After running for 11 seasons over the course of 12 years, The Walking Dead has finally concluded, but the franchise is far from over. AMC has several spinoffs in development featuring beloved characters like Rick, Negan, Daryl, and Maggie, which means there’s still plenty of zombie madness in store for fans. But as for that word, “zombie”, Slash Film recently reported that Robert Kirkman was featured as a guest on Conan, where he explained why the term is never uttered at all on the show.
Kirkman is best known for co-creating The Walking Dead for Image Comics, and he’s also written several episodes of AMC’s television adaptation of his comic book series. During his appearance on Conan, he told the host that the word “zombie” is intentionally omitted so that viewers could separate the show from popular zombie lore. He said, “We wanted to give you a sense that [the series] takes place in a universe where zombie fiction doesn’t exist.”
This isn’t the first time Kirkman has offered an explanation for the lack of the word “zombie.” During an edition of Cutting Room Floor with Robert Kirkman early this year, he mentioned how he attempted to dance around the word in the comics, eventually coining new terminology like ‘lurkers’ and ‘roamers’ to avoid using the word “zombie” altogether. As far as the television show, original showrunner Frank Darabont was very adamant about not using the term, feeling it wouldn’t exist in the world of The Walking Dead.
Choosing to omit the word certainly worked for the long-running series, with The Walking Dead being one of AMC’s most popular shows in history. When it premiered in 2010, the series drew a network high of 5.35 million viewers. The show peaked at an astonishing 17.29 million viewers with its Season 5 premiere. From there, The Walking Dead had a 75-episode run where it pulled in 10 million or more viewers. Although the series had a drastic drop in ratings during later seasons, the show wrapped up as the #2 cable drama on television with both the 18-49 and 25-54 age demographics. With figures like that, it’s not hard to see why AMC wants to keep the universe alive.
The Walking Dead has already spawned the spin-off shows Fear the Walking Dead and World Beyond, and the network has several more spin-offs in development. First up is Dead City, which features fan-favorite characters Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan), who travel to a post-apocalyptic Manhattan, which was cut off from the mainland long ago. Dead City was announced in March 2022, and it’s expected to premiere sometime in 2023. Eli Jorné, who is a writer and co-executive producer on The Walking Dead, will serve as showrunner for the upcoming series. In addition to starring in the spin-off, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Lauren Cohan will also serve as executive producers.
Further out, AMC is also developing a show featuring Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) as well as one that will center on Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Guirra). If that’s not enough to get fans excited, chief content officer of The Walking Dead, Scott Gimple, recently teased that there are even more spin-offs on the way, but it may be a while before they come to fruition. For now, the network undoubtedly has its hands full with multiple spin-offs expected to premiere throughout 2023.