When The Walking Dead returns for its eighth season in October, two brand new characters will be introduced. Still one of the highest rated shows on television, AMC's popular apocalyptic zombie drama took a dip in viewership over season 7. Though the pacing issues, separation between the core group, and extreme violence at the hands of Jeffrey Dean Morgan's Negan, there were legitimate fan complaints, season 8 is looking to shake things up in a major way with the promise of a much faster paced season as war breaks out between the communities.
Season 7 ended with a bang when the leader of the Scavengers betrayed Rick, siding with Negan's Saviors instead. Carol once again saved the day with the grand entrance alongside the Kingdom group, who were also accompanied by Maggie and Hilltop gang. The Scavengers and Saviors may have fled by finale's end, but it's clear that war between the factions is just heating up. If Negan proved anything in season 7, it's that he's one nasty villain, and Scavenger leader Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh) may be just as villainous. With two of the three actors from the Saviors and Scavengers side of the war having recently been promoted to series regulars, the good guys are going to need every bit of help they can get. Even if they happen to have a ferocious tiger.
According to TVLine, that help may come in the form of two new characters on the side of good. Season 8 will introduce Dillon, a twentysomething with a penchant for sarcasm, and Abbud, an amiable Muslim American with frayed nerves from his lengthy time spent as a lone wolf in the zombie apocalypse. Of the pair, Dillon's role is likely to get picked up for future seasons of the show. Which means that Abbud's life span may be cut short.
Considering this show is known for its frequent, brutal character deaths, the introduction of new characters is not surprising. The further along the series gets, however, the more it departs from the comics upon which it's based. Neither Dillon nor Abbud are characters in the comic book series, which makes speculating their story trajectories much more difficult. With the battle lines definitively drawn, one or both could very well be a casualty of war.
The first Muslim American character to appear on the show came late in season 7, when Nabila approached Ezekiel in the Kingdom about the garden. His diverse group seems the most fitting for Abbud to find a home. Dillon's role will likely follow a trend that sees a character comprised of multiple comic book character counterparts. His use of sarcasm might offer a perfect balance to the usual tone of gloom.
The addition of fresh blood into the mix, along with the promise of a breakneck-paced upcoming season are much needed changes to reinvigorate enthusiasm for the series. With the direction season 8 seems to be heading, it could be the best season yet.
The Walking Dead is slated to return in October and it is expected that the first trailer will premiere during San Diego Comic-Con in July.