The Walking Dead leading man Norman Reedus, who in September declared he hopes to stay with the series until its end, says he would only consider leaving the zombie drama if "the show ever lost track of what it was."
"There's two feet on the ground, it's the end of the world, you either fight for this cause or you runaway from this cause. But this is your chance to show who you would be in this situation," Reedus told Metro. "I think that's what viewers of The Walking Dead related to, 'Oh if this happened, I'd do this.' Sometimes it's better to run than it is to fight, it's your two feet on the ground, what are you going to do? When The Walking Dead loses that point of view, then I think it'll fade into the ether."
Though executive producer Gimple said in 2017 The Walking Dead was eyeing a 20-year run, Reedus argues a targeted endgame would prevent the series from shambling on as a "watered down" imitation of its former self.
"I started the show and I'd like to bookend the show. I'd like to be there when it ends. I just don't know when the endgame is," Reedus said. "I just don't want the brand to get watered down too much. You got this goose that lays the golden egg, sooner or later you got to let the goose fly free. You don't want to kill it. I don't know if that'll happen, we've got a lot of good, creative people on the show, but if this show went on for 20 years, it would get watered down, there's no way around it."
Reedus and longtime co-star Melissa McBride both inked mega-franchise deals in November, securing their involvement for at least three more years.
Now in its ninth season, The Walking Dead has found renewed life under new showrunner Angela Kang, who replaced five-season showrunner Scott Gimple when he vacated that position after a promotion to chief content officer of the Walking Dead brand for AMC.
The series was forced to evolve again in the wake of the shock departure of longtime leading man Andrew Lincoln, whose Rick Grimes was permanently written off the show in favor of a jump to the budding movie side of the franchise.
Now nearly a decade into the apocalypse, the continued erosion of the world has resulted in a Western vibe and a refreshed focus on survival-driven drama: Reedus' Daryl Dixon retreated into the life of a loner woodsman who has only recently been drawn back towards his fellow survivors, now caught in the middle of a clash with barbaric enemy group the Whisperers.
Season Nine also saw the loss of Lauren Cohan, whose Maggie is anticipated to return in a limited guest capacity next season. Season Ten will also be the last for Michonne star Danai Gurira, who is expected to appear in just a handful of episodes.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC. The network is now developing a tenth season due out in October.
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