While we're long past the show's peak of 17.29 million viewers, it sounds like franchise overseer Scott Gimple is milking the cash cow for all its worth. Although there are just a handful of episodes left until the final credits roll on The Walking Dead, it's spin-off central in the world of walkers.
Joining the already-announced Carol and Daryl buddy series, sworn rivals Negan and Maggie are destined for pastures new with Isle of the Dead. Taking the story to a zombie-ravaged Manhattan, we're getting some serious Escape from New York vibes. Still, the announcement has even the most die-hard fans rolling their eyes at the concept of a fifth spin-off from the main show.
If series saturation weren't bad enough, the frankly bizarre move confirms two more major players will live to fight another day once The Walking Dead shuffles to the grave.
You'd have had riots if OGs Carol or Daryl were killed off for shock value in the finale, but to also take Maggie and Negan off the table in the ongoing war with the Commonwealth feels like a middle finger to viewers.
Someone is likely to pay the price for the inevitable death of Pamela Milton, and if we were following the comics, it should be the currently MIA Rick Grimes. Carol, Daryl, Maggie or Negan could have easily taken his place and still given us the gut-punch of a last-minute loss.
Instead, who's on the chopping block now? Father Gabriel, Eugene, Aaron, Rosita and a handful of others you'd consider B-tier replacements for Rick.
Now, four of the biggest names have plot armour thicker than Lucille the baseball bat. The Walking Dead's history of plot armour can be traced back to the early days of season one. Although there was a danger that a few peripheral characters might meet their maker sooner than expected, there was no real danger that Andrew Lincoln's Rick Grimes was going anywhere.
Ironically, it was the record-breaking season five premiere that gave one of the more notable examples of his armour ruining The Walking Dead. When Rick, Daryl and Glenn were taken to Terminus' bloodletting room, the episode instead killed off background characters and left our series regulars safe.
As The Walking Dead continued, it was a recurring theme: Rick escaped his various brushes with death, taking the limelight away from those who died around him.
No matter how cool it would have been for Rick to croak while going up against Jadis' junkyard zombie with its armoured spikes in season eight, no one was buying it. By the time we got to Carl's supposedly surprise death, there was little shock when anyone passed over.
The show had an infinite number of outs that could have shocked us, but instead, season nine saw Rick fly off in a helicopter under the promise he'd return for three spin-off movies. Although most of us have forgotten AMC's plan, the network remains committed to a Rick Grimes trilogy.
It's not just Rick. The most famous instance of plot armour is season six's "dumpster" episode where Glenn was seemingly torn apart by a horde of walkers. Knowing that the writers wouldn't want to miss an opportunity to recreate Glenn's iconic comic-book death at the hands of Negan, Glenn's apparent death that early wasn't fooling anyone.
Elsewhere, it's much the same with the return of Kim Dickens as Madison Clark in Fear the Walking Dead. As soon as Madison "kicked the bucket" in season four, the tinfoil theorists flooded the Internet with ideas about how she survived.
Worse than that, the star herself went and confirmed that she's not back as a Jon Bernthal-esque ghost but alive and well, taking any mystery out of her return.
On the whole, Gimple's Deadverse has become a predictable affair that goes from moving at breakneck speed to shuffling along like a decomposing walker. There is one way AMC can redeem Maggie and Negan's troublesome tale, and it just so happens to follow the comics.
Before Robert Kirkman called time on his comic series, he produced a series of fake covers for Issues #194-196. It was a clever ruse that kept the timely demise of Rick Grimes in Issue #193 a secret. Instead of dragging The Walking Dead on for years after Rick's death as Kirkman had teased, he pulled the plug just one issue later and left a trail of angry fan letters alongside an equal number of claims that he's a genius.
It would be odd if Isle of the Dead is a fake out, but we'll happily eat our words if it's a way to throw us off the scent of Maggie, Negan or both bowing out in bloody style for The Walking Dead's looming goodbye. If AMC is destined to move ahead with its smorgasbord of spin-offs, let's hope Isle of the Dead is the next Fear the Walking Dead and not another angsty teen experiment like World Beyond.
Much like the late Hershel Greene, The Walking Dead is limping toward an inevitably disappointing swansong. But that's just it… it's not the end.
The Walking Dead season 11 airs on AMC in the US and STAR on Disney+ in the UK.