The Walking Dead season 9 received not one but TWO time jumps, with the latest forward leap placing the show six years in the future - and that "future" can also be taken quite literally by viewers. It's been known for quite some time now that Andrew Lincoln would be leaving The Walking Dead in season 9, after first discussing his potential exit several years ago. Franchise writers and producers came up with an interesting way to conclude Rick Grimes' TV story while also laying the groundwork for it to continue in three Walking Dead movies.
To briefly recap, in The Walking Dead season 9 episode 5, "What Comes After," Rick Grimes prevents a zombie horde from reaching Alexandria, Hill Top, the Kingdom, and so forth, by blowing up the bridge that they had built. But, in doing so, he was swept away in the current along with the zombies and then washed up on shore near Jadis, who took him with her in the Walking Dead's mysterious helicopter. Shortly after confirming that Rick didn't die, The Walking Dead subtly jumped forward six years into the future - in-universe and real life.
It was recently confirmed that The Walking Dead season 8's All Out War story arc took place just over two years after the zombie apocalypse began, and with season 9 jumping forward another year-and-a-half, it became clear that Rick Grimes had departed The Walking Dead TV show sometime in 2013. But with the new, six-year time jump, The Walking Dead now takes place sometime in 2019, which means that, for the first time ever, the series takes place ahead of real life.
One of the biggest problems The Walking Dead had was its confounding timeline, which only made less and less sense as the seasons passed. That required constant explanations for Carl Grimes' age, something that actor Chandler Riggs doesn't even understand, but it also meant explaining Maggie Rhee's (Lauren Cohan) overly long pregnancy. By placing the series in the future, they can start fresh - with new characters, a new story, and a new timeline (of sorts) - without continuing to box themselves into what is arguably their biggest continuity issue.
Plus, The Walking Dead can now further explore the broken world. For years, it seemed like the survivors on the show had an unlimited supply of weapons, ammunition, and gasoline, but that's starting to change. Audiences saw the onset of that in the first few episodes of The Walking Dead season 9, and it's certainly something that can be measured more with the series' new time jump. But that's something viewers will just have to wait and see what happens.