Now that The Walking Dead‘s flagship show is over, the zombie-apocalypse franchise faces a huge test with its three upcoming spinoff series. Spinoffs are not new territory for the franchise, with Fear the Walking Dead, The Walking Dead: World Beyond, and Tales of the Walking Dead all expanding AMC’s post-apocalyptic world. But the next wave of spinoffs will cover new ground as they follow The Walking Dead‘s most popular characters — Rick Grimes, Michonne, Daryl Dixon, Negan, and Maggie — on adventures beyond the walls of Alexandria.
The Walking Dead isn’t the first TV franchise to continue after its flagship show ended, and there are recent high-profile success stories. The Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon attracted a huge audience while Breaking Bad spinoffs Better Call Saul and El Camino were met with critical acclaim. The difference with The Walking Dead is its ambition. Rather than seeing how one of the spinoffs goes before green-lighting more, The Walking Dead has gone all in with three spinoffs focused on the franchise’s most famous characters, and rival franchises will be keen to see whether that pays off.
The Walking Dead Ending Its Main Show Tests Its Spinoffs More
The Walking Dead‘s previous spinoff shows have tried to tell alternate apocalypse stories to the main show, but they have never been as successful. Fear the Walking Dead is the franchise’s longest-running spinoff, and while its first season averaged almost seven million viewers per episode, that rapidly dropped to 700,000 by season 6. The Walking Dead: World Beyond and Tales of the Walking Dead both ended with even lower viewership figures, but all of The Walking Dead‘s past spinoff shows had the safety blanket of the franchise’s successful flagship show to fall back on. The upcoming Walking Dead spinoffs will not have that luxury.
The dwindling interest in adventures outside of Rick Grimes, Michonne, Daryl Dixon, and the rest of the core survivors is why The Walking Dead‘s producers have gone in the direction they have with their upcoming spinoffs. Still, it will be a huge test to see whether Walking Dead fans will still be interested and engaged with the characters outside the main show. A large part of The Walking Dead‘s success was the relationships between its main characters, like Rick Grimes and Daryl, but with them separated in their upcoming spinoffs there is no guarantee that fans will be as invested as before, so it will test their individual popularity.
Why The Walking Dead’s Spinoffs Should All Succeed
Despite the spinoffs separating The Walking Dead‘s biggest characters from the rest of the Alexandria community, they should all be successful because they are focused on the franchise’s biggest stars. Maggie and Negan’s spinoff, Dead City, has an exciting premise with the former bitter enemies teaming up to explore New York City, which until now has not been visited in The Walking Dead. In Rick’s absence, Daryl Dixon became the show’s most popular survivor, and his spinoff is the most intriguing as the lone wolf is set to cross the Atlantic Ocean and arrive in Paris, where The Walking Dead‘s apocalypse looks different.
By far the most eagerly anticipated spinoff is Rick Grimes and Michonne’s series. The pair were absent for The Walking Dead‘s final season apart from the brief teaser of their whereabouts in the show’s finale. While The Walking Dead managed to tell a compelling story without them, they were missed. Just having Rick Grimes back on TV will be enough to attract a huge audience, but the compelling setup of having Rick a CRM prisoner whom Michonne will break free so that they can finally have a happy ending will make it the most successful spinoff of The Walking Dead.