Surprising Things You Probably Didn’t Know About ‘The Walking Dead’
Some think it’s one of the greatest series ever made. Others will never understand how it’s become such a huge hit. But no matter what your feelings about The Walking Dead are, no one can deny that it’s become one of the most talked about shows in television history.
Now into its eighth season, AMC’s adaptation of Robert Kirkman’s popular horror comic series has scared millions of fans worldwide. It routinely makes the news for its plot twists and boundary-pushing violence. But a lot of the most interesting anecdotes about The Walking Dead don’t make headlines.
Here are 10 facts about the series that you may not know.
1. All the characters in Negan’s line-up filmed a death scene
By now, just about anyone who’s even heard of The Walking Dead knows that two major characters bit the dust in the series’ controversial Season 7 premiere. Heck, they probably even know who met their grisly fate at the hands of Negan and his trusty bat, Lucille.
But somehow, the cast and crew managed to mostly keep clues about who died under wraps in the six months between Season 6 and Season 7. In fact, they went so far as to film each main character’s death in an attempt to throw spoiler-hunters off their scent.
One such scene, featuring Maggie, leaked online earlier this month — and it looks like they may have used footage from some of the others during Rick’s mental meltdown near the end of the premiere. But it’s still interesting to note that, perhaps even for a second, TWD‘s showrunners may have dabbled with another death than the ones we saw on our screens.
2. Dr. Edwin Jenner was named after an important scientist
Though he only appeared in one episode, Dr. Edwin Jenner played a vital role in The Walking Dead mythology — and helped shape Rick’s understanding of the magnitude of danger he and his gang faced. As the sole surviving member of a CDC team researching the zombie outbreak, Jenner used his final moments on Earth to tell Rick that everyone on Earth is infected.
It’s fitting, then, that he’s named after Edward Jenner, the pioneer immunologist who invented the smallpox vaccine. Unfortunately, TWD‘s Jenner couldn’t come up with a cure that would prevent undead ravenousness.
3. The blinking and breathing of walkers is a problem in post-production
Zombies have become such a regular part of The Walking Dead landscape that we, the viewers, often take for granted how hard it is to bring them to life — er, death. And the show’s creators do pay particular attention to how realistically undead they appear. For example, they have to look as though they’re not breathing, blinking, or doing anything else that normal humans would do. It can be hard to get that many extras to perform on cue, though — so sometimes, they rely on a little post-production magic to help keep things consistent.
Director and special effects guru Greg Nicotero has admitted that they’ve edited around shots where zombies are blinking. And if they filmed in colder months — when the extras’ breath vapors might be visible on camera — they’ve even gone so far as to use CGI to erase it.
4. No character has appeared in every episode
The Walking Dead is notable for its large and ever-changing ensemble of characters. A dwindling few have been with us from the very start — but no single character has appeared in every single episode of the series. From a narrative standpoint, this makes sense — with so many characters, it’s necessary to switch between storylines and locations so we can keep up with everyone.
But that doesn’t mean that characters just drop off for long stretches. In fact, many — like Carl, Daryl, and the recently departed Glenn, have appeared in most episodes. It should come as no surprise that Rick Grimes has clocked the most appearances thus far. But even he has missed a few — nearly 10 of the more than 80 episodes thus far.
5. Deanna was a man in the comics
She was the optimistic, forward-thinking leader of Alexandria — at least, until Rick and his gang rolled into town. But while Deanna was one of the most memorable characters from Seasons 5 and 6 of The Walking Dead, she was markedly different from her comic book counterpart.
That’s because in Robert Kirkman’s original vision, Deanna was Douglas Monroe — also a former congressperson from Ohio, but very much male. Gender wasn’t the only big difference from page to screen, though. While Douglas was as committed to making the Safe Zone thrive as Deanna, he was, to put it mildly, kind of a creeper when it came to the ladies of the community.
6. The Walking Dead has always filmed in Georgia
These days, the core characters on The Walking Dead call metro-D.C. home. Before that, they rambled on down the road for a while, searching for some sign of civilization or a place to call home. So it may surprise fans of the series to know that despite the ever-changing landscape, TWD has always been filmed in and around Atlanta.
In fact, some seemingly far-flung locations — Hershel’s farm and Woodbury, for example — are separated by only a few miles. It’s a testament to the series’ production crew that they’ve been able to convincingly make a relatively small area look like different parts of the country.
7. Baby Judith is played by over a dozen children
Ever since Lori announced her pregnancy in Season 2 of The Walking Dead, discerning fans wondered how exactly the series would handle the presence of a baby. Logistically, Rick and his friends have mostly figured it out, and managed to keep baby Judith out of some pretty hair-raising situations over the years.
The series’ creators have also done their best to make the now-toddler fit seamlessly into the ensemble. Child labor laws present some pretty heavy restrictions for how long a minor can be on set. Moreover, they’ve had to take into consideration how quickly babies grow, and weigh that against how much time has passed within the series’ storyline. In other words, they’ve needed to cast a lot of baby Judiths over the years.
To date, 16 actresses have played Carl’s little sister. Some of the youngsters have gone on to other prominent roles, too — including Tinsley and Anniston Price, who played Judith in Season 4 and went on to play Holly in Netflix’s Stranger Things.
8. It might take place in the same universe as Breaking Bad
When The Walking Dead kicked off in 2010, AMC already had a couple of hit shows under their belt. And they’ve given a few subtle nods to fans of the critically-acclaimed Breaking Bad over the years. In Season 2’s “Bloodletting,” Daryl busts out his brother Merle’s drug stash when T-Dog develops a fever, and we get a glimpse of some suspiciously familiar blue-tinted crystals.
Later on in Season 4, Daryl tells Beth that his brother’s dealer was a kid who had the same proclivity toward profanity as Breaking Bad‘s Jesse Pinkman. Eagle-eyed fans of both series also noticed that way back in Season 1, the Dodge Charger that Glenn took for a joyride looked an awful lot like Walter White’s meth-life crisis impulse buy. They’re all relatively small details, but they could add up to one big Easter egg for fans: that both series take place in the same incredibly dysfunctional universe.
9. The title logo keeps getting more post-apocalyptic
The Walking Dead‘s opening credits have long been one of the series’ creative stand-outs. From desolate, dread-inducing images of a world torn apart, to its sinister yet unforgettable score, it sets the perfect tone for a post-apocalyptic drama.
Over the years, the sequence has seen subtle changes to accommodate changes in the principle cast and to reflect the main themes as the show has evolved. One element, in particular, has undergone a subtle but important evolution: the logo itself.
If you track it from Season 1 through Season 8, you can see that it’s slowly decayed over time, becoming increasingly gritty. Given the series’ descent into some seriously dark storylines, it’s a fitting devolution indeed.
10. There have been over 300 deaths on the series so far
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that The Walking Dead features a lot of murder and mayhem. But when it comes to the sheer number of casualties, it is still a little bit shocking. That’s because over 300 characters — both human and undead alike — have perished throughout the first seven seasons.
We’re talking everyone here; major players like Shane, Lori, and Glenn, and unnamed zombies and henchmen. Tabitha the goat counts in this tally, too — but even if she didn’t, the total number of deaths in the series would still be higher than most series in television history.
Since the show hasn’t shown any signs of letting up on the death and destruction that’s helped solidify its fame, it’s easy to imagine that the only thing that will stop the casualty count from rising will be the credits rolling on the final episode.
Follow Katherine Webb on Twitter @prufrox.
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