Fall is almost here, which means the premiere of The Walking Dead isn’t far behind. The AMC series will return for its fifth season in what will undoubtedly be another record-breaking year, picking up events only moments after where we left off in the season 4 finale.

The plan for the series at the moment is to wrap after 12 seasons. However, before The Walking Dead ends AMC will first debut a spinoff series from executive producers Robert Kirkman, Gale Anne Hurd and David Alpert. Though, calling it a spinoff isn’t entirely correct since this new series will feature all new characters in an entirely separate location. Dave Erickson (Sons of Anarchy) will serve as showrunner for this Walking Dead companion series, and he and Kirkman have already penned the pilot script.

That script reportedly went over really well with AMC and Entertainment Weekly can now confirm the pilot has been greenlit. The currently untitled project will begin production later in the year. AMC President Charlie Collier had this to say about developing yet another series set in the zombie-infested world of The Walking Dead:

“Almost from the beginning of The Walking Dead on AMC, fans have been curious about what is going on in the zombie apocalypse in other parts of the world. In fact, beyond requests for zombie cameos, it’s the question I get asked the most. Obviously, we all take our stewardship of the original franchise incredibly seriously and we, along with Robert, Gale, David and now Dave, are all proceeding with extreme care in order to ensure that we are offering fans something truly compelling, engaging and distinct. We’re thrilled to be taking this next step with these remarkable partners.”

The Walking Dead television show has already made large departures from its comic book source material, and the chance to explore the same world with different characters in a different locale could allow for a few of those skipped story elements from the comics to resurface. Yet, the opportunity to create something entirely fresh within The Walking Dead‘s universe could prove equally compelling.

A walking dead person in The Walking Dead Walking Dead Spinoff Pilot Greenlit; Season 5 Image Gallery

There have been no further details shared about The Walking Dead companion series other than it will not be set in Georgia. In fact, Kirkman is adamant the point of this new series will be to explore how others are struggling to survive the zombie hordes. “There are many corners of The Walking Dead universe that remain unseen in the shadows,” he said, “being given the opportunity to shine a light into those corners and see what lurks out there is an absolute thrill.

It’s comments like that which give the impression this new series will be even less reliant on the Walking Dead comics for its inspiration. And considering Kirkman has been writing many of these same characters since 2003, you really can’t blame him for wanting to create something new within his ever expanding post-apocalyptic universe.

Kirkman also expects this new series to stand on its own merits and not simply ride The Walking Dead‘s coat tails:

“It’s important to us that this show exists on its own. The spinoff has to be a show worthy of existing, or else we’ve all sold out. So that’s something we’re all working hard towards doing, and I think we can pull it off. I think that the ideal situation is, when you’re watching the spinoff, you’re like, ‘Wow, this is a really awesome show.'”

Obviously, that’s the response you want with any show, but it’ll be even more important for this series to win over audiences and not need to rely entirely on The Walking Dead‘s popularity. (Though that will surely helps its chances.) Otherwise, it’d be exactly the kind of ‘sell-out’ show Kirkman dreads.

NEXT PAGE: The Walking Dead Season 5 Image Gallery

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