The TV landscape is certainly an unpredictable one, with some shows canceled before their first season comes to a close, and others going on to find years upon years of success. In the basic cable TV landscape, most shows don't typically last beyond seven or eight seasons, although there are a few exceptions like FXX's It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which just kicked off its 11th season. AMC's The Walking Dead will come back to wrap up the back half of Season 6 next month, but during the network's TCA winter tour panel, AMC's Joel Stillerman revealed there are absolutely no discussions about The Walking Dead's endgame yet.
"What's so fascinating about The Walking Dead is that Robert Kirkman set out to do something that proved to be remarkably brilliant in a couple of very fundamental ways. One is he wanted to use the world of the zombie apocalypse as a way to get at social commentary. That was always the killer app for the show. But if you ask Robert what his motivations were for writing The Walking Dead, he would say, 'I loved zombie movies, but I just felt like the worst part of them was always the ending. You always had to manufacture some ending.' So he set out to write this totally open-ended story, and the proof of that is in how vibrant the comics are. The answer to how long the show will go on in some way is directly correlated with the health of the storytelling in the comics. Those comics are firing on all cylinders. He still writes every line of dialogue in those books, and is as engaged as he was when I think he was sitting around in Kentucky writing the first issue. That is very much part of the DNA of the show. He sort of felt like, in real life, this goes on for a very long time. We're along for that ride."
The Walking Dead universe got even bigger this year with the companion series Fear the Walking Dead, which is set clear across the country in Los Angeles, and set right at the beginning of the zombie apocalypse. When the show was first announced, it was billed as a "companion series," although most still called it a "spinoff." Charlie Collier explained why they consider Fear the Walking Dead a companion series, and why this show moved forward.
"First of all, we made a deliberate decision, which was to not spin off the series. If we had taken a couple of characters out of the camp and sent them on the road and followed that - that would have been a spinoff. We didn't do that. We made the decision ... to do a companion series, and, in fact, to show you what was happening in the world when Rick was sleeping in the original series. It wasn't just, let's do more for more's sake. We waited a few seasons. We wanted to get Robert to feel like he had a world that was very different, as opposed to just an extension of the world we were in."
When you take into consideration that The Walking Dead is set on the East Coast, with Fear the Walking Dead on the West Coast, that still leaves a lot of ground that could potentially be covered in numerous other companion shows. While nothing has been announced yet, Charlie Collier said the network is open to exploring other shows set in this world. Here's what he had to say below.
"We are open to ideas that feel organic to the creators in whom we've put our trust. So if Robert had a world he wanted to explore, you can bet that we are not just leaning into that conversation, but we're actively engaging in it. Right now we're not in that conversation, and there's nothing to report at all. I'm a huge believer in Robert and the executive producers of these shows. We wanted to create a place where they would bring us their creative dreams and bring us their passion projects. If Robert had another one, we would absolutely engage. This is a world that is rich enough to handle it. Right now we're just focused on these two."
The Walking Dead will kick off the back half of Season 6 on Valentine's Day. Fear the Walking Dead Season 2 is debuting at an undetermined time this year, with production already under way in Mexico. Would you like to see more companion shows to The Walking Dead? Chime in with your thoughts, and stay tuned for more on both of these hit zombie shows.