The latest Comic-Con panel for AMC’s The Walking Dead arrives at a pivotal time for the series. Original star Andrew Lincoln has left the show and Danai Gurira will bow out after this season. The Image comic book, which has long been the chief inspiration for the show and its storylines, has come to an end. This is also the show’s tenth season, a milestone that few television shows have reached.

And yet, The Walking Dead continues to be a major draw for the crowds at Hall H, even as the series attempts to redefine itself a decade into its run. Here’s what we learned from this year’s panel.

The panel included chief content officer Scott M. Gimple, showrunner and executive producer Angela Kang, executive producers Robert Kirkman, Gale Anne Hurd, Dave Alpert, and Greg Nicotero, and cast members Norman Reedus, Danai Gurira, Melissa McBride, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Avi Nash, Cooper Andrews, Ryan Hurst, Nadia Hilker, Eleanor Matsuura, and Cailey Fleming.

The End of the Comic

Series creator and comic writer Robert Kirkman was up front about his decision to end the comic, but he promised that this doesn’t mean the show is coming to an end anytime soon. “There’s something I really want to say to the fans. The comic book is something very special to me,” he said. However, he noted that the comic “was always Rick Grimes’ story and Carl Grimes’ story.” And with both of those characters no longer on the series, the show has to become something else.

“This show is about the world,” he said, noting that the show is about more than a few key characters. “There is a lot more story to tell.”

What to Expect From Season 10

The new season will continue to adapt the “Whisperer War” arc from the comic, with the main crew continuing their conflict with an enemy who literally wears zombie flesh to hide in the open. Angela Kang teased that “We’re getting into a whole different style of war” and that they’re still finding new ways to explore the corners of this community.

And while more war is on the horizon, Dave Alpert expressed hope they could capture elements from the final issues of the comic series. “I’m still getting over issue 193 of the comic,” he said, applauding how the final storyline saw the prevention of another conflict and a peaceful resolution for many characters. While the nature of the show (and the deaths of different characters) makes a direct adaptation impossible, he hopes they can capture the quiet tone of the comics.

Greg Nicotero directed the first episode of season 10 and he described the new status quo as a welcome chance of pace. “It feels new and it feels fresh and we’re seeing our characters in very different lights,” he said, promising an opening scene that feels like it come from a different show entirely. “It opens with a bang,” he teased.

And while the show continues to shed core cast members, more newcomers are rising to take their place. Thora Birch has joined the cast as Gamma, a Whisperer soldier who is extremely loyal to the cause. On the other wide of things, Kevin Carroll will play Virgil, an intelligent and resourceful traveler who is desperately trying to find his home and family.

Character Evolution

The last season saw a significant time jump, which means that most of the core cast are in very new places. That evolution continues in season 10, where Norman Reedus’ Daryl finds himself thrust into a position of leadership. “There are a whole lot of people really losing their shit this season,” Reedus said, noting that Daryl has to fight to keep everything around him from crumbling. “There are a lot of walls closing in from all directions,” he said.

Meanwhile, Daryl’s BFF Carol continues down her own path. “[Carol] is leading,” Melissa McBride said. “She’s leading her own fight in a big way. Carol has been so many different types of people. Every season, she comes back and she’s a new person.” McBride described her continuously changing personality as a “survival mechanism,” which is accurate considering how long she’s been on the show.

With things going so poorly for our heroes, it may take a villain to save the day. “Last year was a long year for Negan,” Jeffrey Dean Morgan said, alluding to his character’s ongoing imprisonment. “I think Negan is going to stretch his legs a big this season, certainly.” He also noted that the character’s ongoing redemption arc is “as genuine as can be,” but “Negan is always going to be Negan.”

Sadly, Danai Gurira confirmed that she’ll be bowing out this season, citing her desire to pursue other personal work:

“I can confirm this will be [my] last season. This has been one of the purest joys of my life to play this role and to be amongst these people. I am very, very thankful for the experience I’ve had in ways I can’t even express right now.”

The Walking Dead season 10 is set to premiere on October 6, 2019.

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