Season nine of The Walking Dead is set to leave viewers a little shellshocked as many aspects of the beloved show are about to get changed.
If the death of Carl Grimes (played by Chandler Riggs) wasnt bad enough last season, it has since been announced that Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) will be making his exit.
Although it has not yet been announced how Rick will be leaving the show, it has been confirmed he will only be appearing in six episodes.
But while it has yet to be revealed whether Rick will make it through the show alive, he may have more time on the show than initially thought.
According to ComicBook.com the first episode of season nine will have a run time of 86 minutes.
This is one of the longest episodes of the show ever aired, almost as long as season eights 88 minute midseason finale, and twenty minutes longer than season eights premiere.
Viewers could be looking at a relatively slower paced first episode this year, as it was also confirmed the show will see an 18-month time jump after the brutal end to All Out War.
In the premiere fans are sure to see how the group has progressed since the defeat and capture of Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan).
Fans will also presumably see how the dynamics in the group have changed since the fall of Negan, and how they are all preparing for the loss of Rick.
But will the first episode of the season begin outlining how Rick will be leaving the show?
The plot synopsis for season nine was recently released by AMC, which included: Last season brought the culmination of All Out War, which pitted Rick Grimes and his group of survivors against the Saviors and their cunning leader, Negan. With Negans life in his hands, Rick had a character-defining choice in front of him.
As time passes, the communities confront unexpected obstacles, danger, and of course, walkers, but nothing quite prepares them for the formidable force they are about to encounter, which threatens the very idea of civilisation that our survivors have worked so hard to build.
These unexpected obstacles could put Rick in danger in the coming months, but could he be betrayed by one of the members of his team?
New showrunner Angela Kang recently spoke about the changes upcoming in the show, and the real reason Negan was spared by Rick.
She said: We talked about it in the writers room, just this idea of, when a war ends and then you have people who are soldiers in the war, generals what happens when theres no real transition? Because its an apocalypse, said Angela on The Walking Dead season nines preview special.
I think in a lot of ways, Rick goes down there and its part therapy and part gloating. Theyre just trying to work their way through it. They both feel in some ways like dinosaurs after the war.
As Rick is trying to figure out whats the next step, whats the next mission, Negan kind of needles him, but Rick needs to be able to justify, This is why I kept you alive, its so that we can have a future.
Meanwhile Rick may find himself receiving kickback from Maggie (Lauren Cohan) in the upcoming season, as she has spent the last 18 months working with the farming community.
While she holds all of the food, she then in turn holds all of the power – and she may not roll over for anyone.
The Walking Dead season 9 will air later this year on AMC and FOX UK.
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