The Walking Dead showrunner Angela Kang confirms that season 9 will include a time jump. After the earth-shattering events of season 8, AMC's long-running zombie drama is in for even more massive changes in season 9. The biggest change of all will be the departure of Rick Grimes actor Andrew Lincoln, who will exit The Walking Dead mid-season (but not before one last visit from his old friend Shane). Morever, Lauren Cohan will also appear in fewer episodes during the season's first half, though it's unclear if she'll appear in the second-half.
With filming on season 9 already underway, fans have gotten a few hints as to the specific direction the story will go now that the All Out War story arc is completed and Negan has been taken captive. Speculation has held that a time jump could be in the offing, much like the one executed in the comics after All Out War. Another fan guess has the show introducing comic book villains The Whisperers, a group that has been rumored to be on the way for several seasons now. But, it seems that the showrunners might have something else in mind.
The Walking Dead showrunner Angela Kang has provided an answer to at least one piece of season 9 speculation: that a time jump is going to happen. Speaking during the The Kick-Ass Women of AMC portion of the AMC Summit in New York, Kang confirmed that the series will, indeed, execute a leap forward now that the All Out War arc has wrapped up:
“What’s really fun for me is we’re working on a season that has a really fresh look and feel...We’re playing with time in the story, we’re jumping forward in time.”
During the panel highlighting women who work both on-screen and behind-the-scenes at AMC, Kang also talked about the significance of the show's female characters and how they always stand on equal footing with the men:
“Our characters they’re women - they go toe to toe with the men. We don’t write damsels in distress. Or sometimes if they are the men are males in distress. The women save the men just as much as the men save the women. It’s really a story about survivors who help each other through the apocalypse. ”
That The Walking Dead looks ready to jump ahead in time comes as no surprise after the two-year time jump in the comics following All Out War. That being said, the move could easily be interpreted as a sign of desperation for a show that has arguably felt increasingly stale in recent seasons. Time jumps can sometimes act as necessary narrative resets, but they can also feel like gimmicks. Some felt it was more of a gimmick when AMC's Fear the Walking Dead executed its own time jump in order to catch up with the The Walking Dead's timeline, so the character of Morgan (Lennie James) could swap shows. Now, it appears The Walking Dead will spring ahead itself, though it remains to be seen how big a jump the show will have, or when in the season it will happen.
The Walking Dead season 9 premieres later this year on AMC.