The Walking Dead is set to lose its fearless leader, yet the show will go on. Who could possibly take over from Rick Grimes?

After the devastating news that Andrew Lincoln would be leaving The Walking Dead in season 9, the show will be left with a huge hole to fill. Rick has been our way into the series from episode 1, and he’s lead every group he’s stumbled upon or created. He has big shoes to fill, but here are a few characters who just might be worthy.

Maggie

The obvious choice to lead the group is Maggie. Having taken over from Gregory at Hilltop, Maggie has proven herself to be a fair, firm, and capable leader. She’s been positioned as Rick’s right hand, the one reliable enough to lead a secondary group, and to make decisions when he’s not around. Of course she’s the natural option to lead when Rick leaves the show.

However, Maggie actress Lauren Cohan is also set to leave The Walking Dead in season 9. The build up the show set in place to make her the new leader are pointless now, given that Maggie will depart around the same time as Rick.

Carol

Another potential new lead is Carol. Beginning as a meek wife and mother, Carol has transformed into a no-nonsense badass who isn’t afraid to do the dirty work for the greater good. She’s a familiar, trusting face to The Walking Dead viewers. Having been one of the original season 1 characters, it wouldn’t be difficult to see her assume Rick’s vacant position.

In order to be the leader of a large group, Carol would need to gain confidence and learn to believe in herself. Lately, Carol has been on a path of isolation, so she’d need to learn to trust people again, and believe that there could be a future for everyone, if there were someone like her to lead them there. At the moment, Carol has all the makings of a great soldier, but she also has the beginnings of an even greater leader if she’d let herself become it.

Negan

You’re thinking this is a joke, but it’s really not. Negan didn’t die at the end of season 8, his story is far from over. There’s an opportunity here for Negan to take Rick’s place as leader of Alexandria and/or Hilltop, despite the fact he’s been a villain so far on the show. But The Walking Dead loves a redemption arc (see Merle, or Dwight), so it wouldn’t come as a surprise if Negan somehow redeems himself and becomes the main leader.

Assuming Negan does change his ways, he’d make a great leader. He’s already proven he knows how to handle power with leading the Saviors, and he knows how to keep his people alive. True, his methods needed work, what with all the head bashing, but he has a lot of promise.

Related: How The Walking Dead could write out Andrew Lincoln and Lauren Cohan

Michonne

Michonne has a good balance of being nurturing and assertive. She’s far from the loudest of the group, and would likely be a reluctant leader. But as many other shows have said, sometimes those who don’t seek power are the best suited for it.

As someone who’s been Rick’s moral compass and confidante for an extended period of time, she particularly understands the future he hoped to lead everyone into. She knows what it takes to lead people, and has seen and felt first hand the burden it is to have that much responsibility. Should Rick get a choice of who would take over for him, he would likely choose Michonne after Maggie, and that has to count for something.

Daryl

Given that Norman Reedus is reported to have been given a raise/promotion, he’s almost guaranteed to be the new leader of The Walking Dead. Daryl is probably the most popular character on the show, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if they want him to be the “new” face of the show. Though Norman may be a good fit for the show’s lead, is Daryl?

Daryl has always been a right hand man, a soldier, the guy on the side to give an alternate opinion and carry out an order. We’ve rarely seen him in a leadership position, other than to take command of a particular group during a mission. He’s not the bold type to take charge or make decisions for everyone.

There’s also the fact that Daryl has taken a real back seat in The Walking Dead, barely getting any screen time and even less dialogue. Despite being one of the original season 1 characters, it’d be out of place to see him take over when he hasn’t recently shown any ability to do so. He’s been the most popular character, but his character has been greatly disserviced in recent seasons, and hasn’t been built up enough to take over.

Be prepared to say farewell to Rick and Maggie in season 9 of ‘The Walking Dead’

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