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The Walking Dead probably has a very long future ahead of it on AMC. The show is the network's ratings juggernaut, and the comic series on which it is based is still churning out new material on a regular basis. Despite the current success on both the page and screen, writer Robert Kirkman already knows how he plans on ending the saga. He had this to say about the eventual conclusion to his version of the zombie apocalypse:
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 time in the middle, so, I kind of have to know what that direction is, and I have to know what the end point is to be able to keep building towards it. I think that's the only way to keep it alive.
Robert Kirkman's reveal that he has an ending in mind at least proves that there's a method to his madness. Plots in the comics have seemed to get more outlandish as time has passed, to the point that it's almost hard to believe that current issues are in the same series as the ones from way back in the beginning. Exactly160 installments have been published to date, and few of us could have possibly imagined the Whisperers back when the first issue hit the shelves in 2003.
Of course, any comic reader knows that the AMC show doesn't always follow the source material. Some long-dead comic characters are still alive and killing in the present, while others that are living in the comics died many seasons ago. Daryl isn't even in the comics, and he's one of the biggest folks in the show. Nevertheless, a lot of what has happened on the show has been taken from the comics. Glenn's death was almost identical to his death on the page. Throw in the fact that Robert Kirkman is involved with the show as both an executive producer and writer, and it's safe to say that if the comics end before the series, it should influence the ending of the show in a major way.
Unfortunately, showrunner Scott Gimple isn't able to take baby steps toward the eventual comic ending in the same way that Robert Kirkman has, simply because he doesn't know exactly where the ending is going in the long run. Kirkman also shared in his chat with EW that Gimple is a spoiler-phobe when it comes to the future of the comics, and Kirkman has already admitted that he won't tell the producers his ending if the show concludes while the comic is still running. The attitude makes sense, considering Kirkman's attitude toward A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin's decision to tell Game of Thrones producers how his book series will end, but it does mean that the end of the Walking Dead show could differ from the comic end.
Only time will tell. Hopefully fans won't have to worry about either the show or the comics coming to a conclusion any time soon. Tune in to AMC on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET to see what's next for Rick and Co. in the zombie apocalypse on The Walking Dead.