[Note, spoilers ahead for The Walking Dead TV show and it’s expanded content.]
Rick Grimes may be off The Walking Dead, but he’s not leaving the world created by Robert Kirkman.
Andrew Lincoln made his final appearance on The Walking Dead on Sunday, November 4, 2018 in the episode “What Comes After.” But, it contained some surprises, including that Rick Grimes did not die at the episode’s conclusion and that there will be a six-year time jump within the show.
Perhaps the biggest surprise came during the after-show, Talking Dead when AMC Content Chief Scott M. Gimple announced that Rick Grimes (and Andrew Lincoln) will be back for three feature length movies.
Gimple is currently writing the first TV films, with an anticipated start of production in 2019, which will be the first of a larger story for AMC’s long-term plans for the series. There’s flexibility in future projects that could include movies, specials, and new ongoing or limited series.
“Over the next several years, we’re going to be doing specials, new series are quite a possibility, high quality digital content and then some content that defies description at the moment,” Gimple said. “We’re going to dig into the past and see old characters. We’re going to introduce new characters and new situations.”
The series isn’t new to expansion and a variety of storytelling options. The spinoff show Fear the Walking Dead began in 2015 and the fourth season wrapped in September 2018. There have also been digital shorts, including Red Machete, Flight 462, and Passage.
Lincoln exited the show to spend more time with his family in England. Starring in movies gives him the opportunity to continue being part of the series but without being across the world for most of the year.
The movies will follow what happens to Rick after he was rescued by Anne, formerly Jadis, and whisked away in a helicopter. That particular story nugget has been teased for a while, upping the ante recently as Anne has been in contact with a community seeking people who are an “A” or a “B.” Meanwhile, his family and friends believe that he was killed in the bridge explosion.
The additional content opens the door for characters who died in the show to return in earlier stories. Perhaps we’ll see more of Abraham on his journey with Rosita and Eugene, or Sasha and Tyreese before they found their way into the prison, or Glenn trying to survive Atlanta. There are also stories from the comics that haven’t been shown onscreen, like Rise of the Governor and Here’s Negan.
New characters and storylines are also in the offering, that could appear in episodic format the length of their regular show seasons or as miniseries. During Talking Dead, Gimple pointed out that they’ll want to explore fresh stories and go beyond the series’ relatively small circumference to other areas of the world.
Opening to new creative formats, timelines, and locations gives the series significant potential for future stories of The Walking Dead.