The two stars had departed the main series by 2020, but will now make a stunning return to the franchise.
The Walking Dead fan favourites Andrew Lincoln and Danai Gurira will return as their beloved characters, Rick Grimes and Michonne Hawthorne, in a new spin-off series of the zombie franchise.
The untitled series will wrap up the stories of the long time characters, and effectively replace the previously announced film trilogy that Lincoln was originally set to star in.
Entertainment Weekly reports that it will be a continuing series, with the first season consisting of six episodes.
Announced at San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) International in the U.S., the new series will be helmed The Walking Dead universe’s Chief Content Officer Scott M. Gimple, who will serve as showrunner.
Lincoln and Gurira will also serve as executive producers.
The two stars surprised fans with their appearance at a SDCC panel, confirming that the new series will begin airing in 2023.
Lincoln was the original lead of The Walking Dead, starring in the show for the first nine seasons. Gurira made her first appearance in season three, departing in season ten.
Their characters, Rick and Michonne, had developed a relationship on the show, and the new series will “continue the journey and love story” of the beloved couple.
The show’s official description reads:
“This series presents an epic love story of two characters changed by a changed world.
“Kept apart by distance. By an unstoppable power. By the ghosts of who they were. Rick and Michonne are thrown into another world, built on a war against the dead… And ultimately, a war against the living.
“Can they find each other and who they were in a place and situation unlike any they’ve ever known before? Are they enemies? Lovers? Victims? Victors?
“Without each other, are they even alive — or will they find that they, too, are the Walking Dead?”
About returning to his famed role, Lincoln said:
“This has been the most extraordinary journey playing Rick Grimes for the best part of a decade.
“The friendships I’ve made along the way are deep and lasting, so it’s fitting that I finally get to complete the story with Danai and Scott and the rest of the TWD family.
“I’m so excited to be returning to the screen as Rick, reuniting with Danai as Michonne, and bringing the fans an epic love story to add to the Walking Dead Universe.”
“Michonne and this TWD family has meant so much to me, and to continue the journey of these beloved characters, alongside Scott and Andy, both creatively and in front of the camera, and bringing The Walking Dead fans something truly special is just glorious.
“I can’t wait to pick up the katana again.”
Dan McDermott, president of entertainment and AMC Studios for AMC Networks, said:
“This is a moment fans of The Walking Dead have been waiting for since Rick disappeared in the helicopter early in season nine, and Michonne journeyed away on a quest to find him the following season.
“What a great surprise for the fans at this final Comic-Con for the series that launched this universe and made television history. We couldn’t be more excited for a truly epic series finale later this year and to see Andy and Danai return in a new series they helped create, one of three new series coming in 2023 that continue the stories of so many iconic and fan-favourite TWD characters.”
The announcement of the new spin-off series comes as the main The Walking Dead series is set to come to an end after 11 seasons later this year.
Two parts of the final season have already aired, available to watch on Foxtel and Binge in Australia, with the final part of eight episodes likely to start airing in October and conclude in an epic finale in November.
But the newly announced spin-off series isn’t the only one coming, with three further spin-offs having been announced in The Walking Dead universe.
Set for release in August this year, a six-episode anthology series titled Tales of the Walking Dead will explore the backstories of both new and existing characters in the show’s universe. Actors such as Anthony Edwards, Parker Posey, Terry Crews, Olivia Munn, Jessie T. Usher will make their franchise debut, while Samantha Morton will return as villain, Alpha.
An untitled spin-off starring Norman Reedus (who has starred in all 11 seasons of The Walking Dead), as his famed character Daryl Dixon is in the works, with David Zabel set to be the showrunner. This series was originally meant to also star long time cast member Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier, but she departed the project earlier this year.
Another spin-off, titled Isle of the Dead, will star Lauren Cohan and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, as their characters Maggie Greene and Negan Smith. They are also executive producing with Eli Jorné, who is serving as showrunner.
Both of these series’ are planned for a 2023 release, alongside the untitled Rick and Michonne series.
All of these additional spin-offs follow the two-season run of The Walking Dead: World Beyond series (available via Prime Video), and the large-scale and ongoing Fear The Walking Dead series (some seasons available on Foxtel and Binge).
The untitled Rick and Michonne spin-off series will air in 2023.
Australian fans can see where it all began by watching The Walking Dead either on Foxtel or Binge, ahead of its conclusion later this year.
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