Robert Kirkman Refuses To Tell AMC How The Walking Dead Ends

Thursday, 10 November 2016 - 2:47PM
The Walking Dead
Thursday, 10 November 2016 - 2:47PM
Robert Kirkman Refuses To Tell AMC How The Walking Dead Ends
With the trauma of the premiere behind us, Carol and Morgan hanging out in The Kingdom, and a giant circus tiger on the horizon, Walking Dead fans can go back to wondering how this whole thing is going to end. Fans of the comics know that a war against a certain group of soft-spoken people is likely, but who knows? The Walking Dead show doesn't have to follow the comics, and unlike Game of Thrones, there's no anonymous, uncannily accurate leaker to spoil the entire new season.

But we do know one thing: Robert Kirkman knows how the comics will end, and he will not tell AMC.

In a recent interview, Kirkman spoke about the comics and his philosophy on writing them, including killing characters. It appears Kirkman went to the George R.R. Martin School of Writing:

Opening quote
...when I find myself real attached to a character, or if I find myself wanting to write them more and more and steering more story toward them, I kind of realize that that means that audience investment in that character is extremely high, and I don't want it to affect the story too much by focusing too much on that character. And that tends to make me want to kill them.
Closing quote


Oh, Robert Kirkman, will you ever stop killing the characters we love and giving AMC excuses to call in their world-class makeup team to create horrifying, gory death scenes...? We already know the answer, but it doesn't make it hurt any less.

The real question every comic book fan wonders is whether the story is leading up to something—a grand, carefully planned ending—or if the writer is just chopping hands off as they goes along, hoping they'll find a way to make it all work in the end. Kirkman's answer is that, like any apocalyptic god, he already knows how all this will end: 

Opening quote
Yeah, I know exactly how it ends, and I'm always taking baby steps toward that point as I'm telling the story. I know what the end point is, and at the end of the day, I want this entire long narrative to be a complete story with a beginning, middle, and end. We're just spending a lot of time in the middle, so, I kind of have to know what that direction is, and I have to know what that end point is to be able to keep building towards it. I think that's the only way to keep it alive.
Closing quote


This is more encouraging than the standard superhero comic book model, where plots and arcs write themselves into corners and have to rely on bizarre time-travel paradoxes, magical deus ex machinas, and superheroes giving birth to themselves in order to keep continuity going.

But here's the thing: when asked if AMC knows about the ending, or even what's going to happen next in the comics, Kirkman says there's "no communication whatsoever": 

Opening quote
Scott Gimple is an avid reader of the comic, and prefers to experience the comic book as a reader, so he gets the advance issues as they're published, but he doesn't read scripts. He gets mad at me if I give him any kind of indication as to what's coming, because he doesn't like spoilers. So, they're kind of a hundred percent in the dark, which I guess is pretty remarkable, and I would probably say it's a testament to the trust that AMC has in me. I mean, I guess to a certain extent, at this point, the comic book is kind of a workshop of future seasons of the show, and it's fun to think that I can just completely torpedo the story if I wanted to.
Closing quote


That's right—there's a secret, canon ending to the comics already planned, but AMC doesn't know it. In fact, Kirkman has said that if the TV series ends before the comics, he may have to play dumb and pretend that he doesn't know how to end it. This comes from his desire to have his own, unique ending for his characters, and to maintain a division between his original work and the TV series.

We like to imagine that the secret ending is on a sticky note locked in a vault under Kirkman's house, with the words "DON'T DEAD OPEN INSIDE" written across the door.

Episode 4 of The Walking Dead Season 7 is "Service", which premieres November 13, 2016 at 9/8 C.
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