The Walking Dead: Greg Nicotero Explains Why Series is Ending

The Walking Dead is coming to an end but the universe which it has spawned on AMC Networks will continue to grow after the main series concludes in 2022. Following Season 11, The Walking Dead will spawn a spinoff series focused on Daryl and Carol and an anthology series telling completely different stories with each new episode. For executive producer and director of this Sunday's Season 10 finale Greg Nicotero, thee series end is not going to be the end for him, but will nonetheless be a destination filled with inevitably difficult goodbyes.

"It's interesting because over the years there's always been discussion about, 'Well, how many seasons should we do? How long would we go?' Things sort of evolved and changed," Nicotero explained in an interview with Comicbook.com on Friday morning." I remember a couple of years ago, somebody had said 12 seasons. So they said, 'Oh yeah, it's going to go 12 seasons.' I think honestly in the back of my head, I had always kind of believed that that would be where it would land, you know?"

As the conversations finalized a firm ending date, the growth of the universe beyond The Walking Dead was also solidified -- in addition to the 30 remaining episodes of the flagship series.

"With the Daryl and Carol thing, I think it's interesting that there's going to be a spinoff and that Melissa [McBride] and Norman [Reedus] are going to deal with that," Nicotero says. "And so, it's kind of a unique development in the world. I don't think it's hit me yet because it just seems like it's really far away. We got a lot more road to travel before we get there. When they announced it everyone was like, 'Oh my God, Oh my God. How do you feel?' And I was like, 'We have so much work to do before we get there.'"

Still, the news of the series ending had started to feel like news the cast, crew, and fans would never hear. Sunday nights have belonged to the zombie drama since 2010, boasting record ratings along the way and creating a cultural phenomena while forming the TWDFamily. There are more silver linings from Nicotero's perspective, with how the show is coming to a close. "I feel kind of fortunate because there's been a lot of shows that they finish the season, and everybody goes home and then they're like, 'Oh, it's canceled. We're not coming back," Nicotero explains. "So I love the idea that we get to craft our story and craft how the show wants to go out. I think it's important and it's a lot better than the alternative, which was like, 'Oh yeah, we're done' and just everybody goes their separate way. "

The Walking Dead Greg Nicotero
(Photo: AMC)

While the executive producer and VFX genius is currently compartmentalizing the final destination by focusing on the still massive load of work ahead, he does "pretty much guarantee"" that by the end of the production, he will be "a wreck," mostly because of the relationships he has built on this series.

As for the future, Nicotero will "absolutely" be a part of the franchise's expansions.

"It's a part of who I am. It's a part of my DNA, the show," he says. "The Walking Dead is such a unique universe and I do feel like I've been fortunate enough to have a really strong hand in it because of Frank Darabont and [Scott] Gimple and Angela [Kang] and Robert Kirkman. I've been grateful for all of that. Scott and I have been talking about the Rick Grimes movie and we've been talking about the anthology. It's kind of interesting because sometimes I feel like Scott kind of picks on my brain a little bit because he's probably the biggest fan of Creepshow that I know and just very, very excited about the idea that Creepshow was so successful because of the anthology. I think that really helped solidify the idea it would be Walking Dead Anthology stories, which I love."

For now, fans should very much be looking forward to Episode 10x16 on Sunday night. The episode got a 4-star review in Comicbook.com's official notes and Nicotero, who has not yet watched the completed episode since submitting it for VFX work, is thrilled with the work his cast and crew carried out.

The Walking Dead Norman Reedus Greg Nicotero
(Photo: AMC)
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"All the actors, man, they killed it on that episode," Nicotero said. "Seth [Gilliam] was amazing. Melissa was amazing. Cassady [McClincy] was amazing. Ryan [Hurst], Norman, Jeffrey [Dean Morgan], Cailey [Fleming]. That moment where they're in the zombie air lock that I like to call it and Cailey connects with Daryl and they put their hands up together. It's just such a great... There's a lot of emotion in the episode. Josh McDermitt, I think did a great... They all did a great job. A lot of people don't realize it, by the time you get to episode 16, man, we had the shit kicked out of us. We're working our butts off and everybody's been pouring 100% of themselves into the show and it's always a challenge. And I feel like this finale... Every single actor that has seen the episode has called me and been like, 'This is f-cking amazing, man. What a great episode.' I really feel like we left ourselves perfectly primed and positioned for the show to continue. I couldn't be more grateful to the cast and the crew for keeping their level of commitment show after show after so long. Just really, really dialed in."

The Walking Dead Episode 10x16 airs Sunday at 9pm ET on AMC.