Congratulations, AMC. Your ratings darling could potentially stay on the air for another dozen seasons!
Unlike most TV shows, even others based on books, The Walking Dead is tied to an ongoing comic book series with no end in sight. Robert Kirkman writes the comics and he also executive produces the TV show, which is currently nearing the end of Season 4. His comic book series’ Issue #123 just came out on March 12. The next issue, 124, comes out March 26. (Game of Thrones fans can only dream of such a steady stream of content.)
RK talked about his writing process when responding to a fan’s question in the letter column of Issue 123. “I do have a rough outline for the next 200 issues or so,” he wrote (via Comicbook.com), “but I also come up with things on the fly and push storylines back to accommodate… all that time, that’s how you get roughly 200 issues of story backlogged.”
The next 200 issues? That’s a lot!
*Comic book spoilers ahead*
The Walking Dead comics are still following the Team Rick vs. Team Negan “All Out War” saga, and Issue 123 left Rick Grimes in a really bad place. Like, there’s an arrow sticking out of him. He could die. Then again, if there’s a plan for 200 more issues, would they kill Rick now? Maybe. Rick may have just been the main character to this point. Maybe the focus will shift to Carl (for revenge) and others? It’s not like the death of Rick wouldn’t provide major story potential ... but we’ve also worried about Rick before.
Anyway, that’s way down the road in terms of the TV show. Abraham, Rosita, Eugene were introduced in Issue 53 of the comics, and they just showed up on Season 4, Episode 10 of the TV series. So if all four seasons up to that point were in the first 50 issues, that may be why Robert Kirkman once threw out Season 9 as a guess for when we'd get to the Negan stuff. It's another 50 issues ahead of us, so maybe it’s fair to guess that conflict won’t happen for four seasons from now. That still feels too far, though, especially if 200 more issues are coming. We’re sticking with a guess of Season 6 for Negan and The Saviors, but that could be way off.
*End of comic book spoilers*
Does it give you hope for the longevity of the TV show if Robert Kirkman has a plan for so many more issues of the comics? Would you feel better if the show had a set end date or do you like keeping things open-ended, and letting the story tell itself naturally? Could you see yourself still watching this story play out 10 years from now?
The Walking Dead Season 4 airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.