Just like the show’s many fans, the cast and creatives behind “The Walking Dead” are feeling pretty bittersweet about the impending end of the show — the final run of 8 episodes will launch on AMC Sunday, Oct. 2.
The panel was hosted, as always with “The Walking Dead” SDCC presentations, by Chris Hardwick, who set the tone with a partly joking, partly teary eyed remembrance of his own “The Walking Dead” history.
Noting the “bittersweet moment where I introduce our ‘Walking Dead’ family as an official show” for the final time, he also said “I’m trying to not get choked up, because this should be a celebration. Most shows don’t get to last this long, this is rarified television.”
“This show is literally one of the biggest shows in the history of cable. Everywhere I got [I speak to people about it] and they feel like family,” he added.
Then he introduced the panel participants — chief content officer of ‘The Walking Dead’ Universe, Scott Gimple, “The Walking Dead” showrunner Angela Kang, series mainstay producer Greg Nicotero, and stars Norman Reedus, Melissa McBride, Josh McDermott, Ross Marquand, Seth Gilliam, Lauren Ridloff, Michael James Shaw and Cailey Flemming.
Reedus admitted he tears up thinking about the end of the show, but said throughout it’s run that “we held onto that core belief system of doing it for real, that sense of family, I’ve said it a million times, it’s not just our show, it’s ‘our’ show,” he said gesturing to the audience.
“We got fuel from you guys, and it’s a lot to process, being here for the last one, it’s hard.”
Later in the presentation, Reedus also promised that Daryl and Carol’s story isn’t over, though what that means — and what it could mean for the upcoming Daryl-focused spinoff, is anyone’s guess.
Speaking of Carol, Melissa McBride broke out in tears talking about the conclusion of the show.
“This whole experience has been amazing, out of this world, never thought it would become what it became, for myself, for everybody else up here,” She said.
“There’s so much I want to say, I swear to god it gets stuck,” she continued, tearing up and also laughing. “This always happens, and I’m a little nervous. I can’t hide it like norman does. Every time, I have so much to say.”
Hardwick told her “it’s comforting, especially for the fans, to know it means as much to you as it means to them.”
“l’m just so grateful,” McBride added.
McDermott, meanwhile, complained about having to dye his hair for so long — he’s a blond in real life — and revealed his favorite moment playing Eugene: “I think my favorite Eugene moment is when he threw up on Rosita.”
Meanwhile, Marquand said he and the cast cried a little backstage. “Eight years of my life … it’s an amazing thing to be a part of and it’s gonna be weird when it’s over,” he said.
Asked to tell what he likes about playing Gabriel, Gilliam said, “He’s been able to adapt and overcome every situation that’s been thrown at him. I think it speaks to a kind of inner strength that I admire, that I’m not sure I would possess in similar situations.”
Lauren Ridloff noted her continued surprise at being a part of the show, having been a huge fan “back in the day when I was a kindergarten teacher.”
She also quipped that joining the show in a sense was like moving into a bigger classroom.
Nicotero near the end said he “was really grateful to be there, to say goodbye to each person,” as they filmed their final scenes.
And just before the surprise appearance by Andrew Lincoln and Danai Gurira, Hardwick ended the panel with more emotion as he openly wept, and said “all of this will mean something to me for the rest of my life.”