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Time jumps, Rick’s new look, and Lucille II: These Walking Dead season 9 set photos suggest the show is starting afresh

The Walking Dead season 8 (opens in new tab) may have spluttered its way towards a conclusion, but The Walking Dead season 9 (opens in new tab) could be about to do the impossible and turn things around. There’s already been talk of a mini-reboot (opens in new tab) and now these set photos are sure to light a fire under even the most jaded of fans.

The images, snapped by fan Sarah Michelle Vega (which you can see below), show Rick trotting along on a horse. So far, so ordinary, right? Not so. Computer, enhance.

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Firstly, I’m glad that Rick has got a nice, neat haircut. We don’t want any Walkers grabbing at his greasy mullet now, do we? More importantly, that sure looks like a slightly older Rick with a grey-tinged beard. 

It could be nothing, but when coupled with Negan’s facial fuzz (Jeffrey Dean Morgan has recently been seen sporting a grey beard too! (opens in new tab)), it comes together to paint a beardy picture of a lot of days gone bye, as we say hello to a new future.

That’s not all. Even the mode of transportation is a little… off. Gone are the trucks and trailers and, in its place, a simple horse. Are Rick and the gang going off on a little journey to find a new community? Or has shit well and truly hit the fan and society has collapsed even further?  

And then there’s the weapon sheathed by the saddle. Rick may not have seen eye-to-eye with Negan on a whole bunch of things, but he seems to have taken up a taste for his style of weaponry. I’ll be calling it Lucille II, but let’s call a spade a spade, or rather a mace, because it’s exactly that: a giant bloody mace.

Four photos: so many questions. Is this a more vicious, older Rick? How many years – if any – have passed since Negan’s defeat and, crucially, who scoops up the horse poop? The Walking Dead season 9 is shaping up to be a show-saver.

The Walking Dead season 9 isn't the only fresh thing coming this year. Here's a list of all the new TV shows for you (opens in new tab) to get very, very excited about.

I'm the Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, focusing on news, features, and interviews with some of the biggest names in film and TV. On-site, you'll find me marveling at Marvel and providing analysis and room temperature takes on the newest films, Star Wars and, of course, anime. Outside of GR, I love getting lost in a good 100-hour JRPG, Warzone, and kicking back on the (virtual) field with Football Manager. My work has also been featured in OPM, FourFourTwo, and Game Revolution.