.”, “Whatever you had going for you...that’s over.”, and “I am everywhere.”

Hopefully the friendly Hilltop folks, King Ezekiel, and those horse-mounted badasses will help Rick and crew ultimately topple Negan. If the trailers are any indication, though, our weary survivors are in for at least a season full of torment before the bat-wielding baddie is put down.

The Walking Dead season 7 cast introduces fresh faces and new foes

Save for the poor sucker that gets their skull demolished in the season opener, expect all your walker-wasting favorites to return for at least some part of season 7. Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Negan, Tom Payne’s Jesus, Xander Berkeley's Gregory, and Austin Amelio’s Dwight are also back, but have been upgraded to series’ regulars, while Khary Payton joins the cast as King Ezekiel. 

If the trailers and promo shots are to be believed, Ezekiel’s the most significant addition to the show’s massive ensemble. As the leader of a new settlement dubbed the Kingdom, he looks right at home sitting atop his throne, sporting sweet dreads, and, ya know, keeping a tiger for a pet. Speaking of Shiva, we can’t wait to see the big cat--who’s impressively brought to life via animatronics and CGI--graphically open a walker from brain to belly-button.

Other new survivors include a smart, optimistic teen girl named Jennie and an older woman named Naomi who’s seen most of her loved ones reduced to walker food. A new tough guy by the name of Rogers will also do his part to put a dent in the undead population. While details on these new characters are scarcer than a Starbucks in the zombie apocalypse, we expect them to be just as expendable as everyone else on the show. In other words, don’t get too attached to them. 

The Walking Dead season 7 poster lines up Negan’s potential victims

AMC kicked off San Diego Comic Con with a disturbing poster showcasing Rick and company kneeling before Negan. With glowing headlights at their backs and Lucille hovering before them, the chilling image gives you a sense of the fear--and anger--the group must be feeling. 

Making no bones about milking this cliffhanger for all its worth, AMC then double-downed on this approach by releasing eleven close-up shots of each survivor staring down the barbed-wire barrel of Negan’s weapon of choice. These images are especially unnerving, as they not only display, in painstaking detail, each potential targets’ blood, sweat, and tears, but also the tormented emotion in their eyes. Some faces, like those of Rick and Aaron, seem almost  pleading, while others, such as Maggie’s and Michonne’s, look extremely pissed off. Eugene, on the other hand, just looks like he’s about to soil his skivvies. 

The latest trio of pulse-quickening posters treads familiar territory. The first displays a devastated Rick on his knees, while the second and third show Negan--his back to the camera--at the gates of Alexandria and shouldering Lucille, respectively. We’ve seen similar imagery, but the new frightening phrases, “The price will be paid” and “The next world”,  scrawled across two of the posters continue to hype the punishment that will be doled out in the premier, while also teasing the terror to follow.

Aside from these official posters, AMC released six promo shots exclusively to EW in late July. The most notable images include Morgan leaning on his bloody staff, Carol taking shelter and on the mend, and Ezekiel striking a royal pose, complete with throne and scepter. We also get another frightening peek at Negan standing before the gates of Alexandria, bat resting comfortably on his shoulder, as well as a look at a new zombie with bad teeth, but nice clothes. 

The Walking Dead season 7 - who dies?

Unless you’ve been living beneath a dumpster at the end of a walker-infested alley, you’re well aware season 7 will open with Negan’s bat liberating a brain from the skull of one of our beloved survivors. Last season closed with Rick, Carl, Michonne, Maggie, Glenn, Daryl, Abraham, Sasha, Rosita, Eugene, and Aaron all on their knees at the mercy of the man swinging Lucille. While we witnessed the bat make stomach-churning contact with its unlucky target, the scene’s victim point-of-view cleverly concealed their identity.

Theories, rumors, and speculation abound, but no one except those involved with the show can say for sure whose head is turned into hamburger. Some official season 7 footage featuring Dwight in possession of  Daryl’s jacket and motorcycle have led many to believe that the crossbow-wielding fan-favorite hero is the recipient of Negan’s wrath. But that’s just one of a million ideas swimming around the internet. You could dedicate every minute between now and the season 7 premiere surfing for clues, combing the original comics, and diving down endless rabbit holes for answers. But why do all that when we’ve done all the legwork for you?

The Walking Dead season 7 episodes will feature new locations

Adopting the same schedule they’ve used since season 2, AMC will run the first eight episodes of season 7 between its October 23 premier and the end of the year. The second eight episodes will then kick off in February, likely leading to another killer cliffhanger in early April. 

The 16-episode season is currently filming on location in Georgia, but the familiar setting of the show’s walking-corpse  apocalypse will feature some fresh locales. On top of revisiting Alexandria, albeit under far different circumstances, and seeing more of the Hilltop, fans will be invited into Negan’s compound and, of course, Ezekiel’s Kingdom. 

Recent rumors also hint at a trip to the beach for some survivors, although we’re guessing it’s probably not for sunbathing or a relaxing swim. The popular theory is that filming on Georgia’s Jekyll Island is related to a story flashback or the introduction of a new community that has the benefit of carving through walkers against a beautiful seaside backdrop. 

The Walking Dead season 7 spoilers can be avoided

Avoiding spoilers can be as difficult as cleaning the brain bits off a baseball bat. Unless quitting social media and swearing off the internet is an option, you're likely to land on some story-spoiling nugget without even trying. For those who’d rather see their intestines used as walker dental floss than have a character’s unexpected demise ruined for them, there’s Unspoiler. Once installed and set up, the intuitive service blocks any mention of The Walking Dead with a bright bar that’s as red as the blood running down Lucille. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A full-time freelance writer based in Lizzie Borden's hometown, Matt Cabral has covered film, television, and video games for over a decade. You can follow him on Twitter @gamegoat, friend him on Facebook, or find him in the basement of an abandoned building hoarding all the canned goods, med-kits, and shotgun shells.
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