‘The Walking Dead’: How Much Fake Blood Is Used in Each Episode?

The Walking Dead has been airing for over a decade. Many characters have come and gone, and very few of the original cast remains. The show still has a lot of fans, but several of them left midway through the series. While people may argue about the writing, the quality of the special effects can be impressive. The crew pays close attention to detail, including the blood. 

What are the ingredients that go into making fake blood?

Norman Reedus in the final season of 'The Walking Dead' is standing in the dark, holding a knife, and looking over his shoulder
Norman Reedus in ‘The Walking Dead’ | Josh Stringer/AMC

When movies and shows were in black and white, directors could get away with chocolate syrup as blood. Nowadays, makers of fake blood commonly use a mixture of corn syrup, non-dairy creamer, and food coloring. Some recipes may call for a bit of water. 

For food coloring, red is the primary color, but some people add other colors like yellow. Filmmakers try to keep the fake blood non-toxic in case some of it ends up in an actor’s mouth. A few people do not use a recipe and digitally add in the blood instead. 

Some special effects artists get creative to ensure the substance looks realistic. For example, they might mix corn syrup, cocoa powder, coffee whitener, boiled water, red coloring, and yellow and blue food coloring. (One of the reasons why people add in other colors is to make the blood a deeper red.) Other ingredients can alter the consistency of the mixture, which can make a difference. Some people spend time making fake blood or buy them pre-made. 

‘The Walking Dead’ uses gallons of fake blood every episode

The Walking Dead features the characters killing plenty of walkers and other survivors. The grisly scenes required a lot of blood in front of the camera. When viewers watch the episodes, they might not think about how much fake blood is in each one. 

According to Screen Rant, the show uses about 20 to 30 gallons of blood each episode. It is a lot of blood, but the cleanup likely was not easy. The crew takes the time to pay attention to details when they apply the fake blood. 

Insider mentions how the special effects artists use different substances for walkers and humans. Decomposed walkers have darker, rotten-looking blood, and fresh ones get a lighter shade. Not to mention, the consistency is thicker compared to human blood. 

The hearts of the human characters are still pumping, so the shade is a brighter red. The crew might use a lighter or darker color depending on the lighting of the scene. Also, various materials splatter or drip the blood differently, and the editor sometimes adds in blood digitally. 

The show pays close attention to other special effects and costumes in the series, too

The crew of The Walking Dead works hard to make everything look as realistic as possible. The makeup for the walkers takes an hour and a half to complete. The artist takes time applying small details to the prosthetics and makeup. They also make the skin look more deteriorated. 

For damaged hair, the walkers apply tons of conditioner. Many of the actors use sunscreen on long filming days under the sun. The show also applies hand-painted contact lenses to add to the infected aesthetics. The walkers with the most screen time often have the most detailed makeup. 

For the humans, the costumes and makeup make them appear gritty. The characters spend a lot of time in the woods and fighting for their lives. The show does not always show them washing their bodies or clothes. Extra dirt might cover the actors as they run around the place. Cast members like Norman Reedus go home without cleaning off the makeup and grime. The lack of cleaning can help sell that they are living in an apocalypse.

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