- Warning: There are spoilers below for “TWD: World Beyond” series finale.
“The Walking Dead: World Beyond” wrapped up its two-season limited series with a few deaths, a surprise cameo, and many open-ended stories that hint we’ll continue to see Felix, Hope, Iris, Jadis, Elizabeth, and more in another “TWD” series, or, perhaps, that elusive Rick Grimes’ movie.
If anyone knows where they’ll show up next, it’s “TWD” universe chief, Scott M. Gimple, but he’s not ready to give too much away just yet.
Perhaps, busier than ever, Gimple is juggling a number of “The Walking Dead”-related spin-offs.
“‘Fear the Walking Dead’ is still chugging along,” Gimple told Insider as we caught up with him and “World Beyond” showrunner Matt Negrete over
to discuss the series finale and what’s next in the wide-ranging “TWD” world. “We’re ramping up ‘Tales [of the Walking Dead].’ It’s a lot and Matt is helping out.”
Let’s not forget there’s also the untitled “Carol and Daryl” spin-off and the show that started it all, “The Walking Dead.” Now in its 11th season, Gimple said filming on the juggernaut’s final eight episodes is well underway.
As Gimple said, it’s a lot.
But these days it sounds like he’s used to moving from one “TWD” project to the next, recalling the breakneck speed at which he and Negrete had to work to get “World Beyond” off the ground.
“It was a series that was shot out of a cannon,” Gimple said. “Matt and I had to move very, very, very quick on the pilot script and the pilot. There were a lot ideas that had been bouncing around. It was a very, very fast moving show. It was insane.”
Now, that they made it to the end, it seems like there’s little time to rejoice and reflect. There’s simply more work to be done in the vast “TWDU.” And some of that work will likely continue the stories of “World Beyond” characters and its mystery coda in various formats.
Will that include the “TWD” movie? It’s something which Gimple can say very little about. But, instead of the usual dodging, you get the sense Gimple really wants to speak about the film more if he wasn’t under close surveillance, acknowledging fans’ frustration.
There were never plans to kill off more of the ‘World Beyond’ cast. They want to continue telling some of these stories, maybe in more than one place.
Insider: I’m going to start off with a bit of a long two-part question. I couldn’t help but wonder while watching this season if the plan really was to always make ‘World Beyond’ two seasons or did you originally envision it with maybe one more?
I ask that because the way it ends, it doesn’t feel like a series finale. It feels like there’s more to come. And, I was honestly a bit shocked that so many people made it out alive by the end of the show. My original anticipation for the limited series was that you’d pull a ‘Star Wars: Rogue One’ and kill just about all of the characters off by the series finale to serve as a driving point forward. That wasn’t the case. To recap, was a third season ever on the table and did you ever consider killing off most of the cast?
Negrete: I could never bring myself to kill the entire cast, honestly. I just feel like —
Gimple: It was never the plan.
Negrete: Exactly. Yeah, let’s be clear about that. It was really about just telling these emotional stories about a group of teenagers who went from a place of total innocence to learning about the world and putting them on the path of who they’re going to become. For me, it was more about finding this emotional closure at the end of the day and at the end of the series. We’re seeing our birds sort of leave the nest and fly off in different directions. That says a lot about who they are and who they become.
In terms of just the story, yes, the CRM is out there, but this small group is never going to take down the entire CRM.
They’re still existing within the universe. A few characters did die, obviously, but there’s a lot more of them living and they’re off having adventures of their own. For me, it’s just about not necessarily knowing exactly how things end up, but knowing the path they’re on. It’s really about cementing that for the end of the series. After that, we’ll see.
Because of how the show ends, I expect we’re going to see a majority of these characters again. Back in 2019 on the set of “World Beyond,” Nico Tortorella, more or less, told me that the series was supposed to act as sort of a bridge to the first “Walking Dead” movie.
Is that what the takeaway should be from where the show ends, that we’ll see these characters — Jadis, Elizabeth, Hope, Iris, Felix, and more — return in this movie we’ve been hearing about since 2018? What is their future in “The Walking Dead” universe?
Gimple: Each of the characters, we’d love to have a future. There’s a lot of stories that, absolutely, we want to keep telling. There’s some in there that just need to be told.
Specific to the movie, yeah, I think it’s more about just telling these stories and we have a lot of different places to tell them. They all inhabit the same world. They all inhabit the same universe. What happens in one show, in some way or another, bleeds into the next one directly, indirectly, whatever. But to a degree, it’s all one big story.
Noah Emmerich returned to film that surprise cameo at the end of ‘World Beyond,’ which is ‘setting up a new story’ in ‘TWD’ universe.
I wasn’t expecting that long of an end tag at the end of ‘World Beyond’ and with the return of Dr. Jenner! What can you both tell me about this bonus tag and these mystery characters?
When in “TWD” universe is this taking place? I noted that video of Dr. Jenner is from very early into the zombie apocalypse because of the mention of his wife being alive. I couldn’t tell if this was going on at the same time as the “World Beyond” finale or if they were in France or in the United States? What are we supposed to gather from this scene and what is it setting up?
Gimple: Well, you know me. I’m definitely not telling you.
[laughter from Negrete and Insider]
I want you to use your imagination. I will say, there are little hints that we worked hard on set about. Those are dusty hard drives. If you compare the stamps on Jenner’s video to his earlier video, they line up. [Editor’s note: The stamps mostly line up, but eagle-eyed fans will notice the “World Beyond” tape places him in Zone 1 of Atlanta, while “TWD” video recordings place him in Zone 5 at the CDC.]
And then, these are two folks that are speaking French fluently. It doesn’t seem like their second language.
The rest of it, people should theorize about it, talk about it, catch where we accidentally put tells. I will say it does bleed in, obviously. It’s setting up a new story. Its connection to “World Beyond” isn’t as direct. Again, it’s one big story and it’s the start of a new chapter of that story. I don’t think people will expect, at all, what that chapter is from what they saw. So, we really hope to surprise people. It’s the beginning of new things with a very obvious tip to the past.
Working with Noah was awesome because I was a fan that first year [of “TWD”]. I didn’t work on the show those first six episodes. I watched every single one of them live and I loved Noah on the show. There are things he said that stuck with me. The series seven premiere is a bit of dialogue from Jenner. I loved season one. It was thrilling to do.
Negrete: I actually worked with Noah on “White Collar.” I had seen him on “Walking Dead,” worked with him on “White collar,” and then to kind of bring it full circle it was very cool.
I was wondering if you guys had brought him back to film new footage or if it was some unused stuff from season one.
Gimple: That is the biggest compliment in the world. Yeah. We made that, but it’s awesome that you thought it could have been from season one.
I know you guys go back into the archive sometimes. Were you always thinking of bringing Noah in or did you ever consider bringing anyone else in? I know people were hoping to see Andrew Lincoln, but Scott, you were very upfront with me last year and told me a while back not to expect to see him.
Gimple: God bless you for saying so because it still was kind of out there. You must’ve seen it. People were expecting it and I was really trying to point towards our conversation back in the day. It’s crazy that it’s back in the day now.
Gimple says the walker seen at the end of ‘World Beyond’ is ‘different.’ The term ‘variant cohorts’ was not inspired by the pandemic.
There’s a mention of “variant cohorts.” What does that mean? And why haven’t we heard about that until now? I was wondering if COVID and the variant strains we’ve seen influenced the possibility of variant versions of the undead existing in “The Walking Dead” universe. I was recently watching some other films and shows in the zombie genre and was thinking about how it would be cool to see more aggressive or faster walkers in other countries or parts of the world.
Gimple: [Jenner] seems pretty intrigued that he’s been told about something different going on. And then we see that walker, which is not super-powered, but different. I hope that people are people’s imaginations are “activated on” to what that could mean and what we could see.
By no means is it like a tip to COVID. We’re not giving a shout-out to COVID in any way. We have no interest in doing that. But he seems intrigued at some things he’s heard from them, long ago, in fact.
Matt, do you want to weigh in at all? I keep hoping you’re going to respond first.
Gimple [jokingly]: I’m all but cutting him off. I’m like a lawyer.
Negrete: Yeah, I’ll just say that there’s a lot packed into those five minutes in terms of what Jenner is saying, in terms of what the two characters in the scene are saying to each other, [and] what one of the characters is doing.
The cool thing that I personally enjoy about that coda is just how much is packed into those five minutes and how much there is to kind of dissect and analyze and to theorize about. That’s what I hope people kind of take from it. I hope they just kind of run with it. I’m curious to see what the various theories are that come out of it.
You have to watch this at least twice because I noticed on AMC+, if you run it with the captions on, you can fully see Jenner’s conversation that’s going on in the background.
Negrete: Yeah, they fully captioned all of Jenner’s dialogue there.
Gimple: To tell you the truth. That’s good. We wrote it. It’s nice that it exists.
Gimple wishes he could tell us anything about the Rick Grimes’ movie, but cannot so ‘multiple people don’t kill’ him.
Jadis references Rick on the finale to Jennifer, not by name, but in speaking about what it means to be an A versus a B [You can read more on that here.] Why mention Rick, if we’re not going to see him?
Is this a reminder that he’s still in this world and to not forget about him? Is he maybe where Elizabeth winds up by the episode’s end down in the health and welfare complex?
Gimple: The last we saw of Jadis, she was with him. He turned out to be like one of the most important people in her life. And she made some kind of deal, as we remember. That’s an episode that Matt and I wrote. She made a deal and he was involved in that deal. It is a part of her story and she’s a part of his, but we shan’t go more deeply into it than she did.
I want to make sure I got a question in about this.
Where are we with the first “Walking Dead” movie? I presume it’s still a trilogy. Is the script set? Do we have a production start date or a film release date? Is there anything that you can tell me? Now that we know when “TWD” will end and now that “World Beyond” is over, I figure this is the next train that really needs to start leaving the station.
Gimple: Sadly, I cannot say much about it. I cannot reveal anything about it so that multiple people don’t kill me. There’s all sorts of people. How about this? I wish I could.
The last time we spoke, you had said that it would be “amazing” and you were excited about the script. I needed to at least check in and see if I could get any update.
Gimple: I do regret — I know it’s frustrating for folks and I wish it wasn’t and I wish I could say something right now.
Gimple and Negrete share their thoughts on episodes rolling out a week early on AMC+. Gimple doesn’t know how ‘TWD’ finale will air yet.
The “World Beyond” finale aired a week early on AMC+. But all of us can’t talk about it until it airs on TV a week later. By then a lot of the things are spoiled online. I wondered how you guys feel about the early rollout.
I get asked my thoughts and I’m like, “I’m sorry. I have to wait.” What is that like for both of you? And is there a chance that we could see “TWD” series finale air on AMC+? I think of all the great TV finales — M*A*S*H*,” “Sopranos,” “Lost,” and “Game of Thrones” and I couldn’t imagine people watching something like “The Walking Dead” finale on streaming before it’s on TV.
Gimple: You know, that sort of thing is totally not up to us. Even in my position, this is AMC’s stuff and I don’t know what their plan is on that side of things. I’ll just say that I’ll be advocating for one approach and I would imagine you could probably guess which one it was.
I think I’m advocating for the same, because it makes my job harder if the things are out there in the world.
Negrete: I understand that if people watch it early and they want to talk about it with other people that watched it early. I think that’s great. It’s what I would do if I was a huge fan of some other show and I had the opportunity to watch it early. I would just hope that those people are respectful with the spoilers and not kind of just putting them out there for people that don’t necessarily want them. That’s all I’ll say about it.
Gimple: It’s hard because it’s an emotional thing and people want to express themselves about it. And I don’t even think they’re like looking to spoil specifically as much as just be heard or not be alone with their emotions. It’s a tough thing. It’s a human thing.
Negrete: Especially something like a series finale. Those are hugely emotional for the fans, regardless of how it ends. It’s the ending of a huge chapter and fans are invested. I completely understand that that’s a need to share this experience. It’s not like we’re all watching it live like the old days. The landscape has changed.
Gimple: In a perfect world, we would show one version a week early and a totally different version [on TV].
Negrete, who started on ‘The Walking Dead’ in season four, isn’t finished with ‘TWD’ universe just yet.
As I’m letting you both go, is there anything else that you both want to tease for the future of “TWD” universe? And Matt, are we going to see you back in another one of the shows or in the film world?
Negrete: I’ll just say that I haven’t left the universe quite yet. I’m still helping out with few things. In terms of parting words, I would love to just kind of shout out to everybody who worked on the series. I’m just so immensely proud of all the amazing work that everyone did, especially in terms of the second season, in the middle of a global pandemic. It’s work that I’m really proud of and I want to thank the fans for watching and being so invested. I hope that after this series, everyone will have enjoyed the ride.
This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity. You can follow along with our “TWD” coverage here.