As we approach the season 8 finale in a few days, there has been a lot of talk about The Walking Dead season 9 recently. The showrunners are talking up a big shift in the next season. Season 8 is the end of an era they say. Is it all hyperbole designed to win back viewers, or could things really change when the show returns for its ninth year?
The new showrunner
The first piece of evidence that this isn’t all talk is that showrunner Scott Gimple is moving to a higher role that will have him overseeing the wider Walking Dead franchise as a whole. Walking Dead episode writer Angela Kang will be taking over as showrunner. There’s a lot of dislike for Gimple among the Walking Dead fanbase, but I personally think he’s done a great job since becoming showrunner in 2013. He certainly must have helped in the development of Carol as one of the best characters in season 4.
Gimple told Entertainment Weekly that “Angela and myself and the writers had always talked about this in many ways being sort of the conclusion of the first eight seasons. This show will be very much a new show next year and with a bigger, new narrative.” These are big, bold words. A conclusion to the first eight seasons might convince (even more) fans that this is the perfect time to jump ship. If we lose Maggie or Michonne, I might be tempted to ditch the show myself.
Morgan is the first character to cross over between The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead. If this goes down well with fans of both or either of the shows, then the way could be paved for more characters to cross over. In the future, we could even say the timelines crossover as one show catches up with the other. According to USA Today, Gimple has said that the crossover is “incredibly significant… We’re starting Morgan where we left him emotionally and physically. And one very important thing: Viewers don’t need to have seen the first three seasons of Fear … before they watch the fourth. They can come into it just as Morgan did.” Could it really be time to start watching more Walking Dead, instead of less?
An end in sight?
Even if the show still has a lot of fans, there is no doubt that the ratings are dropping. Some people are crying out for the show to just end before it gets any worse. The creator of the comics Robert Kirkman has said to expect the show to keep running for at least 12 seasons. The comics are ongoing so there’s still plenty of story to tell. As much as I still enjoy the show, I do recognise that you can have too much of a good thing. Perhaps it’s time for the showrunners to take out the ‘at least’ and instead start to think about an endgame. Even if the show comes to an end in season 12, that’s four more seasons to watch. By that time, the stars’ salaries will be ludicrous, or they will have all got bored and trotted off to do other things already.
The time jump
Those familiar with the comics will know that there is a significant time jump after the all out war wraps up with Negan. If season 8 really is the end of the war, then we could see the time jump in the show. No spoilers here, but that could be all Gimple is talking about when he suggests that The Walking Dead season 9 is a definitively new chapter. That could mean that there is a very exciting new bunch of villains to start whispering about very soon.
What does The Walking Dead season 9 need to do to keep you watching?