After eight seasons, The Walking Dead will address and correct a long-running and oft-pointed out criticism: the seeming infinite supply of gas and ammunition in the zombie apocalypse.
When audiences see the survivors next, the series will have undergone a "good time jump — big enough that the world has changed around our characters," showrunner Angela Kang told TV Line.
"We'll see some new looks and new feels to the show, and there will be more instances of man-made things breaking down and nature kind of taking over. [Our survivors] will also be using more hand weapons, because there's just not enough ammo."
The survivors' quaint new means of transport and combat were glimpsed in first-look photos showing Michonne (Danai Gurira) on horseback and Siddiq (Avi Nash), Enid (Katelyn Nacon), Cyndie (Sydney Park) and Alden (Callan McAuliffe) tending to horse drawn carriages.
"There's a fun Western vibe that has emerged," Kang told Entertainment Weekly. "We are going into a period where a lot of the things that we've seen in previous seasons have broken down, so they've got these horses and carriages that are being drawn around instead of cars. Things are lit with oil lamps. People are using different kinds of weaponry. There's a real grittiness to it that I think will be fun and fresh for the viewers."
That includes the ruination of man-made objects and structures that have since broken down. "Infrastructure like roads and bridges are changing and crumbling. And we'll also explore what happens as resources are getting low," Kang teased, meaning no more unleashing of countless rounds of precious ammunition as seen in the alliance's shootout on the Sanctuary in 8x01.
The scarcity of ammunition acted as a plot point in the back half of The Walking Dead's gunfire-heavy season 8, when the resourcefulness of Alexandrian-turned-Savior Eugene (Josh McDermitt) was tapped into by Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) to craft much-needed bullets in the strife against Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and the united Alexandrian, Kingdom, and Hilltop communities.
Rick was spotted toting a spiky mace in season 9 set photos, which could become his go-to weapon in lieu of his trademark Colt Python in serving the series' new rustic direction. Meanwhile, Hilltop leader Maggie (Lauren Cohan) is expected to have implemented the teachings of benefactor Georgie (Jayne Atkinson), who entrusted her with "a key" to a better future in a hefty guide meant to further develop the farming community.
The Walking Dead airs its season 9 premiere this October on AMC.