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After keeping a tight lid on official details for months, The Walking Dead officially confirmed the upcoming introduction of the Whisperers and leader Alpha in the upcoming ninth season. Given their placement in the comics' timeline and the fact that Negan was soundly defeated at the end of Season 8, it seemed like the time was perfect for this new band of villains to debut. Of course, much like with Negan, Alpha's success as a villain could depend entirely on the actor cast to bring the character to life. The show has revealed who will play Alpha, and we're already excited. Samantha Morton of The Last Panthers and Rillington Place landed the role.
The big casting news was announced at the Walking Dead panel at San Diego Comic-Con, not too long after the trailer for the ninth season debuted and showed off what was clearly the Whisperers, although folks without a knowledge of the Whisperers from the comics may not have caught them and understood their significance. Unfortunately, given that Samantha Morton's casting was only just announced, details about how exactly she'll contribute to the next season are unavailable. That said, we have one (admittedly dark) theory about a key role she could play in Season 9, and it's not a theory that means good things for Rick, who is on his way out of the zombie apocalypse one way or the other.
The Walking Dead has departed from the comics stories and timeline plenty of times over the years, so we shouldn't expect to know exactly what Samantha Morton's Alpha will be up to based on what Robert Kirkman wrote for her in the comics. Sure, a lot of Negan's biggest moments from the comics were adapted almost verbatim for the small screen, but there's no saying at this point how closely Morton's version of the character will resemble her comic counterpart. Nevertheless, we should definitely look at the comic character to spend the rest of hiatus speculating about her.
Spoilers ahead for The Walking Dead comics. Alpha's true name from before the zombie apocalypse is never revealed on the comics, which only adds to her intrigue. As cruel and savage as she is intelligent and strategic, she's not above even mistreating her own daughter. She and her Whisperers first appeared after the All Out War arc that pitted Rick and Co. against Negan and the Saviors.
Not much is even known about the Whisperers in the comics, but their savagery is impossible to forget. They disguise themselves by covering themselves with zombie skin, much as Rick and Glenn did way back in the first season. Unlike Rick and Glenn, the Whisperers have been known to decapitate people and mount their heads on pikes if they wander into Whisperer territory or basically just rub Alpha the wrong way. It wasn't easy for the comics to find a villain that could follow Negan; they did it with Alpha. End comic spoilers.
You can catch Samantha Morton as Alpha, leader of the Whisperers, when The Walking Dead returns with the Season 9 premiere on October 7. For some viewing options between now and then, swing by our summer TV premiere guide. If you haven't already, check out the Walking Dead Season 9 trailer and the new Fear the Walking Dead trailer. If you need a refresher on how The Walking Dead wrapped up Season 8, swing by Netflix to find the entire series thus far streaming.