The times, they are a-changin' for The Walking Dead season 9. Previous showrunner Scott Gimple is passing over the torch to longtime collaborator Angela Kang for what is set to be a “new show” with “a new narrative”, while San Diego Comic Con 2018's Walking Dead panel confirmed that both Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) will be departing this season, with no definitive answers as to whether or when they could return.
We're sure you have a lot of questions, so it's a good thing you're here, as below you'll find everything you need to know about The Walking Dead season 9 so far, including release dates, story details, and much, much more. Oh, and if you still haven't mustered up the energy to finish The Walking Dead season 8 yet (we don't blame you), it's new on Netflix for US viewers this week, so you've no longer any excuse to avoid it. Sorry.
- The Walking Dead season 9 release date: October 7, 2018 (US)/October 8, 2018 (UK)
- The Walking Dead season 9 showrunner: Angela Kang
- The Walking Dead season 9 cast: Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Lauren Cohan, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Melissa McBride, Danai Gurira, Christian Serratos, Josh McDermitt, Alanna Masterson
When is The Walking Dead season 9 release date?
The Walking Dead season 9 will kick off in earnest with its premiere on Sunday, October 7, 2018 airing on AMC in the US at its usually scheduled time of 9pm EST (and then 9pm PST for those on the West Coast). For UK viewers, FOX will air the episode the following day - Monday, October 8, 2018 - at 9pm BST, though AMC has yet to confirm if the premiere will be simulcast across both regions, as has sometimes been the case for the first episode of each season.
The Walking Dead season 9 premiere will also be one of the show's longest episodes yet, according to a new report from Comicbook.com, coming in at 86 minutes long including ad breaks when it airs on US television. From the premiere onwards, season 9 will continue to run episodes on a weekly basis, airing on Sunday evenings stateside and the following Mondays in the UK. A mid-season break will take place sometime in November too, though the exact date of the mid-season finale has yet to be confirmed.
Read more: The Walking Dead season 8 recap: Every episode revisited
The Walking Dead season 9 trailers foreshadow a Rick/Maggie conflict and Negan's big comeback
The latest 30 second promo for The Walking Dead season 9 arrives courtesy of IGN, who also spoke to new showrunner Angela Kang about Rick and Maggie's impending departure. "Obviously there’s a lot of expectations and we really hope that we don’t let people down", states Kang in the interview, "But I do think it’s an incredibly emotional journey and I think the performances and the work that people have done are pretty amazing."
Kang also clarified that the time jump between season 8 and season 9 is 18 months, revealing that Negan's been in solitary confinement the entire time, hence his embittered, vengeful narration that plays over this brief teaser trailer for what's to come. "You're not saving the world", he says threateningly to Rick, "you’re just getting it ready for me."
AMC has released its second, big trailer for The Walking Dead season 9 following Comic Con earlier this year, and though shorter in length, it's still an action-packed sizzle reel of drama, violence, and plenty of zombies. Some interesting highlights? It looks like the tension between Rick and Maggie, and their competing world views on leadership in the apocalypse, will come to a head this season and... wait a second. Is that Michonne holding Lucille at around the 0:17 mark? That can't be good...
In addition to that new trailer, AMC has also released this new sneak peek clip of season 9's premiere, which sees Carol and Daryl sharing another tender, albeit platonic moment together in the quiet of the darkness. There's obviously very mild spoilers for viewers planning on going into season 9 dark, but the preview does show us that - amidst all the bubbling tension between Alexandria and Hilltop this season - this pair are still very much on the same team.
If you want to take another look at the very first The Walking Dead season 9 trailer released at Comic Con, it's above and it has a lot going on. We see Rick with his “old man” beard, Maggie’s baby for the first time, and and as we’re getting a time jump, it’s likely that any assumptions we draw may not make sense. However, there’s one shot that stands out above the rest, and that’s around the 1:29 mark where we see what’s left of the OG crew charging across a bridge, while Rick sits propped up, with blood all over his shirt. Might this be his death scene?
The Walking Dead season 9 episode titles tease when Rick will be leaving
AMC has released (almost) all the official titles for each episode in the first half of The Walking Dead season 9, before it takes its mid-season break and returns in the new year, along with the directors and writers behind each one.
The titles are cryptic enough to not give anything away, but episode 5's name - What Comes After - does semantically corroborate with reports that this will be when Rick makes his much publicised departure from the show. 'What Comes After Rick', more like. Check out the titles for each episode in the list below, and see if you can draw any clues by reading between the lines.
- A New Beginning - Writer Angela Kang / Director Greg Nicotero
- The Bridge - Writer David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick / Director Daisy Mayer
- Warning Signs - Writer Channing Powell / Director Director Dan Liu
- The Obliged - Writer Geraldine Inoa / Director Rosemary Rodriguez
- What Comes After - Writer Matthew Negrete / Director Greg Nicotero
- Untitled - Writer Eddie Guzelian / Director Larry Teng
- Stradivarius - Writer Vivian Tse / Director Michael Cudlitz
- Evolution - Writer David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick / Director Michael E. Satrazemis
The Walking Dead season 9 cast - who's in and who's out?
This last year we’ve seen some big stuff kick off in the show. Sure, season 8 did drag, but at times it unleashed its brilliance in short bursts. We lost Carl - sorry, Coral - and now it looks like we’re going to be losing another of the original gang, Rick. Andrew Lincoln confirmed at Comic Con that he’s leaving the show in the middle of season 9, though did strangely tease that "my relationship with Mr. Grimes is far from over."
But with everyone’s favourite sheriff out of the picture, where does that leave everyone else? As suspected, Norman Reedus’ role will be beefed up considerably due to Lincoln’s exit. Elsewhere, Lauren Cohan is staying put for six of the first eight episodes, but she’s out for the remainder of the season, and the actress has expressed doubt in an interview with GameSpot over whether she'll ever return.
"It feels like the greatest way to honor it is to keep it open-ended because whether it's about me going back as Maggie or whether it's about me just taking in, absorbing, and honoring everything I've learned there," said Cohen. "It never leaves me. It will never, ever leave me. And that is I think the greatest compliment you can give to anything and to any group of people because we all came together to make something that we didn't know was going to have this success that it did."
In better news, AMC has made a few more hires to balance out the departures, with Samantha Morton cast as Alpha, leader of The Whisperers (more on those guys below), and former Sons of Anarchy star Ryan Hurst set to play Beta, her second in command. These newcomers won't be able to completely make up for the loss of Rick and Maggie, but it's a start.
The Walking Dead season 9 posters reveal new logo, setting, and more
AMC has released a bunch of new, official posters for The Walking Dead season 9, and while they tend to favour style and symbolism over story details, each one does reveal a little bit more about what to expect from the show in the weeks and months ahead. That view of Capitol Hill featured in the background of the above poster (first revealed at SDCC 2018), for instance, confirms that Washington D.C. is set play a major role in season 9, and probably won't be restricted to just a fleeting cameo before the story heads back to Georgia.
Then there's this newly released character sheet seen above. The fact that Rick's got his hat back on is both a nod to the character's humble origins as a County Sheriff and a subtle allusion to Carl's death in season 8, suggesting that everything is coming back full circle for Mr Grimes' final hurrah. Other things to note: those birds spotted to the left of Rick's elbow appear to be a recurring motif for this season, with major implications for The Walking Dead's future, while that shinier, now abbreviated logo corroborates AMC's intentions to make season 9 a fresh start for a new era of zombie television.
He’s ready for what’s coming. Are you? #TWD returns 10/7. pic.twitter.com/B0iPbgSbVWSeptember 12, 2018
And don't forget this living portrait of Rick, brandishing a brand new weapon that no apocalypse survivor would want to be on the receiving end of. Where's Rick's trusty revolver? And should we be worried that this wooden mace feels eerily reminiscent of Negan's barbed wire baseball bat, Lucille? I'm sure it's fine, right? Right?!
What is The Walking Dead season 9 plot going to be about?
The all-out war is over. Negan’s behind bars, and the remaining communities - Alexandria, the Hilltop, the Sanctuary and the Kingdom - are attempting to be civil. How long will that last? Well, as the trailers signal, disharmony is en route as the various camps come to blows. We are set to head into the the New World Order arc from the comics, so that means we are getting a time jump. But before that: we at last meet The Whisperers. The comic book baddies made their debut in the final scenes of the trailer.
Another element of the post-Rick story also looks likely to include the Commonwealth - yet another community from the comics, who are mentioned in the Comic Con trailer. We see a sign affixed to a windmill with the words “Commonwealth Windmill & Pump Service. Saltville, VA.”, which seems like a strong hint that they’re likely to appear. In the comics, the Commonwealth consists of 50,000 people spread over several smaller communities, and most of them are wealthy survivors. Of course, having cash in the post-apocalyptic world doesn’t mean much, so we’ll have to wait and see what else they’ve got in store.
Finally, there's good news for fans of Carzekiel, the will-they-won't-they romance between Carol and King Ezekiel that blossomed into a genuine love affair by the end of season 8. The newly released image above shows that the happy couple are still infatuated with each other, while unofficial reports suggest that an official Carzekiel wedding could even be on the cards for season 9, as corroborated by Skybound's confirmation that Glenn and Maggie won't be the last newly married duo to ever appear on the show. Could we be hearing the pitter patter of little Carzekiel feet by season 10?
And while you ponder the possibilities of all that, check out our breakdown of The Walking Dead season 8 ending, where we question yet more mysteries and possibilities.