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No modern day franchise is immune from what we here at SYFY WIRE have dubbed the "Marvel Studios Effect" (we just made that up on the spot if you couldn't tell). It's pretty simple science: if your property — be it film or TV show — has a big enough cultural following, then it is absolutely imperative that you leave fans with a tease of what's to come with the addition of a mid or post-credits stinger. No exceptions can be made. Sorry, we don't make the rules... we just enforce them.
The Walking Dead brand manager and executive producer Scott M. Gimple is well aware of this unspoken mandate and, during a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, teased that the team is "working right now on a couple of things" when asked about a post-credits scene in the series finale. "There are a couple of ways it could go," he added.
Gimple, who is notorious for playing things extremely close to the vest, refused to go any further than that. Still, if we had to guess, we'd say the tag will probably set up one of the upcoming spinoff projects, which are set to follow the standalone exploits of Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus); Maggie Rhee (Lauren Cohan) and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan); and Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Dana Gurira). Showrunner and executive producer Angela Kang wasn't too chatty on the topic either, stating: "I can't answer that question, but I appreciate you asking."
The return of Rick and Michonne is probably the best bet, given how fans have longed to see them return since the beloved characters departed the series in Seasons 9 and 10, respectively. Their story will be wrapped up with a six-episode miniseries on AMC+. In any case, the precedent for a post-credits scene was already established by the Season 2 finale of The Walking Dead: World Beyond. Gimple was at least able to confirm to EW that the mysterious connection between French scientists and the walker outbreak does indeed set the stage for the Daryl-centric series.
Visual effects wizard and executive producer Greg Nicotero directed the finale over 18 days (about a week longer than it takes to film a regular episode). "I don't think I ever worked so hard in my life," he explained to EW. "Everybody wants to say, 'Is this going to be the M*A*S*H finale? Is it going to be The Sopranos finale? Is it going to be the Seinfeld finale? Is it going to be the Game of Thrones finale? What is it going to be?'" Nicotero added. "But the truth of the matter is that we're ending one story, but we're continuing other stories. So part of it is yes, The Walking Dead is coming to an end, but the stories will continue. There are other characters who still have stories. So it's sort of an ending. It's an ending for a lot of those characters, but it's also a detour for others."
The Walking Dead returns to AMC Sunday, Oct. 2 at 9 p.m. ET. The first two episodes will be available to stream on AMC+ the same night.
If you're looking to satisfy your zombie craving immediately, head over to Peacock and check out the movie that kickstarted the entire genre: George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead. Or check out the SYFY original series, Day of the Dead.