The zombie apocalypse is getting crowded. "The Walking Dead" Season 7 premieres sometime in October -- the exact date should be coming later this month out of San Diego Comic-Con -- and we know it'll be down at least one beloved character based on who Negan killed. But Negan himself is getting a promotion, or at least the actor who plays him just got bumped to series regular status.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, these four actors -- who were all just introduced in the second half of Season 6 and play characters from Robert Kirkman's comic book -- have been promoted to series regular status for Season 7:

Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Negan, leader of the Saviors)
Xander Berkeley (Gregory, leader of Hilltop Colony)
Tom Payne (Jesus, resident of Hilltop working with Rick's group)
Austin Amelio (Dwight, Daryl's early Season 6 frenemy who killed Denise and now works for Negan)

The way THR phrased this section of their report suggests we can probably cross two names off the Negan/Lucille victim list:

"Amelio is Dwight, a badly burned member of Negan's dastardly Saviors who has a particular bone to pick with Daryl (Norman Reedus). And Berkeley is Gregory, the shady leader of the Hilltop Colony who is poised to clash with Maggie (Lauren Cohan) — provided the pregnant Alexandria Safe Zone resident survives the finale."

If Gregory is poised to clash with Maggie, as he does in the comic, then yeah let's remove Maggie from the list. Same with Daryl if we know there's more coming from Daryl vs. Dwight. The death list is dwindling to Glenn and/or Abraham.

Anyway, THR also noted that this brings the total series regular tally to 20, up two from Season 6 to a new all-time high. Here are the 20:

Andrew Lincoln (Rick), Norman Reedus (Daryl), Steven Yeun (Glenn), Lauren Cohan (Maggie), Chandler Riggs (Carl), Danai Gurira (Michonne), Melissa McBride (Carol), Michael Cudlitz (Abraham), Lennie James (Morgan), Sonequa Martin-Green (Sasha), Alanna Masterson (Tara), Christian Serratos (Rosita), Josh McDermitt (Eugene), Seth Gilliam (Father Gabriel), Ross Marquand (Aaron), Austin Nichols (Spencer), Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Negan), Tom Payne (Jesus), Austin Amelio (Dwight), and Xander Berkeley (Gregory).

Having "series regular" status doesn't mean a whole lot in terms of who'll survive. Plenty of series regulars have not made it through their seasons, and guest or recurring stars have lived to see the next year. However, in this particular case, the four dudes who were promoted play characters with major roles in the comic book, and it does seem like the TV show is interested in continuing some of those stories. So we're not worried about these guys. Except maybe Gregory, just 'cause Gregory isn't even a character you love to hate, he's just a tool. He's free to leave at any time.

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The Walking Dead
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Based on the comic book series written by Robert Kirkman, this gritty drama portrays life in the weeks and months following a zombie apocalypse. Led by police officer Ric... Read More

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