The Walking Dead is set to wrap by 2022 with an extended, 24-episode eleventh season, and according to Jeffrey Dean Morgan, (Negan), the announcement was a surprise not only to the fans but to the actors themselves, including the showrunner Angela Kang and chief content officer, Scott M. Gimple. This suggests that the parent show could have continued into Season 12 and further. 

Courtesy of an interview with Collider, Morgan, who has played the redeemed leader of the Saviors since Season 7, explained that they received the news of the show wrapping during the COVID-19 pandemic, calling it “a complete surprise, not only to me and the rest of the actors, but to everybody involved in the show from production,” 

“Scott Gimple and Angela Kang had no idea either. It came from nowhere and there was such a huge pivot.” Morgan adds.

“I think they had season 11 all mapped out, where they were going to go, and suddenly it became, ‘We also have to close the story, in a way.’ It took everybody by surprise, so it was a massive pivot. And then, they threw in the six tacked-on episodes to season 10, and instead of doing 16, we’re going to do 24 more. There was a lot of stuff to wrap our heads around.”

Most intriguingly is the revelation that the decision to bring the flagship show to an end was news to both Kang and Gimple. It would seem that The Walking Dead was then effectively cancelled. 

Next week, Morgan will start alongside his real-life spouse, Hilarie Burton in a Negan-centric origins story, ‘Here’s Negan’, the final episode from the additional six added to Season 10. 

“That didn’t feel like a bottle episode at all, when we shot it. Matter of fact, I think it’s going to look really big.” Morgan described the episode.

While an official airing date has yet to be confirmed by AMC, the final season of The Walking Dead will begin airing sometime during this summer, with the second half premiering in 2022. Robert Kirkman recently gave an update on the Rick Grimes trilogy and Season 11.