The Walking Dead still has a lot to get excited about and will still adapt stories from the comic books according to franchise creator, Robert Kirkman. The ninth season of AMC's zombie apocalypse series is set to premiere this week and promises a vastly different set-up, with Rick Grimes' new attempt at civilization booming. Unfortunately, Rick won't have much time to enjoy the fruits of his labor, as it was confirmed earlier this year that actor Andrew Lincoln would be departing the role to spend more time with his family in the United Kingdom.
With Rick heading towards the exit door, fans familiar with the The Walking Dead comic series might have thought his son Carl could step-up to replace him. Sadly, that option is firmly off the table, as Rick's son was controversially killed off last season when he fell victim to a routine zombie bite. The death created a lot of controversy among viewers, as it soon transpired that actor Chandler Riggs had no intention of quitting the series and was as surprised as the audience at his character's demise.
As such, The Walking Dead season 9 will, at some point, be Grimes-less for the first time in its history and this has caused many to question whether or not the show can continue without the duo. Speaking at the currently-running New York Comic Con (via THR), Robert Kirkman responded to these worries, attempting to reassure fans that the TV show will continue its course. Kirkman states:
"It's a deep bench on the Walking Dead show. I know we're all upset over the loss of Carl and equally upset over what's going to happen with Rick. But we all still love Michonne, Carol and all the other characters. Negan's still around. There's a lot of great stuff coming. Those changes, while they bring us further from the comic, aren't going to limit us from adapting stories from the comic. You're still getting the Whisperers this season, and it's spectacular. There are some creepy, intense moments coming from the comic. There's a lot to be excited about."
Kirkman certainly has a point when he speaks about The Walking Dead's strength in depth, and indeed the likes of Michonne, Carol and Negan are all capable of taking center stage and filling the void left by Rick and Carl, as is fan-favorite, Daryl Dixon. It's worth remembering, however, that with only days before the season 9 premiere, Kirkman is unlikely to publicly admit to any worries regarding the show's future and having lost two lead characters (three including Lauren Cohan's Maggie, who producers are still hoping will return in later seasons), it would be surprising if The Walking Dead's producers weren't feeling a huge sense of apprehension prior to the premiere episode.
Whether or not The Walking Dead can survive without Rick and Carl is something that likely won't begin to become clear until the end of season 9. On one hand, the duo have been the focus of the story since season 1 and almost every major comic arc revolves around then, but on the other, AMC's The Walking Dead has been on a viewership decline in recent seasons and a major overhaul could be just the thing to kickstart the series.
The Walking Dead season 9 premieres October 7th on AMC.