In a surprise to absolutely no one, AMC has renewed the ratings juggernaut The Walking Dead for a fifth season. This year’s season four premiere drew an insane 16.1 million viewers, making the show not just a force of nature on cable TV but also a serious threat to network TV; we’re talking Big Bang Theory numbers, people. The show has continually risen in the ratings since its debut in 2010, and it appears that no amount of showrunner changes or character deaths will deter viewers from watching. Creatively, the current fourth season has been a mostly positive mixed bag as the series’ focus has turned to various tensions within the ever-dwindling group of survivors (catch up with Dave’s recaps here).
Hit the jump for more on the renewal, including some behind-the-scenes news for next year.
In addition to the news that The Walking Dead will return for a fifth season, the announcement notes that current showrunner Scott Gimple will be staying put as showrunner with Robert Kirkman and Gale Anne Hurd staying onboard as executive producers. This will make Gimple the first showrunner to stay in place as the head of the series for more than one full season since Frank Darabont, who was fired by AMC midway through the show’s second season. Gimple replace Glen Mazzara, who took over after Darabont left, only to himself be pushed out of the show halfway through season three.
The Walking Dead will return for season five in October of 2014, but AMC is also developing a companion series with comics creator Kirkman, which will focus on a new story and new characters in the same zombie-infested universe. That show is aiming for a 2015 premiere, which means the conclusion of season five in spring 2015 could soon be followed by the debut of this new show in the summer of 2015. Season four of The Walking Dead continues this coming Sunday on AMC.