Like the hordes of zombies that form the show’s primary existential threat, AMC’s long-running horror series, The Walking Dead, keeps chugging right along, refusing to die. The ratings have fallen off and a number of fan favorites have left, but The Walking Dead season 11 is on the way.
AMC renewed The Walking Dead for an eleventh season in October 2019. The network made the announcement at New York City Comic-Con right before the season 10 premiere. (They also included a major casting announcement we’ll get to in due time.)
While season 11 is on the way, things are a bit in flux right now. COVID-19 threw everyone for a loop, including the entertainment industry. While season 10 of The Walking Dead wrapped up in April 2020, it’s not entirely complete. In late March, AMC announced that because of the coronavirus, they weren’t able to finish post-production on the true season finale.
As a result, season 10 isn’t whole just yet. The network plans to air the season finale as a “special episode” later this year, though when remains to be seen. With restrictions gradually easing, hopefully the production team will be able to get to work on that if they’re not already. But right now, the exact air date is up in the air.
Talking about the delayed episode, ominously titled “A Certain Doom,” producer Greg Nicotero said:
“When you’re in post-production, you have to edit the episode, then you do sound effects, and then you do music, and then visual effects, and then color timing to make sure all the colors in all the scenes match, and then you have to do a quality check to make sure nothing is messed up.
“So there are all these steps that have to happen, and generally speaking, the way our production schedule works is, those happen up to about three weeks before the episode airs.
“So we were really on our way to the finish line when things started slowing down because of the stay-at-home work order. So we just missed that window.
“It wasn’t that the effects were delayed or anything was delayed. It was just the delivery of the episode was set to be delivered at a specific date and we had to shut down before they hit that date.”
When Will The Walking Dead Season 11 Air?
Since we don’t even know when we’ll see the season 10 finale of The Walking Dead, the premiere date for season 11 also remains up in the air.
Thus far in the show’s run, every season has debuted in October. It’s a safe bet AMC and company were also aiming for that target in 2020. Whether or not they hit it we’ll have to wait and see. It depends on a number of surrounding factors.
Preproduction on The Walking Dead season 11 was already under way. But like everything else, it came to a grinding halt in late March 2020. At that point, they hoped to restart things in a month or so, but that hasn’t happened.
Even with the longer-than-expected delay, an October 2020 debut for season 11 isn’t entirely out of the question. They might have to push the pace, but it’s potentially do-able. Again, that all depends on what happens with COVID-19.
Though in a limited capacity, the creative team continues to work how they can. Showrunner Angela Kang said:
“We’re continuing to work on the future season remotely. Writing, I think, is the easiest process to do remotely, and even that is a little… it’s tricky. We’re not quite able to work at the same exact pace as we would when we’re in the office.”
The Walking Dead films primarily in Georgia, which was one of the first states to allow businesses to reopen after the stay-at-home orders. Production likely depends on how comfortable the cast and crew feel gathering and whether or not they can stay safe.
If we had to hazard a guess, however, we’d say this may be the first time in the past decade we won’t see new episodes of The Walking Dead in October.
The Walking Dead Season 11 Cast
If The Walking Dead is known for anything, it’s for getting rid of fan-favorite characters, and a few that aren’t so beloved. Most often they die, but that’s not always the case. Again, with the delay in the true season finale, who makes it through to season 11 remains something of a mystery right now.
Before season 10 even aired, it was reported that Danai Gurira, who plays Michonne, was leaving the series. She has been one of the primary characters since she first arrived in season two, and Gurira has appeared in more episodes than anyone not named Norman Reedus or Melissa McBride.
In the final scene of season 10, episode 13, “What We Become,” we see Michonne exit The Walking Dead. Unlike many others who leave the show, however, she doesn’t die. Instead, she just kind of wanders off. Not really wander, though, as she has a purpose. She finds evidence that Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln, who previously left the cast) may still be alive and she sets off in search of him.
Though Michonne won’t be back for season 11, the door isn’t completely shut on us ever seeing the character again. It seems unlikely she’ll show back up on The Walking Dead, but perhaps she’ll appear in the planned Rick-centric spin-off movie(s). Whatever her future holds, Michonne’s absence is sure to have a significant impact on the series and the other characters.
Though Michonne is gone, we’ll definitely see some familiar faces in season 11. Daryl Dixon (Reedus) and Carol Peletier (McBride) will return and continue their reigns as the two longest-running characters. (Reedus has a one-episode lead on McBride, not bad runs for two characters who don’t appear in the comics.) We’ve also got the likes of Rosita (Christian Serratos), Eugene (Josh McDermitt), Gabriel (Seth Gilliam), Aaron (Ross Marquand), Ezekiel (Khary Payton), and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), among others, still alive and kicking for now.
Some people apparently worry about whether or not Jerry, played by Cooper Andrews, will make it to season 11 intact. He’s played a major role since joining the series in season seven as a part of the Kingdom, but people have concerns about his future. Though The Walking Dead frequently kills people off, this is entirely based on fan speculation. In mid-April, the actor posted a picture of himself on Instagram sans his traditional beard.
Does this mean the end for ol’ Jerry? Some fans seem to take this as a given, but the thing about beards is that they grow back. Could he have grown it back in time to make the original May start date for production on season 11? Probably not. Then again, actors often change their appearance, and hair and makeup departments are adept at things like wigs and fake facial hair.
Also, though there are a lot of bearded dudes in The Walking Dead universe, it’s not completely devoid of clean-shaven faces. Maybe Jerry just got sick of his beard and hacked it off, it happens. As with so much else, we’ll have to wait and see about his ultimate fate.
There is one major bit of casting that’s sure to shake things up on The Walking Dead.
At the same time AMC announced it renewed the series for season 11, the network also revealed that Maggie Greene/Rhee, played by Lauren Cohan, was returning to the franchise. Maggie left the series the same episode as Rick, “What Comes After,” the fifth episode of season nine. Though her fate was unclear, it was presumed she left to join Georgie (Jayne Atkinson) and her group in search of other survivors. Though Cohan departed the series, many assumed she would eventually come back. And they were right.
In season 11 of The Walking Dead there are going to be zombies and clashes between different-minded survivors trying to continue living through the end of the world. How’s that for prophetic? Those two elements are where the series traditionally derives the bulk of its tension and plot lines, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon. The specifics, however, that’s a different story.
Much of what happens in The Walking Dead season 11 will depend on what we see in when the season finale of season 10 finally airs.
Though we don’t have any details, there’s sure to be significant fanfare, both in the show and the fandom, when Maggie returns to the fold. She’s been such a major part of the show for so long, the impact is going to be big. As showrunner Angela Kang puts it:
“Maggie is part of the heart of these people’s lives. There’s so much love for her within our communities, and she was a leader at a time when so much of the leadership at Hilltop had been lost.”
But Maggie isn’t just going to be able to step back into her old role. Kang adds:
“Even as we’re working on season 11, we’ve got so much great stuff planned for her.”
And there’s a lot for Maggie and the others to deal with. Alpha may be dead, but Beta is still out there with at the head of a horde of walkers. Princess (Paula Lazaro) is a well-known character from the comics, though she just finally appeared on TV in season 10, episode 14, “Look at the Flowers.” She’s certain to play a substantial role as the series moves forward.
Negan has survived much longer than many people expected, though certain rumors indicate he may not be long for The Walking Dead world. Or at least some people think so.
Michael Cudlitz, who played the now-deceased Abraham, has returned to The Walking Dead, but as a director this time, helming multiple episodes. In a recent virtual interview with Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who plays Negan, who killed Abraham on the show, Cudlitz said he wants to “put [Negan] through the ringer” in an upcoming chapter.
Some folks assume that means Negan is going to die, though they may be reading into something and seeing things that aren’t necessarily there. The Walking Dead is fond of putting characters through hell, forcing them to make impossible choices, and experience horrific things. Maybe Negan will die, though Cudtlitz’ comments don’t seem to signify it’s a done deal.
From what Kang says, it sounds like the writing process, though in progress, is still going on. At this stage, it doesn’t seem like anything is 100% set in stone. However it plays out, though, Negan is probably in for a rough time. And if history is any indication, so is everyone else when The Walking Dead returns for season 11, whenever that happens.