12:29pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Walking Dead' Season 9 Trailer Debuts at Comic-Con
In keeping with tradition, AMC's The Walking Dead used its annual Comic-Con panel to officially launch its season nine marketing campaign, dropping the trailer for the highly anticipated creative reboot and announcing its return date.
The zombie drama based on Robert Kirkman's comic series will return Oct. 7 at 9 p.m. on AMC, followed by Talking Dead and interim host Yvette Nicole Brown, the actress and superfan who also replaced Chris Hardwick as the moderator during Friday's panel in San Diego.
Season nine is wildly considered to be a creative reboot in many ways. Longtime writer and exec producer Angela Kang was promoted to showrunner, replacing Scott M. Gimple — who was upped to oversee the entire Walking Dead franchise as its chief creative officer in a larger role for AMC that helps make up for Kirkman's move to Amazon.
On-screen on Thursday, Kirkman confirmed that leading man Andrew Lincoln (aka Rick) would indeed be exiting the franchise this season. Sources told THR that Lincoln will have an exit strategy similar to co-star Lauren Cohan (Maggie), with the latter returning for only six episodes as she segues to ABC's midseason drama Whiskey Cavalier following a salary renegotiation gone south with AMC. Amid Lincoln's pending departure, star Norman Reedus (Daryl) has been in negotiations for a new $20 million-plus deal to take over as The Walking Dead's leading man.
All the creative changes come as The Walking Dead season nine will feature a time jump in a storyline ripped directly from Kirkman's source material. As in the comics, the series will take a leap forward following Rick's war with Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and, according to Kang, will focus on the larger theme of "what it means to have a civilization." That was among the narratives teed up at the end of season eight when the show opted to kill off Carl (Chandler Riggs), who long had been considered the future of the series and (spoiler alert) continues to kick ass in the comics. That helped set the stage for Lincoln's departure.