'The Walking Dead' Renewed for Seventh Season

The Walking Dead Still 3 - H 2015
Courtesy of AMC

AMC is staying the course with The Walking Dead and companion Talking Dead.

The cable network has renewed the top-rated zombie drama based on the comics created by Robert Kirkman for a seventh season. With the renewal, Walking Dead ties Mad Men as AMC's longest-running original scripted series. (With a 16-episode seventh season, Walking Dead would grow to 99 episodes, topping Mad Men's 92 episode total.)"

"Thank goodness someone had a Magic 8-Ball with them in our many long internal meetings about these renewals. When, on the third shake, 'without a doubt' filled the murky blue screen, we knew we had to proceed with new seasons of The Walking Dead and Talking Dead," AMC/Sundance TV president Charlie Collier said in a statement Friday. "All joking aside, we are so proud to share these shows with fans who have been so passionate, communicative and engaged. We are grateful for and continually impressed by the talent, effort and excellence on continuous display by Robert Kirkman, Scott Gimple, Chris Hardwick and the many people with whom we partner to make these unique shows possible. The result: More Walking and Talking. Hooray."

The renewal news comes as little surprise given that the zombie series — overseen by showrunner Gimple and starring Andrew Lincoln — ranks as TV's most-watched drama among the all-important 18-49 demographic. Season six opened with 14.6 million total viewers, and a 7.4 rating among adults under 50 among live viewers. With three days of delayed viewing, the premiere grew to 19.5 million total viewers and 12.9 million among adults 18-49, enough to top Fox hit Empire in the demo and rank as the highest-rated premiere in the metric of 2015. 

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With the addition of offshoot Fear the Walking Dead — which has already been renewed for a 15-episode sophomore season — AMC will have a zombie drama on the air in all four quarters of 2016. Fear, created by Kirkman and showrunner Dave Erickson, will return next year. The cable net also signed comic book powerhouse Kirkman to an overall deal in June, and ordered a motorcycle docuseries with Norman Reedus earlier this week.

For AMC, The Walking Dead now represents its cornerstone series as the cable network continues to put a focus on homegrown original scripted fare. In addition to Fear season two, AMC also has its long-in-the-works adaptation of controversial comic book Preacher due in 2016 as well as the final season of Hell on Wheels, Humans, Turn, Breaking Bad prequel Better Call Saul and new additions Into the Badlands, Night Manager and Broke.

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Kirkman, meanwhile, has four shows currently on cable: Fear, Walking Dead and companion Talking Dead as well as Cinemax's Outcast, which is based on his exorcism comic of the same name. In addition to overseeing Image's Skybound comics imprint as CEO, Kirkman also has Thief of Thieves in development at AMC, with Circle of Confusion's Dave Alpert attached. Kirkman is also readying an adaptation of  Schulner's comic Clone for Universal TV and Syfy.

On the film side, Kirkman's Skybound Entertainment recently inked a two-year first-look deal with Universal pictures and recently made its first feature foray with Air, starring Walking Dead fan favorite Norman Reedus (Daryl).