AMC’s “The Walking Dead” is in no danger of ending any time soon — but it’s reassuring to know that creator Robert Kirkman has a plan in mind for the day the blockbuster zombie show finally breathes its last.
“It’s a very popular show, and [the executives at AMC] seem to want it to go for 50 seasons. And it may go for 50 seasons, but there is definitely an end point at some point,” Kirkman told Marc Maron during a visit to the comedian’s WTF podcast. “The idea is that this story that’s longer than it has any business being, but it’s that length and watching those characters evolve over that time that’s gonna make it be this piece, that when it’s all done, you’ll look back on it and be like ‘what the hell, I thought they were just killing zombies. There’s totally an arc here and a thing going on, and I didn’t think the story was about this!'”
Maron queried whether Kirkman would ever consider solving the “zombie problem” altogether, and Kirkman mused, “Maybe. You never know. I do hope that ‘The Walking Dead’ goes on long enough that when it ends, it’s like, ‘good thing we took care of those zombies.'”
While that optimistic outlook may seem at odds with the show’s tone, that’s by design, according to Kirkman: “People talk about how ‘The Walking Dead’s’ very bleak, and if you take a certain cross-section of the story, yeah, it’s horrible. People [are] getting their loved ones eaten and they’re having a horrible time. But I see the story from beginning to end, over many, many years, so I think it’s a very hopeful story about humanity overcoming this insurmountable, apocalyptic situation … it’s just gonna take them a long time to do it.”
In a recent Reddit AMA, Kirkman admitted that the comics still had plenty of stories left to tell. “I do plan on doing at least 300 issues, but if I’m having this much fun then I won’t stop there,” he wrote. “Also, if I suddenly start having a lot LESS fun, I may end it earlier, but I don’t see that happening. I’m in for the long haul, and [artist] Charlie Adlard is too.”
As far as the show is concerned, executive producer Dave Alpert noted at the 2014 Produced By conference that the writers have plotlines mapped out through season 12, if AMC opts to continue it that long. “I happen to love working from source material, specifically because we have a pretty good idea of what season 10 is gonna be,” he said, according to IndieWire. “We know where season 11 and 12 … we have benchmarks and milestones for those seasons if we’re lucky enough to get there.”
And the series is in no danger of catching up to the comics any time soon, Kirkman told Maron.
“I’m in the writers’ room — we always start the season by picking a chunk of the comic to adapt. We’re moving pretty linearly with the comics nowadays. Issue 75 of the comic was coming out when the show started, and the stuff that’s in issue 75 was adapted in the finale of season five. So starting with season six, we’re adapting the comics that were coming out post-the existence of the show,” he pointed out. “We’ve got 144 issues out. We sit down at the beginning of every season and go, ‘we’re gonna adapt from here to here’ of the comic, and then we go, ‘how does Daryl Dixon fit into this’ because he’s not in the comic; ‘how does Carol fit into this’ because she died way earlier in the comic; ‘what do we do with all the important storylines with Andrea’ because she died in the show and is still alive in the comic. … There’s a lot of new stuff that gets put into the show.”
When asked about the possibility of investigating how the zombie outbreak is affecting life in other countries, Kirkman offered, “We may eventually explore that, but to me, it’s about finding water, it’s about building a fence — when you make it bigger, that’s when it gets less interesting to me.”
Still, he wouldn’t rule out the potential for further offshoots, depending on the success of the upcoming companion series “Fear the Walking Dead,” quipping, “We’re doing this ‘Walking Dead’ spinoff and if it does well, I’m sure we’ll do ‘Walking Dead: China’ eventually.”
“The Walking Dead” season six premieres at 9 p.m. Oct. 11 on AMC. “Fear the Walking Dead” season one premieres at 9 p.m. Aug. 23 on AMC.