Television isn’t the world’s most popular medium of entertainment like it once was, and many shows don’t gain the following they need to stick around.
This isn’t the case for AMC’s The Walking Dead. The television adaptation of Robert Kirkman’s graphic novel has proved to be a monster hit, plunging viewers into a gritty post-apocalyptic world taken over by the undead.
The combination of grotesque special effects, terrifying villains, and gripping storylines involving everything from romance to world building helped the show stick around for eight seasons. The season 8 premiere will be a landmark achievement for more than one reason – the premiere also marks the show’s 100th episode.
If the source material is any indication, the next season will be action-packed. Producers have noted that season 7 was more of a transitional period, a common theme used by showrunners to continue building tension and keeping viewers invested.
The show debuted in 2010 with a six-episode trial run, which turned out to be a massive hit. Season 2 slowed things down a bit, trading in the frantic pace for a focus on growing the cast and developing existing characters.
The next few seasons saw ups and downs, with the characters traveling to many new locations and encountering various other groups on their quest to survive. After settling in a gated community in season 6, the characters encountered their new antagonists, The Saviors. Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s portrayal as main villain Negan has been well-received, just like Andrew Lincoln’s long-running performance as chief protagonist Rick Grimes.
The show has followed the books to some degree, changing up things in certain places but sticking by the source as a tentative framework. TV-exclusive characters like Daryl Dixon (portrayed by Norman Reedus) and Tara provide a fresh experience, even for the viewer who has read the written series.
Other departures from the source material include the portrayal of The Governor, a villain in the show’s earlier seasons who changed from an overtly violent revolutionary to a manipulative and smooth-talking politician by the time he made it to the screen. There’s also Carol, who evolved into one of the show’s more beloved characters in a fate largely different than the one the character saw in the graphic novel.
The show has also spawned its own companion/prequel series, Fear the Walking Dead. Though initially set to be a spin-off show separate from the main program, Kirkman recently confirmed there would finally be a crossover event. Though he didn’t give specifics, he noted that a character from one show would be seen on another in the future.
There are rumors that the crossover could show a departed character from the main show during an earlier time, or that it could tie in to an upcoming storyline already (possibly) hinted at through various clues.
The books are already ahead of the show by a good margin, meaning the program could continue for years at least should the fan interest remain.