This week's Your Nerd Side Podcast:
The world of The Walking Dead is only getting bigger, as new spinoffs--including Dead City, Daryl Dixon, and The Ones Who Live--continue to find success on AMC. The post-apocalyptic franchise has been around for over a decade now, but shows no signs of coming to an end any time soon, even almost a year after the flagship series came to an end with its eleventh season. However, where the franchise will go remains a closely guarded mystery, though its showrunners all seem to be working toward some mysterious plan.
The series finale of The Walking Dead was an epic sendoff to the long-running zombie series after eleven seasons and 177 episodes. The finale saw fan-favorite characters like Daryl Dixon, Carol Peletier, Maggie Rhee, and Judith Grimes go head-to-head with the villainous leader of the Commonwealth, Pamela Milton, in an effort to free her subjects from her tyrannical rule. The heroes proved victorious, and the episode ends with a montage remembering the many characters who have died along the way and honoring the brave few who lived to the very end. The series almost ended in a very different way, however, which could still yet have major ramifications for the future of The Walking Dead.
The Walking Dead's Original Ending, Explained
Rather than setting up The Walking Dead's many spinoffs, the original ending conceived for the series finale focused heavily on several characters whose futures now remain uncertain in the franchise. According to The Insider, the original ending would have featured a flash forward of several years, introducing slightly older versions of characters like Judith and RJ Grimes, Gracie, and Coco Espinosa. The sequence would have followed the children as they put out a message to other survivors and eventually got a response back, revealing that they had continued their parents' legacy of making the world a safer place one day at a time.
This ending was actually filmed before ultimately getting cut from the final draft of The Walking Dead's finale. However, the choice to replace this scene with the one that audiences eventually saw also leaves the fates of the child characters mostly open-ended. Viewers don't get much information about what happened to Judith, RJ, Gracie, and Coco after their families took over the Commonwealth. While it is safe to assume that these characters will continue to follow in their parents' footsteps, it would still be far more satisfying for audiences to actually see their future adventures play out onscreen. Thankfully, the original ending of The Walking Dead hints that this could still be the case.
The Walking Dead's Original Ending Sets Up The Franchise's Future
The original ending of The Walking Dead sets up the franchise's future well in advance. While the scene featuring older versions of the show's child characters never made the final cut, future spinoffs could still follow the same path. The franchise's current spinoffs focus mainly on characters who have been around for a long time and are therefore only a temporary way to fill the void in the absence of The Walking Dead. Once these spinoffs have run their course, the franchise will need a new main series featuring characters that are still growing and developing--and the children of The Walking Dead are the perfect candidates to take up the mantle.
When The Walking Dead's spinoffs eventually merge and complete their long-running shared storylines, the children from the flagship series will be primed and ready to pick up where their forerunners left off. A new series following the adventures of Judith, RJ, Coco, Gracie, and any other children of the apocalypse would be a terrific way to keep The Walking Dead going for many more years, passing the torch to an entirely new generation that never knew the old world. Such a continuation would also further the legacies of the original show's characters, who inspired their children to keep fighting the good fight.
The original ending for The Walking Dead's series finale, while unused, could still have a major effect on the franchise's future. With a solid cast of young characters, the post-apocalyptic zombie franchise could persist for many more years to come.