The Walking Dead chief content officer Scott Gimple sheds light on the collaborative process behind plotting out the future of TWD Universe, noting there is an overarching but flexible plan in place allowing for Walking Dead showrunners to exert creative control over their respective series. Gimple is tasked with mapping out the wider direction of the interconnected franchise — so far comprised of the original show, now midway through its tenth season, and spinoffs Fear the Walking Dead and The Walking Dead: World Beyond, with a planned feature film trilogy in development — but how much of the process involves an actual road map pinned to cork board?
"I have a little of that stuff up… there’s a little of that, but that actually is more in documents," Gimple told The Hollywood Reporter's TV's Top 5 podcast. "Long, typed out documents." Asked if the future of the Walking Dead franchise is arced out somewhere, Gimple said, "Oh, very much so. You have to."
"That’s why having it up on a cork board doesn’t really work. You have to have it in documents and written out, and it looks a little crazy that way, but yeah, having it up on the wall is bad business," Gimple explained. "Because it does change a lot, and the points of connection, you need a lot of flexibility. One big part of it, with the showrunners that I work with, it’s trying not to be prescriptive. It’s trying to give them the arena of connection and then let them have their story within it."
Showrunner Angela Kang heads The Walking Dead, while showrunning duo Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg head up Fear. Upcoming two-season spinoff World Beyond is steered by Matthew Negrete, who co-created the series with Gimple.
"It isn’t like, 'this exact thing needs to happen then.' Occasionally it does, just because of very intricate time sort of things, but in general, there’s certain things we want to achieve, but we also don’t want to hem in our showrunners," Gimple said. "It’s a little bit of a dance. I really think it’s important that the showrunners run the show, and that it’s a collaborative effort, rather than sort of a prescriptive effort."
One such example: sending Morgan (Lennie James) from The Walking Dead to Fear as part of the first-ever crossover between both shows. According to James, who revealed Gimple approached him with an offer to jump between series, Morgan was the sole choice for the crossover and, had he declined, things would have gone in a "completely different direction."
World Beyond, meanwhile, will reveal more about CRM, the shadowy organization acting as the main mythology linking all three shows. This organization was responsible for the disappearance of Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and will be explored further in the Walking Dead feature films starring Lincoln.
AMC chief Sarah Barnett in recent weeks said there are "endless stories to be told" in TWD Universe. Despite the end of creator Robert Kirkman's comic book, which concluded after 193 issues last July, Gimple believes the live-action Walking Dead world "can go on and on and on."
The Walking Dead Season 10 returns to AMC with its midseason premiere Sunday, Feb. 23, launching more than 40 weeks of all-new TWD Universe programming to air throughout the rest of the year. For more TWD intel, follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.