‘The Walking Dead’ Season 9 Will Tell Different, Female-Driven Stories as Rick Grimes Exits

The Walking Dead, long steered by Andrew Lincoln’s Rick Grimes, turns a bigger eye towards female-driven stories in front of and behind the camera this season as Lincoln exits the series and longtime writer-producer Angela Kang establishes herself as showrunner.

“I’m proud to be a part of a show that, even the comics that the show is based on, had the story values to put forth incredibly strong, powerful female characters. Michonne is from the comic book, and it can’t get stronger than her,” former showrunner-turned-Chief Content Officer Scott Gimple told Us.

“You’re going to see some new characters this season from the comic book, incredibly strong female characters. And to have anything short of that is just to tell a frickin’ lame story, and that’s been true long before this political moment. When you don’t have strong female characters in your stories, you are telling stupid stories.”

Characters like Danai Gurira’s Michonne, Lauren Cohan’s Maggie, and Melissa McBride’s Carol step into even bigger roles in Season Nine as they undertake leadership at the various communities now comprising the new world, dutifully shepherded in by Rick and Michonne as inspired by the dying visions of the late Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs).

Gimple, who takes less of a hands-on role this season as result of his larger universe-wide duties as CCO, has fully handed the keys to Kang, who infuses the revitalized new season with fresh writers and directors alongside series veterans like Greg Nicotero and Michael E. Satrazemis.

“I was proud from the moment I started [working on The Walking Dead]. I’m that much prouder to have promoted Angela Kang to showrunner and to step back and tell different stories,” Gimple said.

“I think that The Walking Dead is a place where you can find great female voices, great female artists and stories that honor female characters, not as a novelty but as intrinsic story value.”

Kang, who has been with the series since its second season in 2011, has had a hand in developing many of the female characters who up their roles in the wider story moving forward.

“There are a number of incredibly powerful female leaders on this show, in the story,” Gimple added. “And the story turns on their decisions and actions.”

Gimple teased “multiple huge stories coming up” as well as “big shifts,” noting “the way that we tell stories has changed.”

“It really has different emphasis that other seasons have not, and that’s to give the audience something new,” he added. “The pressure I would imagine with any show, whether it be this show or 60 Minutes, is after all these years providing some novelty, new stuff, fighting hard to give the audience an experience that they haven’t had in eight years. Going into our ninth season, that’s been the big thing. And I think that this incredible writing staff, that this incredible cast has really risen to the occasion, the producers. And it feels great!”

“We’re going to see our women really step up,” Kang previewed to EW this summer. “And we’re gonna show a lot of stories about leadership with Maggie, with Michonne, with Carol. And they’re gonna go toe to toe with each other and with our men.”

The Walking Dead will also bring forth multiple new characters over the course of Season Nine, including comic book fan-favorites Magna (Nadia Hilkes) and Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura) — who in Robert Kirkman’s comic books are lovers — and sisters Kelly (Angel Theory) and Connie (Lauren Ridloff).

Connie, unlike her comic book counterpart, is Deaf and communicates through ASL — a first for the series.

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Other characters still on the way this season include vicious comic book villain Alpha (played in the series by Samantha Morton), leader of enemy group The Whisperers, and daughter Lydia (played in the series by Cassady McClincy).

The Walking Dead Season Nine launches Sunday, October 7 at 9/8c on AMC.