"The Walking Dead" has done small time jumps before, but nothing on the level of what they could do in the next year if they follow the comic book.
*MINOR COMIC BOOK SPOILERS AHEAD*
"The Walking Dead" Season 7 just ended with a declaration of All Out War. That is definitely in the comic book, although the TV show changed a lot of details, as usual. There's always a "remix" on TV changing the story a bit, but the big picture items tend to stick. What about the major multi-year time jump in the comics, after All Out War ends?
The Hollywood Reporter talked to showrunner Scott M. Gimple and comic book writer/exec producer Robert Kirkman, and it sounds like the plan may be for the TV show to fill in the gaps of Kirkman's story -- showing some of the stuff he skipped over with the two-year time jump. There may still be a smaller time jump, but Gimple seems interested in following at least some of what happened off-page, rather than having fans just catch up to a vastly changed world all at once. (If that's the case, hopefully it doesn't slow down the show's narrative. That is the last thing TWD can afford.)
Here's what Gimple said about the time jump idea, when asked by THR:
"For the people who read the comics, they're going to be expecting this. We're doing the book, we do all sorts of variations on it, and then we do things that are inspired by it and then we change things up with a remix. But I will say there are things that happen in that time jump that are referred to that are super interesting. And thus we might see some of that stuff; it might not be the same sort of jump, or we'll do that two to five years in real time.
I've had a general plan for a long time, and invariably when I do that, there are little things that catch and change that plan. But in general, I think there's going to be a little bit more content that Robert actually refers to. There's stuff in there that I was reading that I wondered about, and when I wonder about stuff that I like, I like getting into that stuff [on the show]. We're definitely going to honor it and do it, but we're definitely going to have either more of it or possibly do it in a different way."
Kirkman said he and Gimple talk all the time about what they want to cover and how, "because there's a tremendous amount of budget involved and strategic planning on how to keep the show going. We need to know these things and being able to know these things years in advance is what helps us make this show possible. So we've discussed everything."
If they've discussed everything, and need to know years in advance, then these answers are not really speculation, they are hints to what has already been set in stone. The outline for Season 8 must already be complete; usually, TWD starts filming its 16-episode seasons at the start of May, so pre-production must be gearing up in Atlanta for Round 8.
So they know what they're going to do, but it is not clear if they plan to finish up All Out War in Season 8. It could take all season. It could take more than a season. It could take less than a season, and they could use the rest of the episodes to tell some of those stories skipped in the comic book's time jump. And then ... Magna and The Whisperers, right? Season 9?
"The Walking Dead" Season 8 will arrive in October.
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