Fans of zombie films are no doubt familiar with the standard zombie film ending, popularized in George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead trilogy: Eventually, the zombies overrun the planet and everyone dies. Sometimes, in zombie films, the zombies are wiped out, there are a few survivors, and they ride off into the sunset.
Robert Kirkman’s original conception for The Walking Dead, in fact, was in response to how zombie films typically ended, as he told Marc Maron in a recent WTF podcast. “They never solve it. At the end of every movie, they’re like ‘The world is covered in zombies, and we’re out of time, so see ya later!”
George Romero famously doesn’t care for The Walking Dead, saying of it that “it’s a soap opera with a zombie occasionally.” Conversely, Kirkman created The Walking Dead in response to the disappointment he felt at the end of Romero’s zombie flicks. He wanted to know what happens after the end. “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.”
But The Walking Dead eventually has to end. It may not be anytime soon — Kirkman has suggested the series could run 10 or 12 or more seasons — but the show eventually has to come to a close. And how would Robert Kirkman like The Walking Dead to end?
Not in a cataclysmic event, as we’ve come to expect from the zombie genre. Rather, he’d like it to continue until the walkers are wiped out. “The goal… I hope The Walking Dead goes on long enough that at the end, everyone is like, ‘Good thing we took care of those zombies!'”
“People talk about how The Walking Dead is bleak, and if you take a certain cross-section of the story, then yeah. Horrible. People have their loved ones eaten and they have a horrible time. But I see the story from beginning to end, over many many years about humanity overcoming this insurmountable apocalyptic situation.”
Kirkman may never reveal the origins of the zombie virus, as he’s mentioned in the past, but it’s good to know that he does have an ending in mind, and even better to know that it is a hopeful one in which some of his characters — LIKE DARYL DIXON, RIGHT? — endure and survive.
Don’t expect that to come anytime soon, although Kirkman doesn’t want the series to run forever. “Let’s all be honest. season 16? I’m not even going to be watching this show. I’ll be on a boat. Oh, [season 17]? I don’t care! I’ve transcended television.”
He also joked that more spin-offs aren’t out of the question. “We’re doing [Fear the Walking Dead], and I’m sure that, if it does well, we’ll do The Walking Dead: China eventually. [And then] The Walking Dead: SVU.”
(Via WTF with Marc Maron)