The expanding Walking Dead Universe is “not looking to lean on crossovers so much,” according to chief content officer Scott Gimple, who masterminded the first-ever crossover between The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead when Morgan Jones (Lennie James) left the mothership series for the spinoff in its fourth season. Another relocation occurred in Fear’s fifth season with the arrival of TWD transplant Dwight (Austin Amelio), something Gimple says is a rare occurrence despite the growing shared universe aspect of the franchise. Instead of direct character crossovers like those found in Marvel or DC’s respective cinematic and comic book universes, Gimple plans to explore distinct corners of the shared TWD Universe with little character overlap.
“I grew up on that stuff. You might be talking about [comic book storylines] Secret Wars or Crisis on Infinite Earths or different events, House of M, all sorts of stuff,” Gimple told Deadline. “Those are all very crossover heavy which isn’t what we’re looking to do but we are looking to investigate different parts of the universe and have them be distinct unto themselves. We’re not looking to lean on crossovers so much.”
Character crossover isn’t being ruled out entirely, however.
“It’s there as an option and it’s fun but we would want to make it special. We don’t want it to be the basis of our storytelling approach,” Gimple added. “The things that we’ve implied [about the wider universe] have always been things we wanted to follow and tell more of.”
One thread connecting the universe is the existence of the shadowy CRM, a far-reaching organization that has appeared in both The Walking Dead and Fear. This group, behind a clandestine mission to reclaim the world amid the zombie apocalypse, will next play a central role in AMC’s untitled third Walking Dead series co-created by Gimple.
“The things that we’ve implied come in like rumors, little things that characters say about the outside world,” he said. “There were things, for instance, that characters said in Season 2 of The Walking Dead that ignited my own imagination and some of those things are coming to fruition now seven years later in some of the things that we’re doing. It’s one of the pleasurable things about a shared-universe approach. It’s satisfying to look at different things from different angles and play them with different voices. It’s something that storytellers have been intrigued by for a long time. I believe Dickens might have a shared universe.”
In planning multiple miniseries, specials and other shorter length series set in the same universe, Gimple stresses it’s key these new stories bring “a real differentiation” to the franchise.
“I will say what’s interesting about this is that The Walking Dead is truly a shared world and a shared situation but it’s going to be a lot of different aspects of that shared circumstance. It’s not dependent on these characters knowing each other, interacting with each other, or having anything necessarily to do with one another,” Gimple noted. “It makes it a priority for us to create new mythologies and new situations in this world — big stuff that’s going on — but the really interesting thing about this universe is that because of this apocalypse that’s happened is that a lot of these stories aren’t even going to touch. These people won’t even know that these other people and these other situations even exist. I hope that allows us for a real differentiation in the stories we tell.”