How 'The Walking Dead' Season 9 Could Reset The Entire Series

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The conclusion of the war with the Saviors is coming in the Season 8 finale of The Walking Dead, but what's next for Rick and the gang? The premiere date for The Walking Dead Season 9 hasn't been announced yet, but it will be happening within the year. And there's always Season 4 of Fear The Walking Dead to enjoy in the meantime.

TVLine noted that Season 9 will begin filming in May, just weeks after the Season 8 finale, "Wrath," airs on April 15. And AMC confirmed that The Walking Dead Season 9 will premiere in "late 2018." So if the ninth season follows the schedules set by all previous seasons, you can expect The Walking Dead to return in October 2018.

Ever since Season 1, the zombie show's first episode of the season has premiered in October — which is fitting, because of Halloween. For a show that likes to keep its secrets, the estimated premiere date isn't usually a mystery. As for what will go down in Season 9 — well, that's a different story. The Season 8 finale promises to be a major showdown between Negan and Rick and that means that every character will be fighting for his or her life.

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The British website Express theorized that Jeffrey Dean Morgan's current full beard (he's been out and about promoting his film Rampage) means that Negan will be in Season 9. After all, in the comics, Rick allows Negan to live and takes him as a prisoner. Then there's a two-year time jump after the war and Negan is still in jail with a straggly, long beard.

But while the media and fans can theorize all they want, the Season 8 finale will provide much more insight in what's coming next year. Here's all the intel that the people behind the show have provided so far in advance of the big Season 8 conclusion.

A New (Female) Showrunner

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For Season 9, Angela Kang is stepping into the role of showrunner. Kang has worked as a producer and writer on The Walking Dead and she takes over for Scott Gimple. But Gimple will still very much be a part of the world that Robert Kirkman created. He's transitioning to being a chief content officer for The Walking Dead television universe. But Kang will give the show a fresh perspective.

No Morgan

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Morgan and his fighting stick crossing over to Fear The Walking Dead is old news, but it's one of the only definite pieces of information around about Season 9. Every other character's fate is up in the air.

A Whole New World

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Gimple told USA Today, "Season 9 will be such a new world [and] new show in so many ways." He further expanded on this idea to Entertainment Weekly when he discussed the Season 8 finale. "... this episode isn't just like these 15 episodes coming to a conclusion, but Angela and myself and the writers had always talked about this in many ways being sort of the conclusion of the first eight seasons," Gimple said. "This show will be very much a new show next year and with a bigger, new narrative." So get ready for perhaps even more communities in Season 9.

The Whisperers Could Arrive

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Speaking of new communities, the bad guys after the Saviors in the comics are the Whisperers. And if you think the Saviors are evil, wait until you get a load of these walker skin-wearing baddies. Gimple told TVLine that the Whisperers probably wouldn't appear in Season 8, but that they were "absolutely on the menu. I just wouldn't necessarily say for this season or even exactly when." So while Gimple wouldn't confirm a Season 9 appearance, it's certainly possible.

As for other people showing up, Maria Bello was rumored to have been cast in a mystery role, per People. But there's also Georgie and her "key to the future" and the people in the helicopter, so it is evident that there will be a much bigger world when The Walking Dead returns for Season 9 in fall 2018. It's just uncertain which of the established characters will still be a part of it.