The millions of The Walking Dead fans who have stuck with the show through 10 seasons were given an unexpected bit of news on Wednesday morning. The Walking Dead is ending after a 24-episode Season 11. It's news some thought TWD would never deliver but, at the same time, it's not exactly surprising. In total, The Walking Dead has 31 episodes yet to air before it concludes its run. The original Season 10 finale will air on October 4 before 6 additional episodes are added to Season 10 in the spring. Then, 24 episodes will run from the fall of 2021 through the end of 2022, tying up all of the loose ends (save for Carol and Daryl who are continuing on their own show afterwards).
Still, some are left wondering why The Walking Dead is ending after Season 11? Was this always the plan? Well, yes and no.
Many involved with the show foresaw the series concluding after a Season 12. The show is approaching a storyline laid out in comics which concluded with Robert Kirkman surprising everyone (including the AMC Network adapting his book) with the death of Rick Grimes and a final issue which was not announced until readers reached the last page. Now, the TV show is charging toward an equivalent point in its adaptation leaving many wondering how it would continue beyond such a point. The answer: the main series wisely won't. Perhaps a lesson learned from the disastrous final season of Game of Thrones, a show which outpaced its source material and developed its own self-implosive final season?
However, this TWD conclusion likely would not have been reached until the end of a Season 12 under normal cirumstances. If not for the global pandemic halting productions and delaying new episodes, the series would be deep into work on a normal 16-episode Season 11 in Georgia right now, gearing up for a Season 11 premiere in just a few weeks.
Instead, AMC ordered additional episodes for Season 10 and added 8 more to Season 11. Basically, viewers are getting two episodes less than they would have under normal circumstances with a full Season 12 but AMC is able to deliver those now without having to renegotiate any contracts which might have otherwise expired after Season 11. There will certainly be some sort of compensation for the cast in extending contracts for an additional 8 episodes but such a move is much easier (and cheaper) than entirely signing key cast members for an additional and final year.
Cast and crew members have speculated publicly and privately in the past that Season 12 would be the final outing for The Walking Dead. A plan seems to have been quietly in place for the show to round out its run while the franchise as a whole continues to expand. As AMC expands its methods of delivering content through streaming like AMC+ and AMC Premiere, along with The Walking Dead remaining a ratings powerhouse in international markets, there is going to be no shortage of TWD universe content beyond the flagship show's conclusion. Not only are Daryl and Carol headed on their own journey after the series runs its course but familiar faces are poised to return on Tales of the Walking Dead for brief new stories and other spinoffs are being discussed which would call for popular characters and cast members to continue their work in the popular franchise.
The Walking Dead has its original Season 10 finale set to air on October 4. Six more episodes of Season 10 will be produced beginning in October to air in early 2021. Season 11 will go into production in early 2021. Fear the Walking Dead will begin airing its sixth season on October 11. The Walking Dead: World Beyond will follow The Walking Dead Season 10 finale on October and new episodes of Fear the Walking Dead with its first season. A TWD movie starring Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes is still in development at Universal and Skybound.
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