The Walking Dead (TV series)

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The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead title card.jpg
Season 1 title card
Genre Serial drama[1]
Horror[2]
Based on The Walking Dead 
by Robert Kirkman
Tony Moore
Charlie Adlard
Developed by Frank Darabont
Starring
Theme music composer Bear McCreary
Opening theme "The Walking Dead Theme"
Composer(s) Bear McCreary
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 5
No. of episodes 57 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)
Location(s) Georgia
Cinematography
Running time 42–45 minutes
Production company(s)
  • AMC Studios
  • Circle of Confusion
  • Darkwood Productions
  • Valhalla Motion Pictures
  • Valhalla Entertainment
  • Idiot Box Productions
Distributor 20th Television
Broadcast
Original channel AMC
Picture format 720p (16:9 HDTV)
Audio format Dolby Digital 5.1 (DVD)
Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (Blu-ray) Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (Blu-ray)
Original run October 31, 2010 (2010-10-31) – present
External links
Website

The Walking Dead is an American post-apocalyptic horror drama television series developed by Frank Darabont. It is based on the comic book series of the same name by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard. It stars Andrew Lincoln as sheriff's deputy Rick Grimes,[3] who awakens from a coma to find a post-apocalyptic world dominated by flesh-eating zombies. He sets out to find his family and encounters many other survivors along the way.

The Walking Dead premiered on October 31, 2010, on the cable television channel AMC in the United States.[4] It premiered internationally during the first week of November 2010 on Fox International Channels.[5] Based on its reception, AMC renewed the series for a second season of 13 episodes, which premiered on October 16, 2011.[6][7] Two episodes into the second season, AMC announced that the show would return for a third season of 16 episodes, which began airing on October 14, 2012.[8] On December 21, 2012, AMC renewed The Walking Dead for a fourth season of 16 episodes, which premiered on October 13, 2013.[9] On October 29, 2013, AMC renewed it for a fifth season,[10] which premiered on October 12, 2014.[11] On October 7, 2014, AMC renewed it for a sixth season.[12]

The series has been well received[13][14] and has been nominated for many awards, including the Writers Guild of America Award[15] and the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Drama.[16] It has also attained strong Nielsen ratings, surpassing various records for a cable series, including viewership of 17.3 million for its season five premiere, making it the most-watched drama series telecast in basic cable history.[17]

Series overview[edit]

Based on the comic book series of the same name, The Walking Dead tells the story of a small group of survivors living in the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse.[18] The first season takes place in the Atlanta metropolitan area, and the second through fourth seasons are set in the surrounding countryside of northern Georgia. Survivors search for a safe haven away from the shuffling hordes of predatory "walkers" or "biters" – as zombies are called – that eat any living thing they catch, and whose bite is quickly lethal to humans. The plot focuses primarily on the dilemmas the group faces as they struggle to maintain their humanity during the day-to-day challenges of surviving in a chaotic world full of zombie hordes and hostile human survivors.

Season 1 (2010)[edit]

Sheriff's deputy Rick Grimes is shot and wounded in an altercation with criminals. He awakens weeks later from a coma in an abandoned and badly-damaged hospital. Upon leaving, Rick discovers a post-apocalyptic world overrun with zombies, colloquially called "walkers" and "biters". He also discovers his wife and son are missing, and meets survivors Morgan Jones and his son Duane, who take him in and explain the situation. Rick arms himself and travels to Atlanta, Georgia, where the CDC is said to have set up a quarantined safe zone in the city. He discovers that the city has been overrun by walkers and soon finds himself surrounded. After being rescued by Glenn Rhee, Rick meets part of Glenn's group in a nearby department store where they were taking cover. Walkers attack forcing them to leave behind a member of the group, Merle Dixon, who was handcuffed on the roof by Rick due to his unstable and violent behavior.

A few miles outside the city, Rick's wife Lori and son Carl have been hiding with Shane Walsh – Rick's partner and best friend – along with the rest of Glenn's group. Reunited at the camp with Lori and Carl, Rick shares command of the group with Shane, who in Rick's absence has fallen in love with Lori. Several go back to town to rescue Merle and collect a cache of guns Rick left behind, but they discover that Merle fled after sawing off his hand. They arrive back at the camp to find that it has been nearly overrun by walkers. In hopes of finding answers and a safer location, the group decides to travel to the CDC headquarters in Atlanta.

At the CDC, all but one staff member, Dr. Edwin Jenner, have either fled or committed suicide. Dr. Jenner explains that he continued researching the pandemic but has been unable to find a cure. Lack of fuel for the emergency generators soon initiates the building's safety protocols designed to destroy the facility in an explosion to prevent the escape of deadly diseases. Having lost hope, Dr. Jenner and a member of Rick's group decide to remain inside. Before Rick and the others escape, Dr. Jenner whispers something into Rick's ear causing him to briefly pause with a look of shock. The group escapes just in time as the CDC is incinerated in an explosion.

Season 2 (2011–12)[edit]

The second season begins with Rick and his group of survivors escaping the CDC. They decide Fort Benning will be their next destination. Along the way, they encounter a traffic jam of abandoned vehicles on Interstate 85. The group loots several vehicles, and the group assumes that all is well until a large herd of walkers approach and they are forced to disperse and hide under cars. A walker chases Carol's daughter, Sophia, out from her hiding spot and, with another walker, pursues her into the woods. Rick finds her but loses her again after drawing off the walkers. During the search for Sophia, a hunter named Otis accidentally shoots Carl. To get help for him, Otis leads Rick and Shane to a large, isolated farm owned by a veterinarian named Hershel Greene, then helps Shane look for medical supplies at the local high school. After getting them, Shane injures his leg and betrays Otis to the walkers so he can get away. The survivors then move to the farm while Carl recovers, trying to coexist with Hershel's family, but dangerous secrets and disagreements over leadership cause tensions to rise. Lori is revealed to be pregnant (she is not sure whether Rick or Shane is the father), and Glenn builds a romantic relationship with Maggie, Hershel's elder daughter. Glenn also discovers the barn is full of walkers, some of whom are Hershel's family members and neighbors. After an angry Shane releases the walkers to be exterminated, Sophia emerges from the barn, as a walker, and Rick reluctantly shoots her.

Hershel disappears to grieve for his family. Rick and Glenn find him drinking at a local tavern, where they meet two other survivors (Dave and Tony). The situation rapidly turns sour, and Rick kills the two men in a gunfight. The dead men's group quickly finds and opens fire on Rick, Hershel, and Glenn at the bar. The noise attracts a large herd of walkers, and one of the attackers, Randall, is injured and left behind. Rick and the others take him back to the farm, where they realize Randall is likely to reveal the farm's location to his former group. As Rick and the others deliberate about what to do with Randall, a walker fatally wounds Dale, forcing Daryl to euthanize him. The group later conducts a search for Randall, whom Shane had secretly released and murdered in the woods. Daryl and Glenn find Randall — as a walker — and kill him. Daryl concludes that Randall died from a broken neck (rather than a walker's bite or scratch) and subsequently reanimated.

Meanwhile, Shane and Rick confront each other — the former having planned the fake search so he could murder Rick. Rick gets the upper hand and stabs Shane in the torso, killing him. Carl arrives just in time to see Shane reanimate as a walker and shoots him down. The gunshot attracts a large herd of other walkers, who quickly overrun the property. In the ensuing battle and escape, Jimmy and Patricia are devoured, and Andrea is left behind. Andrea survives on her own and is later rescued by a hooded woman carrying a katana sword, and accompanied by chained, armless walkers. The remaining survivors regroup but are forced to make camp when their vehicles run low on gasoline. After hearing of Randall's fate, Rick finally reveals what Jenner whispered to him at the CDC: every survivor is infected with the walker virus. Rick also reveals to the group that he was forced to kill Shane. Later that night, the group questions Rick's leadership, but Rick asserts a dictatorship-style ultimatum, and solidifies his command of the group. In the final scene, a large prison is shown looming in a pan out.

Season 3 (2012–13)[edit]

The third season begins several months after the group escaped the farm, and Lori is in the final days of her pregnancy. The group stumbles upon an overrun prison and sets about converting it into their new home. While securing the prison, a walker bites Hershel in the ankle and Rick is forced to amputate it to prevent further infection. They soon find several surviving inmates who have been trapped in the cafeteria. While Rick, Daryl and T-Dog help clear a separate cell block for the inmates to live in, most of the prisoners are killed. Rick's group helps the surviving prisoners — Axel and Oscar — clear a separate cellblock, but they eventually join Rick's group. A walker breakout later splits everyone up. T-Dog is bitten in the struggle and sacrifices himself to save Carol, while Lori goes into labor and insists that Maggie perform an emergency Caesarean section to save the baby. The operation kills Lori, and Carl is forced to shoot her to prevent reanimation. After several days of mourning, Carl and Rick name the baby Judith.

Meanwhile, Michonne and Andrea are taken to the town of Woodbury, a heavily fortified haven. They meet The Governor, the town's leader, and learn that Merle Dixon — Daryl's older brother — has taken refuge there as well. Michonne is immediately suspicious of The Governor and the settlement and decides to leave, but Andrea refuses to go with her. Merle is ordered to hunt down Michonne but only manages to wound her. He subsequently captures Maggie and Glenn while they are out scavenging. Michonne, who witnesses the abduction, eventually arrives at the prison and then guides Rick, Daryl, and Oscar back to Woodbury on a rescue mission. The team saves the couple, but Oscar is killed and Daryl is captured. Michonne stays briefly and attempts to slay The Governor; only she kills his reanimated daughter Penny (whom The Governor had kept chained in a back room in his apartment) and stabs him in the eye with a shard of broken glass during a scuffle. In the aftermath, The Governor calls an assembly and publicly accuses Merle of treason, reuniting him with Daryl in front of the angry mob and ordering them to fight each other. Rick and Maggie come back and rescue them, but after regrouping outside of town, Daryl decides to leave with Merle, as Rick won't allow Merle to join their group.

Back at the prison, Carl meets another band of survivors — led by Tyreese and his sister Sasha — and shelters them. Rick returns, but while he is speaking to the newcomers, Lori appears to him in a hallucination, launching him into a rage and ordering Tyreese's group to leave. They eventually find sanctuary in Woodbury. The Governor and a small team attack the prison the next day, killing Axel and breaching the outer fence before retreating. Merle and Daryl, having decided to rejoin Rick's group, return and help him fight off attacking walkers. Rick and Carl, with Michonne in tow, return to the Grimes' hometown to gather weapons. There, Rick finds Morgan again and learns Duane was killed by his reanimated mother, whom Morgan couldn't bring himself to kill after she turned. Instead of joining Rick, Morgan chooses to stay behind.

Andrea arranges a meeting between Rick and The Governor, who promises to end all hostilities in exchange for having Michonne handed over to him. Secretly, however, he plans to slaughter the prison group anyway. Andrea discovers the plot and attempts to escape to the prison, but The Governor captures her. Rick tells Merle about the deal and agrees to do the "dirty work" of kidnapping Michonne and handing her over. En route to the meeting point where the Governor is, Merle and Michonne talk, and Merle has a change of heart and releases her. He goes on to foil The Governor's planned ambush and is killed. Daryl then finds Merle reanimated as a walker and is forced to kill him.

The Governor orders Milton to kill Andrea, and when his former advisor refuses, The Governor fatally stabs Milton and locks him in a room with Andrea, so that he will kill her after he turns. The Governor then leads an assault on the prison, but Rick's group stages an ambush and repels the attack. When the frightened Woodbury soldiers suggest leaving the prison alone, The Governor guns most of them down. Rick, Daryl, and Michonne find Karen — the massacre's sole survivor, except for two of The Governor's henchmen — while on their way to Woodbury to finish off The Governor; Karen convinces Tyreese and Sasha to allow them in when they arrive. They then find Andrea alive but suffering from a bite from the zombified Milton. Andrea uses Rick's revolver to commit suicide with Michonne by her side. The season ends with Rick's group returning to the prison along with the remaining Woodbury survivors, while The Governor's whereabouts remain unknown.

Season 4 (2013–14)[edit]

The fourth season begins several months following the close of the third season, where life has become relatively peaceful for the growing number of survivors at the prison. Rick made the decision some time ago to renounce his role as the group's leader, in which a council was formed as a replacement. The peaceful society is disrupted when a deadly influenza virus ravages the population, killing many of the survivors. A scavenging team eventually returns with the medicine needed to contain the outbreak.

Meanwhile, a flashback reveals that The Governor was abandoned by his remaining henchmen following the failed attack on the prison; it then depicts Woodbury burning at the hands of The Governor, before forwarding to the present where The Governor is shown disheveled and wandering aimlessly. He eventually runs into the Chambler family – Lilly, Tara, their terminally ill father David, and Lilly's daughter Meghan. He adopts a false identity and commits numerous good deeds for the family in an effort to atone for his past. Following David's death, they leave the Chambler home and soon run into The Governor's former henchman Martinez. The Governor impulsively kills him and disguises the death as an accident. He takes control over the group of survivors Martinez was leading and rallies them behind his cause for revenge.

The Governor finds Michonne and Hershel outside of the prison and takes them hostage. He arrives at the gates with his new-found army and threatens to kill the hostages. Refusing to surrender, Rick proposes they coexist at the prison instead of fighting. Sensing that some of his group may be persuaded, The Governor decapitates Hershel with Michonne's katana, provoking a firefight between the two camps. Rick confronts and fights The Governor, who nearly kills him, but Michonne saves Rick in time by mortally wounding The Governor with her sword. The Governor's army is eventually defeated, but the defending survivors are scattered as the prison is overrun by walkers.

Following the battle, the survivors are split into different groups traveling separately; each encountering a variety of obstacles as they search for "Terminus", a place described as a "sanctuary for all" by many signs posted along a series of railroads. Carol and Tyreese struggle with a dilemma involving Lizzie – a mentally disturbed child who murders her younger sister, Mika – which ends with Carol reluctantly killing her to protect Judith. Beth, who was traveling with Daryl and taking shelter with him in a funeral home, is kidnapped during a walker attack. Glenn and Tara are joined by three new survivors – Sgt. Abraham Ford, Rosita Espinosa, and Dr. Eugene Porter – who are on a mission to Washington, D.C. in search of what remains of the government. Dr. Porter reveals that he knows the cause of the walker outbreak but is unable to elaborate claiming the information is classified. On the way to Terminus, Glenn and Maggie's groups reunite. They are the first group shown to arrive at Terminus, where they are greeted by a woman named Mary. She welcomes them in and offers food.

Meanwhile, Daryl encounters a hostile group of men led by a man named Joe. He allows Daryl to join under the condition that he lives by their code – a strict set of rules punishable by beatings and even death if broken. They eventually find Rick, Michonne and Carl and hold them hostage, seeking revenge for an earlier run-in with Rick that left one of their members strangled to death. Daryl arrives on the scene to stop the attack, and the bandits are eventually overwhelmed and killed. Reunited with Daryl, the group makes their way to Terminus where they run into the town's inhabitants. Rick and the group are reassured that they are now safe, but a conflict breaks out after Rick notices Hershel's watch, Glenn's riot gear, and Maggie's poncho being worn by several of the townspeople. Greatly outnumbered, Rick and the others are forced to surrender. Gareth, the leader of Terminus, orders them into a nearby railroad car, where they discover Glenn and Maggie's group are also being held captive. The season ends with Rick claiming, "They're gonna feel pretty stupid when they find out...they're screwing with the wrong people."

Season 5 (2014–15)[edit]

The group successfully escapes Terminus when Carol arrives undetected and creates a diversion. Rejoined with Tyreese and Judith, the group runs into and rescues Gabriel Stokes, a local reverend who was being attacked by a pack of walkers. He leads them back to his well-barricaded church, where Eugene reveals his knowledge of a top secret biochemical weapon that can take out every living being on the planet. He believes he can tweak it to target walkers. Abraham convinces the group to travel to Washington D.C., but shortly after, they are attacked by Gareth and several survivors from Terminus. Rick and a few others manage to ambush Gareth's group, however. Rick unrelentingly slashes Gareth with his machete, as Abraham, Michonne and Sasha kill the remaining three. The next morning, Glenn and Maggie leave with Abraham, Rosita, and Eugene heading for Washington D.C., while the rest of the group remains behind at the church. Daryl and Carol disappeared the night before chasing after a car that Daryl believes was involved in Beth's disappearance.

When the bus Abraham and his group are traveling in crashes, they decide to continue north. While camped in a library, Eugene reveals to Tara that he sabotaged the bus causing it to crash, explaining that he fears being abandoned if the mission to stop the epidemic is unsuccessful. She offers to keep his secret reassuring him that they would never abandon him. The next morning, the group finds a fire truck, escapes a horde of walkers, and continues on to Washington. As the group travels to the outskirts of town, they are forced to stop after spotting herds of walkers ahead on their route. During an argument within the group, Eugene reveals he lied about knowing the cure and fabricated the mission. Abraham beats him unconscious.

Beth awakens in a hospital located in downtown Atlanta, where she is greeted by Officer Dawn Learner and Dr. Edwards. She is told that in turn for saving her life, she owes a debt of service to the hospital's personnel. Beth meets Noah, a hospital worker, who plans to escape. She decides to escape with him but is captured as Noah slips away. Meanwhile, Daryl and Carol are stranded in Atlanta while searching for clues that will lead to Beth. They encounter Noah, who steals their weapons and runs off. Pressing on, they discover that Beth is likely being held at Grady Memorial Hospital. Camped near the hospital, they save Noah, who was firing a gun while being attacked by walkers. He reveals that he was with Beth and confirms she's still at the hospital. The gunfire attracts the hospital's police, however, who capture Carol after hitting her with their car. Undetected, Daryl and Noah head back to the church to enlist the help of Rick and the rest of the group.

Future seasons[edit]

Executive producer David Alpert said the original comics have given them enough ideas for Rick Grimes and company over the next seven years. "I happen to love working from source material, specifically because we have a pretty good idea of what Season 10 is gonna be," Alpert said. "We know where seasons 11 and 12 [will be]... we have benchmarks and milestones for those seasons if we're lucky enough to get there."[19]

Cast and characters[edit]

Main[edit]

Actor Character Seasons
1 2 3 4 5
Andrew Lincoln Rick Grimes Main
Jon Bernthal Shane Walsh Main Guest
Sarah Wayne Callies Lori Grimes Main
Laurie Holden Andrea Main
Jeffrey DeMunn Dale Horvath Main
Steven Yeun Glenn Rhee Main
Chandler Riggs Carl Grimes Main
Norman Reedus Daryl Dixon Recurring Main
Melissa McBride Carol Peletier Recurring Also Starring[a] Main
Michael Rooker Merle Dixon Recurring Guest Main
Lauren Cohan Maggie Greene Recurring Main
Scott Wilson Hershel Greene Recurring Also Starring[a] Main
Danai Gurira Michonne (Stand-in) Main
Emily Kinney Beth Greene Recurring Also Starring[a] Main
David Morrissey The Governor/Phillip Blake Main
Chad Coleman Tyreese Recurring Also Starring[a] Main
Sonequa Martin-Green Sasha Recurring Also Starring[a]
Lawrence Gilliard, Jr. Bob Stookey Also Starring[a]
Alanna Masterson Tara Chambler Recurring Also Starring[a][20]
Michael Cudlitz Abraham Ford Recurring Main
Josh McDermitt Eugene Porter Recurring Also Starring[a][21]
Christian Serratos Rosita Espinosa Recurring Also Starring[a][20]
Andrew J. West Gareth Guest Also Starring[a][20]
Seth Gilliam Gabriel Stokes Also Starring[a][22]

* ^ This actor/actress is not featured in the opening credits, and instead is credited as "also starring", but is otherwise considered by AMC as a series regular.[23][24][25]

Recurring[edit]

Actor Character Seasons
1 2 3 4 5
IronE Singleton Theodore "T-Dog" Douglas Recurring
Lennie James Morgan Jones Guest Guest Guest
Emma Bell Amy Recurring Voice only
Jeryl Prescott Sales Jacqui Recurring Voice only
Andrew Rothenberg Jim Recurring Voice only
Adam Minarovich Ed Peletier Recurring Guest
Juan Pareja Morales Recurring
Madison Lintz Sophia Peletier Recurring
Jane McNeill Patricia Recurring
Pruitt Taylor Vince Otis Recurring
James Allen McCune Jimmy Recurring
Michael Zegen Randall Culver Recurring
Lew Temple Axel Recurring
Vincent Ward Oscar Recurring
Dallas Roberts Milton Mamet Recurring
Alexa Nikolas Haley Recurring
Tyler Chase Ben Recurring
Daniel Thomas May Allen Recurring Guest
Jose Pablo Cantillo Martinez Recurring
Melissa Ponzio Karen Recurring
Travis Love Shumpert Recurring Guest
Sunkrish Bala Caleb Subramanian Recurring
Brighton Sharbino Lizzie Samuels Recurring
Kyla Kenedy Mika Samuels Recurring
Vincent Martella Patrick Recurring
Audrey Marie Anderson Lilly Chambler Recurring
Meyrick Murphy Meghan Chambler Recurring
Jeff Kober Joe Recurring
Denise Crosby Mary Recurring Guest
Chris Coy Martin Recurring
Tyler James Williams Noah Recurring

Darabont connections[edit]

The series features several actors whom Walking Dead developer Frank Darabont has worked with previously, including Laurie Holden (Andrea), Jeffrey DeMunn (Dale Horvath), Melissa McBride (Carol Peletier), Sam Witwer (the dead soldier in the tank where Rick hides in "Days Gone Bye"), and Juan Gabriel Pareja (Morales). All five appeared in his 2007 film The Mist, along with Thomas Jane, who originally was set to star in the series when it was pitched to HBO. Jane was later in talks with Darabont to possibly guest star on the series as of fall 2010,[26] but with Darabont's departure,[27] it is unknown whether the guest spot will happen or not. Laurie Holden also appeared in the 2001 film The Majestic (as Adele Stanton, Jim Carrey's character's love interest), which Darabont directed. DeMunn has also appeared in several of Darabont's films; in addition to The Mist and The Majestic, he appeared in The Shawshank Redemption (1994) and The Green Mile (1999). It was planned that Witwer (Private Jessup in Darabont's The Mist) would reprise his "Days Gone Bye" role in the original conception of The Walking Dead's season two premiere[28] and in a webisode,[29] but both plans were discarded.[30]

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman is also an executive producer and has written several episodes for the TV series.

On January 20, 2010, AMC officially announced that it had ordered a pilot for a possible series adapted from The Walking Dead comic book series, with Frank Darabont and Gale Anne Hurd acting as executive producers and Darabont writing and directing.[31] The entire series was pre-ordered based just on the strength of the source material, the television scripts, and Darabont's involvement.[32] In January 2010 a review of the pilot episode's script attracted further attention.[33] The pilot began filming in Atlanta, Georgia on May 15, 2010[34] after AMC had officially ordered a six episode first season.[35] The series' remaining episodes began filming on June 2, 2010 with Darabont serving as showrunner.[36][37] On August 31, 2010, Darabont reported that The Walking Dead had been picked up for a second season, with production to begin in February 2011. On November 8, 2010, AMC confirmed that there would be a second season consisting of 13 episodes.[6] He would also like to include some of the "environmental elements" that take place during Volume 2 of Kirkman's book.[38]

On October 25, 2011, AMC announced that it ordered a third season of The Walking Dead, saying, "Season two continues to deliver the strongest telecasts for any drama in basic cable history."[8] On December 21, 2012, AMC announced that it picked up The Walking Dead for a fourth season.[9]

On October 29, 2013, AMC renewed The Walking Dead for a fifth season, with Scott M. Gimple as showrunner.[10] Michael Cudlitz, Josh McDermitt, Christian Serratos, Alanna Masterson, and Andrew J. West, who portray Abraham Ford, Eugene Porter, Rosita Espinosa, Tara Chambler and Gareth, were promoted to series regulars for the season.[21] The season will have 16 episodes and it premiered on October 12, 2014.[11] Seth Gilliam joins the cast as a new series regular, playing Father Gabriel Stokes, from the comics.[11][22][39]

On October 7, 2014, AMC announced that a sixth season would be produced.[12]

Crew[edit]

The first season writing staff consisted of series developer and executive producer Frank Darabont, who wrote/co-wrote four of the six episodes; executive producer Charles H. Eglee; executive producer and creator of the comic book, Robert Kirkman; co-executive producer Jack LoGiudice; consulting producer Adam Fierro; and Glen Mazzara; who all contributed to one episode each. Along with Darabont, who directed the pilot episode, the remaining five were directed by Michelle MacLaren, Gwyneth Horder-Payton, Johan Renck, Ernest Dickerson, and Guy Ferland.[40]

After the departure of Frank Darabont, the role of showrunner was assumed by Glen Mazzara (left) for seasons two and three, and Scott M. Gimple (right) for seasons four and five.

On December 1, 2010, Deadline.com reported that Darabont had fired his writing staff, including executive producer Charles "Chic" Eglee, and planned to use freelance writers for the second season.[41] Kirkman called the announcement "premature" and clarified that Eglee left to pursue other projects when Darabont decided to stay on as showrunner, and no definitive plans had been made regarding the writing staff for season two.[42]

[Chic Eglee] was brought onto The Walking Dead with the idea that Frank was going to work on the first season and then go off and do movies [...] Chic didn't want to be second-in-command on a show when he's used to being a top dog, and so he decided to go off and do something else, which is something that happens and is not a big deal.

—Robert Kirkman, TV Guide[42]

On December 3, 2010, in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, executive producer Gale Anne Hurd commented: "It's completely inaccurate. [In] the writers' room, there are people that have set up other projects that will be their first priority if their own series is picked up as a pilot or if it's a series. I think [Eglee] just decided that he wants to run his own show." She revealed that it would be likely for the show to return in October 2011, as Darabont and Kirkman planned on mapping out the next season early in 2011. She also confirmed that, "every one of the principal cast is signed up for multiple seasons."[43] In July 2011, series developer and showrunner Frank Darabont stepped down from his position as showrunner for the series.[44] It was speculated that he was unable to adjust to the schedule of running a television series.[44] However, The Hollywood Reporter reported he had been fired over disputes over planned budget cuts and executive meddling.[45] Executive producer Glen Mazzara was then appointed the new showrunner.[46] New writers joined the writing staff in the second season, including co-executive producer Evan Reilly, producer Scott M. Gimple, story editor Angela Kang, and David Leslie Johnson. New writers in the third season included producers Nichole Beattie and Sang Kyu Kim, with Frank Renzulli contributing a freelance script.

After the conclusion of the third season, Glen Mazzara stepped down from his position as showrunner and executive producer for the series, per a mutual agreement between Mazzara and AMC. The press release read, "Both parties acknowledge that there is a difference of opinion about where the show should go moving forward, and conclude that it is best to part ways."[9] Scott M. Gimple succeeded Mazzara as showrunner for season four,[47] with new writers joining the writing staff, such as Curtis Gwinn, Channing Powell, and Matt Negrete.[48]

Music[edit]

Bear McCreary was hired to compose the score for the series. McCreary stated that the main theme was based on his viewing of production designs for the opening title sequence. Instead of doing a full theme song as with his earlier works, McCreary chose to use a simple, repeating motif from the strings section.[49]

It repeats over and over, and in fact in the pilot episode, you start hearing it before the main title begins, and this is something that continues episode to episode. You hear the main title music before the main title begins, so you know it's coming. That, to me, was the little hook – that little thing that, whenever you hear it, it takes you to the series.

—Bear McCreary[49]

Soundtracks[edit]

Four soundtracks for The Walking Dead have been released to date. The Walking Dead: AMC Original Soundtrack, Vol. 1 was released on March 17, 2013.[50] The second volume was released on March 25, 2014.[51] Songs of Survival is a soundtrack for the third season and it was released on August 27, 2013, by Republic Records as a Walmart exclusive for the special edition release of the third season.[52] Songs of Survival, Vol. 2 is a soundtrack for the fourth season and it was released on August 26, 2014, by Republic Records as a Walmart exclusive of the fourth season release.[53]

Makeup[edit]

Greg Nicotero is an executive producer and the key special effects makeup artist on the series. Each walker is put through "zombie school" and is taught how to move like zombies. There are three levels of zombie makeup: Hero, Midground, and Deep Background. Hero zombies are featured walkers and are completely made over from head to toe. Midground zombies get highlights and shadows on the face, but do not get close enough to the camera to require full makeup. Deep background zombies often wear masks and are only meant to be used as a backdrop.[54]

Filming[edit]

Booth at the 2010 Comic-Con with a scene from the pilot for the promotion of the series.

The Walking Dead is mostly filmed in Georgia.[55] The series is completely shot on 16 mm film.[56] David Tattersall was the director of photography for the pilot episode with David Boyd as the director of photography on the remainder of the episodes. Production design is done by Greg Melton and Alex Hajdu. The effects team includes veteran special effects makeup designer Gregory Nicotero, special effects coordinator Darrell Pritchett, and visual effects supervisors Sam Nicholson and Jason Sperling.[57]

Marketing[edit]

Promotional poster of The Walking Dead.

The Walking Dead debuted during the same week in 120 countries. As part of an expansive campaign to advertise and heighten anticipation for the premiere, AMC and FOX International Channels coordinated a worldwide zombie invasion event on October 26, 2010. The stunt involved invading 26 major cities, starting with Taipei and Hong Kong, and ending in Los Angeles for the U.S. premiere, within a 24 hour period.[58]

The show's official website released, just prior to the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con International, a motion comic based on Issue No. 1 of the original comic and voiced by Phil LaMarr.[59] The site also posted a making-of documentary primarily about the first episode, as well as a number of other behind-the-scenes videos and interviews. In the documentary, comic series creator and show executive producer Robert Kirkman as well as artist Charlie Adlard say they are pleased with how faithful the show is to the comic and remark on the similarities between the actors and the comic's original character drawings.[60]

Action figures of characters from the series, including Rick Grimes, Daryl Dixon and a zombie Walker and Biter, were created for release in November 2011. The figures, which are manufactured by McFarlane Toys, are designed to resemble the actors on the series. Figures created to resemble the characters as drawn in the comic book were released in September 2011.[61]

Green initiatives[edit]

With a primary objective of reducing the environmental impacts of film and television productions, including The Walking Dead, producer Gale Anne Hurd has directed the cast, crew, production team, suppliers, and bloggers about her shows to adopt the Doddle app to make the production almost paper-free; this works by digitally transmitting interactive call sheets and other intra-team and team-supplier communications (such as directions, images, menus, and updates) to people's cell phones and tablets. Hurd said of using Doddle: in addition to conserving paper, "It's also easier, and it's better for security. People are less likely to leave their smartphone or tablet lying around for someone else to pick up."[62][63]

Hurd describes additional steps taken to increase efficiency and cut production costs: "If you use vehicles that get better gas mileage, that are electric or hybrids, you're going to pay a lot less in fuel. If you use compact fluorescent bulbs, you're going to save a lot of money in utilities. If you recycle even your own sets, and use them again, that's going to save money. You don't have to buy new lumber. So there are cost savings, absolutely."[62] Additionally, the production team aims to reduce vehicle idling, which decreases carbon dioxide emissions.[62][63][64]

Hurd also cuts down on plastic waste by personally using a refillable, stainless steel EcoUsable water bottle and promoting its use among her colleagues. She shared: "on a lot of my projects I give them as crew gifts before we start production, and have water stations available, but you can't force people to use them."[62]

Talking Dead[edit]

Main article: Talking Dead

A live after-show titled Talking Dead premiered on AMC on October 16, 2011, following the encore presentation of The Walking Dead '​s season two premiere. Talking Dead features host Chris Hardwick discussing the latest episode with fans, actors, and producers of The Walking Dead.[65]

Companion series[edit]

In September 2013, AMC announced they were developing a companion series to The Walking Dead, which will follow a different set of characters created by Robert Kirkman.[66] In September 2014, AMC ordered a pilot to go into production in late 2014, which was written by Kirkman and Dave Erickson. It will be executive produced by Kirkman, Erickson, Gale Anne Hurd and David Alpert, with Erickson to serve as showrunner.[67]

Parodies and spoofs[edit]

Due to its popularity, The Walking Dead has inspired dozens of parodies and spoofs featured on YouTube channels like Bad Lip Reading and TV shows such as Saturday Night Live.[68][69][70] Bad Lip Reading made a widely-viewed parody involving Rick Grimes and the Governor, entitled "La-Bibbida-Bibba-Dum".[71] The series' cast was shown the parody at the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con International, and David Morrissey—who portrays the Governor— reacted by saying he now understood why so many people would walk up to him on the street and blurt, "Hey, La-Bibbida-Bibba-Dum!". Until seeing the video, he had wondered, "what's wrong with these people?"[72]

Release[edit]

Sarah Wayne Callies and Andrew Lincoln in 2010. Robert Kirkman is in the background at left.

Scenes from the pilot were screened July 23, 2010 as part of the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con International.[73] It premiered on AMC on October 31, 2010.[4] It premiered internationally on Fox International Channels during the first week of November.[5] The first season premiered in Hong Kong on TVB Pearl on August 30, 2011.[74] Almost two weeks before the official premiere on AMC, the pilot episode leaked online.[75] International broadcast rights for the show were sold and announced on June 14, 2010.[76]

The season 1 DVD and Blu-ray was released on March 8, 2011.[77] A three-disc special edition of the first season—featuring new featurettes and audio commentaries—was released on DVD and Blu-ray on October 4, 2011.[78] The European versions of the first season DVD and Blu-ray are edited for gore, with cuts to episode two ("Guts"),[79] episode three ("Tell It to the Frogs"),[80] episode four ("Vatos")[81] and episode five ("Wildfire").[82] Until eOne/WVG re-released the first season in D-A-CH in a Special Uncut Version on DVD and Blu-ray on May 31, 2013.[83]

The season 2 DVD and Blu-ray was released on August 28, 2012. It was also released as a limited edition Blu-ray, packaged as a miniature zombie head designed by McFarlane Toys. Special features include audio commentaries, deleted scenes, webisodes, and several featurettes.[84]

The season 3 DVD and Blu-ray was released on August 27, 2013. It was also released as a limited edition Blu-ray, packaged as a miniature version of the Governor's zombie head aquarium tank designed by Greg Nicotero and sculpted by McFarlane Toys. Special features include audio commentaries, deleted scenes, and several featurettes.[85]

Syndication[edit]

MyNetworkTV acquired the broadcast syndication rights to the series, premiering on October 1, 2014.[86] The version that airs on MyNetworkTV is edited to meet broadcast television standards.[87]

Reception[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

The first season was critically acclaimed. Based on 25 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, the first season of The Walking Dead received an average 92% overall "Certified Fresh" approval rating; the website's consensus states, "Blood-spattered, emotionally resonant, and white-knuckle intense, The Walking Dead puts an intelligent spin on the overcrowded zombie subgenre."[88] Metacritic gave the first season a score of 82 out of 100 (based on 25 reviews).[13] Heather Havrilesky of Salon.com included the show on their list of 9 new TV shows not to miss, giving it a grade of "A", with the author saying, "A film-quality drama series about zombies? Somebody pinch me!"[89]

The second season received largely positive reviews. Based on 22 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, the second season of The Walking Dead received an average 86% overall "Certified Fresh" approval rating; the website's consensus states, "The second season of The Walking Dead fleshes out the characters while maintaining the grueling tension and gore that made the show a hit."[90] It received a score of 80 out of 100 based on 22 reviews on Metacritic.[14] Some critics have been less than enthused with the second season, such as Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly, who now describes the series as "a nighttime soap with occasional appearances by deceased but moving, flesh-rotting, flesh-eating cameo monsters. [...] Every week, it seemed, a passel of folks went out and rooted around awhile, came back to camp, and everyone lives off the fat of Hershel's land until it was time to go out and search for Sophia again. Occasionally someone reminded Rick they're supposed to be headed for Fort Benning and he gets all huffy about not leaving any child behind. It became a parody of a Samuel Beckett play."[91] Nate Rawlings of Time '​s online entertainment section noted that "the pace during the first half of this season has been brutally slow. Changes in pace would be fine if the writers had used that time well, which they have not. They've tried to develop individual characters, but each subplot meant to add a layer to a character has been quickly resolved."[92] Other critics such as Scott Wampler of Collider.com recognized the mediocre first half of the season claiming that "there seemed to be a helluva lot of water-treading." However Wampler also distinguished the increased quality of the second half saying "The second-half of the season, on the other hand, seemed far more intense, more interesting, better written."[93]

As were the previous two, season three was critically acclaimed. Based on 30 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, the third season of The Walking Dead received an average 93% overall "Certified Fresh" approval rating; the website's consensus states, "The palpable terror and visceral thrills continue in the third season of The Walking Dead, along with a deeper sense of the people who inhabit its apocalyptic landscape."[94] It received a score of 82 out of 100 on Metacritic, based on 18 reviews.[95] Verne Gay of Newsday claims that season 3 "doesn't disappoint" going on to say that there are "spots where you will yell out at the screen, 'Oh, my God, that just didn't happen.' Yes, the new season is that good", concluding his review by giving the season an A+ rating.[96]

The fourth season of The Walking Dead has also been praised along with its predecessors. Based on 35 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, season 4 received an average 89% overall "Certified Fresh" approval rating; the website's consensus states, "Consistently thrilling, with solid character development and enough gore to please grindhouse fans, this season of The Walking Dead continues to demonstrate why it's one of the best horror shows on television".[97] Metacritic gave the fourth season a score of 75 out of 100 based on 16 reviews.[98]

Ratings[edit]

Season Timeslot (ET) Episodes Premiered Ended Average viewers
(in millions)
Date Premiere viewers
(in millions)
Date Finale viewers
(in millions)
Season 1 Sunday 10:00 pm 6 October 31, 2010 5.35[99] December 5, 2010 5.97[100] 5.24[101]
Season 2 Sunday 9:00 pm 13 October 16, 2011 7.26[102] March 18, 2012 8.99[103] 6.90[104]
Season 3 16 October 14, 2012 10.87[105] March 31, 2013 12.40[106] 10.40[107]
Season 4 16 October 13, 2013 16.11[108] March 30, 2014 15.68[109] 13.30[110]
Season 5 16 October 12, 2014 17.30[17] 2015 TBA TBA
The Walking Dead: Viewers per episode (in thousands)
  • Season 1 (2010): Viewers of the first airing on AMC in the U.S. on Sunday at 10:00 pm ET
  • Season 2 (2011–12): Viewers of the first airing on AMC in the U.S. on Sunday at 9:00 pm ET
  • Season 3 (2012–13): Viewers of the first airing on AMC in the U.S. on Sunday at 9:00 pm ET
  • Season 4 (2013–14): Viewers of the first airing on AMC in the U.S. on Sunday at 9:00 pm ET
  • Season 5 (2014–15): Viewers of the first airing on AMC in the U.S. on Sunday at 9:00 pm ET
Season Episode number
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
1 5,350 4,710 5,070 4,750 5,560 5,970
2 7,260 6,700 6,100 6,290 6,120 6,080 6,620 8,100 6,890 7,040 6,770 6,890 8,990
3 10,970 9,550 10,510 9,270 10,370 9,210 10,430 10,480 12,260 11,050 11,010 11,300 11,460 10,840 10,990 12,420
4 16,110 13,950 12,920 13,310 12,200 12,000 11,290 12,100 15,800 13,340 13,120 12,610 12,650 12,870 13,470 15,680
5 17,300 15,143 13,801 14,518 13,530 14,068

Awards and nominations[edit]

The Walking Dead was nominated for Best New Series for the 2011 Writers Guild of America Awards.[15] It was nominated for Best Television Series Drama at the 68th Golden Globe Awards.[16] It was also named during the American Film Institute Awards 2010 as one of the top 10 television programs of 2010.[111] For the 2011 Saturn Awards, the series received six nominations—for Best Television Presentation, Andrew Lincoln for Best Actor in Television, Sarah Wayne Callies for Best Actress on Television, Steven Yeun for Best Supporting Actor in Television, Laurie Holden for Best Supporting Actress in Television, and Noah Emmerich for Best Guest Starring Role in Television.[112] The series was nominated for Best Drama Series at the inaugural 1st Critics' Choice Television Awards.[113] The pilot episode "Days Gone Bye" received three nominations for the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards—it was nominated for Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series and Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Series[114] and won for Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup for a Series, Miniseries, Movie or a Special.[115]

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