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Latest ‘The Walking Dead’ casting news confirms the final major comic storyline is coming to TV

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Mar 4, 2021, 12:43 PM EST

Much like the comic it’s based on, AMC’s long-running zombie drama The Walking Dead is finally coming to an end — and just like the comic — it plans to go out with one of the most ambitious storylines in the apocalypse.

Micheal James Shaw/Getty

Deadline reports Michael James Shaw (Blood & Treasure) is joining the show as a series regular for the 11th season, and he’ll be playing the character Mercer. As comic fans likely recognize, Mercer is a key player in the storyline revolving around the massive community of The Commonwealth, a settlement that rivals that of a major city, and easily the biggest collection of survivors ever gleaned on the series to date.

With Shaw playing Mercer, who is a key soldier/police force leader in that community, it seems clear The Commonwealth storyline will be the last big arc to wrap up the series — just like it was in the recently-concluded comic run.

No major spoilers, but this storyline was foreshadowed at the end of the first part of Season 10, as a group of the survivors connect with a platoon of Storm Trooper-styled soldiers. Those soldiers? Yeah, they hail from The Commonwealth. 

Looking further down the line beyond the Mercer casting, we can likely expect two other major characters from that storyline to be added soon: The Commonwealth’s leader Pamela Milton and her son Sebastian Milton, both of which join Mercer as key players (along with the survivors we know and love, minus Rick) in playing out that story in the comics. For fans, that means the world of The Walking Dead is probably about to get a whole lot bigger, with a sprawling, modernized community that makes places like Alexandria and Woodbury look like glorified camp sites.

The Walking Dead is airing new episodes Sundays on AMC, as part of a beefed-up end to Season 10. Production on the show’s super-sized Season 11 is just now underway, with that final season expected to be split into two major parts. The final season joins a Rick-centric series of films, the spinoffs Fear the Walking Dead and World Beyond, and a future spinoff focused on Daryl and Carol expected to keep The Walking Dead franchise undead for years to come.