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Existential Binge-Watching: ‘The Walking Dead’ is ending, kind of

The news has broken that the gory, zombie-filled series based on the comic book by Robert Kirkman is coming to an end.

Sort of. Kind of. Maybe. Let’s break it down.

The season 10 finale of The Walking Dead, which was delayed due to COVID-19, is airing on October 4th, with six additional episodes to come out next year. This will also be the air date of a new spin-off, The Walking Dead: World Beyond, which will only run for two seasons. Meanwhile, Fear the Walking Dead has been renewed for a sixth season that will begin next August. Season 11 of the flagship show will then begin in the fall of 2021 at an expanded 24 episodes that will air between then and the end of 2022.

After that, it was announced that there will be two additional spin-off series: one centering around Norman Reedus’ Daryl Dixon and Melissa McBride’s Carol Peletier, the other one serving as an anthology series titled Tales of the Walking Dead.

It’s a lot of news about The Walking Dead universe that’s understandably a bit overwhelming. On the plus side, the main series coming to an end makes sense. The Walking Dead has been slowly but surely marching toward the conclusion arc involving the Commonwealth from the comics for a little while now. Even with cast members dropping like flies, showrunner Angela Kang has kept it going better than ever. And with season 11 being extended to 24 episodes over two years, it essentially acts as two more whole seasons of the reinvigorated show.

It’s plenty of time to continue to adapt the comic storyline in faithful, yet new ways, as well as plan for a solid ending that will please long-time fans. The new spin-offs could potentially complicate a good ending, but I don’t think there’s too much to worry about. A Daryl and Carol series sounds entertaining, as long as they don’t force it into romantic territory, and the anthology series seems like it has the same potential to be as great as Marvel’s upcoming What If…?

The main thing to avoid is ambiguity. They can’t use the spin-offs as an excuse to give half-written endings to characters and plot lines fans have come to know and love for over a decade now. The main show needs a true ending, one that wraps up anything and everything that’s ever been a part of it. If there are new storylines and reasons to have characters continue on after it, so be it, but give the viewers of The Walking Dead specifically, the finale they deserve.

Here’s the big problem, though: where does Rick Grimes factor in?

After Andrew Lincoln left the show, it was announced that his story would continue on in the form of three movies, which are still supposedly happening. Yet, with delays also due to COVID-19, there’s still no timeline on them. And with the show now ending in two years, it’s not a whole lot of time to push out three additional films.

Part of wrapping up the flagship show in the best way possible has to include bringing back Rick, as well as Michonne who’s been rumored to appear in the movies after Danai Gurira also left. Where he’s been for so long, why he didn’t come back, if he’ll adopt his comic book ending, all of these are topics that need to be addressed in order to have a fulfilling end to the show.

Rick started it all and he should end it, regardless of the fact that he left. Three movies might need to become one, or they need to quickly figure out a concrete schedule that changes up the game plan as soon as they’re able to film again.

The universe of The Walking Dead has been expanding for a while now and has gotten a little messy here and there - looking at you, Fear the Walking Dead. The end of the main show, though, is a chance to wrap up what needs to be wrapped up and to end the shows that need to be ended. This should definitely include all three shows that are about to be on for the next two years. Bring the shows, the movies and all the characters back to where they started and end it for them in a way only fitting for a world with apocalypse kings, foul-mouthed saviors and walking corpses.

Then, and only then, can The Walking Dead universe continue on in relevant and interesting ways. 

Jackson Horvat is a junior studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Do you agree? Tell Jackson by tweeting him at @horvatjackson.

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