Given that the ratings for AMC’s zombie drama The Walking Dead have continued to get better over the course of the first four seasons, we’re in for many more years of the misadventures of Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and company. A planned spin-off promises to expand on this world, but the core show is bound to continue far into the horizon, and we have an idea of just how far this run could continue. Producers say they have already mapped out the series as far as the 12th season.
A while back, newly entrenched showrunner Scott Gimple told Larry King that he could see the show continuing for ten seasons. His fellow producer, Dave Alpert, has indicated that they have plans that extend well beyond that. During a recent panel at the Producers Guild of America, he had this to say:
I happen to love working from source material, specifically because we have a pretty good idea of what season 10 is gonna be. We know where season 11 and 12 … we have benchmarks and milestones for those seasons if we’re lucky enough to get there.
That would be an impressive run, especially for a show that many, including the network, didn’t expect to find widespread public acceptance. Seriously, they only gave the first season six episodes to work with. Not to mention that the show has been problematic and uneven since the beginning. This is, of course, a pipe dream. Even the most massively popular shows tend to lose steam and falter over the years. The comic is chugging along just fine, and if they continue to cull from Robert Kirkman’s work, there are a ton of potential storylines they could use, but a dozen seasons is expecting a lot.
Even though the last half of season four of The Walking Dead is easily the best the series has ever been, the idea that the show can last seven more years may be a stretch. To be honest, I even feel like the comics, which I love and still totally enjoy, may be running their course. This is one of the few titles I actually make a point to keep up with (Brian K. Vaughn’s Saga is another that all sci-fi fans, regardless of your affinity for the medium, should be reading), but you can only have so many shocking deaths of beloved characters, and the survivors can only face off with so many nefarious warlords, before you jump the proverbial shark. The current “All Out War” storyline is fantastic, but I can’t help but look forward to a point where the constant one-upping itself proves to be too much.
Alpert’s comments don’t necessarily mean they have every last episode planned, but it isn’t far fetched to imagine they have loose arcs mapped out. Many times the show has felt unorganized and haphazard, like they don’t necessarily have a concrete plan and were just making it up as they go along. That’s one of the things season four did well, provide the show with a definite narrative thrust. And though I doubt it will continue all the way into season 12, it should be comforting for fans to know that they do have a direction and a strategy moving forward.
The Walking Dead returns to AMC for season five this fall, and we’ve been promised that it will “hit the ground running.”