Hang onto your brains: The Walking Dead has officially been on for 10 years.
Whether it feels as if the AMC horror drama about the ragtag band of fighters born of the zombie apocalypse just started haunting your dreams yesterday—or if you really feel that decade in your creaky bones and increasingly limited capacity for plot twists leading nowhere—there's no question that the show based on Robert Kirkwood's comic book series forever altered the TV landscape.
Akin to what Game of Thrones did for dragons and medieval fantasy, The Walking Dead did for flesh-eating monsters, the show is at its roots a serious character drama about human behavior that just so happened to be unfolding against a hell scape of a United States that's been decimated by the undead. Though at this point it's probably fated to have only the one Golden Globe nomination for best drama series it received in 2011 and one Emmy win for makeup as far as prestige recognition, at its peak the series was one of the most-watched cable series ever and it logged considerable time as millions of viewers' TV obsession.
And despite some plot missteps in recent years (turns out, a double beloved-character bludgeoning isn't for everyone), it still has a chance to go out with a satisfying bang when its 11th and final season premieres next year...and the second half of that 11th season concludes in 2022, because of course.
But what a journey it's been so far.
Since premiering on Oct. 31, 2010, The Walking Dead has proved a prestigious stomping ground for its sprawling cast, launching standout Danai Gurira into the Marvel Cinematic Universe and turning Norman Reedus into a beer-swilling, motorcycle-riding sex symbol (he denied, however, a report that he was set to sign a $20 million deal following Andrew Lincoln's exit).
And it's been the subject of endless conversation fodder as it's veered between just the right amount of upsetting and way too dark, fascinatingly violent and "come on, man, really?"
But, for all its lumbering toward the finish line, as audiences have fled for the streaming hills, it's remained the most-watched cable series, even with half the audience from its halcyon 15-million-viewers-a-week peak during season five.
So, in case your Halloween plans aren't all they're cracked up to be this year for reasons that at times can feel even scarier than a zombie apocalypse, spend part of The Walking Dead's 10th anniversary brushing up on the secrets of this team of scrappy warriors and their fiercely resilient show:
Speaking of which, the season 10 finale, originally set to air this past April, was postponed to Oct. 4 due to the pandemic—but the plan is now to add six bonus episodes to the same season next year, bringing the episode total to a broadcast-network-reminiscent 22. Meanwhile, production was in progress on season 11 this spring when they had to shut down as the real-life CDC became the center of all the action.
But while you wait, the fight for humanity's survival continues on Sundays with the double bill of Fear the Walking Dead and The Walking Dead: World Beyond.