Is The Walking Dead Ending After Season 12?

Despite recent claims The Walking Dead is ending after Season 12, network AMC has not released an [...]

Despite recent claims The Walking Dead is ending after Season 12, network AMC has not released an official statement or given any indication the zombie drama will end in 2022. The rumor originated on gossip site We Got This Covered, citing a source who claims AMC will produce two more seasons of the mothership series before ending and focusing on its spinoffs: Fear the Walking Dead, now entering into its sixth season, and the still-untitled TWD3 premiering in Spring 2020.

Casting further doubt on the veracity of the site's report that The Walking Dead is wrapping up with Season 12 are vague claims an ending is "being discussed internally" and that a final decision has not been reached. Perhaps coincidentally, the site ran its story after speculated The Walking Dead was setting up its endgame in Season 10 with the coming introduction of the Commonwealth.

In creator Robert Kirkman's comic books, this new community was at the center of the final stretch of issues until the book ended without prior announcement with July's issue #193.

The rumor could also be born of a December 2018 report from The Hollywood Reporter, who learned Daryl star Norman Reedus and Carol star Melissa McBride both inked three-year franchise deals.

These renewed pacts were described as flexible "franchise/universe" deals allowing Reedus and McBride the ability to appear elsewhere in TWD Universe beyond the flagship show, now in its tenth season. Because the expiration of Reedus and McBride's deals coincide with Season 12, it can be assumed The Walking Dead might end alongside the contracts of its only remaining stars from its premiere season in 2010.

In 2017, then-showrunner Scott Gimple — since elevated to chief content officer for all things Dead — told Larry King the show could "go on and on and on," predicting the show could survive beyond its first decade with a shift towards an influx of new characters.

"I think if it went ten years... if it went longer than that it's possible that the cast, considering the amount of deaths on this cast and everything else, after ten or twelve years, it could shift into a whole new cast," Gimple said.

Season 9 would later introduce a growing cast of new characters following the mid-season exit of Andrew Lincoln's Rick Grimes, including an aged-up Judith Grimes (Cailey Fleming) and little brother RJ (Antony Azor), as well as a group of newcomers that included instant fan-favorites Connie (Lauren Ridloff) and Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura).

Josh Sapan, president and chief executive officer of AMC Networks, said in September 2018 the network has a plan to manage TWD Universe "over the next decade, plus," noting on a conference call the plan is "a careful plan to respect the world of the fans of that world."

Most recently, AMC Networks' then-programming president David Madden speculated the show could run for 20 seasons.

Despite the sudden ending of the comic books — which ended after a continuous near 16-year run from Kirkman — Gimple still believes the main show "can go on and on and on," telling THR as recently as last month, "I think the creativity is there, the seeds are there, I'm very excited [to continue] … Can we take the creativity and the tone that Robert has and continue on with it? I believe so, yeah."

In addition to the Lincoln-led Rick Grimes movies, Gimple is now developing multiple miniseries, specials and other shorter length series intended to complement the flagship series. And in 2020, across its three Walking Dead shows, TWD Universe will air for an unprecedented 42 Sundays.

Executive producer Kirkman also put to bed worries The Walking Dead would spontaneously end when promoting Season 10 at San Diego Comic-Con in July. When the main show ends — either after Season 12 or beyond — its ending will not come as a surprise.

"There's a lot more story to tell, and I'm very excited to be working with Scott and Angela [Kang, TWD showrunner] 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."

Reedus so far has pledged to stay on TWD until the very end. At Comic-Con, Reedus said the show will live on for as long as it has an audience.

"I mean, as long as there's the zillion people outside Comic-Con screaming for us," Reedus said, "I think we'll keep going."

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