Showrunner Angela Kang recently announced “The Walking Dead” was renewed for a 10th season earlier this month. But how much longer can the AMC zombie drama crawl on with more and more of its lead actors leaving the show?
A day before it was reported Danai Gurira will be the next to depart the drama, INSIDER asked Kang if she’s approaching the next season of the show as a final one or if she’s just focused on delivering the best show possible to fans.
“It’s kind of just amazing that we’re going into the 10th season,” Kang told INSIDER of getting to return for another season. “It’s certainly a milestone that most people never get to cross and we’re so grateful to the fans around the world that have been on that journey with us.”
“I’m approaching it as I’ve got to make a great 10th season. I can’t assume anything,” she added. “It’s a thing that writers certainly talk about a lot. You can fall into a trap just planning ahead and saving the great material for later. We always have to approach it as — we got to put the good material in now.”
As Kang said, not many shows go past 10 seasons. It’s just a feat to get most shows to season five. Without counting reality series, news series (“20/20”), procedural dramas like “Law & Order,” “NCIS,” “CSI,” and animated series like “The Simpsons,” there are about 50 prime-time shows that have ever had more than 10 seasons.
Of those, there are currently nine significant live-action prime-time series running in or past their 10th season: “Will & Grace,” “Modern Family,” “NCIS: Los Angeles,” “The Big Bang Theory,” “Supernatural,” “Criminal Minds,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “NCIS,” “Law & Order: SVU.”
CBS’ “Criminal Minds” and ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” are currently on season 15. “The Big Bang Theory” is coming to an end this year.
Whether or not something like “TWD” has another five seasons in it is dependent not only on the ever wavering viewership, but on the dissipating cast. Season eight had some of the lowest-rated episodes of the show in years. The season eight finale, for instance, was the lowest-rated since season one. (It’s worth noting, despite this, it’s still TV’s top show among adults under 50.)
In the past season, the show has lost lead characters Rick (Andrew Lincoln); his son, Carl (Chandler Riggs); and Jesus (Tom Payne). Maggie (Lauren Cohan) currently has another show premiering on ABC at the end of February and could return in some capacity. Michonne (Danai Gurira) is set to be the next big star to depart after next season.
The other long-term issue is that the series is starting to quickly catch up to the comics on which it’s based.
After the Whisperers, who were recently introduced into the mix, the comics only offer one more new group of characters — the Commonwealth, which has been teased on the show— and they don’t offer a clear-cut villain. The story becomes more about the politics of rebuilding the new world and creating a stable and safe community.
Kang has been applauded by the fandom and critics alike for rejuvenating the show in its ninth season after losing viewers over the past two seasons. But what do you do when there’s simply no more story to tell?
There are plans for an extended “TWD” universe, which chief content officer of “The Walking Dead” Scott M. Gimple teased will showcase stories of the past, present, and future in formats varying from digital content to longer series. There are also those three “Walking Dead” movies starring Andrew Lincoln planned.
Since Carl’s death and writing out the show’s lead, Rick Grimes (Lincoln), the show has been going more and more off book. Moving forward, “TWD” will really have to come up with some new material if it wants to continue to breathe life into a decade-old series.
At the least, Kang seems up to the challenge.
“Even if there is five more years or 10 more years or whatever, we have to make it cool in this year and now [not only] for our sake, but definitely for the sake of the fans and so that’s been the approach,” said Kang. “I’m really excited about the work that we’re doing and just grateful to have been on this ride.”
Kang is currently working on season 1o right now. How long do you see “TWD” going on for? Do you think it can survive and still be the same show without so many of its leads?
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