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The Walking Dead season 11 release date, cast, episodes, Rick Grimes return and latest news

The Walking Dead season 11 release date, cast, episodes, Rick Grimes return and latest news
(Image credit: AMC)

Get ready for a "very, very, very, very dark" Walking Dead season 11, according to exec producer Scott Gimple. The final chapter of the zombie drama has a premiere date, and episode 1 will be on AMC sooner than you think. Fans are already speculating about the new Walking Dead season 11 cast members and whether they might see former star Andrew Lincoln return as Rick Grimes for the farewell tour.

For over a decade, The Walking Dead has been one of television's biggest shows, regularly drawing in millions of viewers to watch a small band of survivors battling zombie hordes in post-apocalyptic Atlanta, then Alexandria and other locations.

The Walking Dead started off following a group led by Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln). After losing his best friend and his wife, then later this son Carl, Rick also seemingly perished (but actually, he managed to live and will be featured in several spinoff movies). Others stepped up, including Daryl (Norman Reedus), Carol (Melissa McBride) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan). 

Along the way, many of their friends and loved ones died, either at the flesh-eating hands of zombies or from human conflict, like with the antagonist Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). 

Now, heading into the final season, The Walking Dead will be "bigger than ever," showrunner Angela Kang said in a statement. 

"The stakes will be high – we'll see more zombies, tons of action, intriguing new stories, never-before-seen locations and our groups together in one community for the first time, trying to rebuild what the Whisperers took from them."

Here's everything we know so far about The Walking Dead season 11.

The Walking Dead season 11 release date

The Walking Dead season 11 will be divided into three parts of eight episodes each. The first batch, including episode 1, will premiere August 22. 

The second batch is expected to debut later year, in the winter, or in early 2022. And then the final batch of episodes is likely to be released in spring or summer 2022.

We also expect season 11 episodes to premiere on AMC Plus a few days before the AMC cable airing. 

The Walking Dead season 11 trailer

Along with the release date announcement, AMC dropped a short teaser trailer for The Walking Dead season 11. 

The video starts off with the voice of Eugene (Josh McDermitt) answering various questions, like "Why are you here?" and "Have you ever been vaccinated for the measles?" We see flashes of ice cream, a courtroom and a graffiti-laden subway station. 

Fans are speculating that the questioner is Mercer (Michael James Shaw), a character from the comics. The trailer also features a shot of red armor, which almost certainly belongs to Mercer.

The Walking Dead season 11 cast

The Walking Dead season 11 cast will be led by Norman Reedus as Daryl, Melissa McBride as Carol, Lauren Cohan as Maggie and Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan.

Other veteran cast members who are set to return include: Josh McDermitt as Eugene, Christian Serratos as Rosita, Seth Gilliam as Gabriel, Ross Marquand as Aaron, Khary Payton as Ezekiel, Cooper Andrews as Jerry and Paola Lázaro as Princess.

Joining the cast for season 11 is Michael James Shaw as Mercer. In the comics, he's a Commonwealth soldier who wears red armor and develops a relationship with Princess.

The Walking Dead season 11: Rick Grimes return and spinoff movies

The Walking Dead has always featured a revolving cast, with even major characters dying at the hands of zombies (or evil humans), but no departure was bigger than that of star Andrew Lincoln. Rick Grimes was the center of the show for nine seasons.

When Lincoln left, AMC announced it was making three spinoff movies about Rick's fate following his "death." They also left open the door for his appearance down the road in the flagship series. With the final season approaching, Lincoln recently talked to SFX Magazine about the plans for Rick in the Walking Dead universe.

"I’m not filming at the moment," he said regarding the movies. "I’m still very much in lockdown. We’re very excited about how, at the first available opportunity, we’re going to go into production — there’s talk of it being spring. I can’t wait to get those cowboy boots."

And will he also wear those boots in the Walking Dead season 11? 

"That’s a very good question. The easy answer is I have no idea," Lincoln said. "I don’t think it’s written yet, but I would never say never to that because everybody that’s still doing the TV show are dear friends, and it’s an extraordinary feat that they’re still going and making this beautiful and ground-breaking show that still resonates with the world."

The Walking Dead season 11 episodes

The Walking Dead season 11 will consist of 24 episodes, which makes it the longest season of the show. AMC is releasing them in three batches of eight episodes. 

They are loosely based on the the comic books "Volume 30: New World Order", "Volume 31: The Rotten Core" and "Volume 32: Rest In Peace."

Details on episode titles, descriptions, writers and directions are still forthcoming.

The Walking Dead season 11 plot and spoilers

Season 11 should pick up where the tenth installment left off: a face-to-face confrontation between Maggie and Negan, who is returning to Alexandria after being exiled to a cabin in the woods. Is Negan definitely reformed? Or will his dark, violent side re-emerge? And will Maggie eventually get vengeance for Glenn's death?

Meanwhile, new villains called the Reapers are on their way. They've already been hunting Maggie and friends for some time, and now they're encroaching on Alexandria.

But season 11's big storyline is likely to be the introduction of the Commonwealth. Princess is currently being held captive by a mysterious group, but we already know that Mercer is joining the cast, so it's got to be the Commonwealth. Plus, the community is a key part of the final arc in the comics. 

The Commonwealth is a city-state with thousands of people, advanced weapons and technology. Their goal is to get back to where society was pre-apocalypse, but that comes with not-great stuff like inequality and class warfare.

Executive producer Scott Gimple recently previewed Walking Dead season 11, calling it "very, very, very, very dark." Considering everything that has happened on the show already, that's really saying something.

"There's some sunshine between the gloom," he said during a recent TWDUniverse Twitch stream. "But the dark stuff gets very, very, very, very dark. It's not unrelentingly dark. There's some bright spots."

Gimple added, "Without getting too into it, there's a level of intensity to these episodes that's both an intensity of threat intermingled with the intensity of emotions behind that, and various histories of the characters getting intermingled with that."