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For The Walking Dead, the return to an in-person Comic-Con after two years away due to Covid couldn't help but be a bit bittersweet. Showrunner Angela Kang told EW before the convention that "people are really looking forward to being with the fans again and feeling their energy and just being able to kind of return the love that they give us."

However, the zombie drama's appearance in Hall H on July 22 (featuring Norman Reedus, Melissa McBride, Seth Gilliam, Josh McDermitt, Ross Marquand, Cailey Fleming, Lauren Ridloff, and Michael James Shaw as well as producers Angela Kang, Greg Nicotero, and Scott M. Gimple) in San Diego's Convention Center also marked the final one for the main show that kicked off the now expansive Walking Dead universe, as the series will be wrapping up this fall with the last eight episodes on AMC.

"There are going to be some tears shed," Kang said before the panel. "We're a sentimental bunch." But there turned out to be more cheers than tears, especially when Andrew Lincoln and Danai Gurira walked on stage to announce a new Rick and Michonne series for AMC Networks in 2023. The series will replace the series of Rick Grimes movies that was first announced back in 2018 when Lincoln originally left the show.

Danai Gurira and Andrew Lincoln at Comic-Con 2022
Danai Gurira and Andrew Lincoln at Comic-Con 2022
| Credit: Todd Williamson/AMC/Shutterstock

After one fan from the crowd asked about a Walking Dead movie update and another asked about the future of Rick Grimes, Gimple noted there would be news on that later in the panel. And he delivered on that promise. And after the rest of the cast and producers left the stage at the end of the panel to a standing ovation, Gimple remained with moderator Chris Hardwick.

A video of Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Lauren Cohan was shared talking about Isle of the Dead, and then Gimple was asked if there was anything else to announce. Instead, Lincoln and Gurira took to the stage to massive applause.

"This is kind of overwhelming," Lincoln told the crowd. "Because you are the hardest of the hardcore fans, we have something we want to tell you first."

Gurira continued: "We are, Mr. Rick Grimes himself and Mr. Scott Gimple in an amazing bolo tie today, got together and have been cooking something up for you all because we missed you and we owe you the conclusion of this story of Rick and Michonne."

Added Lincoln: "So next year, there's going to be six episodes on AMC+ airing in 2023, so next year there's going to be a lot more to talk about." And then for emphasis, "I personally can't wait to get my cowboys boots back on and get the band back together."

EW has confirmed that those six episodes will not be a limited series, but rather the first season of a continuing series starring the duo.

It was first announced back in November of 2018 after Lincoln's last episode of The Walking Dead that the actor and character would be appearing in a trilogy of Rick Grimes films. "We're going to tell the story of what happens after that helicopter flight, and these are going to be big, epic entertainments," Gimple said at the time. "I am extremely hard at work on the first one right now, and most likely filming next year."

Then, at the end of the show's next Comic-Con appearance in July of 2019, a quick teaser video was shown with the words "Rick Grimes returns. Only in theaters." After the clip played, panel moderator Hardwick announced that, "The Walking Dead movie is official. It will be in theaters, brought to you by Universal, AMC, and Skybound. More information to come."

But more information did not come. For three years. Until now.

Of course, a new trailer for The Walking Dead was also unleashed at this year's panel. It began by looking back at classic moments over the past 11 seasons before looking ahead to the endgame — an endgame that showed Lance Hornsby behind bars saying, "Thank you for coming. I hoped you would." Does this mean Hornsby allowed himself to be captured? But perhaps the most intriguing moment of the trailer occurred when Aaron uttered, "I've heard stories of walkers that can climb walls and open doors." Say what?????

The cast and crew talked about the show coming to a close, with Nicotero, who directed the finale explaining how "directing the finale, I felt all the weight of expectation of everybody in this room…. We have an obligation to take the show out in the best way that we can."

As for how he was feeling about the show wrapping up and their final Comic-Con panel, Reedus was emotional. "I might cry actually," said the star. "I made some of my best friends on this show. It started off as this pure little thing. We started off in the woods. It was such a pure thing… We held onto that core belief system of doing it for real and that sense of family."

Then, after a pause, "I kinda just want to cry and make out with everybody in this room."

His co-star McBride was visibly fighting through tears as she spoke. "Just this whole experience has been amazing, out of this world, never thought it would become what it became, for myself, for everybody else up here," she explained. "There is so much I want to say, but I swear to God, it gets stuck. This always happens."

The only tears were tears of laughter when Reedus responded to fan's question as to whether Daryl should be with Carol or Connie and proclaimed that perhaps a threesome could be in order. (That was definitely not in the trailer.)

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The Walking Dead

AMC's zombie thriller, based on the classic comic book serial created by Robert Kirkman.

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