How will The Walking Dead comic books and TV show end? It’s hard for anyone to say — except the guy who writes the books and executive produces the AMC series. He has an idea, but he won’t tell his TV crew for a pretty specific reason.

Robert Kirkman’s comic book series is up to Issue 126, and the TV show is about to start filming Season 5. The AMC series is still well behind the comics in terms of where we are in the story — we’re only about up to Issue 64 on TV, so there’s plenty of material to work with in the future, and AMC reps and showrunner Scott Gimple have talked about how the ratings behemoth can go on for many years. (Even decades?)

But Robert Kirkman seems to be hedging his TV bets a little bit. After all, it’s rare for a show to make it beyond 10 seasons, and it’s extremely rare for a scripted series to hit 15 or 20 season.
 

Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images Photo: Scott Gimple, Robert Kirkman, David Alpert, and Gale Anne Hurd at Comic-Con 2013

RK was on Sundance’s The Writers' Room on April 25, and he was asked if he thought about how he wants the TV series to end.

"My desire is that the comic book series would run for three, four hundred issues, and television shows historically don't last that long,” RK said. “So I have often considered the fact that the television show is going to end before the comic book series ends. Like, I actually do want the comic book series to outlast the show, and because of that I can never tell anyone involved in the show what my plans for ending the series are, because there's the very real possibility that it could end up on the show before I get to do it in the comics, which is not how I want to do things."

This is starting to sound like a twist on the Game of Thrones dilemma of the TV show outpacing the books — except there’s an established number of books in that series (seven, so two more remain) and the TV producers know how the author wants the story to end. In this case, it sounds like RK hasn’t told anyone what he wants to do with the TV show ending, but he’s more than hinted to Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) not surviving the comic book series. So if they have to bring that forward, it’s possible the TV show will end with something happening to Rick, or with Carl moving on without his dad.

In July 2012, RK talked to Daily Dead about the comics: “I definitely think that Rick has been the anchor for the series and may be the anchor of the series for a long time. I do have plans for him and I know where his story is going, but I promise that Rick will not survive the entire run of the book.”

Rick may die well before Kirkman gets to Issue 300 or 400, so that may not be how the show ends. Scott Gimple recently speculated that, if the show lives past 10 years, TWD could have a new cast of characters. But that sounds too much like the spin-off/companion series which could also last a long time and is already planned to feature a different cast.

Anyway, this is all stuff we probably don’t have to worry about for a while, but what do you think of the idea that the TV show will end before the comic books? Usually when a film or TV series adapts a story, it’s after the books have been published, but in this case the story will outlast the show. Is that how it should be, in this case, or would you have preferred if the TV series and comics ended together, or if the books ended and the TV show took however long it took to tell the comics saga?

The Walking Dead Season 5 premieres in October on AMC.

SourcesThe Writers’ Room, Daily Dead