AMC has a plan in place that will see The Walking Dead universe continue in some shape or form for at least another 10 years. The success of the zombie drama has already led to one spin-off, Fear the Walking Dead, and more are expected to come.
After The Walking Dead's fifth season in 2015, AMC launched the show's first companion series, Fear the Walking Dead, a series which focused on a family of characters as they experience the zombie apocalypse from the very beginning. In doing so, the series succeeded in providing viewers with a unique look at the world of The Walking Dead. Since then, fans have been eager to see more spin-offs that explore other settings and characters.
As reported by THR at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference, AMC Networks CEO Josh Sapan answered a question about The Walking Dead's falling ratings by explaining that AMC has a long-term plan to maintain The Walking Dead brand. He said:
The Walking Dead is a universe...and we have a plan to manage over the next decade, plus. That plan is a careful plan to respect the world of the fans of that world.
What's noteworthy about Sapan's comment is that he isn't necessarily talking about the show, but the world it inhabits, which suggests that AMC is more interested in preserving The Walking Dead universe than the series itself. So while AMC may not keep The Walking Dead on the air for another decade, it may keep the universe alive either through Fear the Walking Dead or other spin-offs.
The show's ratings have been slipping for years, but not to a point where cancellation is on the table. Some are concerned that it will continue to drop to even worse numbers in the coming years. There's also the argument that the time has come for the series to end, considering the show is about to lose its star, Andrew Lincoln, in the first half of season 9. However, The Walking Dead is an ensemble show and may be able to still thrive without him. If The Walking Dead is cancelled at some point down the line, a new spin-off series could be announced or may even launch prior to the show's end.
The decision to move Lennie James to Fear The Walking Dead also opens the door for some of the show's key characters to survive a possible cancellation. In recent episodes of Fear, Morgan planned on taking the group to Alexandria, the setting for the main series. The connections between the two shows allows for the two casts to intersect and possibly even combine if it was ever necessary. It's already been stated that future spin-offs will have deep connections to the other shows.
Season 9 of The Walking Dead premieres Sunday, October 7th on AMC.