‘The Walking Dead’ Is “Rebooted” After Rick Grimes Exit

Negan actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan says The Walking Dead experiences a sort of reboot after Rick Grimes actor Andrew Lincoln exits the series early on in Season Nine.

“Rick Grimes, I think, is synonymous with Walking Dead, so it’s a little bit of a reboot for the show — but in a good way,” Morgan told Extra.

“I really feel positive about that aspect of it, but I tell you, I miss Andy. We all miss Andy. Just his energy and how positive and gung-ho he is, it’s a rare thing and he is an incredible leader. And we feel his loss.”

Asked if he could come back, Morgan smiled and said “we’ll see.”

The exit of Lincoln and Rick Grimes comes as The Walking Dead is overhauled and refreshed under new showrunner Angela Kang, who brings with her an influx of new writers and directors for the season.

Following an 18-month time jump after the defeat of Negan and the Saviors, Rick and Michonne (Danai Gurira) are shepherding five communities — Alexandria, Hilltop, Kingdom, Oceanside, the Sanctuary — into the future as they strive to rebuild civilization anew.

“I think it’s gonna be a very cool year. I’m excited for what Angela’s doing, I’m excited that some of the cast members that we haven’t seen [much of] in a couple years are really gonna step up and grab the bull by the horns, it’s gonna be a good year,” Morgan said.

As for his ousted dictator, who has been effectively neutered by his prison sentence, Negan goes into the new world “in a world of sh-t.”

“We’re gonna see a different side of Negan, certainly,” Morgan teased. “I think for the last couple of years he’s been kind of doing the same thing, and so we’re gonna see a different side to him, for sure.”

The new status quo will be reinforced by both the exits of Lincoln and Maggie Rhee actress Lauren Cohan, who makes her own exit in episode 906, which Cohan teased as a milestone episode for the series.

In spite of the major losses, the new stewardship under Kang has cultivated a “really heartfelt” and “really dangerous” new Walking Dead, Daryl Dixon star Norman Reedus told Extra.

“The whole show is being driven by women, we have all new women writers, actors, directors, a new showrunner, and it’s really put a different spin on the show,” he said, promising a “gut-wrenching, terrifying, really honest season.”

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Morgan and Reedus previously characterized the refreshed season as a “reboot” when speaking to Variety during San Diego Comic-Con, teasing a western-like season and a “different vibe” but with “all the people that you obviously have fallen in love with through the years.”

The Walking Dead Season Nine premieres Sunday, October 7 on AMC.