The Walking Dead – Still Walking or Rotting Away?

Let’s be honest: for many casual viewers, The Walking Dead exhausted its formula a long time ago. After 11 seasons and more than a decade on TV, there’s only so much new road that the roughly 7 billion walkers in the series can stumble down, although, as more of a human drama than a horror flick, it could be argued that The Walking Dead could have handled its soap opera material a little better. 

A Brutal Loss

According to the Looper website, The Walking Dead turned necrotic after season five and, despite a revival following that bit of extreme violence at the beginning of season seven, it never recovered. Over its history to date, AMC’s zombie masher managed to lose 12.3 million viewers, a figure that would have sounded the show’s death knell even if it wasn’t heading for its conclusion after this fall’s season 11. 

Still, for the fans, it’s going to be a brutal loss, especially given that the franchise continues to find success off the TV screen. There are currently nine different mobile apps dedicated to The Walking Dead, for instance, ranging from the action-based TWD: Assault to novelty creations like TWD Chop Shop, a partnership with Hyundai that lets zombie fans assemble their own dead-proof vehicle. 

Gamers will probably be more familiar with the five TellTale Games adventures that, conveniently, also ended with a TWD: The Final Season back in 2019 before TellTale was closed. This particular part of The Walking Dead’s storyline focused on the unique characters of Lee Everett and Clementine. It did exist in the same world as the TV show, however, in the same state of Georgia.

The expansion of the franchise into the casino niche might have been an unexpected twist but The Walking Dead 2 is a licensed AMC game that features the likeness of Rick and Negan. This entry in the series canon is rated 4.2/5 on the Online-Slot website, a platform that rates online slots in the UK. The obvious question to ask is whether any of the secondary content will continue to appear in the absence of the TV show. 

Dead City

The answer seems to be yes, given that AMC has already announced a spin-off starring fan-favorite character Daryl Dixon. Just like the post-season eight Game of Thrones, related but standalone dramas seem to be the direction that The Walking Dead is heading in, too. Daryl Dixon will travel to France to continue the storyline of yet another spin-off, namely, the 2020s The Walking Dead: World Beyond.

Negan and Maggie will also venture out alone in the New York-based Dead City, while original protagonist Rick will return in 2023 with Michonne. These limited series have become increasingly popular with creators recently, with Marvel taking the concept of a comic book “one-shot”, i.e. a single book with a self-contained story, and turning it into a short film. Of course, The Walking Dead is a comic book, as well. 

While Daryl, Negan, and Rick’s new arcs will likely encompass more than one episode, the idea of a brief, individual series that explore new areas and characters might have been a better direction for the original series after season five. The great strength of zombie media is that it allows writers to create the world anew, with fresh societies, politics, and even lifeforms. Tales of the Walking Dead (2022) seems to be a response to this, albeit a bit late.

As a final point, despite widespread criticism of The Walking Dead’s later storytelling, it’s impossible to deny that the zombie saga is one of the biggest hits of the new millennium. Part of this has to do with the fact that it was fairly inexpensive to make, at $3.4 million per episode. Compare that figure to the $9 million of Westworld or the $25 million of any Disney/Marvel show.

Overall, despite its impending finale, the future still looks bright for The Walking Dead’s depiction of the end of the world.

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