Poll Shows Viewers Are Hopeful About ‘The Walking Dead’s Future After Rick Grimes Exit

A poll conducted by Skybound’s The Walking Dead reveals nearly 50 percent of voters are feeling optimistic over the future of the television series despite the loss of Rick Grimes star Andrew Lincoln.

The poll, launched the day after Lincoln’s Rick exited the series, shows 47 percent of fans are feeling “more hopeful” about the series’ future, while 34 percent are “somewhere in between.” 19 percent were left feeling “less hopeful” out of 6,117 votes cast.

A new trailer for the remaining three episodes in the front half of The Walking Dead Season Nine offered the first taste of the series without Rick Grimes, revealing a new status quo for Michonne (Danai Gurira), Carol (Melissa McBride), Daryl (Norman Reedus) and a nine-year-old Judith Grimes (Cailey Fleming) following a six-year time jump.

Lincoln, who will next reprise his role as the missing Rick Grimes in a trilogy of television movies for AMC, has since confirmed he will not be returning to the television series.

Lauren Cohan’s Maggie made her own quiet exit in 905. Unlike Lincoln, Cohan is expected to return for Season Ten, albeit in an abbreviated role.

The ongoing show will continue to act as an ensemble, elevating veterans like Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) and Rosita (Christian Serratos) while injecting new blood to the series in the form of multiple new characters both friend and foe.

Introduced to the series Sunday were newcomers Magna (Nadia Hilkes), Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura), Luke (Dan Fogler), Connie (Lauren Ridloff), and Kelly (Angel Theory), who reach The Walking Dead as the series gears up to introduce its next major threat: the Whisperers. Season Nine will soon see the arrival of vicious leader Alpha (Samantha Morton), brute right-hand man Beta (Ryan Hurst), and Lydia (Cassady McClincy), Alpha’s lovestruck daughter.

Despite the exit of its tenured lead, the mothership series shows no signs of slowing: Gurira is in negotiations for a steady Walking Dead future while McBride and Reedus have both inked hefty deals retaining both stars for another three years.

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The move comes as Walking Dead chief content officer Scott Gimple announced a slew of new projects to expand the budding universe, including additional films, specials, series, and other digital content that will explore the world of The Walking Dead in the past, present and future.

The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.