The Walking Dead is one of those shows that comes around at just the right time and taps into a nerve in just the right place. For five seasons, The Walking Dead has ridden the recent zombie wave spawned by authors like Brian Keene and Max Brooks, directors like Danny Boyle, and, of course, comic books such as The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman upon which the tv series is based.
The Walking Dead on AMC is a bona fide phenomenon. Between Mad Men, The Walking Dead, and Breaking Bad, the basic cable network has been a bastion of quality original content for the last seven years.
Here’s a fun list of things you probably don’t know about The Walking Dead TV series. Some information below might be considered spoilerish – so be warned.
Developer, writer and early series showrunner, Frank Darabont
Mini-Series or Not? (Depends on Who You Ask):
There’s a dispute over whether the show was meant to be a series at all. Popular thought is that The Walking Dead was originally slated by AMC executives to just be a mini-series. At the end of the miniseries, when the group reaches the Center for Disease Control, there was to be an explosion where all the lead characters died. However, when ratings started to take off during the first season, the choice was made to keep the series going. However, writer, developer and showrunner, Frank Darabont has said that the show was always intended to be an ongoing series according to The Walking Dead Wiki.
Merle the Sniper: When the first season of The Walking Dead was shooting on the rooftops of Atlanta, someone spotted Merle standing near the edge of a roof holding a rifle. Michael Rooker was dressed in the garb of Merle (and brandishing a weapon) so he did look suspicious. The passerby called the police who sent a S.W.A.T. team to investigate.
Is That a Bullet in Your Pants: Rick, played by Andrew Lincoln, has carried a bullet around in his pocket ever since Season 3. According to the showrunner, the bullet is the one used to kill Lori.
Burn, Baby, Burn: It took almost as long to burn Hershel’s barn down as it took to build it. It took the crew construction workers ten days to build the barn on Hershel’s farm. It took eight days to film the scenes where the barn burns down.
Too Violent for HBO: Originally, the creators of The Walking Dead pitched the show to HBO, thinking that over the top horror, gore, et al. and great story/character content would go hand in hand with the network, but HBO turned them down. The reason? The show was too violent. Come to think of it, I guess The Sopranos wasn’t all that violent…
Rick’s Real Name: Andrew Lincoln plays the character of Rick on The Walking Dead. Since the show’s inception, Lincoln’s career has started to skyrocket. A leading “everyman,” the sky’s the limit when it comes to roles Lincoln could play after The Walking Dead runs its course. However, Andrew Lincoln isn’t the actor’s real name. His birth name? Andrew Clutterbuck. (Doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it?)
High School of the Dead: Season 3’s location is set in a prison. However, when the season was originally planned out, the writers thought it would be fun to feature all the action in a high-school. When they were scouting locations for shooting, however, the perfect abandoned prison was discovered, and so the events of Season 3 were transplanted back into a prison environment.
No Blinking Allowed: There’s a rule for the extras playing the zombies on The Walking Dead: don’t blink! None of the walkers on the show blink their eyes by design. If an extra does happen to blink and it’s not caught on set, the blinks are removed digitally in post-production.
No Talking: Another rule for the walkers in The Walking Dead is no talking! The extras are told to be completely silent during shooting, then, in post-production, the snarls, growls, groans and hisses heard from the zombies in the show are added in.
Breaking Dead: There are many references to AMC’s show Breaking Bad in The Walking Dead. In season two, Daryl explains the he and Meryl sold drugs in the past. The bag of drugs that is shown depicts some pill bottles nested among blue-colored meth crystals, the signature color of Walt and Jesse’s pure meth. Later, in Season 4, Daryl tells Beth about Merle’s drug dealer, calling him a “hanky little white kid” whose favorite phrase was “I’m gonna kill you, bitch.” A clear reference to Jesse Pinkman in Breaking Bad.
Will the Real Dr. Jenner Please Stand Up: Edwin Jenner, played by Noah Emerich, is the scientist the characters in The Walking Dead meet at the CDC. In real life, Dr. Edward Jenner developed a vaccine for small pox in the late 1700’s. Emerich’s character on the show is a reference to the real doctor.
Make and Model: Daryl’s signature crossbow that he uses on The Walking Dead is a Horton Scout HD 125 which retails for about $300. Considering its effectiveness, it might be worth your while to pick one up and start practicing before the zombie apocalypse.
Lunch is Served: When you see the walkers on The Walking Dead devouring an unfortunate victim, what is it the extras are digging into? It’s actually ham. Early on in the show, the ham was covered with barbecue sauce to make it taste better, but the vinegar in the barbecue sauce ended up “melting” the zombie makeup, so they got rid of it.
Eat it Over There: When actual eating breaks are taken on the set of The Walking Dead, the walkers are not allowed to sit and eat with the ‘living.’ The reason for this segregation is that the producers of the show don’t want the actors playing the living people to get too comfortable with the actors in their zombie makeup. The hoped-for result is that the interaction between the two groups on-screen will be more tense and believable as a result.
Dale Tastes Like Chicken: Beloved character Dale was such a fan favorite on The Walking Dead that the show’s creators decided to give him a special send off when he died. Instead of filling him with ham, the interior of his ‘body’ was stuffed with all-white chicken meat.
Worse for Wear: As each season has progressed, the zombies have been getting progressively more decrepid. Some have surmised that this is due to an increased makeup budget as the series becomes more popular, but it’s actually by design. The creators of the show think that in a ‘real’ zombie apocalypse, the walkers would continue to rot as time progresses, and they wanted to mirror that idea in the show.
Carl’s Ultimate Snack Pack: In the scene where Rick’s son, Carl finds the massive carton of pudding, Chandler Riggs, the boy who plays Carl, was told to continually eat it until it was gone. Riggs dutifully obliged, and after finishing the 7 pound container, stated that he never wanted to eat pudding again.
The Wolf of the Walking Dead: When shooting Season 3, Jon Bernthal, who played Shane, showed up for work with the start of a beard. Producers said he had to shave for continuity, but Bernthal was also shooting The Wolf of Wall Street with Martin Scorsese and was under contract with the legendary director to keep the beard. The Walking Dead producers let it go.
Zombies? What Zombies: One thing that the undead aren’t called on The Walking Dead are “zombies.” Walkers, dead heads, and biters have all been terms to describe the undead, but not zombies. Robert Kirkman, the creator of The Walking Dead comic book told The Wrap that he didn’t want the likes of George Romero’s zombies to exist in the world of The Walking Dead. He wanted the living characters in the story to treat the undead as something completely new and shocking, and not as something from popular culture. (Another interesting tidbit, in George Romero’s original Night of the Living Dead, the undead are never referred to as “zombies” either.)
Ahhh… The Terminus: The Terminus from The Walking Dead actually gets its name from a real life place in history. In the early 1800’s, the end of Western and Atlantic Railroad was called The Terminus. Where did that railroad end? Modern day Atlanta, where much of The Walking Dead series takes place.