The Walking Dead will return briefly this Sunday to air the 16th episode of the 10th season. The episode was supposed to air as the season finale in April, but the pandemic changed everything, and now it’s the 16th of 22 episodes this season, although the next six will not return until the Spring. Meanwhile beyond the 10th season, there’s only one more season left, an extended 24-episode 11th season that will air in 2021 and 2022. After that, Norman Reedus and Melissa McBride — who play Daryl and Carol on The Walking Dead, respectively — will ride off into their on spin-off series.
“Ride off” is an apt way to describe it, too, according to Angela Kang, the current showrunner of The Walking Dead and the showrunner of the spin-off series. “They’re going to be off on a different journey,” Kang told Entertainment Weekly. “And that show’s going to feel hopefully a little tonally fresh. They’re just in a different stage of their lives and it’s more of a road show, which I think will be really fun.”
In fact, the idea of a spin-off actually preceded the announcement that The Walking Dead would end after the 11th season. “There’s been talk for a long time about a Darryl/Carol spin-off,” Kang told EW. “And so that was something that we were working on well in advance of the news about the ending of the series.”
That actually makes sense in the context of an exchange Daryl and Carol had earlier this season about getting on Daryl’s motorcycle and leaving everything behind. It appears that it’s exactly what they will do when The Walking Dead ends.
This news in some ways upends the suggestion that the Carol-and-Daryl spin-off will be more of a leaner, less expensive continuation of The Walking Dead, especially as the road-trip element may make it less likely that Carol and Daryl will interact with existing cast members. Tonally, the series will be different, as well, Kang said. Importantly, it also allows the TWD universe to keep Reedus and McBride while also giving them something a little different and more creative to do with their characters. “I know Norman and Melissa have been excited about the prospect of doing something different and new, so that’s in the future.”
“Those are two characters and two actors that I love writing for and working with, Norman and Melissa. So stuff to look forward to,” Kang added.
In the meantime, Kang says that she is going to be focused on making the last 30 episodes of The Walking Dead as good as they can be. On that subject, it sounds like Kang also plans to hew closely to Robert Kirkman’s source material.
The first of those final episodes airs on Sunday night on AMC before the premiere of the next spin-off, The World Beyond.