‘The Walking Dead’ showrunner Scott Gimple has suggested that there may be life in the zombie apocalypse TV series even after the current cast of beloved characters have all become corpses. Despite fans caring far more about characters like Rick, Michonne and Daryl than about watching the undead shuffle around biting people, Gimple reckons that ‘The Walking Dead’ could go on without its primary protagonists still in place.
Speaking at the Envelope Emmy Round Table discussion with other showrunners, Gimple mentioned shows like ‘The Wire’ and ‘Game of Thrones’ as influential shows that have either taken new series in new directions with new casts or have killed off major characters but kept their loyal fan base.
So many shows don’t have clear endings mapped out from the start (hello ‘Lost’) that they can sometimes disappear into insignificance or become ridiculous in their attempt to wrap up loose ends. ‘The Walking Dead’ is a show that has no clear ending and with the source comics still being rolled out year after year, there is no real ending in sight. This is good news for fans, particularly as Gimple seems certain that there is some sense of design to the series, even if there is no destination yet. He says, ‘it’s knowing thematically where you're going, knowing what you want to achieve, but almost accounting for expansion from that — having an end in mind that’s flexible’.
However, if the show’s popularity continues to rise, will there ever be a need for the show to stop? Even without the current beloved cast, there is a rich world of ‘The Walking Dead’ open to exploration. Fear the Walking Dead is already a successful spin-off. But Gimple believes that the main show could continue even if they killed off more of the main characters saying, ‘our show could keep going as a story, but it would be a new story. Meaning the characters that we have, we would tell all of their stories but use the environment to tell new characters’ stories. But that’s wishful thinking that things would go on and on and on and on.’
Gimple argues that ‘The Walking Dead’ is consistently reinventing itself as a new show already. He states that ‘I would say our show, and you know, the source material it's based on, has just evolved so much every season that it's a new show every eight episodes.’ Gimple says of season 4; ‘I think the audience enjoys it... The ensemble is broken into all these different groups, and generally, each episode, we focused on one of those groups. And, you know, the main character, Rick Grimes, was in four episodes, in half of the back half, and one of those episodes, in one scene. But he was always present.’