Zombie apocalypse leadership is going through a big and inevitable shift when The Walking Dead returns for Season 9. The capture of Negan and rise of Maggie means that the dynamic between the settlements will have to change, and Rick's position with his pals will likely be quite different now that he's spared Negan. Throw in the fact that Rick won't be around forever, and there will be room for new leaders to take charge in new and exciting ways. Angela Kang, who has taken over showrunning duties from Scott Gimple, had this to say about how leadership will work in Season 9:

We're going to see our women really step up. And we're gonna show a lot of stories about leadership with Maggie, with Michonne, with Carol. And they're gonna go toe to toe with each other and with our men. . . . We're interested in human drama and the emotional bonds between people. And we know from the end of the previous season that maybe not everybody was on board with the decision to save Negan. So we'll be exploring some of those stories as we go forward.

The time has come for the ladies to take charge! After how Season 8 ended, fans could have easily guessed that Maggie would have an increased leadership role in the next batch of episodes despite Lauren Cohan's reduced presence. The bigger news is that Michonne and Carol will step into leadership positions, presumably more than ever before. It makes sense that other survivors would want to follow them, as all of these women have proved that they have what it takes to last in the zombie apocalypse.

Given that Michonne was still Team Rick at the end of Season 8, it should be interesting to see how they balance leadership when the show returns. Rick has always been the leader, but perhaps his new attitude that saw him spare Negan and dream of a brighter future has led to him stepping down from some of his leadership duties. On the one hand, a Rick with less power might make Maggie and her fellow conspirators happy. On the other hand, Maggie counted Michonne along with Rick as doing the wrong thing in sparing Negan, so Maggie may not trust Michonne too much.

Angela Kang did not mention Daryl in her comments about leadership in Season 9 during her chat with EW, which strikes me as somewhat odd given that Norman Reedus will reportedly become the show's leading man after Andrew Lincoln departs. As much as Daryl has been a lone wolf for much of the series, he has stepped into a leadership role when required, and one would think that he'd take on more responsibilities if Rick is on his way out. Then again, Rick will likely be around for at least most of the first half of Season 9; Daryl's increased role may not go into effect until the second half.

If that's the case, hopefully we can count on plenty of the Walking Dead women stepping up. After a couple seasons of Rick vs. Negan, I'd say that the time has come for the women to get the chance to shine, and Angela Kang's tease indicates that we'll see some very different kinds of leadership from them. Maggie will probably be the most scheming of the three, with Michonne as perhaps the most straightforward. Carol is the biggest wild card for me; only time will tell how the ways they'll fit together and the ways they'll be pitted against each other.

The Walking Dead will return for Season 9 in the fall. Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for the latest Walking Dead news from San Diego Comic-Con the rest of the week, and check out our summer TV schedule for more viewing options.

Watch: The Walking Dead Season 9 Trailer

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