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The Walking Dead season 9: Release date, cast, spoilers and everything we know about Rick Grimes' departure

The Independent logo The Independent 07/08/2018 Jacob Stolworthy

Andrew Lincoln sitting in front of a building © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited Whether you want to believe it or not, the return of The Walking Dead is fast approaching with a run of episodes ahead that are set to shake up the show as fans know it.

There has been a slew of casting announcements - ranging from new additions to shock departures - announced over the past few months, with a brand new trailer teasing an entirely new era for Rick Grimes and the gang.

The Independent has compiled all you need to know about The Walking Dead season 9 below ranging from release date to potential future plot lines.

The Walking Dead season 9 release date

Season 9 will be premiering 7 October in the US on AMC with its UK debut arriving the following evening on FOX. As ever, the midseason break will land in December before it returns for its conclusion in February 2019.

The release month was confirmed with a new poster which teased the previously announced time-jump as well as a location switch-up thanks to a wrecked Capitol building in the background.

Video: Andrew Lincoln Breaks His Silence on The Walking Dead Departure (US Weekly)

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The Walking Dead season 9 cast 

Pretty much everyone will return for the ninth run bar season 8's three key departures - Chandler Riggs (Carl Grimes), Steven Ogg (Simon) and Lennie James whose Morgan Jones is now one of the lead characters in spinoff Fear the Walking Dead.

This doesn't mean everyone is sticking around, however. Season 9 will be the last stand for Andrew Lincoln whose Rick Grimes is leaving the show after nine years. He's rumoured to be appearing in just six episodes of the forthcoming run with Norman Reedus' Daryl Dixon set to receive a hell of a pay rise as the show's new lead.

Confirming his departure at Comic-Con, Lincoln told fans: "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."

It also seems to be the final time Lauren Cohan will be on board as a full-time regular having booked the lead in ABC comedy Whiskey Cavalier. While confirmed to return as Maggie Rhee, she'll be departing at some stage in season 9 with sporadic appearances set for future episodes.

The former's departure is paving the way for a cameo appearance from Jon Bernthal whose original character Shane Walsh will likely show up in a Rick Grimes flashback while Michael Cudlitz - who played Abraham - will return to direct an episode.

Danai Gurira speaks at a panel for "The Walking Dead" on day two of Comic-Con International on Friday, July 20, 2018, in San Diego. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP) © AP Danai Gurira speaks at a panel for "The Walking Dead" on day two of Comic-Con International on Friday, July 20, 2018, in San Diego. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP) Everyone else returning includes: Danai Gurira (Michonne), Melissa McBride (Carol), Alanna Masterson (Tara), Christian Serratos (Rosita), Josh McDermitt (Eugene), Seth Gilliam (Father Gabriel), Ross Marquand (Aaron), Tom Payne (Jesus), Katelyn Nacon (Enid), Khary Payton (Ezekiel), Cooper Andrews (Jerry), Pollyanna McIntosh (Jadis) and Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Negan).

Joining the cast as series regulars will be Avi Nash and Callan McAuliffe whose characters Siddiq and Aiden were introduced in season 8 while huge casting news to come out of Comic-Con confirmed that Samantha Morton (Minority Report) will be appearing in the second half of the season as Alpha, the villainous leader of a new clan known as The Whisperers.

Eleanor Matsuura and Nadia Hilker have been cast as beloved comic book characters Yumiko and Magna who co-lead a small group of survivors who come across Rick's new civilisation years after All Out War has ended (more on that below). Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them star Dan Fogler will play one of her followers named Luke.

The Walking Dead season 9 spoilers

Rick Grimes © Getty Rick Grimes From the moment season 8 finished, The Walking Dead crew - including new showrunner Angela Kang - have been teasing a time jump and only recently did cast member Tom Payne (Jesus) confirm just how long will have passed since All Out War ended: a year-and-a-half.

“Everyone has to go back to basics. Farmers are really useful, and Hilltop, that was their whole deal,“ he said on Talking Dead. ”They were growing stuff and tending the farm animals, and so that community is maybe doing better than other communities.“

Crew members have been teasing “A New Beginning” which comic book fans will know to be a whole new era for the show featuring a preened Rick Grimes and thriving Alexandria, much like the one yearned for by Carl ahead of his unexpected season 8 death.

This development was seemingly confirmed by the show's location manager who was seeking to build a 55-foot windmill - which matches one featured in the ages of Robert Kirkman's comics - at the site where they film scenes for Alexandria.

Andrew Lincoln speaks at a panel for "The Walking Dead" on day two of Comic-Con International on Friday, July 20, 2018, in San Diego. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP) © AP Andrew Lincoln speaks at a panel for "The Walking Dead" on day two of Comic-Con International on Friday, July 20, 2018, in San Diego. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP) Former showrunner Scott Gimple, who has been promoted to overseer of the AMC franchise, promised the time jump “takes this quantum leap forward in the stories we're telling.”

Kang assured fans during a 'Kick-Ass Women of AMC' panel that season 9 “has a really fresh look and feel” promising a Western vibe as episodes begin.

“We come in on some pretty fun stuff,” she added. “I'm really focusing a lot on the core character relationships in the show that have kind of been long-lasting, as well as all of our wonderful series regulars. We're seeing the world start to break down around our characters a bit more. They run into challenges, with things like the infrastructure breaking down around them and things that they used to scavenge being in much shorter supply.”

This being The Walking Dead it seems a human threat will manifest at some stage confirmed by the announcement that Samantha Morton will play Alpha, the leader of a villainous clan known as The Whisperers who disguise themselves with walker skin to blend in with them in a bid to go unnoticed.

Norman Reedus attends a panel for "The Walking Dead" on day two of Comic-Con International on Friday, July 20, 2018, in San Diego. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP) © AP Norman Reedus attends a panel for "The Walking Dead" on day two of Comic-Con International on Friday, July 20, 2018, in San Diego. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP) They can be glimpsed in the closing moments of the lengthy season 9 trailer ransacking a new group led by Yumiko and Magna.

Although the how is unknown, this season will also be relocating the action to Washington D.C. in some small part, at least. This plot twist is expected to bring back the helicopter last seen by Jadis and Negan and may have something to do with Georgie (Jayne Atkinson), the mysterious leader of a new colony who claims to have been watching Maggie's Hilltop-leading efforts from afar with admiration. Could this factor into Cohan's departure? Quite possibly.

There are a variety of other plot twists that seem to have been confirmed. One involves Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) who will be blind in one eye following the infection suffered after dousing himself in walker guts to escape a horde while reports suggest that wedding bells are in store for Carol (Melissa McBride) and Ezekiel (Khary Payton) officially extinguishing fans' hopes for the former's romance with Daryl.

Gallery: Who will survive The Walking Dead season 9? (Digital Spy)


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