The Walking Dead: Extended run time for midseason finale

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan - The Walking Dead _ Season 7, Episode 4 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan - The Walking Dead _ Season 7, Episode 4 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC /

The Walking Dead midseason finale will have an extended run time. How do extended run times impact the storytelling and logistics for The Walking Dead?

The Walking Dead has been experimenting with longer run times in Season 7 and from the looks of things there will be more extended episodes left to come in the remainder of the first half of Season 7. For the past six seasons the show has stayed within the hour-long time slot, give or take a few minutes. But is this trend of extending episodes something that is here to stay? How will this impact the show?

The fourth episode of Season 7 ran from 9pm-10:25pm, and the midseason finale will follow that format. S7E6 will run 10 minutes longer, while S7E7 will run a full 90 minutes. Whether this trend of longer episodes continues into the second half of Season 7 remains to be seen.

As cable networks and premium stations have developed their own shows, they have also been able to control the time slot. Conventional wisdom was that way back when, the Big 3 networks ordered shows and the shows had to fit nicely in their 30- or 60-minute time slot. These days you have shows running 5 minutes over, or in AMC’s case, they can add an extra 20 minutes of programming to extend the run time to 90 minutes. That kind of control is great because it allows showrunners greater flexibility in storylines.

There is no difference between an hour long show on HBO and a 90 minute show on AMC other than one has commercials and the other doesn’t, and, obviously, graphic violence, nudity, and language. A 90 minute show with commercials is basically an hour long show with 30 minutes of commercials.

An interesting example of how this works is with Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story Seasons 5 and 6. In Season 5 there were 13 episodes that were usually 75 minutes each. (In previous seasons they stuck to the 60 minute format, but they occasionally ran a few minutes over) For Season 6, Murphy stuck to a 41 minute show format for the entire season, meaning that it never ran beyond the hour-long time slot. It changes the nature of the story when you have those extra few minutes.

With The Walking Dead exploring the longer formats, it definitely changes the way the stories unfold. There’s more time to allow for build up, and you don’t need to end on huge cliffhangers because you can wrap everything up inside the same episode. The big question comes in whether or not the longer shows will shorten the length of the season.

More from Undead Walking

Game of Thrones is a big budget show that has to stick to 8-12 episodes per season because they’re producing solid hour long shows with lots of effects. Costs go up, and in the case of shows like Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead, that means you usually have to make a decision between a longer season with 60 minute episodes and a shorter season with longer episodes.

Fans no doubt appreciate any extra minutes offered, but hopefully these extra minutes won’t impact the future length of the season.