With The Walking Dead entering its second decade on the air, it’s showing very few signs of slowing down. If fact, this year there will be more new hours of the zombie franchise on TV than ever before. Speaking to Variety, AMC boss Sarah Barnett believes the franchises still has plenty of life left in it.
Ratings for the shows in The Walking Dead universe have been declining for years, but the original show still has pull to remain AMC’s greatest asset, attracting millions of viewers worldwide. Many thought it would be the beginning of the end when fan favorite character Carl (Chandler Riggs) departed in season 8, or when protagonist Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) left the show in season 9. Michonne (Danai Gurira) is leaving this season too, and the list goes on.
With any show that lasts for such a long time, there always remains a concern (especially when it comes to the saturated zombie genre) that fans will eventually become fatigued of the same old thing and move on. But with two shows on the air, a spinoff on the way and a couple of movies headed to the big screen, there’s potential for this franchise to reach new heights! “I think there are lots of stories to be told from this universe,” Barnett said. “And I would say about that what I’d say about any of the development at AMC – which is that it has to be creatively exceptional.”
Angela Kang, who became the showrunner on The Walking Dead in season 9, credits Barnett with giving the show the support it needed as it transitions into a new phase. “She’s struck a wonderful balance of being supportive of what we’ve been doing well on behalf of the fans and also still challenging us to continue to grow,” Kang said.
Scott M. Gimple, who used to have Kang’s job, is the Chief Content Officer for the Walking Dead. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, he agreed with Barnett about the show’s future. “People are digging the show, and there’s a lot more story to tell.”
It remains to be seen how many more stories there actually are left to tell in The Walking Dead. I highly doubt it will enter the next decade as one of the top shows on television, but I’m sure many would’ve claimed it wouldn’t have lasted 10 years at all, and it has.
A potential hurdle is that author Robert Kirkman recently ended the long-running Walking Dead comic on which the show is based, but Gimple sees this more as an opportunity, saying the final issue felt more like a prologue than an ending. “I’ve said it, Angela’s said it too, that last issue of the comic reads like a pilot.”
One advantage Gimple and company have with multiple Walking Dead shows running at once is the chance to do crossovers. We’ve already seen the first major crossover when Morgan left The Walking Dead to join its spinoff Fear The Walking Dead. When EW asked Gimple about other crossovers, specifically regarding the Commonwealth, he played coy. He and showrunner Kang are planning to pay their respects to the comic and play out the Commonwealth storyline as Robert Kirkman intended.
The Commonwealth is its own thing. There are a lot of changes to the comic story and the show, but it is important to me, and to Angela, to tell the story from the comic. There might be some weird minor ways that it touches, if at all, but it’s a version of the story from the comic.
It’s certain that AMC know exactly what they’re doing with The Walking Dead. Everything looks future-proofed, and Gimple is confident that they’ve got all bases covered. I’m excited to see where the future of The Walking Dead universe takes us, and what exactly these new stories involve.
As long as there’s a lasting demand for more Walking Dead, it won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.