The Walking Dead Producer on Adapting the Comics Without Michonne, Carl and Rick Grimes

The Walking Dead Season 10 is the last for Michonne (Danai Gurira), marking the third major character departure in recent seasons following the Season 8 death of Carl (Chandler Riggs) and the Season 9 disappearance of Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln). All three characters played key roles in creator Robert Kirkman’s recently ended comic book series, with Carl and Michonne surviving until the book’s final issue in July. TWD executive producer Denise Huth says the show, long accustomed to deviating from the source material, will again adapt to this major change when Michonne permanently exits the series sometime during its tenth year.

“Those are three hugely important characters in the comic book that made it basically to the end,” Huth told Metro. “So to have those iconic characters not here, it definitely changes how the writers approach the story, and looking at what stories we can tell from the comics [that] we can adapt to a different character; how we can evolve a story from the comic book to make sense without those very important characters here.”

The exits of those characters and their respective actors is “hard of course, I miss all of them,” Huth added. “It’s weird not to think of them being here all the time. But it also is kind of exciting because it opens up possibilities for the storytelling and I think anytime we can adjust the comic story and evolve it and change it, it’s exciting as a fan.”

Kirkman, also an executive producer on the series, has long encouraged changes from his book. Huth hints major beats that belonged to comic book characters will still play out in the show, as they did in Season 9 when the romance between ex-Whisperer Lydia (Cassady McClincy) and Kingdom prince Henry (Matt Lintz) borrowed from Lydia’s relationship with Carl in the books.

“The comics always exist as the comics, that story never changes,” Huth said. “It’s always there to go back and be reread and be enjoyed, so it gives us freedom and flexibility with the show to surprise audiences and maybe do a different character in a different way because we can tell a story from the comic in somebody else’s eyes. That’s always really cool to do.”

Even without Lincoln’s Rick, series executive producer David Alpert hopes the show adapts the death of his comic book counterpart. In the final issues of the book, Rick was caught off guard and gunned down by an assassin after introducing democracy to a sprawling civilization called the Commonwealth.

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“I would love to see us get to that moment in the show where we could find a way to sort of do things a little differently, and then the smaller, silent moment at the end where Rick gets shot,” Alpert said at San Diego Comic-Con in July. “I would love to see some version of that now that Rick’s not in the show. How would we sort of adapt that moment for TV? That’s what I’m looking forward to.”

New episodes of The Walking Dead Season 10 premiere Sundays at 9/8c on AMC. For more TWD intel, follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.