AMC knows what it’s got with The Walking Dead, a post-apocalyptic zombie thriller series that seen stunning growth in viewership over its third and fourth seasons. It actually drew 16.1 million viewers for its latest season premiere, making it the most-watched drama series telecast in basic cable history (according to Nielsen, at least). It’s one of the most wildly popular and talked about shows on television right now – and AMC doesn’t see that ending any time soon. According to one producer on the series, The Walking Dead could keep going as far as 12 seasons.
Speaking at the “Produced By” panel at the PGA this past weekend, producer David Alpert said the following of AMC’s plans for The Walking Dead:
“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 news may make your jaw drop, because 12 seasons would mean that we’re watching this show until 2021 (!!!), but The Walking Dead is based on a comic-book series by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard that is still going strong after 127 issues. So, the source material is there and ready to provide guidance, if the showrunners and writing staff decide to adhere to it.
Thinking about it, a vision for 12 seasons might not be such a bad thing. The series is gearing up for its fifth season premiere this October, and many fans of the series are wondering just how long series lead Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) can continue to cheat death. In fact, many watchers have been lobbying for The Walking Dead to kill him off and focus on his group of survivors struggling forward without their de facto leader.
If the show has plans for seven more seasons, Rick’s death could be a major plot point halfway through the series and serve as a way for The Walking Dead to pass protagonist responsibilities off to a new character (probably Daryl Dixon, unless the writers decide to completely wipe the slate clean). That, I would be completely fine with.