'The Walking Dead' Season 11 Delayed to 2021

Walking Dead- season 10, episode 8 - Publicity Still 5- H 2019
Gene Page/AMC

The Walking Dead is the latest series to see its future impacted by the global pandemic.

AMC has officially delayed the planned October debut of season 11 of Robert Kirkman's zombie drama. The new season has always debuted in early October and this will be the first time in a decade that the show's return has been delayed. Instead, AMC has slated the previously delayed season 10 finale — originally scheduled to air in April but delayed because of production issues related to COVID-19 — for Oct. 4. While still dubbed the season finale (watch the opening minutes, below), AMC has, in a twist, extended the season with an order for six additional episodes. Those installments are set to air in early 2021. Additional details about the newly ordered episodes, which brings the season 10 order to a franchise record 22 episodes, will be announced later.

"Obviously COVID has disrupted a lot of things for every workplace, including ours," showrunner Angela Kang said during the Comic-Con@Home panel for The Walking Dead. "The writers room for season 11 has been going remotely the past few months. We haven't been able to start production but we will get back to work as soon as we safely can. We will not be airing season 11 episodes this year as we normally would in October, but we're excited to announce an extended season 10, where there will be six extra episodes to follow the finale. Those will run in early 2021 if all goes well. We're working on those now and will have more to share soon."

While a pathway back to production in Atlanta, where the show films, is unclear, The Walking Dead faces an additional hurdle as scenes with scores of extras — like a herd of the undead — are considered highly unlikely to be part of production when cameras across the industry do begin to roll. While the guilds and studios are still working on a sweeping set of safety protocols for U.S. productions, many showrunners have already begun to craft scripts that avoid scenes that will likely be challenging to produce in a world without a vaccine. What's more, it takes hours to transform extras into the show's trademark zombies, a process that also could be problematic in our current climate as actors are expected to be asked to arrive screen-ready.  

It's unclear why AMC would extend season 10 rather than consider the six newly ordered episodes the first part of season 11. Sources note that the new installments will be full-length live-action episodes. (Other programs have used animation to help complete production that was interrupted by the production shutdown. Such is not the case here.) 

In place of The Walking Dead, AMC will instead air Fear the Walking Dead in October; the season six premiere has been dated for Oct. 11. According to executive producer and Walking Dead franchise chief creative officer Scott M. Gimple, season six will feature at least one "time jump," with all 16 episodes designed in anthological fashion. (With that said, showrunners Ian Goldberg and Andrew Chambliss revealed that production on season six shut down due to COVID-19 just before wrapping the midseason finale.) Depending on the length of time jumped, Fear the Walking Dead could potentially line up closer to the flagship Walking Dead timeline by the end of season six. As it stands, the two series are separated across time by not quite a full decade.

As for what to expect from "A Certain Doom," the (for now) season 10 finale of the flagship The Walking Dead, showrunner Angela Kang previously told The Hollywood Reporter that the episode is action-packed while also dealing with "matters of the heart." An extended clip for the finale was unveiled at Comic-Con@Home, hinting at the scope — including the return of Lauren Cohan as Maggie Rhee, last seen in the show's ninth season. Watch her return below:

"She's coming back," Cohan said during the show's Comic-Con@Home panel. "It's not just a visit. She's moving from pen pals to real-life friends. She and Carol have been in communication. And it's good that she's coming back.

"It felt like I never really left," she added. "I spent a whole month catching up with everyone. When it came time to reinhabit Maggie and act, I wasn't overwhelmed by the crazy excitement of seeing everyone. It was amazing."

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