The Walking Dead Universe will continue to expand with a variety of miniseries, short-form stories, and other limited run or stand alone series and specials, says chief content officer Scott Gimple. Unlike the full 16-episode season orders given to The Walking Dead and spinoff Fear the Walking Dead, these finite, shorter length series will have differing lifespans ranging from one-shots to three, six, 12 or 16-episode runs. In expanding on these plans, Gimple hints TWD showrunner Angela Kang, Fear showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg, and Matthew Negrete — co-creator and showrunner of AMC’s coming third untitled Walking Dead series — will create or produce new shorts for TWDU.
“Television is changing, and that’s exciting, because we can tell stories in other formats than 16-episode seasons. I think we will continue to do that, and we have plans for that, but we also have plans for shorter length series,” Gimple told The Hollywood Reporter’s “TV’s Top 5” podcast. “For mini-series, for things that are like specials. And it’s taking advantage of not only the different stories we can tell, but the different formats we can tell them in.”
This is an exciting prospect for Gimple “because the form dictates the content, it dictates the expectation of the audience,” he said. “I really do want to achieve more variety in the things we put out.”
Gimple, screenwriter and producer on the franchise’s first movie trilogy, to be theatrically released by Universal Pictures and centered around Andrew Lincoln’s Rick Grimes, is “a good example of that.”
“That’s gonna be a very different thing, based on its form. But I want to get into more of that, because I think that is the future of television, that there isn’t just one way to do it. Because this is such a big world with such different stories, it’d be silly not to do that,” Gimple continued. “And it also means not everything we put out is going to be connected to any of the existing shows. And further, some of it might not even need to go beyond a certain length. We do want to do these smaller things that are completely their own thing, and then do something else. Some stuff could be three episodes, some stuff could be six episodes, some stuff could be 12 or 16 [episodes].”
These contained series will be like TWD and Fear’s “webisodes,” digitally released shorts first premiered during the earliest seasons of the shows, but on a bigger scale. This series, including “Flight 462,” “Passage,” and the Emmy-nominated “Red Machete,” premiered their mini-episodes aired during commercial breaks on both shows.
“That kind of thing, I think there is now an appetite from the audience for that kind of stuff on a bigger scale. And the kind of variety that we can do it in, it’s just, I really do feel like a kid in a candy store,” Gimple said. “I work very hard with the showrunners, and each one of them have ideas beyond the thing that they’re working on that have no relation to what they’re working on. And it’s just the kind of sandbox that we’re in, it’s such a pleasure to do all sorts of different things in it. We will. We just will, because the audience wants that now.”
When first revealing his plans for “non-traditional” bite-sized series in early 2018, Gimple hinted these shorter series could bring back dead characters.
Red Machete director Avi Youabian, who later hinted digital series could be used to explore the previously unseen backstories of both living and dead characters, said such plans make for unique storytelling opportunities in series that “aren’t so strictly narrative-based.”