Walking Dead's Creators on Why They Chose Maggie & Negan to Lead Spinoff Series

by Rene Williams

The Walking Dead may have concluded its 11-season run in November 2022, but AMC is loath to give up its apocalyptic cash cow, and the winners are the viewers, who are being treated to not one—but three—upcoming spinoffs. One of those, The Walking Dead: Dead City , is quite possibly the most intriguing, based on its plot alone.

Dead City revolves around Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan), two long-standing—and popular—characters from The Walking Dead who have been at odds with each other for a long time, and with good reason, given that Negan brutally murdered Maggie's beloved husband Glenn (Steven Yeun) with his baseball bat, Lucille.

Collider's Christina Radish recently spoke with Scott M. Gimple (EP, Chief Content Officer of The Walking Dead universe) and Eli Jorne (Dead City showrunner), and asked the pair how they came to the conclusion that two mortal enemies would be the ideal choice to lead a new series. Gimple readily admitted that choosing the leads "was the easy part," with Jorne adding that, due to the "trauma and baggage" that the duo carries with them—both relating to themselves and each other—it seemed the most exciting fit for the show. Jorne went on to say:

"How do you work with and cooperate with, and how do you trust, if you have to work with the person who murdered the person you loved most in this life? And vice versa for Negan, how do you work with the person whose husband you murdered? Right away, to me, I was excited to get messy with that unfinished business."

It sounds like, in addition to the trauma and baggage that makes them such a compelling duo to see at the forefront of a new series, it's also the long history shared between the stars too, with Gimple sharing:

"[T]o tell you the truth, it’s the kind of story that I think actually is an incredible utility to the audience nowadays and one that they can relate to, whether they’ve watched The Walking Dead or not. The way that Eli wrote it, the way that [Lauren Cohan] and [Jeffrey Dean Morgan] played it, you can feel that history and that relationship in a scene, in a moment, and in a look. It’s really been something special."

jeffrey dean morgan the walking dead dead city social featured Image via AMC

Gimple also spoke about how at odds the pairing is, saying, "These are two people who wanna be as far from each other as they could possibly be, and who are thrown together, and are in a crazy, insane world with horrors and even some, dare I say, fun stuff, and a discovery of a whole new world, but they have to be together. The cool stuff, the fun stuff, and the weird stuff are the challenges that make them forced to be together in New York City."

The Walking Dead in New York City

The six-episode spinoff series, which moves the Walking Dead universe to New York City, is set around two years after the finale of The Walking Dead. The change in locale also seems to have played into the appeal of seeing these two characters have to work together, with Jorne explaining:

"If you think about it, there are these two characters that, if they’re forced together, and they are forced to work together, as you can tell from the teaser, and they go to a place that’s as crazy and claustrophobic and chaotic as New York, that just amps up. It turns the dial up on what’s challenging about this cooperative effort. I’m glad it’s New York. It’s hard to think of anywhere else they could’ve gone."

Gimple agreed by saying, "It just heightens the situation. What if they had to ally together? What if they’re stuck on an island together? What if they’re stuck, encased by buildings, and we just get smaller and smaller and smaller, until they’re face to face. It really brought to life all the possibilities that we have with these two characters being stuck together." Jorne pointed out, "The thing a lot of people forget about Manhattan is that it’s an island. And in the post-apocalypse, it’s very much an island."

While a release date has not yet been set for The Walking Dead: Dead City it is likely to debut on AMC this summer. While we wait for more news to drop, check out our interview with the Tales of the Waking Dead cast below: