The Walking Dead showrunner Angela Kang teases the Commonwealth storyline of the comic books will serve as the basis of Season 11. Now halfway through its tenth season, which resumes with new episodes in February, The Walking Dead will continue to diverge from the comic books as it adapts creator Robert Kirkman's source material: because the characters and circumstances of the show are different from the books, Kang and her writers' room are taking an improvisational approach to the wider beats of the comic book that ended after 193 issues in July. By Season 11, the show will be without three of the comic book's leading characters — Rick Grimes, son Carl, and Michonne — but their comic book storylines could still play out with the show's unique blend of characters.
In the books, the Commonwealth was a network of settlements home to more than 50,000 survivors ruled by Governor Pamela Milton. The storyline built around this civilization would ultimately act as endgame for The Walking Dead comics.
"I think there's something freeing knowing that the end of the comic is coming," Kang told Deadline. "You know, luckily for this Whisperer story, we still have the comics. For Season 11, we still do have the basis in the Commonwealth story, so we haven't run it out completely."
She continued, "However, I think what's actually been fun for us is since our array of characters now, especially like in the lead characters department, is so different from what it is in the comic book that it allows us to kind of improvise more in certain ways." (Kirkman has also advised ways the show can continue beyond the comic book's ending point.)
Acknowledging the show's most obvious changes from the books — including the presence of show-exclusive Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), its lack of Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and the Season 8 death of Carl (Chandler Riggs) — Kang said, "We're still using some of the pieces of the comics that we think are really compelling and fun and interesting. At the same time, it's kind of forcing us to put our creative hats on and figure out like what more we can say about these characters that we have."
Asked about the challenge of adapting to the loss of major characters like Rick and Michonne, who played key roles in the books, Kang said it was more important than ever to plant seeds for the future.
"There's a lot of challenges because we're trying not to repeat ourselves and try to figure out ways to deepen the characters," she said. "So, in that regard, I think the idea of seeds is really relevant, like the seeds that we planted since Season 9. I was just talking about that with my Season 11 writers' room last week, to grow the characters, you have to just plant seeds all along. And even if might seem right in the moment there's a scene that doesn't necessarily feel like it's the most important thing in the world, sometimes that's a seed that blossoms into something else. So even though we often take a bit of a long view with the show, there is sometimes like we scatter some of those seeds and go like, oh wow, like this direction looks so much more interesting than we thought."
Season 10 has already shown evidence of a comic book plot thread playing out with a different character in the show: the first half of the season hinted Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura) will inherit Michonne's biggest comic storyline after Gurira exits the show in the back half of Season 10.0comments
If the show follows the comics, it's the souped up radio operated by Eugene (Josh McDermitt) that will introduce the survivors to the Commonwealth. That storyline will be touched upon in the back half of the season.