'The Walking Dead' Season 9 Will Say Goodbye to Rick Grimes 'in a Great Way'

The Walking Dead Season 9 is Andrew Lincoln's last and will honor his character, Rick Grimes, new showrunner Angela Kang told Entertainment Weekly Wednesday.

The series, which premiered in 2010, began with Rick waking up from a coma and finding the world had changed. The dead were walking around and had become a threat. "The goal this season was just to pay homage to that character … Rick Grimes has been somebody that people have loved watching," Kang told the publication. "He is this man who was looking for his family, and found them, and lost many of them, but has fought on and on. … We just really wanted to be respectful of that character and send him off in a great way."

Will that "great way" include an emotional death scene? More often than not, there has been one for an actor's exit from the AMC zombie series. Lincoln said his "relationship with Mr. Grimes is far from over" at the show's San Diego Comic-Con panel on July 20 and brought up Lennie James leaving the show (for the spinoff, Fear the Walking Dead) and his character, Morgan, surviving. Those comments suggest Rick may not die, though the series must continue without him.

While The Walking Dead started by following Lincoln's character, "it's never been a story just about this one man," Kang said to EW. "It's always been a story about this group of people that have each other's backs, that help each other survive, that help each other be more human."

Rick is that group's leader, and his "underlying goodness and leadership will shine in moments of great adversity" in Season 9, Kang told The Hollywood Reporter on July 11. While there is a time jump, the group will deal with "some of the aftereffects of" Rick not killing Negan in the Season 8 finale, she said to the publication. Some characters, like Lauren Cohan's Maggie, didn't agree with his decision.

The group will have other problems, including fewer resources. "Food is scarce, the Hilltop's the main sort of food source, communications are breaking down, we don't have gas anymore and we're on horseback, and we've run out of bullets," Lincoln told EW Monday.

The trailer released at the Comic-Con panel shows some of those problems for the survivors, as well as conflicts arising as they build communities.

The Walking Dead Season 9 premieres Sunday, October 7 at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.