The Season 6 finale of The Walking Dead ended on a cliffhanger that indicated we will be getting a big death when the show returns. Unfortunately, the episode neglected to reveal just which character had been beaten to death by new bad guy Negan. More fortunately, the episode introduced a whole bunch of new characters who promise to take Season 7 in some fun and terrifying new directions. According to one cast member, the world of the zombie apocalypse isn't done growing. Ross Marquand, who plays Aaron on the series, had this to say about new character surprises in Season 7:
Well I think the world keeps expanding, and truthfully this is the most expansive season yet. The Kingdom is coming into play, of course we have the Saviors and their compound, and not to give too much away, but there are other groups that we're going to be meeting up with as well. It's going to change them immeasurably. They're realizing although they thought there was just one or two little outposts in the neighborhoods in the Atlanta and Virginia area, it turns out there's several. That's an exciting thing. All of a sudden you're getting choices on where you're gonna live, who you'll do business with. It's the beginnings of a rebuilding of society.
Ross Marquand teased the expanding society in a chat with PopSugar. The reveal there will be more than just the Saviors and the folks from The Kingdom turning up means that the world of the Walking Dead's zombie apocalypse just got a whole lot more interesting. Most of the lasting settlements that we've seen on the series to date have either been large enough that they've been able to muscle the Walkers away or overrun because there just weren't enough living to outlast the dead. Smaller groups that are successfully surviving in the Saviors' territory could change the game. We can assume that the more minor outposts won't be as violent or aggressive as Negan and the Saviors. Perhaps Rick will be able to fight back against Negan if he can get enough of the small settlements on his side.
Of course, given Rick's luck in meeting strange groups, the new settlements could be filled with characters nearly as bad as Negan. The first six seasons of The Walking Dead were spent showing that folks need to cross major lines to survive in the zombie apocalypse. For the Governor at Woodbury, it was asserting his will on innocents and convincing them to follow him. For the Termites of Terminus, it was eating people because they were easier to corral than less sentient meat. For Rick and his not-so-merry band of survivors, it has been adapting to their situations with little compromise. Who knows what other groups have had to do, no matter what the size? They may not be the Saviors, but they could still be plenty bad.
Having said this, the members of a non-Saviors group who showed up in the finale seemed pretty friendly. The survivors from The Kingdom met Morgan and a wounded Carol; instead of robbing them and leaving them for dead, the new duo offered help. If some of the new outposts fall more in line with The Kingdom than the Saviors, the good guys may find some unexpected allies.
Unfortunately, we still have a quite a while to wait before we get to see any of the newer characters in action. Ezekiel showed up in the trailer for Season 7, and we recently got a clip of Negan's crony Dwight in Daryl's duds, but we haven't seen much in the way of other settlements. We probably won't get much more until the premiere on Sunday, October 23 at 9 p.m. ET. Check out our breakdown of what we know so far about The Walking Dead Season 7, and don't forget to take a look at our fall TV premiere schedule.