'The Walking Dead' at New York Comic Con: 'FTWD' Crossover, 'TWD' in the Smithsonian, and New Couple Daryl and Jesus?

Norman Reedus, Melissa McBride, Katelyn Nacon, Tom Payne, Andrew Lincoln, Lennie James, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and Austin Amelio at the NYCC The Walking Dead panel at The Theater at Madison Square Garden on October 7, 2017 in New York City (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for AMC)

To celebrate the Oct. 22 Season 8 premiere of  The Walking Dead — the series’ 100th episode — Yahoo TV will be posting a new TWD-related story every day through the season opener.

The new season is just two weeks away, and the cast and producers of The Walking Dead were in a celebratory mood at New York Comic Con on Saturday, hinting at big things to come (including a season premiere filled with callbacks to greatest hits of the first seven seasons) and reminiscing about the joy and many (many, many) heartbreaks of the past. Yahoo Entertainment was at Madison Square Garden for the series’ all-star panel and a pre-panel press conference, and here are the highlights from our time with Andy Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Melissa McBride, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Lennie James, Tom Payne, Katelyn Nacon, Austin Amelio, series creator Robert Kirkman, and executive producers Greg Nicotero, Dave Alpert, and Gale Anne Hurd.

The Walking Dead + Fear the Walking Dead = A crossover is happening!

Kirkman has been asked since FTWD premiered in 2015 whether or not any of the show’s characters would show up in TWD storyline or vice versa, with a popular fan theory suggesting either Rick Grimes or Daryl Dixon might be related to fellow southerner Madison Clark (Kim Dickens) from Fear. And he has pooh-poohed such an idea… until now. In the biggest TWD news reveal from NYCC, Kirkman announced there will be a TWD/FTWD crossover in 2018. “I’ll say this: There are two Walking Dead shows. One character is going to go from one show that I will not name and appear on another show that I will not name,” Kirkman teased. “We’ve finally gotten to a place [on FTWD] where we can play with some things.”

Fonzie’s jacket, Archie Bunker’s chair… and Daryl Dixon’s crossbow

What do those three things have in common? As of Oct. 10, they will all be an official part of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Several walker costumes, Daryl’s crossbow, and as Greg Nicotero announced during Saturday’s panel, Hershel Greene’s head — from Season 4’s “After” episode — will be among the goodies the show donates to the Smithsonian, in a ceremony that will include Nicotero, showrunner Scott Gimple, EP Tom Luse, Reedus, Danai Gurira, McBride, James, and AMC president Charlie Collier. The museum already includes memorabilia from AMC hits Breaking Bad and Mad Men.

Episode 100: There will be callbacks

NYCC panel fans were treated to an extra tease from the 100th episode, as Nicotero said viewers would recognize one scene in the Season 8 premiere as a shot-for-shot homage to one of the series’ most memorable scenes. And then he revealed he’d brought a clip to share: It’s present-day Carl searching for gasoline, in a scene that mirrors the series premiere where Rick is doing the same thing… and running into bunny slippers girl. Carl’s scene ends a different way, which viewers will see in a couple of weeks, but the official Walking Dead comics website has a side-by-side video preview of the new scene now.

Negan: Tyrant, murderer… eyepatch salesman?

During the press conference, Morgan was asked about his role in Sunday’s Adult Swim episode, The Robot Chicken Walking Dead Special: Look Who’s Walking. He said he enjoyed the chance to poke a little fun at himself and Negan, and though he hasn’t seen the special yet, he shared details of a sketch that he said he heard has been cut. It revolves around Negan running an eyepatch store. Because, you know, The Governor, Carl… the apocalypse has created a demand for the eyepatch. Here’s hoping the segment makes the DVD release for Look Who’s Walking.

The crushing weight on Morgan’s shoulders

Morgan portrayer James is always ready with a thoughtful insight on his character and his character’s storylines, but one observation he shared during the press conference was the single most heartbreaking description we’ve ever heard of any of The Walking Dead characters. “In the case of Morgan, he’s a man who believes that every day of his life is a punishment for what he hasn’t done,” James said while chatting about the evolution of and motivations for the characters. The thing Morgan didn’t do that he’s being punished for: He couldn’t bring himself to kill his zombified wife, who was then free to kill his son, Duane.

On a sweeter note, during the NYCC panel, James talked about the ebbs and flows of Morgan and Rick’s friendship, which began all the way back in the series premiere. He called it a “Shawshank” friendship, referring to the relationship between pals Andy (Tim Robbins) and Red (Morgan Freeman) in The Shawshank Redemption, the classic movie directed by original TWD showrunner Frank Darabont.

Greg Nicotero, Chris Hardwick, Norman Reedus, Gale Ann Hurd, David Alpert, Robert Kirkman, Melissa McBride, Tom Payne, Katelyn Nacon, Andrew Lincoln, Lennie James, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and Austin Amelio attend the NYCC The Walking Dead panel at The Theater at Madison Square Garden on October 7, 2017 in New York City (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for AMC)

A quicker pace of action and storytelling in Season 8

“This season, we have been completing a lot of the characters’ storylines in one or two episodes instead of letting them play out over the entire season,” Nicotero said during the press conference. Given that Scott Gimple has already confirmed the first three episodes of Season 8 will be action-packed with the war against the Saviors, Nicotero’s reveal promises a lot of forward motion on the general pace of the storytelling in Season 8.

Is Rick really ready to give up the Ricktatorship?

Minor spoiler if you’ve avoided anything that previews the season premiere: In it, Rick tells Maggie that, after the war with the Saviors is over, he plans to sit back and follow her leadership. During the NYCC press conference, Lincoln was asked if he thinks Rick is sincere about his intention to pass the baton to a new leader for the alliance of communities taking on Negan.

“He’s not a politician. He’s a general. He’s a sheriff’s deputy. That’s where he comes from. That’s his DNA,” Lincoln said about Rick. “One of his strengths as a leader is that he listens to people. He kind of takes counsel. He usually ignores it, but he does listen to people and sometimes that’s why they’ve gotten through some of the difficult situations they’ve been through. Now, Maggie, she’s different. Deanna spotted her as a future political leader, somebody that could run things. She’s industrious… she’s loyal, respected, principled, and I think Rick is very much… he just wants it done. And then people can take over… I do think he wants peace. He wants peace, he wants the future. He had a taste of it, and then this Goddamned Negan guy showed up…

“I hate Negan,” he joked. “I love Jeffrey, but I hate Negan… But yeah, I think he can. And I think he’s willing to. He’s not duplicitous. He means it when he says things. That’s one of the great things about him… he’s a true man. He’s a maniac, don’t get me wrong, but he means it.”

Jesus shared with Maggie in Season 7 that he’s gay; fans have wondered about Daryl’s sexual orientation… a fan during the panel QA asked if Jesus and Daryl could become a couple in Season 8:

“I don’t think so,” Reedus said, before he and Tom Payne joined hands. “Never say never… there’s a couple people I’m supposed to get together with already. I think it’ll be a big orgy. I mean, it is the apocalypse.”

Tom Payne and Norman Reedus attend the NYCC The Walking Dead panel at The Theater at Madison Square Garden on October 7, 2017 in New York City (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for AMC)

The Walking Dead Season 8 premieres Oct. 22 at 9 p.m. on AMC. The Robot Chicken Walking Dead Special: Look Who’s Walking premieres Oct. 8 at midnight on Adult Swim.

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