It’s fitting that a show about zombies is the one that will outlive us all. Indeed, ahead of the highly anticipated Season 7 premiere this coming Sunday, AMC has pre-emptively renewed The Walking Dead for an eighth season. The news comes as a surprise to absolutely no one, as the series has consistently proved to be AMC’s biggest hit as well as one of the biggest shows on television period. For years, traditional network TV ratings lorded over everything else, and then The Walking Dead came. The series broke the mold in that it is the #1 show on television in the coveted 18-49 demographic, proving that television has truly entered the age of expanded cable.
The Walking Dead Season 8 is noteworthy in that it will see the show air its 100th episode, which is a mighty feat for a show as serialized as this. When the show premiered back in 2010, it was on the heels of the network’s smashing success of Mad Men and, at that point at least, to a lesser extent Breaking Bad. The short-lived drama Rubicon aired that summer, but October saw the splashy debut of The Walking Dead, an adaptation of the Robert Kirkman graphic novel of the same name with one hell of a prestige talent serving as creator/showrunner—The Shawshank Redemption filmmaker Frank Darabont.
While the series saw modest ratings and critical success in its six-episode first season, it reached new heights in its second. Unfortunately, behind-the-scenes tension saw Darabont forced out halfway through the airing of Season 2, at which point Glen Mazzara took over. And then, at the end of Season 3, Mazzara stepped down and Scott M. Gimple assumed showrunner duties. Gimple has been at the helm ever since, with Kirkman serving as a key creative force and Greg Nicotero expanding his role from makeup guru to frequent director.
The Walking Dead Season 8 will once again consist of 16 episodes, with Chris Hardwick’s aftershow Talking Dead also renewed for another season. They’ll both debut in “Late 2017,” although given that AMC is now prone to squeezing two marketing cycles out of each season, one imagines the 16 episodes will be split in half complete with a “midseason finale” and “midseason premiere.”
For now, Season 7 debuts this coming Sunday, at which point we’ll all presumably find out who meets the end of Negan’s bat. Any guesses?