AMC execs on the strategy that will keep Walking Dead running forever

Contributed by
Jan 8, 2016, 3:18 PM EST

Currently in its sixth season, The Walking Dead is reaching the point where most shows start to think about wrapping up the narrative. But The Walking Dead isn’t most shows.

In an interview with Vulture, AMC network chief Charlie Collier and programming boss Joel Stillerman chatted about the unique formula of The Walking Dead, and how they believe the biggest show on television could potentially run for, well, ever. Stillerman said the formula is a simple one, and basically goes back to what creator Robert Kirkman was trying to do when he conceived the comic book that started it all — show what comes after the typical ending of a zombie movie.

The comic has been telling that story for more than a decade, and judging by where the narrative is at the moment, still has quite a ways to go in the years to come. With the television adaptation, Stillerman said they wanted to replicate that sense of a never-ending world.

Here’s an excerpt from his comments:

“What’s so fascinating about The Walking Dead is that Robert Kirkman set out to do something that proved to be remarkably brilliant in a couple of very fundamental ways. One is he wanted to use the world of the zombie apocalypse as a way to get at social commentary. That was always the killer app for the show. But if you ask Robert what his motivations were for writing The Walking Dead, he would say, “I loved zombie movies, but I just felt like the worst part of them was always the ending. You always had to manufacture some ending.” So he set out to write this totally open-ended story, and the proof of that is in how vibrant the comics are.

The answer to how long the show will go on in some way is directly correlated with the health of the storytelling in the comics. Those comics are firing on all cylinders. He still writes every line of dialogue in those books, and is as engaged as he was when I think he was sitting around in Kentucky writing the first issue. That is very much part of the DNA of the show. He sort of felt like, in real life, this goes on for a very long time. We’re along for that ride.”

So, it begs the question — is AMC even having conversations about when the show might end? No, at least according to Collier. Instead of trying to lead the narrative toward an inevitable conclusion, Collier said they’re trying to keep the series as inventive and interesting as possible so it can keep on trucking. Hey, it’s worked for The CW’s Supernatural (currently in its 11th season), so why not Walking Dead?

Here’s an excerpt from his Collier:

“I will tell you we are not actively talking about the end of The Walking Dead. We’re talking about how to keep this No. 1 show on television feeling as fresh as it does in season six. As a brand, we’re very sensitive to making sure that every aspect of it feels fresh and original, and that it’s not treated in any way that’s derivative or taken for granted. Our planning is current and future-focused, and it is not focused on the end at this time.”

It’s amazing to think that six seasons in, and it still feels like we’ve only scratched the surface of how big this story could become. Just looking to the comic for inspiration, there are so many gigantic (and interesting!) stories left to tell.

Which, if the ratings hold up to the mind-boggling average, who knows how long this show could go on? What do you think? Can The Walking Dead make it another six years?


(Via Vulture)