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Walking Dead Comic-Con panel warns: 'The world is getting worse'

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Jul 20, 2013, 12:33 AM EDT

If you want walkers, it looks season four of The Walking Dead has got plenty.

The cast and creative talent behind the show assembled in Hall H in front of a massive crowd of thousands to take a bow for season three and give us a glimpse of the smash show's fourth year, which kicks off on Oct. 13.

The trailer, which made its world premiere at the panel, was a collage of images showing that life inside the prison has not gotten any easier since the survivors of Woodbury came to stay and the Governor (David Morrissey) was sent packing.

But to make matters worse, someone is letting walkers into the prison -- and using animals as bait to lure them closer. Who is doing it? We'll have to wait and see. But the trailer showed plenty of scenes of walkers shambling through the prison corridors and cells -- until eventually it looks like the living residents make an attempt to haul up stakes and head for greener pastures in a caravan of vehicles.

That doesn't seem to work out too well either, and in one frightening shot we see Tyreese (Chad Coleman) literally surrounded by a wall of walkers, hacking furiously at them even as they pull in a tighter and tighter circle around him.

Of course, since this is The Walking Dead, the zombies aren't the only problem. Conflict among the survivors doesn't look like it's going away anytime soon, and one quick shot shows us Daryl (Norman Reedus) hauling back and landing a punch on Rick (Andrew Lincoln).

According to Lincoln, Rick is relinquishing a lot of his leadership this season, choosing instead to focus on keeping his family safe. What that means for the rest of the group -- and who will fill that leadership vacuum -- is anyone's guess.

Lincoln appears on the Chris Hardwick-hosted panel with Reedus, Coleman, Morrissey, Danai Gurira (Michonne), Scott Wilson (Herschel), Lauren Cohan (Maggie), Steven Yeun (Glenn), executive producer and showrunner Scott Gimple, executive producer Robert Kirkman, executive producer Gale Anne Hurd, executive producer Dave Alpert and special effects makeup supervisor and executive producer Greg Nicotero.

Gimple -- taking over as showrunner after the departure of Glen Mazzarra -- says in one of his few comments (the poor guy did look a bit nervous) that things have "escalated" very quickly for the characters, with Kirkman saying, "The world is getting worse, the people are getting more ragged, and it’s gonna keep progressing, if you can believe it.”

As for the return of the Governor, Kirkman hints, "All bets are off. ... How and when he returns are going to be a big mystery" throughout the season.

Regarding Herschel's motivations this season, Wilson cracks, "I think he just wants to hold onto his other leg."

Each of the actors talks a bit about the growth of their characters. Gurira admits that she has never ridden a horse before (which we see her doing in the trailer) and that the physical action is only getting more intense, but that Michonne is aware of a sense of community now that she didn't have before.

Morrissey says about the depraved Governor, "He ended (last) season in a dark place and he feels like his people betrayed him. ... The deal with the Governor is that you just have to be on his side. If you're not on his side, you've got to go."

Asked about the rate at which beloved characters die on the show, Lincoln says, "The only bad thing about this show is that we get to work with amazing actors, make amazing friends, then they get bitten and I shoot them."

Lincoln has another great response when asked how he would try to survive a zombie apocalypse: "Chandler Riggs [who plays Rick's son Carl] has grown up and is a beast. I'd stand behind him."

But Reedus has an even better answer: "I'd take over a hotel, spray-paint myself silver, run around naked and watch South Park."

Somehow we don't think it will get to that point for Daryl on the show, but from the footage we saw it looks like the writers and producers have some major events planned for season four. October can't come fast enough!