A new poster for The Walking Dead season 9 teases Washington, D.C. as a new setting, while also hinting at a time jump. Fans know big changes are in store for AMC's zombie drama when it returns this fall for its ninth season. The biggest change will see Andrew Lincoln, the show's lead actor since the very first episode, exiting the role of Rick Grimes. With Lincoln departing, former Walking Dead actor Jon Bernthal will return for a one episode appearance as Shane, likely in a dream sequence or hallucination.
In another major shake-up, Maggie Rhee actress Lauren Cohan will have a greatly reduced role in season 9, appearing in just a handful of episodes. Story-wise, the show is expected to settle down after the relentless action of season 8's All Out War arc, with less fighting and more building (no doubt with help from the plans Georgie left with the Hilltop). Putting down the guns and picking up the hammers will, of course, be a lot easier now that Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) has been captured and his incarnation of the Saviors disbanded. So, the series can now go in several different directions - and now one of them is being teased.
With The Walking Dead set to grace SDCC later this month, AMC has released a teaser poster that gives fans a few tantalizing hints about what might be in store for the show in season 9. Most intriguingly, the poster indicates that Washington, D.C. may be one of the settings for the new season. For the past few years, the show has been set in and around Alexandria, Virgina, a suburb near the nation's capital, but D.C. itself has yet to be shown. See the image below:
Besides the sight of the crumbling post-apocalyptic Capitol dome, the art offers up a few other interesting details that point to possible future developments. Just above Michonne's left shoulder, there's a silhouette of a helicopter - which has shown up randomly during the course of the show - thus offering a potential hint that audiences might finally get an answer to who is flying it. Another hint is provided by Rick and Maggie's hair. Rick, for the first time in a while, is looking well-groomed, and Maggie has also grown her hair out much longer than it was in season 8. Does this mean a time-jump is in the offing? In fact, showrunner Angela Kang recently revealed that a time jump will happen at some point in season 9, but this seems to indicate it will be sooner rather than later.
Depending on how big a time-jump the show executes, it's possible that, when the new season arrives, Maggie will have already had the baby she has been carrying since season 7 (by the end of season 8 she still wasn't showing). As for Rick, the big question is how and when the character will exit the show, now that Andrew Lincoln is officially leaving. Recent rumors indicated that Rick would die at the hands of a walker herd relatively early in the season, but a social media posting by an official Walking Dead account seemed to debunk this story, which was originally circulated by a fan site known for spreading spoilers.
Fans now seemingly know that Washington, D.C. will figure into the action of season 9. Given that the group has been headed in that direction ever since leaving the vicinity of Atlanta several seasons ago, it's an arrival that has been a long time coming. Interestingly, though the city of D.C. does figure into the comics, being a target for occasional supply runs, it's never been central to the storyline. The show of course deviates from The Walking Dead comics whenever it pleases (the death of Carl being the biggest deviation of all), so perhaps the nation's capital will prove to be a major setting when The Walking Dead season 9 arrives.
The Walking Dead season 9 premieres on AMC in October.