'The Walking Dead' Showrunner Talks Season 5, End Game And Split From Comics

Scott Grill

AMC's The Walking Dead has diverged wildly from Robert Kirkman's original comic book series while still keeping the same themes. Season 4 of the show made those divergences even more distinct and also took a more intimate tact with the cast of characters. Collider was able to catch up with showrunner Scott Gimple at the Saturn Movie Awards to discuss the differences between The Walking Dead TV show and comic, what's in store for season 5 and is there an end game planned.

As a reader of The Walking Dead comics, I could create a laundry list of differences between the TV show and the comic and mark them as good change (Daryl Dixon) and bad change (the time spent on the farm in Season 2). According to Gimple, these changes were driven in large part by Kirkman himself, which drove additional changes by necessity.

"It's funny – back in the day when I started season two, I was all 'We must hem to the comic' and Kirkman was like 'Well – let's have some fun. I've done this all before,'" Gimple said. "I certainly won't abandon iconic things from the comic. I definitely want to stick to the comic as much as possible but that's also impossible with Daryl Dixon and characters that are alive but dead in the comic. There's a butterfly effect. But that's actually an incredibly fun part of the [show]. I would say that even the inventions we have on the show are inspired by the comic."

The zombies took a backseat in season 4 as The Walking Dead took more time to explore the individual main characters and their conflicts with other survivors. This shift was well received by critics and the ratings reflected that with nearly 16 million viewers tuning into the season finale. Gimple makes it sound like AMC will try to build on that successful formula with season 5.

"It's not mirroring [the previous season] completely… The challenge of the show is every eight episodes, it's a whole new show. I will say that there may be some slightly familiar structural turns. But for the most part, it is going to be brand new versions of the comic story," Gimple explained.

But that brings up the question of where will this is all headed for The Walking Dead as a television series. Kirkman recently told Entertainment Weekly that there will be enough material from the comics that to adapt into 12 seasons and as many as 15. It would be surprising if the show was able to run that long. So, is there an end-game planned?

"I would say 'Yes' [there is an end-game]. I actually don't like spoiling myself on the comic. I read it as I go," Gimple revealed.

"Robert's offered to tell me the whole thing so I get general aspects of it. I know the emotional end game of the show but there's practical aspects, I want to keep with the comic. With these characters, you definitely have to think of the emotional endgame and that is very much a part of where I'm headed. But I want to have the flexibility to change the practicals with the comic and I don't want Robert to spoil the whole series for me."

The Walking Dead season 5 will premiere sometime this October.

[Image via The Walking Dead]