Robert Kirkman: The Walking Dead Animated Series Can't Happen "Until I Get the Rights Back From AMC"

"I'd love to see it happen someday," Kirkman says of a Walking Dead animated show.

The Walking Dead won't be reanimated anytime soon. Even before creator Robert Kirkman and Prime Video collaborated on adult animated superhero show Invincible, fans have been hoping to sink their teeth into an animated adaptation of the Skybound/Image comic by Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard. Kirkman has been receptive to the idea of a "faithful" animated version of the black-and-white zombie comic that spanned 193 issues and spawned a live-action Walking Dead Universe at AMC, but it seems the network isn't biting. 

"I'd love to see it happen someday, but I don't think it'll be possible until I get the rights back from AMC," Kirkman wrote in response to a fan who asked about a Walking Dead animated show in the "Letter Hacks" column of The Walking Dead Deluxe #85. Skybound's TWD editor Amanda LaFranco added: "There's definitely been developments over the years for something like this, and there's a lot of fans over here that would still very much love to make that happen."

In 2010, the network released an eight-minute, "fully-animated" motion comic adapting 13 pages from The Walking Dead #1 by Kirkman and artist Tony Moore. AMC also dabbled with comic-style animation in an animated segment of the webisode series The Walking Dead: Red Machete. AMC's Walking Dead Universe chief content officer Scott M. Gimple has expressed interest in using animation in potential future episodes of anthology spinoff Tales of the Walking Dead, but the franchise has so far only dabbled with the format.

AMC acquired the rights to the graphic novel in 2009 in one of the largest development deals the network ever closed. The Walking Dead debuted in 2010 from series developer and showrunner Frank Darabont, who served as executive producer with Gale Anne Hurd, David Alpert, and Kirkman. The Darabont-directed AMC Original series premiere marked the largest audience for any original series on the network, and delivered the highest ratings in the key 18-49 demographic for any cable series premiere in 2010. AMC's Walking Dead was the #1 series on basic cable for 12 consecutive years when it ended its 11-season run after 177 episodes in 2022.

In March, Kirkman and four other Walking Dead executive producers — Hurd, Alpert, Charles Eglee, and former showrunner Glen Mazzara — saw a victory in their 2022 profits-sharing suit against the network when a federal judge denied AMC's motion to have the case dismissed. (After first filing suit in 2017, and after Darabont was awarded $200 million in his separate profit participation lawsuit in 2021, the executive producers sued a second time in a suit arguing they were "entitled to a payment well over $200 million from AMC.")

Along with since-ended spinoffs Fear the Walking Dead and The Walking Dead: World Beyond, AMC continued The Walking Dead with the spinoffs The Walking Dead: Dead City (starring Lauren Cohan's Maggie and Jeffrey Dean Morgan's Negan), The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon (starring Norman Reedus), and The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live (starring Andrew Lincoln's Rick Grimes and Danai Gurira's Michonne). Dead City season 2 and Daryl Dixon season 2, also starring Melissa McBride as Carol, are currently in the works at AMC.