When The Walking Dead returns for Season 7 this fall, I assume the first 10-15 minutes of the premiere will put to rest the cliffhanger mystery that has circled the drama like a cow-flinging tornado since April's finale. But then there's an entire season still left to go that hasn't been the subject of tirades and defenses. According to the multi-hyphenate Greg Nicotero, the show's future will change up the most recent semblance of a status quo.

The next season is a very different Walking Dead from the one we are accustomed to. I think that people will enjoy that the show continues to change direction and doesn't just deliver the same thing over and over again. It's the logical place where our show should go.

The one thing we can definitely take from Nicotero's claim is that Negan will now be played by David Spade and everybody in Rick's group will wear swimsuits at all times. Maybe "definitely" is stretching it.

By the nature of its split schedule, The Walking Dead adheres well to a pattern of story-shifting every 8 episodes, and Season 6 had arguably the most distinct halves of any, given how the first half skipped around in time and location before reverting back to a more linear take for the Saviors' arrival. Negan being around now will throw further spokes into the average storytelling gears, and we might not see Aggro-Rick again for a little while as he gets accustomed to not being the head man on campus.

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That conjecture comes from knowing how the story plays out in Robert Kirkman's comic series, but of course Season 7's big changes might also incorporate some alterations made as the source material gets adapted for live-action. Greg Nicotero told Digital Spy that the aftermath of Negan's big kill won't play out in the same way readers would expect.

I don't think we would be doing the material justice if we just regurgitated it word for word. There are iconic moments, and there are things that we will pay tribute to, and even if we don't do it exactly the same way that we find it in the comic book, we will find a way for fans of the graphic novel to feel like they are getting their money's worth.

Is anybody out there actively giving The Walking Dead money in the hopes that the show will get better to them?

The world is opening up in Season 7 of The Walking Dead, and we'll see some major changes in location and some important character introductions, but I'm hoping that Greg Nicotero is referring to something more foundational when he speaks of a different direction. We'll all find out when Season 7 hits AMC this October.

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