In September 2020, AMC surprised audiences who had expected The Walking Dead to shamble on forever by announcing that the zombie drama’s upcoming 11th season would be its final season. And it turns out that not only were audiences taken by surprise, but the cast and creative team of The Walking Dead were too. Star Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who plays Negan in the AMC horror series, reveals that season 11 wasn’t supposed to be the end for the show, suggesting that AMC had finally dropped the axe on The Walking Dead.
In an interview with Collider, Morgan describes how everyone was surprised by the news that The Walking Dead was ending with Season 11, suggesting that the show was effectively canceled by AMC:
“The news, when we got it in the middle of the pandemic, was a complete surprise, not only to me and the rest of the actors, but to everybody involved in the show from production. Scott Gimple and Angela Kang had no idea either. It came from nowhere and there was such a huge pivot. I think they had Season 11 all mapped out, where they were going to go, and suddenly it became, ‘We also have to close the story, in a way.’ It took everybody by surprise, so it was a massive pivot. And then, they threw in the six tacked-on episodes to Season 10, and instead of doing 16, we’re going to do 24 more. There was a lot of stuff to wrap our heads around.”
It seemed that AMC would never had let The Walking Dead die — a pop culture phenomenon when it debuted in 2010, The Walking Dead was the network’s flagship show, spawning spin-offs even as it hemorrhaged stars (a byproduct of being, you know, a zombie show). But the series began to drop in ratings since the departure of Steven Yeun, and soon the show’s popularity began to wane until it was a shadow of the pop culture titan it was a decade ago. But even so, it appears that the cast and crew of The Walking Dead believed the flagship show would go on as more spin-offs expanded the universe.
So while The Walking Dead Season 11 received an additional eight episodes to allow showrunners Scott Gimple and Angela Kang to wrap up the story (bringing it to 24 episodes total), it does sound like AMC effectively canceled The Walking Dead in the wake of its flagging ratings and the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Morgan revealed that filming for The Walking Dead Season 11 is going to take up an entire calendar year, and they’re only on episode 3 after two months of production. It doesn’t yet have a premiere date, though AMC has confirmed season 11 will start airing this summer.
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