AMC’s The Walking Dead is certainly one of the most popular shows on television, and in previous years served as a miracle of sorts, consistently scoring as the highest rated drama on TV despite the fact that it was on pay cable. But beginning with Season 7, the premiere of which concluded the “Who Will Negan Kill?” cliffhanger of Season 6, the ratings began slipping…hard. The tumble continued into Season 8, which pulled in the lowest ratings of the show since its second season, but something of a reset is in store for fans with the upcoming Season 9—and AMC has no plans to stop this train anytime soon.
As Collider exclusively reported earlier this year, Andrew Lincoln—the lead of The Walking Dead—is exiting the series within the first few episodes of Season 9. Lauren Cohan’s Maggie is expected to be leaving as well, and Season 9 marks the beginning of the show under new showrunner Angela Kang. When it was announced that Kang would be taking over, it was revealed that Scott Gimple—who served as showrunner since the middle of Season 3—would not be leaving the series altogether, but would now be overseeing “The Walking Dead universe.”
Indeed, it appears that AMC has big, big plans, as AMC Networks CEO Josh Sapan revealed during the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference (via THR) that the network aims to continue The Walking Dead in some form or another for at least 10 more years:
“The Walking Dead is a universe…and we have a plan to manage over the next decade, plus. That plan is a careful plan to respect the world of the fans of that world,” he argued, as Sapan pointed to Fear of the Walking Dead as an extension of The Walking Dead franchise.
Fear the Walking Dead went through its own creative reset this past season, which saw the exit of series regulars Kim Dickens and Frank Dillane. The show’s other original lead, Cliff Curtis, left the series during the previous season, but all three of these performers expressed some form of dismay at being forced off the series. The show is essentially brand new now, with Alycia Debnam-Carey as the only existing member of the original cast.
It remains to be seen if yet another Walking Dead spinoff is in the works, but given Gimple’s new title and the desire for the franchise to live on through 2028, one imagines an entirely new kind of story will have to be told. Or perhaps The Walking Dead will just keep moving forward season after season, introducing and killing off characters with the whimsy and weight of a daytime soap opera.
Regardless, don’t expect The Walking Dead to go anywhere anytime soon, despite the dwindling ratings.