How to make The Walking Dead season 9 and beyond great again

Carol (Melissa McBride), Michonne (Danai Gurira), Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Daryl (Norman Reedus) in AMC's first promo image for The Walking Dead, Season 9
Carol (Melissa McBride), Michonne (Danai Gurira), Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Daryl (Norman Reedus) in AMC's first promo image for The Walking Dead, Season 9 /

The Walking Dead has lost some of its luster over the past few seasons, but there is no reason season 9 and beyond can’t bring the show back to greatness.

Before getting to specifics about ideas for season 9 of The Walking Dead and beyond, one important common thread is this: find the deep, psychological and emotional challenges that the characters face now, several years into the apocalypse, and make their actions fly out of those.

It will take looking with fresh eyes because our beloved group has become hardened to losses and fighting. But humans are humans, emotions continue, and new challenges arise, even after you have lost so much.

Special note to the comic readers: I do not read the comics, so my apologies if something I suggest is already happening in the comics, or if it goes against a crucial comic plot. This is purely based on the AMC television show.

Carol needs family again

Give Carol a child to adopt (perhaps Henry) who is strong and capable. Carol has never dealt with the loss of Sophia. Not really. Yes, she rescued Henry when he was trapped in a creek like Sophia, but her relationship with Henry was not deep enough yet to give that moment a real emotional punch.

Her relationship with Sam was actually stronger than the one with Henry. This could be remedied if she adopts Henry, and having a child who wants to go off by himself and assert his independence in the apocalypse would force her to face her trauma with Sophia.

Another big plus: Daryl could co-parent with her. He would understand Henry because his own childhood was so ugly and chaotic. This would bring Carol and Daryl back together organically. So force Carol to deal with her demons.

Michonne needs to be a lover…AND A FIGHTER

Bring back Michonne’s fighting spirit, which could come naturally out of defending Rick against the Maggie/Jesus/Daryl rebellion. Ever since she became Rick’s girlfriend, she became primarily Rick’s Girlfriend. Many of her scenes in Season 8 were lines about supporting him.

Michonne (Danai Gurira) in AMC’s The Walking Dead /

I love Richonne, and I’m happy to see some scenes like that. But Rick fell in love with Michonne because they look out at the world the same way; they are both warriors.

Yes, she is also the person who saw the need for a place to settle down. But she is a multi-faceted woman, and we need to see all those facets. Also, especially with Rick leaving, make her pregnant! :~)

Look into someone trying to find a cure

Introduce someone who could find a cure for the virus; someone who is actually what Eugene claimed to be. And what if the person hasn’t tried yet–maybe because of being a science teacher, or not a biological scientist–and Eugene is the one who figures out that they have the capacity to do this and offers encouragement?

Eugene is smarter than most people, but he thinks in terms of processes that already exist in the world, such as making bullets or filtering creek water. He doesn’t hypothesize theories or come up with new possibilities, which is why he isn’t a real scientist. But he would recognize the ability in another person.

You could have some wonderful irony if this person does start trying to figure out the virus and recruits Eugene as an assistant–therefore making Eugene an actual scientist. Or the irony of Eugene insisting to the group that this person needs to be absolutely protected at all costs. The group could be skeptical, and their lack of support could push Eugene to higher levels of risk-taking and bravery.

None of this would mean that the show is about to end. Science takes a lot of trial and error. But it makes sense that once basic survival is settled (as much as it can be), thoughts would turn to solve the larger problem of the virus itself.

Bring back iconic and memorable music

Bring back the music! The Walking Dead has had such excellent music. Country, bluesy, rockin’, fun and fabulous music that absolutely made some moments more memorable. Early seasons were filled with it.

The Governor
The Governor (David Morrissey) in AMC’s The Walking Dead /

Later seasons also had some terrific material, including “Arsonists Lullaby” by Hozier in Season 6, and Season 7’s “Easy Street” by The Collapsible Hearts Club featuring Jim Bianco and Petra Haden, “Crying” by Roy Orbison, and “Someday We’ll All Be Free” by Donny Hathaway. But Season 8 had almost nothing.

Yes, great music costs money, and this is not to take away from the always amazing score by Bear McCreary. But the huge cast has been thinned out a bit, so perhaps there is some extra change for tunes? Please? Pretty please? Pretty please with whipped cream and a katana on top? We, the fans, would be ever so grateful.

Expand the role of Father Gabriel

Keep Father Gabriel engaged. With no professionals available to assist with emotional challenges, Father Gabriel is the closest thing to a counselor. He has already played that role with Rosita. He could be instrumental in figuring out how to deal with the situations of #4. With All Out War, the spiritual/meaning of life themes fell away a bit. Father Gabriel could bring those back.

Father Gabriel could also try to get Negan to reform. I don’t have hopes for that to work, and I actually think making him reform would be unrealistic. Negan is a psychopath, and psychopaths don’t reform. Period. But Father Gabriel would be the natural person to try.

Give Daryl some emotional meat to chew on again

If Daryl takes on more of a leadership position, make it very emotionally difficult. He has been Rick’s wing-man and has risen as far as he can with a more positive “big brother” in Rick than Merle ever was, but Daryl hasn’t been a leader on his own.

Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) – The Walking Dead _ Season 4, Episode 10 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC /

He has nothing in his background that would make him feel deserving of leadership, so it could send him back into a tailspin of self-doubt and anger. He could resort to old patterns to prove to himself and everyone else that he isn’t right for the job and then have to fight to believe in his own capabilities.

This storyline could include Father Gabriel for the reasons as given above. It could include some Merle visions. It could also involve King Ezekiel, who is having to find his own leadership as himself, not as a character.

Have characters break down from apocalypse life

Have a couple of characters, either someone we already know or a new character would be fine, unable to cope with the apocalypse anymore. Yes, most of those who are alive at this point are strong. But there can still be a tipping point; a straw that breaks the camel’s back. Wouldn’t someone have debilitating PTSD? What do you do in the apocalypse with someone who is going through that?

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There are endless possibilities for the future. The most important thing is that we find people who love each other and who face dire challenges together, both emotional and physical. That has been the magic formula for The Walking Dead, and with that formula, the show will be great again.