The Walking Dead franchise’s newest spinoff starring Daryl and Carol says it’s going to be different, and it’s vital it lives up to that promise. Following its eleventh and final season, AMC’s The Walking Dead will sign off for good, after spending much of its run as the top-rated show on not only cable but the entirety of traditional TV. It has always had its detractors – as did Robert Kirkman’s comic book source – but it would be unfair to call it anything less than a massive success.
As has been illustrated by the amount of cast turnover on the show the zombie-infested apocalyptic world it takes place in allows for lots of creative opportunities, and it seemed like an obvious move for AMC to extend the franchise with spinoffs. Beginning in 2015, Fear the Walking Dead launched and was initially set prior to the main series, and while some wondered if the market would sustain another zombie drama, Fear heads into its seventh season in October 2021.
Most recently came The Walking Dead: World Beyond centered on teenagers reaching adulthood in the post-apocalypse, which is set to run for two seasons. While both Fear and World Beyond have plenty of fans, neither could really be accused of being overly original. While both spinoffs began with suggestions they would offer a different experience than the main show, before long, The Walking Dead‘s traditional formula was back in full effect. The upcoming Daryl and Carol spinoff needs to avoid this fate.
Recently, Norman Reedus assured fans the upcoming project won’t look anything like the original Walking Dead, and won’t feel like more Walking Dead episodes but just starring Carol and Daryl. If that’s the case, and there’s no reason to think Daryl himself Norman Reedus would intentionally mislead fans, it’s a great move as AMC is rightly treating the final season as a historic event. If it’s just going to end, only to be followed by Walking Dead-lite featuring Daryl and Carol, that would do a disservice to the flagship series, its fans and the central characters.
There’s no point in officially ending The Walking Dead, just to create what’s essentially season 12 under a new name. There are so many possibilities for how Carol and Daryl’s journey could proceed post-season 11, and them going on a journey at least mostly unlike their previous ones would make the spinoff truly worthwhile, and could put it in league with past hit spinoffs like Better Call Saul or Angel. Both of those shows present a vastly different experience to their predecessors, yet still earn high marks from audiences. If the possibly franchise-saving Daryl and Carol spinoff starts different, only to fall back into the usual mold, The Walking Dead franchise risks majorly burning long-time viewers.