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The Walking Dead (TV series)

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The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead title card.jpg
Title card from the first two seasons
Genre
Based on
Developed by Frank Darabont
Starring
Composer(s) Bear McCreary
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 7
No. of episodes 90 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)
Producer(s)
Location(s) Georgia
Cinematography
Editor(s)
  • Julius Ramsay
  • Hunter M. Via
  • Avi Youabian
  • Dan Liu
  • Nathan Gunn
  • Rachel Goodlett Katz
  • Kelley Dixon
Running time 42–67 minutes
Production company(s)
Release
Original network AMC
Picture format 1080i (16:9 HDTV)
Audio format
Original release October 31, 2010 (2010-10-31) – present
Chronology
Related shows
External links
Official website

The Walking Dead is an American horror drama television series developed by Frank Darabont, based on the comic book series of the same name by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard. Andrew Lincoln plays the show's lead character, sheriff's deputy Rick Grimes,[3] who awakens from a coma discovering a world overrun by zombies, commonly referred to as "walkers".[4] Grimes reunites with his family and becomes the leader of a group he forms with other survivors. Together they struggle to survive and adapt in a post-apocalyptic world filled with walkers and opposing groups of survivors, who are often more dangerous than the walkers themselves.[5]

Much of the series takes place within the Atlanta metro area and surrounding countryside. Later, the setting transitions to other parts of the country including Alexandria, Virginia.[4][6]

The Walking Dead premiered in the United States on October 31, 2010, exclusively shown on cable television channel AMC[7] and internationally on Fox International Channels.[8] As a result of very favorable Nielsen ratings that rank the show unprecedentedly high for a cable series, AMC has renewed the series each year. Beginning with its third season, The Walking Dead attracts the most 18- to 49-year-old viewers of any cable or broadcast television series.[9][10][11] It is presently airing its seventh season, which began on October 23, 2016,[12][13] and has been renewed for an eighth season to air in late 2017.[14]

The series has been well received by critics and nominated for several awards, including the Writers Guild of America Award for Television: New Series and the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Drama.[15][16][17] An AMC companion series, Fear the Walking Dead, debuted on August 23, 2015.[18][19]

Series overview

The Walking Dead takes place after the onset of a worldwide zombie apocalypse. The zombies, colloquially referred to as "walkers", shamble towards living humans and other creatures to eat them (they are attracted to noise i.e. gunshot and to different scents i.e. humans). Humans they bite or scratch become infected and slowly turn into walkers as well. It is revealed early in the series that all living humans carry this pathogen, so that if they die from any other cause, they will also turn into walkers. The only way to permanently kill a walker is to damage its brain or otherwise fully destroy the body, such as by cremating it.

The series centers on sheriff's deputy Rick Grimes, who wakes up from a coma to discover this apocalypse. He becomes the leader of a group of survivors from the Atlanta, Georgia region as they attempt to sustain themselves and protect themselves not only against attacks by walkers but by other groups of survivors willing to assure their longevity by any means necessary.

Season Episodes Originally aired
First aired Last aired
1 6 October 31, 2010 (2010-10-31) December 5, 2010 (2010-12-05)
2 13 October 16, 2011 (2011-10-16) March 18, 2012 (2012-03-18)
3 16 October 14, 2012 (2012-10-14) March 31, 2013 (2013-03-31)
4 16 October 13, 2013 (2013-10-13) March 30, 2014 (2014-03-30)
5 16 October 12, 2014 (2014-10-12) March 29, 2015 (2015-03-29)
6 16 October 11, 2015 (2015-10-11) April 3, 2016 (2016-04-03)
7 16[20] October 23, 2016 (2016-10-23) 2017[20]

Season 1 (2010)

Rick, while on his sheriff's patrol duty with his partner Shane Walsh, is injured and falls into a coma. He awakens some time after the apocalypse and meets survivor Morgan Jones, who explains the dangers of walkers. Rick travels to Atlanta, Georgia, in search of his family only to find that city has been overrun by walkers. Rescued by Glenn Rhee, Rick is eventually introduced to the rest of Glenn's group, who are camping a few miles outside of the city. There, he discovers that his wife Lori and son Carl have been living with Shane. The two policemen employ different approaches to keep the peace: Rick returns to Atlanta for supplies and to retrieve a man left behind, while Shane exerts his authority over the camp.

When the camp is overrun by walkers, Rick and Shane convince most of the survivors to head for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta. They briefly shelter with the only remaining CDC staff member, who has been unable to develop a cure, before a protocol incinerates the facility.[21][22]

Season 2 (2011–12)

While scavenging supplies along a highway, Carol Peletier's daughter, Sophia, is pursued by a walker and separated from the group, and Carl is accidentally shot, forcing the survivors to stay on the nearby farm of veterinarian Hershel Greene. Hershel saves Carl's life, and in the group's attempt to co-exist with Hershel's family, secrets and disagreements lead to rising tensions. In addition, Rick learns of Lori's former affair with Shane and her newfound pregnancy, creating a rift between Rick and Shane.

A hidden collection of walkers – mainly friends and family of Hershel's but including Carol's missing daughter (which is unknown by Hershel) – is discovered in a barn and eventually released by an agitated Shane, who compels the group to eliminate the threat. Shortly thereafter, an encounter with a hostile group of survivors results in a shootout and the torture of a prisoner as they react to the new threat. Shane unilaterally decides to kill the prisoner without the group's knowledge. In an attempt to take over leadership, an unhinged Shane lures Rick away to murder him but is himself killed. The gunshots attract a horde of walkers who overrun the farm, forcing the group to scatter and regroup. Rick's leadership is questioned but solidified, and he reveals what he learned at the CDC: everyone is infected and will reanimate after death even if they aren't bitten by a walker.[23]

Season 3 (2012–13)

After spending several months fleeing remnants of the herd, the survivors make a new home in a prison infested with walkers but find greater danger from the treachery of two rescued convicts. In the process of clearing the prison, Maggie Greene is forced to perform a fatal Caesarean section on Lori to save her baby, and Rick becomes withdrawn and hallucinates visions of Lori and others who died. Meanwhile, Andrea and Michonne – who rescued Andrea near Hershel's farm – are discovered by Merle Dixon and taken to the town of Woodbury, which is led by a man known as The Governor. Michonne is distrustful and escapes to the prison, where she meets Rick's group and guides them on a rescue mission following Glenn and Maggie's capture. There are casualties on both sides, and The Governor, disfigured by Michonne, declares the prison group terrorists and Merle a traitor.

Reunited with his brother, Daryl Dixon briefly leaves the group with Merle before deciding his place is at the prison. Rick returns to his hometown to gather weapons and ammunition, and reconsiders his morality when confronted by an unhinged Morgan. Andrea, romantically involved with The Governor, convinces him to negotiate a truce with Rick; secretly, The Governor plans an ambush, and Merle thwarts it at the cost of his life. Andrea flees Woodbury but is captured by The Governor, who locks her in a room with a walker and launches a full-scale attack on the seemingly-abandoned prison. His army is ambushed by Rick's group, and The Governor massacres his own people for refusing to fight. The Governor escapes, and Rick's group returns to Woodbury to take in the survivors but are too late to save Andrea.[24]

Season 4 (2013–14)

Several months have passed, and the prison community has grown when a deadly flu-like infection spreads among the population, killing residents, who reanimate as walkers. Carol is banished for murdering two sick residents. Baited walkers breach the prison fence and are barely contained when a scavenging detail returns with medicine. Elsewhere, The Governor encounters the Chambler family, and together they all join another group of survivors led by The Governor's former right-hand man from Woodbury, Martinez. The Governor murders Martinez and takes charge of the group, honing them into a fighting force he turns on the plague-weakened prison. Rick offers to share the prison, but The Governor ignites hostilities by executing Hershel. The Governor is ultimately killed, but the prison is overrun by walkers, and Rick's group is scattered.

Separated into small groups, the survivors discover signs along railway lines advertising sanctuary at Terminus. Glenn and Tara Chambler join with a group of survivors escorting Eugene Porter – who claims to know how to stop the walkers (the cure) – to Washington, D.C. They reunite with Maggie and are the first to reach Terminus. Carol aids a pair of troubled sisters she secretly taught to use weapons, and after one commits sororicide, Carol is forced to execute her. Beth Greene is kidnapped away from Daryl, and he falls in with a gang that later reveal they have a vendetta against Rick; Daryl sides with Rick, Carl, and Michonne to defeat them, then push on to reach Terminus. Those who arrive are initially welcomed by the Terminus residents but the new arrivals are ultimately forced to disarm and are locked inside a railway boxcar.[25]

Season 5 (2014–15)

Rick's group learn the residents of Terminus engage in cannibalism, luring in victims under the guise of offering sanctuary. Carol uses firearms and walkers to attack Terminus, enabling the others to escape. Reunited, they soon encounter Gareth and a small band of Terminus survivors who attempt to terrorize and prey upon Rick's group, but are outmatched and killed. Abraham Ford and Rosita Espinosa continue their mission to get Eugene to Washington, D.C., joined by Glenn, Maggie, and Tara. After facing a number of setbacks, Eugene admits that he fabricated the story about a cure in order to receive protection. Meanwhile, Daryl and Carol follow a marked car to Atlanta, where Beth has been held in a nearby hospital ruled by morally-compromised police officers. Carol is taken, and Daryl recruits the rest of his group to help. They capture several police officers to make a trade, but a brief standoff ends in Beth's death.

The reunited group continues toward Washington, D.C. and is approached by Aaron, who offers them shelter at the Alexandria Safe Zone, a fortified suburban community led by Deanna Monroe. Feeling the sheltered residents wouldn't be able to survive against walkers or hardened survivors, Rick and Carol consider forcefully taking over the community, while others of their group begin assuming leadership roles. A series of confrontations frightens residents, and during a meeting deciding Rick's fate he executes a prominent resident who accidentally killed Deanna's husband. Rick's friend Morgan arrives and witnesses the execution.[26]

Season 6 (2015–16)

Trusting Rick for their survival, Alexandrian volunteers help to lure a nearby horde of walkers away from the community. Others repel an invasion by the deranged Wolves, which results in a large herd of walkers breaking off to surround Alexandria. The walls hold for a day before walkers overrun the community, trapping residents indoors. An attempt to escape ends with Carl losing an eye and several deaths, including Deanna's. Rick and Michonne inspire the community to make a stand and are nearly overwhelmed when the walkers are diverted by burning fuel brought by Daryl. Rick, who had been treating the Alexandrians as expendable, admits he was wrong and sees they can go beyond mere survival to build a stronger community.

Two months later, the community faces a food shortage when they meet Paul "Jesus" Rovia, who invites them to trade with the Hilltop. Offering mercenary services in exchange for food and medicine, Rick leads a team to wipe out a nearby compound of the extortionist Saviors and executes a man claiming to be their leader, Negan. However, the Saviors remain a threat and seek to take prisoners as leverage against Alexandria. Hawkish Carol is saved by pacifist Morgan when she flees to resolve her troubled conscience in death. Maggie suffers pregnancy complications, and Rick's group attempts to get her to the Hilltop Colony for medical care. Along the way the group finds the Saviors have blockaded the main route with debris, forcing them to try another. The group finds themselves trapped and psychologically tormented. Forced to their knees at gunpoint, Rick's group must listen to Negan, who determines they should be punished for killing his men.

Season 7 (2016)

Negan brutally murders Abraham and Glenn with his barbed baseball bat, "Lucille", as the group watches in horror. Negan then tests Rick mentally through multiple actions, almost making him cut off Carl's arm, in order to break him. Rick submits to Negan's rule and agrees to give him his required tribute. The Saviors take Daryl back to their base, The Sanctuary, where he is imprisoned and tortured into complete silence by Negan's lieutenant, Dwight. The Alexandria group returns home, while Maggie continues to the Hilltop with Sasha's aide.

Morgan and Carol are welcomed to a thriving settlement called "The Kingdom", where they meet its self-proclaimed Ezekiel and his pet tiger, Shiva. Morgan discovers the Kingdom, like the Hilltop, has been supplying the Saviors with food under threat of violence, although Ezekiel has kept this arrangement secret from most of the Kingdom's residents. While on the supply run, Tara and Heath are separated, with the former finding a colony called, Oceanside. Oceanside had previously worked for the Saviors before going to war and losing, with the result of each man from the group being murdered. Tara swears not to tell anyone about their existence before making it back to Alexandria.

Three days after his introduction, Negan arrives at Alexandria earlier than expected and takes half of Alexandria's supplies along with all of their guns. Simon, Negan's right hand man, leads a group of Saviors to the Hilltop to take half of their belongings. As they leave, Carl and Jesus hide in the back of one of their supply trucks. Carl attempts to assassinate Negan, but fails and is instead taken on a tour of the Sanctuary. Negan then returns Carl back to Alexandria.

Season 8

Season 8 was announced in October 2016, just prior to the Season 7 broadcast premiere, to air in late 2017; it will include the series' 100th episode. Gimple is set to remain as the showrunner for this season.[14]

Future seasons

Executive producer David Alpert said in 2014 that 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."[27]

Cast and characters

Main

  • Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes: The series' protagonist and a former sheriff's deputy who is the leader of the main group of survivors. He becomes a more cold and calculating leader over the course of the series. (seasons 1–present)
  • Jon Bernthal as Shane Walsh: Rick's former police partner and close friend. He becomes unhinged in season two, becoming a threat to the group. (seasons 1–2; guest season 3)
  • Sarah Wayne Callies as Lori Grimes: Rick's wife, who has an affair with Shane when she believes Rick is dead. (seasons 1–3)
  • Laurie Holden as Andrea: A former civil rights attorney and member of the original Atlanta group of survivors. (seasons 1–3)
  • Jeffrey DeMunn as Dale Horvath: An older member of the group who owns the RV with which the group travels. He is often the voice of reason within the group. (seasons 1–2)
  • Steven Yeun as Glenn Rhee: A former pizza delivery boy who saves Rick's life. He begins a relationship with Maggie Greene, and over the course of the series, becomes an integral member of the group. (seasons 1–7)
  • Chandler Riggs as Carl Grimes: Rick and Lori's young son, who is forced to mature and learn to survive in the deadly new world. (seasons 1–present)
  • Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon: The group's primary hunter, who becomes Rick's right-hand man and a key member of the group. (seasons 2–present, recurring season 1)
  • Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier: Originally a meek housewife, she overcomes domestic abuse to become a strong and empowered woman capable of making difficult decisions. (seasons 2–present, recurring season 1)
  • Michael Rooker as Merle Dixon: Daryl's racist and volatile older brother. In season three, he is the right-hand man to the Governor. (season 3, recurring season 1, guest season 2)
  • Lennie James as Morgan Jones: The first survivor Rick encounters in season one. After suffering a psychological break, he comes to peace with the world around him. (seasons 6–present; recurring season 5; guest seasons 1, 3)
  • Lauren Cohan as Maggie Greene: The eldest daughter of the Greene family and Glenn's wife. (seasons 3–present, recurring season 2)
  • Scott Wilson as Hershel Greene: A veterinarian and farmer, who maintains his faith and acts as the group's primary moral compass. (seasons 3–4, recurring season 2)
  • Emily Kinney as Beth Greene: A soft-spoken teenage girl, Hershel's younger daughter, and Maggie's younger half-sister. (seasons 4–5, recurring seasons 2–3)
  • Danai Gurira as Michonne: A katana-wielding, quiet, but fierce woman who joins Rick's group. (seasons 3–present)
  • David Morrissey as The Governor/Philip Blake: The leader of the town of Woodbury. Serving as an antagonist, he is ruthless, paranoid, and dangerous. (seasons 3–4; guest season 5)
  • Chad L. Coleman as Tyreese Williams: Tough and compassionate, he places an emphasis on moral reasoning. He struggles to cope with the immoral nature of some of the group's survival tactics and finds it difficult to kill in defense of the group. (seasons 4–5, recurring season 3)
  • Sonequa Martin-Green as Sasha Williams: Tyreese's fiery younger sister and a former firefighter who is the group's sharpshooter. After several personal losses, she suffers from PTSD. (seasons 4–present, recurring season 3)
  • Lawrence Gilliard, Jr. as Bob Stookey: A former army medic and recovering alcoholic who develops a close relationship with Sasha. (seasons 4–5)
  • Alanna Masterson as Tara Chambler: A former police academy student and ally of the Governor's before joining Rick's group. She serves as a primary supply runner. (seasons 5–present, recurring season 4)
  • Michael Cudlitz as Abraham Ford: A former military sergeant who is on a mission to bring a survivor to Washington, D.C., to find a cure for the walker virus. (seasons 5–7, recurring season 4)
  • Josh McDermitt as Eugene Porter: A man who claims to know a cure for the walker virus. He is weak and inefficient when dealing with walkers, but is very smart. (seasons 5–present, recurring season 4)
  • Christian Serratos as Rosita Espinosa: A tough, focused, and a very capable survivor and also Abraham's girlfriend. (seasons 5–present, recurring season 4)
  • Andrew J. West as Gareth: The cannibalistic leader of Terminus, who captures and coerces Rick's group into submission. (season 5, guest season 4)
  • Seth Gilliam as Fr. Gabriel Stokes: A priest who joins Rick's group. He has a lack of experience around walkers and struggles with his faith in the new world. (seasons 5–present)
  • Ross Marquand as Aaron: An Alexandrian recruiter who brings Rick's group to Alexandria. (seasons 6–present, recurring season 5)
  • Tovah Feldshuh as Deanna Monroe: A former Congresswoman and leader of Alexandria. (season 6, recurring season 5)
  • Alexandra Breckenridge as Jessie Anderson: An Alexandria resident who develops a relationship with Rick. (season 6, recurring season 5)
  • Austin Nichols as Spencer Monroe: Deanna's son and a guard of Alexandria. (seasons 6–present, recurring season 5)
  • Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan: The psychopathic leader of the Saviors that he rules in tyranny. (seasons 7–present, guest season 6)[28]
  • Austin Amelio as Dwight: A former member of the Saviors. (seasons 7–present, recurring season 6)[28]
  • Tom Payne as Paul "Jesus" Rovia: A member and scout for the Hilltop Colony. (seasons 7–present, recurring season 6)[28]
  • Xander Berkeley as Gregory: The leader of the Hilltop Colony. (seasons 7–present, guest season 6)[28]

Recurring

Darabont connections

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,[30] but with Darabont's departure,[31] 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[32] and in a webisode,[33] but both plans were discarded.[34]

Production

Development

The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman is also an executive producer and writer of 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.[35] The entire series was pre-ordered based just on the strength of the source material, the television scripts, and Darabont's involvement.[36] In January 2010 a review of the pilot episode's script attracted further attention.[37] The pilot began filming in Atlanta, Georgia on May 15, 2010[38] after AMC had officially ordered a six episode first season.[39] The series' remaining episodes began filming on June 2, 2010 with Darabont serving as showrunner.[40][41] 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.[42] He would also like to include some of the "environmental elements" that take place during Volume 2 of Kirkman's book.[43]

Crew

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, all of whom 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.[44]

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–present.

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.[45] 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.[46]

[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[46]

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."[47] In July 2011, series developer and showrunner Frank Darabont stepped down from his position as showrunner for the series, over unclear circumstances (see Lawsuit below).[48]

Executive producer Glen Mazzara was appointed the new showrunner in Darabont's place.[49] 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."[50] Scott M. Gimple succeeded Mazzara as showrunner for season four,[51] with new writers joining the writing staff, such as Curtis Gwinn, Channing Powell, and Matt Negrete.[52]

Writing

The television series generally tends to follow Kirkman's comic series across major characters and plots; for instance, events of the premiere episode of season 7 correlate to events in issue #100 of the comics.[53][54] The show does not attempt to go step-by-step with the comics, and has leeway in the narrative. In particular, the show's writers, along with Kirkman, often "transfer" how a character has died in the comics to a different character in the show. For example in season 3, whereas Tyreese is beheaded by The Governor in the standoff with Rick's group at the prison, the show transferred this fate to Hershel Greene.[53] Some of the television characters, like Carol, have far outlived their comic counterpart, while others that have already been killed off, like Sophia and Andrea, remain alive in the comic series.[54]

Music

Bear McCreary
Bear McCreary composed The Walking Dead score.

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.[55]

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[55]

Soundtracks

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.[56] The second volume was released on March 25, 2014.[57] 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.[58] 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.[59]

Makeup

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.[60]

Filming

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.[61] The series is completely shot on 16 mm film.[62] 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 Greg Nicotero, special effects coordinator Darrell Pritchett, and visual effects supervisors Sam Nicholson and Jason Sperling.[63]

Marketing

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 within a 24-hour period, starting with Taipei and Hong Kong, and ending in Los Angeles for the U.S. premiere.[64]

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.[65] 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.[66]

Action figures of characters from the series were created for release in November 2011 and have continued throughout the years with eight line-ups. 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.[67]

Green initiatives

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."[68][69]

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."[68] Additionally, the production team aims to reduce vehicle idling, which decreases carbon dioxide emissions.[68][69][70]

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."[68]

Franchise and spin-offs

Webisodes

To date, three web series based on The Walking Dead have been released via AMC's website–Torn Apart (2011), Cold Storage (2012), and The Oath (2013).[71]

Motion comic

In 2011, AMC debuted an animated comic book version of The Walking Dead novel's beginning, featuring the voice of actor Phil LaMarr.[72]

Talking Dead

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.[73]

Fear the Walking Dead

Main article: Fear the Walking Dead

In September 2013, AMC announced they were developing a companion series to The Walking Dead which follows a different set of characters created by Robert Kirkman.[74] On March 9, 2015, AMC announced it had ordered the show to series, with a two-season commitment.[18] The show's title, Fear the Walking Dead, was revealed on March 27, 2015.[75] The first season, consisting of six episodes, premiered on August 23, 2015.[19]

Parodies and spoofs

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[76][77][78] and Mad TV.[79] Bad Lip Reading made a widely viewed parody involving Rick and the Governor, entitled "La-Bibbida-Bibba-Dum".[80] 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?"[81]

Release

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.[82] It premiered on AMC on October 31, 2010, and premiered internationally on Fox International Channels during the first week of November.[7][8] Almost two weeks before the official premiere on AMC, the pilot episode leaked online.[83]

International broadcast rights for the show were sold and announced on June 14, 2010.[84] The show airs on Fox International Channels in 126 countries in 33 languages. The fifth season debuted its first part on October 13, 2014.[85] The second part premiered on February 9, 2015.[86]

Home media

The season 1 DVD and Blu-ray was released on March 8, 2011.[87] 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.[88] The European versions of the first season DVD and Blu-ray are edited for gore, with cuts to episode two ("Guts"),[89] episode three ("Tell It to the Frogs"),[90] episode four ("Vatos")[91] and episode five ("Wildfire").[92] 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.[93]

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.[94]

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.[95]

The season 4 DVD and Blu-ray was released on August 26, 2014. It was also released as a limited edition Blu-ray, packaged with a tree-walker designed by McFarlane Toys. Special features include audio commentaries, deleted scenes, and several featurettes, as well as extended episodes which are exclusive to the Blu-ray.[96]

The season 5 DVD and Blu-ray was released on August 25, 2015.[97]

Syndication

MyNetworkTV acquired the broadcast syndication rights to the series, premiering on October 1, 2014.[98] The version that airs on MyNetworkTV is edited to meet broadcast television standards.[99]

Reception

Critical reception

Metacritic ratings per season
Season 1 Season 2 Season 3 Season 4 Season 5 Season 6
Rating 82[100] 80[101] 82[102] 75[103] 80[104] 79[105]

All seasons of The Walking Dead have been well reviewed by recognized critics, with an 86% approval rating for the series to date on Rotten Tomatoes.[15] For the first season, 89% of 24 Rotten Tomatoes critics gave it a positive review, with an average score of 7.5/10. That site's consensus states, "Blood-spattered, emotionally resonant, and white-knuckle intense, The Walking Dead puts an intelligent spin on the overcrowded zombie subgenre."[106] Metacritic scored the first season 82/100 based on 25 critic reviews, 23 of which were positive, two mixed, and none negative.[100] 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!"[107]

For the second season, 83% of 22 critic reviews on Rotten Tomatoes were positive, with an average score of 8.1/10. The site'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."[108] Of 22 Metacritic critic reviews, 18 were positive, four were mixed, and none were negative; their average score was 80/100.[101] Early criticism of the show focused on the slow pace of the second season, particularly the first half. Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly, described the series as "a nighttime soap", comparing it to "a parody of a Samuel Beckett play" that had very little sense of direction and few appearances of walkers.[109] Nate Rawlings of Time's online entertainment section noted that "the pace during the first half of this season has been brutally slow. [...] They've tried to develop individual characters, but each subplot meant to add a layer to a character has been quickly resolved."[110] Later reviews from other critics, such as Scott Wampler of Collider.com, recognized the increased quality of the second half, stating it "seemed far more intense, more interesting, better written".[111] Recognizing the overall season, Kevin Yeoman of Screen Rant offered praise saying "the writers succeeded in unshackling themselves from the intermittent monotony brought about by the serial nature of the show".[112]

The third season had 88% of Rotten Tomatoes' 30 critics giving it a positive review, with an average score of 8.1/10. The site'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."[113] Metacritic's 19 critics rated the season 82/100, all of whom gave a positive review.[102] Verne Gay of Newsday claimed that the season 3 premiere "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.[114]

For season four, 86% of Rotten Tomatoes' 30 critic reviews were positive, with an average score of 7.7/10. The site'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".[115] Metacritic scored the season 75/100 based on 16 critic reviews, 13 of which were positive, three mixed, and none negative.[103]

The fifth season had 90% of Rotten Tomatoes' 31 critic reviews rating it positively, with an average score of 7.9/10. The site's consensus states, "Thanks to a liberal dose of propulsive, bloody action and enough compelling character moments to reward longtime fans, The Walking Dead's fifth season continues to deliver top-notch entertainment."[116] Metacritic scored the fifth season 80/100 based on 11 critic reviews, all of which were positive.[104]

For season six, 78% of Rotten Tomatoes' 23 critic reviews were positive, with an average score of 7.4/10. The site's consensus states, "Six seasons in, The Walking Dead is still finding ways to top itself, despite slow patches that do little to advance the plot."[117] Metacritic scored the sixth season 79/100 based on 10 critic reviews, nine of which were positive, one mixed, and none negative.[105]

Ratings

The Walking Dead has the highest total viewership of any series in cable television history, including its third through sixth seasons, during which it averaged the most 18- to 49-year-old viewers of all cable or broadcast television shows.[9][10][11] Total viewership for its season five premiere was 17.3 million, the most-watched series episode in cable history.[118]

Season Timeslot (ET) Episodes Premiered Ended Average viewers
(in millions)
Date Viewers
(in millions)
Date Viewers
(in millions)
1 Sunday 10:00 pm 6 October 31, 2010 5.35[119] December 5, 2010 5.97[120] 5.24[121]
2 Sunday 9:00 pm 13 October 16, 2011 7.26[122] March 18, 2012 8.99[123] 6.90[124]
3 16 October 14, 2012 10.87[125] March 31, 2013 12.40[126] 10.40[127]
4 16 October 13, 2013 16.11[128] March 30, 2014 15.68[129] 13.30[130]
5 16 October 12, 2014 17.30[118] March 29, 2015 15.78[131] 14.40[132]
6 16 October 11, 2015 14.63[133] April 3, 2016 14.19[134] 13.15[135]
7 16 October 23, 2016 17.03[136] 2017 TBA TBA
The Walking Dead: Viewers per episode (millions)
Season Ep. 1 Ep. 2 Ep. 3 Ep. 4 Ep. 5 Ep. 6 Ep. 7 Ep. 8 Ep. 9 Ep. 10 Ep. 11 Ep. 12 Ep. 13 Ep. 14 Ep. 15 Ep. 16 Average
Season 1 5.35 4.71 5.07 4.75 5.56 5.97 N/A 5.24
Season 2 7.26 6.70 6.10 6.29 6.12 6.08 6.62 8.10 6.89 7.04 6.77 6.89 8.99 N/A 6.91
Season 3 10.97 9.55 10.51 9.27 10.37 9.21 10.43 10.48 12.26 11.05 11.01 11.30 11.46 10.84 10.99 12.42 10.75
Season 4 16.11 13.95 12.92 13.31 12.20 12.00 11.29 12.05 15.76 13.34 13.12 12.61 12.65 12.87 13.47 15.68 13.34
Season 5 17.30 15.14 13.80 14.52 13.53 14.07 13.33 14.81 15.64 12.27 13.44 14.43 14.53 13.78 13.76 15.78 14.38
Season 6 14.63 12.18 13.14 13.34 12.44 12.87 13.22 13.98 13.74 13.48 12.79 12.81 12.53 12.67 12.38 14.19 13.15
Season 7 17.03 12.46 11.72 11.40 11.00 10.40 10.48 TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD

Awards and nominations

The Walking Dead was nominated for Best New Series by the Writers Guild of America Awards 2011[16] and Best Television Series Drama by the 68th Golden Globe Awards.[17] The show was named one of the top 10 television programs of 2010 by the American Film Institute Awards 2010.[137] For the 37th 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.[138] The series was nominated for Best Drama Series by the inaugural 1st Critics' Choice Television Awards.[139] The pilot episode "Days Gone Bye" received three nominations from the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards—for Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series and Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Series[140] and won for Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup for a Series, Miniseries, Movie, or Special.[141] For the 41st Saturn Awards, the series received its highest number of nominations, with a total of seven, including for the show itself, Andrew Lincoln for Best Actor on Television, Norman Reedus for Best Supporting Actor on Television, Emily Kinney and Melissa McBride for Best Supporting Actress on Television, Andrew J. West for Best Guest Star on Television, and Chandler Riggs for Best Young Performer on Television.[142]

Lawsuit

Darabont's departure as showrunner in July 2011 during the second season came as surprise to many, as it came shortly after the season's premiere and a few days after that year's Comic-Con, where Darabont helped to promote the show.[143] It was speculated that he was unable to adjust to the schedule of running a television series.[48] However, The Hollywood Reporter reported that AMC had fired him. There had been reported difficulties in the production of the second season, including disputes over planned budget cuts and executive meddling, and it was known that Darabont and AMC had several discussions relating to these factors. However, neither Darabont, AMC, nor the cast nor crew of The Walking Dead spoke about the reasons for his firing.[144]

In December 2013, Darabont and his agents from Creative Artists Agency (CAA) filed a lawsuit against AMC in a New York court, citing breach of contract. A central part of Darabont's lawsuit accuses AMC of denying him and the CAA the promised profits from the success of the series, based on how AMC had used vertical integration in producing and distributing The Walking Dead.[143] As stated in Darabont's filing, he had initially entered into a contract with AMC to have a third-party studio produce the show, from which he would have obtained 12.5% of that entity's profits, after standard deductions. AMC wanted to produce the show in-house, and for the first season, Darabont's lawyers had been assured that Darabont would be protected from self-dealing fees by having AMC commit to imputed license fees equivalent to those of other independent studios, with Darabont earning profit from that. Darabont's suit contends that when the show's popularity took off, AMC presented a license fee deal to Darabont around February 2011 that used "an unconscionably low license fee formula" such that AMC could report the show running at a loss and ensuring that Darabont would never see any profit from the show; as an example, the suit references statements in 2012, following Season 2, that AMC claimed the show was running at a $49 million deficit, despite being one of the most popular shows in broadcast.[143] Darabont's suit contends he was fired just at the start of the Season 2 so that AMC would avoid having to pay him.[143]

Initial discovery phase hearings were held in 2014. Darabont's lawyers sought to gain information from AMC on their other shows, specifically Breaking Bad and Mad Men, to obtain a "fair market value" for The Walking Dead. AMC asserted it had done no wrongdoing, had already paid Darabont $3 million upfront for two seasons, and was able to properly set the imputed license fee that worked into the profit formula for Darabont. The network resisted the request to provide otherwise confidential information on the other shows.[145] The court granted Darabont's lawyers access to the requested information as part of the discovery phase.[146] Darabont described "crisis-level problems" during the show's production while under deposition, claiming that AMC had cut the per-episode budget from $3.4 million to $3 million while keeping the tax credit offered by the state of Georgia for filming there, effectively reducing the production budget by 25%.[147]

In August 2015, Darabont requested to amend his original complaint that AMC further reduced his profits from Season 2 as his firing mid-season meant he was not fully vested in the season, allowing AMC to reduce the profits paid him. Darabont's amended request points out that he had written and produced all the episodes in that season already and was entitled to the proper profit share.[148] The judge granted this amendment in February 2016, partially influenced by concerns raised in Darabont's deposition.[149]

At the end of the discovery phase in September 2016, Darabont's lawyers stated they are seeking damages of over $280 million; AMC stated they will "vigorously" defend against the lawsuit. If the case does go to trial, it is expected to occur during 2018.[150]

Religion

Although religion may seem to play little part in the show, religion is portrayed in terms of reframing the role of a higher power. The set of churches throughout the show offer a metaphor of "structure" used to disassemble and reconstruct the role of religion.[151]

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