The Walking Dead Creator Reveals How the Show Could Continue Past the Comic Books

The final issue of The Walking Dead comic book could inspire future episodes of the television series, according to creator Robert Kirkman. Now heading into its eleventh season, the television show airing on AMC is nearing the end of the source material as Eugene (Josh McDermitt), Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura), King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) and Princess (Paola Lázaro) embark on a journey towards a fateful meeting with the Commonwealth, a sprawling new community from the final stretch of Kirkman and artist Charlie Adlard's comic book that ended after 193 issues last July. When The Walking Dead catches up with the book's finale, it could bring characters like Maggie Rhee (Lauren Cohan) and Judith Grimes (Cailey Fleming) more than 20 years into the future:

"There's not a number of ideas I didn't get to or didn't use. I planned, to a certain extent, fairly meticulously," Kirkman said about his zombie saga during a live stream Q&A hosted by Hey Fandom! "So when I decided that the end point was going to fall where it was, we were writing issue #130, or #140, and so we were 50, 60 issues or more from the end point, and so I knew exactly what I was gonna do up to that point. So for the last six, seven years up to the end, I knew I was working up to that end, and so there isn't anything there that I didn't get to."

In the book's 72-page final issue — spoilers — it's been 25 years since Rick Grimes was assassinated for ushering in a new era of democracy and peace at the Commonwealth, an Ohio-based network of settlements home to nearly 50,000 survivors. Carl and Sophia Grimes (née Peletier) are the parents of six-year-old Andrea Grimes, who has never seen a "roamer" — a term for the flesh-eating undead — as zombies have become a little-seen novelty sometimes referred to as a "Walking Dead."

Multiple safe zones have been established throughout the United States and are overseen by President Maggie Greene, who is tasked with the forthcoming unification between the East and the Western Alliance.

On the Western Front, Eugene is a key figure in the development of the new world as he oversees an expansion of the country's re-imagined railroad system. It marks the first time the East and West have been united since the start of "the Trials," a commonly used term for the events depicted in the preceding 192 issues of The Walking Dead.

The 25-year time jump also reveals Michonne as Michonne Hawthorne, High Court Judge of the Commonwealth One territory. Carl works as a messenger whose travels often take him outside of designated safe zones, where things are "almost as bad" as the Trials.

Despite Michonne's (Danai Gurira) Season 10 exit, this western-inspired status quo could play out in future seasons of The Walking Dead.

"I will say that there's a lot of implied story in the final issue, with the railroad meeting, and the colony to the West uniting with the colony to the East. There's some general thoughts and notions that I have for that," Kirkman said. "If the television show ever gets to that point in the comic book series, and we decide to continue past that point, I'm kind of excited about the idea of telling a little bit more with older Eugene and Judge Michonne and the different things that were in the comic series that could have gone on, and we could have done more with. So that could be kind of neat."

Walking Dead showrunner Angela Kang previously revealed executive producer Kirkman advised ways the show could outlive the comic book, telling The Hollywood Reporter:

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"He was like, 'You see what I did there? You could go down this path, or this path, or this path, or this path, there's a story.' So I think that there's a lot of iterations that it could take for the story, and it's that way by design," Kang said. "Robert was done writing the comic, but that doesn't necessarily mean an end for the show in the same way that the comic ended. Because that's not even necessarily what he intended, so it's just an interesting thing for us."

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Disclosure: ComicBook is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of ViacomCBS.