"It's kind of a mythology-breaking proposition," creator Robert Kirkman said Friday during the show's presentation at Comic-Con.
Kirkman and showrunner Scott Gimple were joined by a dozen cast members for the panel inside the San Diego Convention Center's largest exhibition hall, where they unveiled the trailer for season eight and shared a retrospective of the show's previous 99 episodes.
But Gimple said the panel almost didn't happen after a stunt performer was fatally injured during production earlier this month.
"We didn't really know if we should do this panel today, but we wanted to be here for you," Gimple said.
He opened the presentation by paying tribute to stuntman John Bernecker, citing his many film credits and his passion for the work.
"He was beloved in the stunt community," Gimple said of the 33-year-old. "He was living his dream and he helped other people do the same thing."
The stars and writers spent the bulk of the hourlong panel taking questions from fans, who said they'd come from as far away as Sweden and Peru to attend the pop-culture convention.
The Swedish fan asked if the show would ever have an international setting. Gimple demurred.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who plays the bat-wielding Negan, was asked about his thoughts on his character. He said he finds Negan amusing and appreciates his sense of humor.
"What do I like least about him? That he wears a leather jacket on a 120-degree day," the actor said.
Khary Payton, who plays Ezekiel, said he thinks the show's appeal lies in its characters' fight for humanity.
"Every one of these guys has been knocked down in some way or another, but they come back and they fight, and I think that's what draws people to the show," he said. "They fight to hold onto who they are as people. Not everyone turns into a psychopath. People find their way to be a little bit better."
Norman Reedus, who plays the motorcycle-riding Daryl, said the cast shares a camaraderie that mirrors its characters' collective determination.
"This has been such a good experience for all of us," the actor said, adding that he was "almost tearing up" during the retrospective of the show's past seven seasons. "We've always had each other's backs and we have your back and you guys have our backs, and it's been fantastic."
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