‘The Ones Who Live’ Showrunner Wants to Keep Future Plans Open


The Big Picture

  • ‘The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live’ explores Rick and Michonne’s epic love story, as they face unforeseen challenges due to a changing world.
  • The latest ‘TWD’ universe spin-off evolved from movies to a TV series, with critical ingredients from earlier seasons.
  • Danai Gurira and Andrew Lincoln closely collaborated with showrunner Scott M. Gimple and contributed significantly to the series.

From executive producer/showrunner Scott M. Gimple, the six-episode AMC series The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live is the latest addition to The Walking Dead Universe, this time focused on the epic love story of Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira). Kept apart by distance and all the life-threatening dangers between them, the journey doesn’t end simply when they’ve reunited, and it’s not just about surviving the walkers. It’s best for them to fly under the radar and not attract attention to themselves, either individually or together, because the unpredictability of human forces can become more of a threat than anything.

During this interview with Collider, Gimple, who is also Chief Content Officer of AMC’s The Walking Dead television universe, talked about how this story evolved while keeping its “critical ingredients,” keeping future plans for TWD universe open and fluid, why he ended up showrunning this spinoff himself, how closely he collaborated with Lincoln and Gurira throughout the process, exploring different layers of such familiar characters, the epic love story, what to expect from Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh), what sets these walkers apart, and the always present human threat.

The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live

The love story between Rick and Michonne. Changed by a world that is constantly changing, will they find themselves in a war against the living or will they discover that they too are The Walking Dead?

Release Date
February 25, 2024


The Walking Dead

Production Company
American Movie Classics (AMC)

While ‘The Ones Who Lived’ Evolved, the Critical Ingredients Stayed the Same

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes in AMC's The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live
Image via AMC

Collider: How long was the path to this particular story? Does this resemble the story you thought you would be telling?

SCOTT M. GIMPLE: Sure, absolutely. There were a lot of changes, but there were these critical ingredients. From Season 7, and maybe even Season 6 to a degree, there were certain ingredients that were always going to be there that are directly from the show. It was just about, how are they gonna be mixed up? How are we gonna adjust? How are we going to calibrate it into what we wanna do now? And so, it absolutely resembles things from the beginning. It has so many of the same ingredients, but things, time wise, just flipped around.

It’s been quite a journey with this going from movies to a TV series, and then the other spinoffs happening around it at the same time.

GIMPLE: And some things came out before other things that we thought were gonna come out after. Danai [Gurira] and Andy [Lincoln] weren’t available at the same time, so we were going down one path simply because Danai wasn’t available when she was on the [flagship] show, and then she was doing Black Panther 2. But everything aligned, and when that stuff happens, it certainly gives you a little bit more confidence in the direction you’re going in, where it’s like, “Oh, I guess this is how it was supposed to be, all along.” We had plans towards this. We just didn’t think we would get to them so quickly, or so late in some instances.


How Well Do You Know the Cast of ‘The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live’?

Rick and Michonne are back, but who else is joining them?

You’ve talked about how you don’t necessarily think about another season of the show, but when you’re devising the story you want to tell, are you thinking about telling a complete story, so that if this were it, we would get the full story, or are you also thinking about leaving those questions so that we could see by the end of this season what a second season would be?

GIMPLE: We’ve done it different ways in The Walking Dead universe. I’m a little bit more of a fan of telling a complete story, where you do have plans to tell the next story. Even season to season, I like doing that, but we didn’t even do that every season. Seasons 4 and 7 ended with huge questions. Just being able to pivot one way or another while giving the audience a satisfying journey is the way to go.

‘The Ones Who Live’ Was a True Collaboration With Co-Stars Andrew Lincoln and Danai Gurira

Danai Gurira as Michonne in AMC's The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live
Image via AMC

Andrew Lincoln and Danai Gurira are listed as co-creators of this series. What exactly does that mean, as far as their involvement? How close are you working before, during and after, with them?

GIMPLE: With Andy and Danai, it was the entirety of the whole thing. The three of us were working before anybody else was. We were meeting for hours at a time in New York and hours at a time in Atlanta. What the structure of the season wound up being is what we worked out in those conference rooms. Every aspect of this show – the budgeting, the scheduling, the staffing, all of it – went through them. We divvied up some of the work, and they would handle certain things and I would handle certain things. Danai wrote episode four, but also in a lot of ways, she showran episode four. I was more of a support. I really wanted her to fulfill her vision, start to finish. When we finally could get into post, we were all in post. Sometimes I’d let Andy take a crack at things. Sometimes I’d let Danai take a crack at things. Sometimes I’d come in after or before. We worked on marketing stuff together. It ran the gamut throughout the whole thing. It was not a vanity credit. When they say “showrunner Scott Gimple,” we were more of a band on this one. I carried a lot of responsibility, but they were all over this thing in every way. It was a lot more like a band.

You’ve been involved with all the series, but what made you want to be the showrunner on this one specifically?

GIMPLE: It’s because we knew we were all gonna work together on it, and Andy and Danai told me to. That was a big part of it. Even though this was an official collaboration, we’ve been very collaborative all along the way. Granted, I was hardcore about a lot of things sometimes, but it was always a conversation and a lot of ideas flowed from them on the show, so it seemed like the best way. They wanted to do that. They wanted that creative involvement in coming back. They know these characters so well. They’ve done this so long. The way they saw to do this was to do it together.


‘The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live’ Breaks Viewership Records for AMC

Andrew Lincoln and Danai Gurira return in the latest spinoff from the franchise.

Do you see this series as discovering new layers of the characters, or do you see it as digging deeper into what we already know of the characters?

GIMPLE: Both of the characters are facing something that they haven’t faced. A lot of time has gone by and they are associated with different people in different situations. These characters are different in a lot of ways. There are different layers to them because they’re facing situations that they just haven’t faced before. Situations sound so transitory, but they’re facing years of things that they haven’t faced before and that changes you. They’re not at home. They’re not among their people. When we meet them, they’re different.

‘The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live’ Is an Epic Love Story

When you started doing The Walking Dead, could you ever have imagined that you’d be telling an epic love story like The Ones Who Live?

GIMPLE: I don’t want Danai and Andy to kill me, but we have had an epic love story on The Walking Dead. It wasn’t as much of a gigantic historical drama as this is. If this is an epic love story, maybe the other one was a little more of an intimate love story. I don’t know if Maggie and Glenn in Season 4 rose to being epic. It might have been a bit more intimate, but it was certainly intense. This is a massive capital E, epic love story. Would I have ever imagined it? Maybe. I will say that love is everything on this show. It’s why people go on. It’s some of the reasons why people have even turned into the twisted versions of themselves that a lot of these villains have become. If you look at Negan, what finally turned the dial on Negan, who’s done some of the more horrific things on the show, was a love story. He’s a man with a broken heart.

I love Pollyanna McIntosh in this. What would you say about her character and what we can expect from Jadis?

GIMPLE: She is amazing in this. I don’t want to give away anything. She’s always been a bit of a trickster character, and she’s always had a bit of theater to her. She’s always been an incredible pragmatist. We see a very powerful Jadis in this. She’s scary, she’s funny, she’s imposing, and you’ll see more. Where she goes with her performance is unbelievable. We gave Pollyanna some really challenging work to do and she knocked it out of the park. We were so lucky to get her.

I love the humor she also brings, with the crack about her haircut.

GIMPLE: The fact that Andy got to crack a joke, he was so happy.


Where Did We Leave Off With ‘Walking Dead’s Jadis Before ‘The Ones Who Live’?

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. I need to go fast.”

We’ve talked about standout walker moments across the shows, and there are definitely some moments that are quite memorable in the episodes I’ve seen of this series. Were there new things you were able to do this time, or were there ways you wanted to push things?

GIMPLE: On Daryl Dixon, we have the most different walkers that we’ve seen in the universe. And then, on Dead City, there’s a lot of gritty grossness. The Rat King walker was one of the more notable walkers in years. On this show, these are not altered walkers. They have some of the worst conditions that we’ve seen walkers in. There are aspects to them, especially a lot of the fresh ones, where we just see people died in really bad ways that are reflected in their walker-ism. And then, walkers are used in a really weird way in this. This has probably some of the most gross walker kills. There’s an industrialized killing that we see of walkers that is truly disgusting. And this has some of the most heartbreaking walkers we’ve seen. This one took it in a more classic The Walking Dead way but turns the dials in different ways to hopefully disgust you.

The Human Villains in ‘The Ones Who Live’ Are More of a Threat Than the Walkers

Walkers in Episode 2 of Season 1 of AMC's The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live 
Image via AMC

Obviously, the walkers are always a threat, but there’s also always some other type of villain that’s ready to just bring the whole thing down. How does that work into this series?

GIMPLE: The villains in this show are very complex. They’re different from the villains that we’ve seen before. All our bads have had their reasons, for the most part, but the reasons that these people have and the success that they’ve had and the system they work under makes it a very complex thing, as far as what they do and how they think. I don’t wanna cosign on anything they do, but I think the reasons laid out are incredibly serious reasons, and I’m curious what the audience will think. It’s the thing that can give people power, good and bad. It can twist them to do things they would never do. It also could have them become the best, most powerful versions of themselves. Sometimes it’s a little of both. That’s one of the things I absolutely love about this universe.

The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live airs on Sunday nights on AMC and is available to stream on AMC+. Check out the trailer:

Watch on AMC+


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *