Could The Walking Dead go on for ten seasons or more? Showrunner Scott Gimple suggests as much in a recent interview he did with Larry King, and while that might just be wishful thinking or a hypothetical situation that he's suggesting, his explanation for how the series could surpass a decade on the air actually makes sense.
Gimple sits with Larry King in the interview below, and King proceeds to read a series of questions from fans, one of which involves the intended length of the series. See what he says at about the :50 mark in the video...
Gimple acknowledges that the comic book could go on forever, but speaking specifically about the TV series, he says "As a TV show, all TV shows end, but I will say, I think it's possible that it could go on and on and on." Gimple gets a bit more cautious with his phrasing, however, when he goes on to explain how The Walking Dead could have such a lengthy shelf-life. "I think if it went ten years, if it went longer than that, it's possible that the cast -- considering the amount of deaths on this cast and everything else -- after ten, twelve years, it could shift into a whole new cast."
Basically, if people keep dying and they keep bringing new characters in to fill the void, the story could continue on and on and still stay fresh enough to keep viewers interested and thusly, keep AMC renewing it. Ideally.
I think in order to accept the likelihood that there might be a "whole new cast" on The Walking Dead in ten or twelve years, we might have to accept that there probably won't be a zombie cure or an end to the plague in this walker-filled reality anytime soon. If all that's left for the living is a life that involves trying not to get eaten by dead people, then in terms of character deaths, it's less a matter of who than it is of when -- though I'd like to think at least one or two of the lead characters would live on.
If the series has any chance of staying on the air, it needs to stay fresh, and the best way to do that might be to bring in new characters and retire some of the old ones. Whether that means killing them off or writing them off, sometimes it's better to let a character make their series exit than it is to keep them around forever, forcing them into overly dramatic arcs just to keep them relevant, right? Consider this, if you're currently thinking, "I swear I'll stop watching if Daryl dies," it might actually be worse (from a viewer perspective, obviously) if Daryl stuck around for nine seasons and turned evil or joined a cult or got hooked on drugs or something. These are the kinds of arcs some dramas resort to when they run out of ideas for their popular characters. Hopefully that won't apply to The Walking Dead, but it does happen.
In other words, sometimes the best thing to happen to a character is for them to leave after they've peaked and it's time for their story to end. Especially as it relates to a long-running TV drama. With that in mind, I can picture The Walking Dead going on for seasons and staying watchable if there's continuous turnover among its cast. But I really don't want to think about any of them dying right now.
Among the other things Gimple talks about are Daryl's love life -- he wouldn't comment on whether or not Daryl would get together with Carol or Beth, but he did say he thinks Daryl will find romantic love a some point in the future. He also confirmed that there will be another romance featured in Season 5, besides Maggie and Glenn. He didn't specify, but I'm going to guess maybe Sasha and Bob? If not them, then maybe Daryl and someone. And speaking of Beth, we'll find out what happened to her.
It also sounds like The Walking Dead Season 5 will pick up right where the finale left off. Gimple wouldn't outright admit that, but he did say, "I'm not going to tell you definitively one way or the other, but I will say it would be very difficult -- because it was such a cliffhanger -- to skip over what happens next, right next." So it sounds like we should expect to find Rick and his people trapped in that railroad car and facing the "formidable" people of Terminus when Season 5 picks up next Fall.