15 Apocalyptic Facts About ‘The Walking Dead’
Hailed as the biggest zombie series ever and one of the most successful modern cable TV shows, The Walking Dead has been on television since Halloween, 2010, when Apple’s iPad was first introduced, and people still listened to Maroon 5. Much like the former, the show about hordes of zombies and maybe ten people has stood the test of time, still raking up viewers and spawning spin-offs. Which has led to some odd behind-the-scenes stories of the show based on Robert Kirkman’s undead comic book saga ...
NBC Wanted It To Be A Crime Procedural
Before the show found its home over at AMC, the series about dead people becoming deader was shopped around for years, with no one really, uh, biting into it. When creator Frank Darabont pitched it to NBC, they suggested the show rather be about two detectives solving a zombie crime every week. You know, like, not the comics.
The Prank War
Fans of the show will be familiar with the years-long prank war between Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus. Reedus has filled Lincoln's set trailer with chickens and once put glitter in his car's air conditioner. Lincoln has wrapped Reedus’ car in toilet paper and poured glitter over him on stage at the San Diego Comic-Con.
There’s also the “Japanese toilet story” where, while in Tokyo, Reedus taught Lincoln how to say thank you, only it translated to “Where’s the toilet,” and Lincoln ended up saying it during an interview.
That Time A SWAT Team Rocked Up
In the show’s second episode, Merle Dixon shot a bunch of walkers from a rooftop with a sniper rifle. Unfortunately, the locals had no idea what was going on. Said actor Michael Rooker: “I was shooting zombies, you know, and I didn't really have any concern for that until I actually did the first shot, and I saw people jump and run. They had already dispatched the S.W.A.T. team. The officer said, 'Please stand down. We're shooting a movie.'"
The meat and intestines the show’s zombies are seen feasting on are made from roasted ham soaked in BBQ sauce so that when the “walkers” bite into the meat, it looks like blood coming out. For the vegetarian extras, the props guys made vegetarian sausage.
Frank Darabont Wanted Thomas Jane To Play Rick Grimes
When Darabont pitched the series to HBO, he floated the idea of Rick Grimes being played by Thomas Jane. The two of them worked together on The Mist. It took three years after that pitch meeting for AMC to pick up the show, and by then, Jane was already doing another series called Hung. Which was about a man with a large penis that takes up a side gig as a male escort. It did not become the most-viewed show on cable and was canned after a couple of seasons.
Fan Mail (And Other Stuff)
At one point, Norman Reedus’ set trailer was adorned with drawings fans sent him of his character Daryl Dixon, as well as some … other tokens of appreciation, including one fan’s gelatinous breast implant he uses as a phone cradle and love letters accompanied by nude shots. “I’ve been followed home over half a dozen times. I’ve had somebody break into my backyard. A guy from the FBI is coming down here to talk about security,” he once shared during an interview with Rolling Stones. Of course, there was also that time a fan bit Reedus, proving that the show’s fans are as ravenous as its zombies.
The Fatal Injury
In 2017 while filming season 8, stuntman John Bernecker fell over a balcony and missed the protective pads, fatally injuring himself. He passed away two days later.
A Huge Spoiler Managed To Up The Ratings
Shane Walsh’s death was spoiled when two weeks before the episode aired, photos leaked on the internet showing actor Jon Bernthal on set in zombie makeup. But, as Robert Kirkman explained: “People were freaking out, like, ‘It’s going to ruin the show! Ratings went up.”
To cast the “walkers,” extras attend a zombie class where they are taught how the zombies need to walk (no Frankenstein’s monster moves) and filmed to see who’s got the best undead chops.
The show has, for the most part, been filmed during hot Georgia summer months, and it’s been no walk in the park. Said Norman Reedus: “It’s a tough job. We’re out here running, getting bruised, with the heat and bugs. We’ve had people come do the show and halfway through, they’re like, ‘F*ck this! It’s 120 degrees outside.'”
The Darabont Saga
Writer and director Frank Darabont was famously fired from the series following its second season and mere days after he was at the San Diego Comic-Com promoting the show. It caused quite a stir, leading to actor Jeffrey DeMunn insisting they kill off his character because he didn’t want to continue doing the show without Darabont. “Dale's death was my decision. I was furious about how Frank was pushed out of the show. I spent a week not being able to take a full breath. And then I realized, 'Oh, I can quit.' So I called them and said, 'It's a zombie show. Kill me. I don't want to do this anymore.' It was an immense relief to me.”
It also resulted in Darabont filing two lawsuits against AMC. One of the suits has been settled, with Darabont receiving a payout of $200 million.
The Breaking Bad Connection
In the first season, Merle’s hidden drug stash contains blue sky meth — the drug that made Walter White the Heisenberg of Breaking Bad. Merle describes his dealer as “a janky little white guy” who told him “I'm going to kill you, b*tch!” It seems like AMC confirmed that the drug dealer was, in fact, Jesse Pinkman.
The Comic Creator’s Thoughts
The Walking Dead comic writer Robert Kirkman said he believes the show has been so successful thanks to the miserable state of the world. “Apocalyptic storytelling is appealing when people have apocalyptic thoughts. With the global economic problems and everything else, a lot of people feel we’re heading into dark times. As bad as it is for society, I’m benefiting greatly.”
The Obituary For A Dead Character
When fan-favorite Glenn Rhee was killed off in season 7’s premiere, fans were shocked, and clearly struggled to deal with it as one particular fan published an obituary in an Arkansas newspaper about it.
The Last Supper
The show has made a tradition of hosting a “last dinner” whenever a character gets killed off. When Sarah Wayne Callies' character Lori was axed from the show, she told Rolling Stones: “We've evolved a set of 'death dinners.’ It gives everyone a chance to get properly sauced and say, 'We're going to miss the hell out of you.' Since the show has gotten more heat, we now have to disguise it as a birthday party so the waitstaff doesn't spill spoilers.”
Thumbnail: AMC Studios