Jeffrey Dean Morgan better soak in the Comic-Con love while he still can.
The Walking Dead
cast and crew premiered a trailer for the upcoming season during their panel of Friday -- which everyone at home can watch here
-- that provided absolutely zero clues as to the identity of Negan's victim. The man behind the bat has a prediction for how fans will react, though.
"This Comic-Con has been OK. I think next year is going to be different," Dean Morgan said with a laugh during a press conference following the panel. "I think next year is going to be a salute of middle fingers and language next year when I come out onstage."
"This has been a serious conversation for us. If a character is killed off the show and it doesn't hurt, if it doesn't upset somebody, then we weren't doing our job," executive producer David Alpert explained of the process behind picking who gets offed. "We try to make the promise that death isn't done for an arbitrary reason."
Greg Nicotero, who directed the first episode of season seven recalled, "I remember reading [issue one] and remembering how brutal and evil and senseless it felt. We're going into that moment. That's the trickiest element of the first episode...living up to the expectations of that moment."
Nicotero, who said they are changing the "landscape of the cast," added that the reaction of the survivors is as important as the victim's reveal. "Shock and denial and all these things play into it," he teased.
With one beloved character departing the show, a fan favorite from the comics is arriving: "King" Ezekiel and his pet tiger, Shiva.
"We'll always be bringing characters from the comics," creator Robert Kirkman promised. "We'll be bringing some characters up sooner and some characters up later. But there will be other characters you'll see this season. There will be some surprises."
As for Shiva, the zombie-eating tiger, rest assured knowing no big cats were harmed in the making of Walking Dead.
"It's not particularly humane to have a live tiger on set, and it's dangerous for the actors," Kirkman pointe dout. "So, I was like, 'Great! No real tiger. I can still come to set!' Because I would have not come to set if there was a real tiger. It's all magic."
"It's the dragon from Game of Thrones, we just shrunk it and we added fur," showrunner Scott M. Gimple joked. "It's just a filter. You don't have that on your phone?"
That was only one of a handful of references to the HBO fantasy series, with Steven Yeun's fake-out death being called "the new Jon Snow" -- "Don't compare us to Game of Thrones!" Kirkman quipped -- and another question basically boiling down to, "Is winter coming for The Walking Dead?"
"I will say, one way or another, I make no promises, but I would be shocked if we didn't. But it would be special if we did," Gimple sidestepped, while Kirkman deadpanned, "Look, if we can CGI a tiger, we can CGI some snow."