Ever since The Walking Dead's season 6 finale cliffhanger aired earlier this year, speculation has run rampant over which staple character of the series will be revealed to have met their end at the hands of newly arrived villain Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Watchmen). While several more months still remain before the world finds out who didn't survive their encounter with "Lucille," one character who fans can be sure will hanging around for quite some time is Negan himself.
Now, it appears that Morgan has been upgraded to series regular status for season 7, along with three other recurring players introduced during season 6.
In addition to Negan, THR reportd that the other promoted characters include Daryl's facially disfigured nemesis Dwight (Austin Amelio), heroic addition to Rick's group Jesus (Tom Payne), and unsympathetic Hilltop Colony leader Gregory (Hollywood veteran Xander Berkeley). This follows the usual pattern of many important characters joining The Walking Dead as recurring players, before becoming series regulars the following season. One character not getting promoted is Carl's kinda sorta girlfriend Enid (Katelyn Nacon), first introduced when Rick's group of survivors found their way to Alexandria near the end of season 5. She's set to remain only a recurring cast member.
The above four additions to The Walking Dead's full-time roster bring the apocalyptic series' cast to a robust 20 series regulars, the most TWD has ever had at any one time. Of course, that number will instantly fall to 19 once Negan's season 6 finale victim is revealed during the season 7 premiere. With Negan around constantly going forward, that list of 19 is likely to become a good amount smaller over the course of the season as well. In short, it's probably not a great time to be a Walking Dead cast member if one enjoys having job security.
Season 7 seems poised to ramp the battle between TWD's main group and Negan's Saviors up to the nth degree, as anybody who's been watching The Walking Dead for the past six years is well aware that Rick Grimes and company won't hesitate to slaughter anyone who stands in their way of survival. The Saviors are clearly just as bloodthirsty, if not more so. There is only going to be one way this ends: kill or be killed.
Complicating matters is the pending introduction of well-known Walking Dead comic book character Ezekiel - leader of the community known as The Kingdom - and his ferocious pet tiger, Shiva. Thankfully, he'll presumably be on Rick's side, based on his role in TWD's source material. With Ezekiel's arrival, the famed "All Out War" arc seems likely to soon commence. Who will survive and what will be left of them?
The Walking Dead season 7 premieres in October 2016 on AMC.