Tonight on Conan, The Walking Dead star Lauren Cohan told the host that the long-running AMC series would be influenced, at least in part, by the COVID-19 pandemic and the politicization of the COVID-19 pandemic. She was cagey about how significant that influence would be, but her body language seemed to suggest it might be more than she was letting on. Years ago, The Walking Dead introduced audiences to a world where a pandemic had grown out of control, transforming everyday people into hideous monsters and killing off massive swaths of the population. That premise became arguably the most successful TV show of the last decade, airing on cable but managing to routinely beat network shows in the ratings.
After asking Cohan what her ideal ending for The Walking Dead would be, O'Brien jokingly suggested that the writers could bring modern politics into the series, incorporating "zombie deniers, people who don't think it's a real virus." But before he could finish the thought, Cohan's eyes went wide and she came back with an answer.
"I want to say that might kind of be the vibe this year," Cohan said. "Maybe not quite as expliticly, but we're definitely taking an opportunity, our writers, to let the world inform the show. They always have, but I feel like it's an exciting year. We know we're sending off the show, and a lot of people are watching."
Current events and politics -- often in the form of metaphor, rather than direct commentary -- have been more common in Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard's comic book version of the story, but not entirely absent from the TV version either. With the TV series seemingly aiming for an ending that differentiates itself from the comics, though, it's hard to guess what the writers and producers might decide to do in the last season-and-a-half.
New episodes of The Walking Dead's recently-extended tenth season premiere Sundays at 9 pm ET/PT on AMC. AMC+ subscribers can see new episodes before they air on Thursdays. Conan airs weeknights at 11 p.m. ET/PT on TBS.