We all know the origins of The Walking Dead. Robert Kirkman wanted to make a comic series about what happens after the typical zombie movie ends and most of the world’s population has been turned into a zombie. “How do you continue to find food and shelter and protect loved ones for years and years and deal with the fall of civilization?” Kirkman wanted to know. “How does that affect you? The weak people get strong, and the strong people get weak, and people become insane.”
Kirkman has never revealed, however, how he’d like the series to end, although he has suggested that he has a plan. He hopes that the end of the series will be hopeful, optimistic. “I see the story from beginning to end, over many many years about humanity overcoming this insurmountable apocalyptic situation,” he said on the Nerdist podcast last year.
He did not, however, tell the Nerdist podcast if the hopeful ending was the one he had in mind for the comic series or the television series, and it appears as though the endings for those two media will be distinct. On Geeking Out with Kevin Smith last night, Kirkman reiterated that he has an end in mind for the comic series, but should the television series end before the comics, showrunner Scott Gimple will have to come up with his own idea.
“I know how I want to end The Walking Dead, the book. But I can’t tell anyone, because I don’t want it on the show before I get it in the comic. So if the show were to ever end, ever, at any point, and the comic was still going, I would have to sit down with Scott [Gimple] and pretend that I have no idea how to end it and work with him to try and come up with a new ending.”
It may be a long, long time before either the comic or the series ends. Kirkman has stated in the past that the comic will almost certainly outlive the series. “The comic was the comic before the show,” he says. And the comic will still be the comic after the show. Meanwhile, AMC has designs on turning The Walking Dead into a Star Trek-like franchise that could last decades, so if Kirkman really wants to extend the comic beyond the series, he may be pushing 80 before he can wrap it up with that hopeful ending, which means years of bleakness await both readers and viewers.