Robert Kirkman has multiple versions of The Walking Dead working in his head at all times. As the creator of the original Walking Dead comic book, there is that story to consider. And as an exec producer of the TV adaptation, there’s that “remix” version to worry about as well. With the AMC show about to kick off season 5 on Oct. 12, I asked Kirkman if he and showrunner Scott M. Gimple had begun to think about the end game for the television version.
Kirkman notes that unlike on other TV shows that need to keep creating story to stay relevant, with so much original source material to get to — the comic recently published issue #130 and the TV version has only covered events into the mid-60s — they are in no rush to wrap things up. “Luckily, because of the comic book series, this isn’t a show where we’re going to run out of ideas,” says Kirkman. “This isn’t a show where it’s going to be, like, ‘Well, they’re clearly spinning their wheels just to keep the show going.’ It’s much more a matter of: Are we going to have enough seasons to get enough of the comic books into the show? I think that’s more the struggle for us. That’s what we’re hoping to find out in the next few years.”
And who knows how much longer the comic book will continue, with every issue bringing more potential material to cover on TV. While Kirkman is not sure how many Walking Dead comics he has left in store, he did share one interesting nugget: He knows how it will end. “I do know what I’m building toward, yes,” confirms Kirkman. “I don’t know exactly what issue that’s going to fall on, per se, and I do have a lot of road laid out before that that is going to take a long time, but I certainly know exactly what I’m building to.”
That got me wondering whether Kirkman knows what his very last page will be — similar to the way a lot of showrunners have said that they knew early on what their last scene would be. Turns out the answer is…yes. “Yeah,” responds Kirkman. “I think about a year or two ago. From the very beginning I would always plot these big, long overarching stories. So it’d be like, oh, they’re going to get to the prison, then this is going to happen and then that’s going to happen and that’s going to happen. I wouldn’t really map out how many issues those were going to take, but I would always make sure that I had somewhere between two and ten years of story mapped out ahead of me. About a year or two ago, I finally nailed down exactly what I want the ending to be. So now I’ve kind of got two trails of story going in my head. One working to where I’m at very far into the future, and one working from the end backwards. When those two stories meet, then I’ll know exactly how long the story is. I’m rapidly approaching that point.”
So there you have it: Kirkman already knows how The Walking Dead will end. Well, the comic at least. That also begs the question: How should The Walking Dead end? Should Rick live or die? And what else would you like to see happen? Feel free to post your perfect ending, and for more Walking Dead scoop, follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss.