The Walking Dead Creator Advised Ways the Show Can Continue Beyond the Comic Book Ending

The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman advised showrunner Angela Kang on ways the show can continue beyond the comic book that ended after 193 issues in July. Kirkman concluded the book without warning one issue after killing off series lead Rick Grimes, jumping 20-plus years into the future with a reveal walkers are now the little-seen minority in a world mostly reclaimed from the dead. Despite speculation the planting of seeds for the introduction of the Commonwealth in Season 10 means TWD is readying its endgame — that group served as the focus in the final arc of the comic books — Kang says Kirkman presented options for the show to outlive its comic book source material, and Kirkman’s wrapping up of his 16-year story “doesn’t necessarily mean an end for the show in the same way that the comic ended.”

“I’ll start with just appreciation for Robert and the fact that he told this one story for 16 years,” Kang told The Hollywood Reporter’s Series Regular podcast. “I think the comic book is brilliant. I still am a fan of the comics, I was a fan of it before I worked on the show, and I still am. I think the fact that he ended it at a time when nobody expected it is also just kind of like peak Robert Kirkman writing The Walking Dead, because I feel like there’s something about that that’s beautiful.”

At the heart of TWD is “a story about life and death and the way that death comes for all of us, and it comes unexpectedly, and it’s like the end of the comic book came unexpectedly,” Kang noted.

“We were all like, ‘What’s he gonna do for issue 200?’ I’d even been like, ‘You’re gonna do something cool for 200, right? You wanna tell me anything about it? What are you doing, what are you doing?’ And he had all kind of ideas,” she continued. “But it ended on his terms, in its own time, and I think that was right, and I think it’s beautiful, because he told the story that he set out to tell. Which is, ultimately, strangely, as dark as the comic can be, a very hopeful tale at the end. This man [Rick] who did everything for his family and for his son, his son’s family got to live on. That’s a beautiful story, to me.”

When TWD does exhaust its source material, the show could pick from Kirkman’s recommendations and leftover ideas.

“For the show, I think we all think about, ‘How do we get to that end point, when does that happen?’” Kang said. “But also, the funny thing is, Robert was like — after he finished [the comic] — he was like, ‘You see what I did there? You could go down this path, or this path, or this path, or this path, there’s a story.’ So I think that there’s a lot of iterations that it could take for the story, and it’s that way by design. Robert was done writing the comic, but that doesn’t necessarily mean an end for the show in the same way that the comic ended. Because that’s not even necessarily what he intended, so it’s just an interesting thing for us.”

At San Diego Comic-Con in July, series executive producer Gale Anne Hurd said the show still has “a long way to go” before catching up to the final issue of the comic book, stating, “The great thing about the television series is we can either jump ahead by a number of years or we could play those intervening years out in the show, and I think it really will be a question of decisions made at a higher level, but I think we have a great road map.”

It was during TWD’s Season 10 panel at Comic-Con where Kirkman expressed an interest in continuing to explore the live-action Walking Dead Universe, noting the television series would not spontaneously end like his comic book.

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“There’s a lot more story to tell, and I’m very excited to be working with Scott [Gimple, TWD chief content officer] and Angela to figure out if there are any other threads in the comic that we didn’t quite get to, to bring the world past that point,” Kirkman said. “Because I think there is some story to tell when you’re talking about the world of The Walking Dead. So I’m very excited about that, so no worries there.”

The Walking Dead next airs its Season 10 midseason finale, “The World Before,” Sunday, Nov. 24 at 9/8c on AMC. For more TWD intel, follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.