After several years away due to the COVID-19 pandemic, San Diego Comic-Con is back in full swing. The convention has become a host to a wide array of movies, television shows, and the like — and The Walking Dead is definitely among them. The fan-favorite AMC franchise returned to Hall H with great fanfare, not only debuting the first look at the upcoming Tales of the Walking Dead anthology series, but celebrating the final season of The Walking Dead. Keep reading for our recap of everything you need to know from The Walking Dead universe panel!
Chris Hardwick is moderating the panel, and introduces Tales of the Walking Dead, the new anthology series. They play a trailer — it includes Terry Crews as a doomsday prepper, Parker Posey as an aloof suburban woman, and the like.
Hardwick introduces Scott Gimple, Channing Powell, Michael Satrazemis, Terry Crews, Danny Ramirez, and Samantha Morton. Crews almost immediately rips his shirt open and flexes his muscles.
Gimple says the series rose out of the questions that fans were asking about the show, and says they wanted to evolve and invent the mythos. They'd considered making it a series of specials, but it worked better as an anthology. Gimple teases that it is rooted in larger-than-life stories and characters people can latch onto. Powell reveals she was excited to tap into things she hadn't seen on the show before, and push the boundaries. She teases some of the ideas are very crazy and off the wall.
Satrazemis was excited by the idea of bringing new people and concepts into the universe, calls it a "dream." He teases there's even more that the universe can still do. Crews expresses how excited he was to join the franchise and the realm of horror, and was inspired by Night of the Living Dead. He praises Munn, and reveals this was their first time working together since The Newsroom.
Ramirez revealed that he was briefly a voice for Javier in the Walking Dead video game, before the character was aged up. He says the universe tells "a beautiful, small story" in a massive horrific context. Morton talks about reprising her role as Alpha in what is essentially a prequel episode. Morton says she was "so gutted" when Alpha died, and was "more than excited" to return. She wanted to know what makes Alpha who she is. She says that the flashbacks in Season 9 were from Lydia's perspective, so they might not be truthful.
It's time for audience questions. Crews reveals he had nightmares about the zombies, especially around the pandemic. Powell teases that, in addition to Alpha's return, they peppered in something that fans of the mythology will recognize. Morton is asked if she'd want to do an Alpha spin-off, and agrees. Hardwick jokes that it's happening. Crews' son asks how everyone would survive a real apocalypse. Ramirez says he'd have a survival kit. Crews argues it's the humans betraying each other that would be the real threat. Crews says his favorite character was Tyrese. Crews compliments Morton for such a terrifying character, and shouts out the fans as well. Powell hopes they can cater to both new and old fans. Satrazemis highlights the experience of working on the show, and thanks the fans. He and Morton then hug,
The Tales crew takes a group photo. Hardwick reveals that the Fear cast is about to begin production on a new season, and tees up a video from Lennie James wishing the audience well.
Hardwick talks about his own journey with the show, and thanks the fans for it. He argues it's rare that a show is able to last this long. A trailer for the final episodes play, and Hardwick introduces the panelists — Gimple, Angela Kang, Greg Nicotero, Melissa McBride, Josh McDermitt, Ross Marquand, Seth Gilliam, Lauren Ridloff, Cailee Flemming, Michael James Shaw, and Norman Reedus.
Gimple confirms the final season premiere date, and also reveals that a fan event will be happening on the West Coast on November 20th, with more details to be revealed later.
Kang teases that the final season sees the characters in heavy conflict with the Commonwealth, and there's a lot of twist and turns. She says the show is balancing the spirit of Robert Kirkman's writing in the comics, but forging its own path. Nicotero says that shooting the final episodes was "no joke", but they felt an obligation to the fans to stick the landing.
Reedus is about to start crying, and calls the start of the show such a "pure thing." He jokes that he wants to cry and make out with everyone in the room — but will wait until after COVID. McBride gets choked up talking about the show, and the fans cheer and tell her they love her. She says she's "so grateful." McDermitt is asked about his blonde hair, and argues it was actually comic accurate for Eugene. He reminisces about the crotch-biting scene, and about when Eugene threw up on Rosita. Marquand talks about being a fan first and then joining the family, and says it's going to be weird when the show is over. Gilliam calls the experience "surreal", and praises the commitment and love that fans have had for the show. He says he couldn't have imagined his storyline going where it was, but in a good way. He says his favorite quality about Gabriel is his fortitude, as he's overcome every situation thrown at him.
Ridloff talks about going from a kindergarten teacher to working on the show, and says her classroom has just gotten so much bigger. She says the show is a mirror of society. She says she still can't process being an action star. She says the show was created for the fans, and that the cast and crew care so much about them. Flemming thanks the fans for their love and support. She says getting to go to work and play with swords is a lot of fun. She talks about Judith having grown up entirely in the apocalypse, and laments that she's probably never had an ice cream cone. Shaw says he never imagined himself fitting into the shoes of his character, but it's been a joy to play. He talks about his first day on set, where he was very cold in a warehouse, and his last day on set, where they watched the sun come up. Nicotero reveals that they sometimes use conditioner to grease the hair of the walkers, so they do smell good.
It's time for fan questions. A fan asks "Sith or Jedi" — Reedus and Flemming say Jedi. Marquand slips into a Star Wars impression.
A fan asks about the wrap party, which Gimple says was "lovely", even though it had a lot of people crying. The post-production team had also put together a montage of one second from each episode, which they hope to release after the show ends. A fan asks about a movie, which Hardwick says they'll get to later. Another fan asks about getting closure on Rick's storyline — which they'll also address later.
A fan asks about the last days on set, Marquand talks about when confetti cannons went off after the series wrapped. Nicotero reveals the final episode took fifteen days, and that different actors wrapped across all those days. Gilliam says the cast often showed up to watch other actors wrap. Ridloff reveals she wrapped at 2 am, and was overwhelmed and exhausted. A fan asks about Reedus' on-set pranks with Andrew Lincoln, and he says he doesn't think he pranked anyone else because Lincoln was such an "easy target."
A fan asks if anyone has theories about the origin of the zombie apocalypse, and Gimple argues part of the beauty of the comic was that there was no clear answer. Reedus jokes about Fabio being hit by the goose on a roller coaster, and Gimple jokes that's the new theory.
A fan asks about Daryl and Carol or Daryl and Connie, and Reedus jokes there's a world where all three of them are happy together. He also says Daryl and Carol's story isn't over.
McBride talks about the fun of getting to play so many different versions of Carol, including at the Commonwealth. A fan asks about playing characters who weren't in the comics. Reedus talks about filming his very first scene and running with the idea of having a chip on his shoulder. He also says it was freeing not being in the comics,
A fan asks their favorite scenes, and what they're going to miss. Shaw says it hasn't aired yet. Flemming says it was her first Walker kill. Ridloff says it was with Daryl and Dog. Gilliam says the "one more" episode with Ross and Robert Patrick. Gilliam says he's gonna miss singing from his trailer, and teasing his castmates. Marquand and Gilliam sing a bit of David Bowie. Marquand says the lineup with Negan. McDermitt says it hasn't aired yet, but before that was the lineup, because he liked seeing Michael Cudlitz die.
McBride says the very first episode with Morgan putting his wife down, and Scott Wilson with his bible in the prison. Reedus says the scene where he ran into Carol's arms. Reedus says he'll miss the crew and being in Georgia. Nicotero says shooting on location made the experience so different, and his favorite scene was the trough when Carol goes to Terminus. He says that in his head, the show isn't done yet, and asks for a round of applause for the actors who were previously on the show, as well as for Frank Darabont. Kang says some of her favorite scenes are still to come, but she loves the Season 4 finale scene between Rick and Daryl.
Reedus says "it's truly been a honor to be on this ride with you guys", and is amazed by the impact the show has had. The cast gets a round of applause, and everyone leaves except for Gimple.
Gimple confirms Lauren Cohan and Jeffrey Dean Morgan have started filming their spinoff, and announces new cast members. A video message then plays from Cohan and Morgan.
Finally, Hardwick asks Gimple about the Rick Grimes movies — and Gimple says he can't talk about them, but knows someone who can. Andrew Lincoln and Danai Gurira walk out, and announce that they will be returning as Rick and Michonne for a six-episode miniseries on AMC+, instead of a movie.