The Walking Dead has been shambling along like a decomposing corpse for the last few seasons now. While retaining an enthusiastic fanbase, the AMC series based on the comic books by Robert Kirkman has been hemorrhaging less committed viewers. While this is probably the case for any show that makes it past 5 seasons, detractors have called recent chapters slow, complained characters and storylines have been spread thin, and noting the show has drifted ridiculously far from its source material. While many never forgave showrunner Scott M. Gimple for the Glenn-is-dead-no-he-isn't fake-out of Season 5, countless hearts were shattered when Carl Grimes (played by Chandler Riggs) died at the midpoint of Season 8. Those wondering if the show could survive the decimation were further disenchanted when it was revealed earlier this summer that series mainstay Rick Grimes (played by Andrew Lincoln) is also on his way out.

Though crowds at last week's Comic-Con in San Diego were thrilled by confirmation that The Whisperers will (finally) make an appearance in Season 9 (with Samantha Morton set to portray the tribe's enigmatic leader, Alpha), Andrew Lincoln's eminent departure cast a long shadow over the festivities. The 5-minute Waling Dead Season 9 Comic-Con trailer that dropped makes it clear a major shake-up is brewing, with Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Daryl (Norman Reedus) making plans for Rick's ouster, setting up a potentially fatal confrontation. The one tiny glimmer of a silver lining could be news that, while Rick's departure is certain, his death isn't. Instead of ending up with a blade in his brain, he could pull a Morgan (Lennie James) and simply walk off into the sunset. Here's how Lincoln put it when cornered at Comic-Con.

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"So, yes, there is that way, and then there is obviously the other way which we've done quite a lot. Obviously, I'm not going to tell you which way. I mean, I prefer the Lennie James of it all, but I think what we have in store this season is truly remarkable and I'm very, very proud of the work that we've done."

With Gimple recently promoted from showrunner to series overlord, new showrunner Angela Kang has a herculean task ahead of her if she plans on giving the show a much-needed shot in the arm. She's promised to give the female characters special treatment and elevated story lines. But while we can look forward to major action from Melissa McBride, Pollyanna McIntosh, Danai Gurira, and Alanna Masterson, it's already been revealed this this will also be the final season for fan-favorite Cohan, who will only appear in 6 episodes of Season 9. Let the mourning begin.

"Based on the comic book series written by Robert Kirkman, this gritty drama portrays life in the months and years that follow a zombie apocalypse. Led by former police officer Rick Grimes, his family and a group of other survivors find themselves constantly on the move in search of a safe and secure home. But the pressure each day to stay alive sends many in the group to the deepest depths of human cruelty, and Rick discovers that the overwhelming fear of the survivors can be more deadly than the zombies walking among them."

The Walking Dead returns to AMC this October. Check out the previously mentioned 5-minute trailer below for a taste of what awaits us. This news first appeared on Screen Rant.