With The Walking Dead's original show coming to a close after its eleventh season, the undead AMC franchise is going to be reinventing itself for the future. Sunday's The Walking Dead Universe Preview Special, hosted by Talking Dead's Chris Hardwick, shed some light not only on the untitled spin-off starring Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Carol (Melissa McBride), but the final episodes of Season 10 and the upcoming animated anthology as well.
First, let's look to the here and now: Season 10. It's getting six additional episodes beyond its original finale that will be anthology-style "deep dives" into characters after the Whisperer War comes to a close. And, because of the circumstances surrounding their production, they'll share a common style.
"The episodes are all designed to be filmed safely during this pandemic that we're in," said executive producer and showrunner Angela Kang. "There's sort of an anthological feel to some of them. They're really deep dives into our characters, which I hope people enjoy." Characters like Maggie, who will get a bit of a backstory reveal for the past decade...and her weird masked buddy.
"We've been enjoying working on something that's a little bit different from what we were doing in the main part of Season 10," Kang said. "We just get to feature different people and tell these little stories that all kind of add up to a picture of what our survivors are going through, and that will lead us into Season 11 eventually."
The real-life dangers of having too many cast members, extras, and production crew around at the same time mean these episodes are going to be stripped-down by design. Look for these bottle episodes early in 2021, leading up to the extended (24-episode) final season later that year.
After that final season is when the big new spin-off will take over. Co-created by franchise head Scott Gimple and TWD showrunner Angela Kang (who will also showrun this series), the untitled Daryl/Carol double act will see the pair find a "new frontier of story and purpose," according to a statement from Gimple. It sounds like the ending of the main series will likely lead to a shift in the undead paradigm, giving this fan-favorite duo the push they need to strike out with a new mission.
"The next chapter with Daryl and Carol will be of a great deal about discovery," the statement said. "A new world, a new tone, a new frontier of story and purpose — all while carrying the lessons learned from the people who have made up their apocalypse family, their hard-won victories, and painful losses." The end of the statement does tease some things on the way "that completely re-contextualize the world of The Walking Dead," so it makes sense that there would be a shift in the storytelling.
Speaking of re-contextualizing, Gimple also had a statement about his upcoming anthology Tales of the Walking Dead, which noted that it would be all over the place in terms of form — including animation. A TWD 'toon sounds like a perfect weird step for the franchise.
The Walking Dead's delayed Season 10 finale (or what passed for it at the time) airs on Oct. 4, with The Walking Dead: World Beyond premiering right after. The Daryl + Carol spin-off isn't set to air until 2023.