AMC’s The Walking Dead is often seen as the TV series that will outlive us all.
Not only has it birthed two spinoffs in the form of Fear The Walking Dead and the recently-delayed World Beyond, but AMC’s undead juggernaut looks set to continue for years to come – even after Andrew Lincoln’s Rick Grimes gets another send-off thanks to the upcoming movie trilogy.
But at the very core of this franchise is a genre-defining comic book saga which ran for 193 issues across 16 years, culminating in the final issue which hit store shelves in July of 2019. It was a historic moment for series creator Robert Kirkman, who was the only writer behind the monthly publication since it premiered all the way back in *checks calendar* 2003.
That’s quite the feat, and one can only imagine the tidal wave of emotions that washed over Kirkman when he finally stopped typing – relief, loss, jubilation… perhaps a mixture of all three?
In a candid interview with The Drawl (h/t ComicBook.com), Robert Kirkman opened up about the moment when he drew the curtain on a 16-year saga.
I ended The Walking Dead because that was the end of the story. The story was set to be a certain thing, and I reached that point and wrapped it up,” Kirkman said on The Drawl. “I had the idea to wrap it up the way I did by not telling anybody about five years ago. I was like, ‘This is gonna be the best, this is gonna be so good. This is gonna surprise people. Killing the book will be a shocking death, like killing a character in the book. How do you pass that up? This is gonna be great.’
Kirkman went on to reveal that he had been “working towards the end” for quite some time, which isn’t all that surprising given The Walking Dead has developed a reputation through the years for bumping off its beloved characters at the drop of a hat.
It’s fitting, really, that the comic book saga came to an end so quickly, too.
I was so excited, years of being excited working towards the end. The minute I finished that script, I was like, ‘What have I done?’ It felt like I had deliberately killed a family member by accident. I felt awful for weeks. There were a few days where I’d just walk around the house like [despondent],” Kirkman said. “My wife would be like, ‘Everything okay?’ ‘Yeah, I’m fine, I’m fine, don’t worry about it.’ But those pages start coming in and I’m like, ‘This is kind of cool, I’m happy that this is working out.’ And then finally, when people read the story, and there weren’t people with pitchforks outside my house, I was like, ‘Okay, okay. That’s cool.’
On the small screen, The Walking Dead season 10 will now end abruptly on April 15th, with the final episode due to air later in the year as a one-off special. It’s another knock-on effect of the Coronavirus pandemic, as production companies all across the world juggle their schedules in an effort to prioritize the safety of their cast and crew.