It may seem hard to believe now, but only a few years ago movies that involved zombies flew mostly under the radar, noticed by horror devotees only. Things sure have changed. One of the most popular and talked about shows around, Rick, Daryl, Michonne and the rest of the revolving cast of this show, are hugely beloved. That doesn’t mean that the show is free of controversy, despite the fact that so many fans are mostly unaware of them. Whether you love the series or hate it (we urge everyone to tell us what is good and bad about the show on The Richest Facebook page), the story behind this series is a fascinating one.
When putting together this list, we scoured interviews, websites and any other sources we could think of to find out some surprising stories about the show. We can’t say that all of our readers will be unaware of the facts we’ve listed, as everyone’s base of knowledge is completely different. However, we can assure you that you that the majority of people will be caught unaware by some of what is to come. If you aren’t surprised by any of this, you must be one of the show’s mega fans. Facts about the show’s cast were also up for consideration. We will be discussing story elements of the show, so this is your Spoiler Alert. So, without any further ado, let’s learn about one of the most popular shows in the world.
15. Breaking Bad Connections
The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad are the two biggest shows that AMC has ever put together, so it makes sense to us that they would want to apply some of Walter White’s success to Rick’s world. Perhaps the network mandated that the producers of The Walking Dead keep the lessons of their predecessor in mind and the message got garbled because they’ve incorporated a number of things.
For instance, in the second season episode “Bloodletting”, Daryl pulls out a bag of drugs his missing brother was holding and if you look closely a certain blue meth is clearly visible. Furthermore, in the fourth season of Breaking Bad, Walt returns the Dodge Challenger he bought his son to the dealer and Skyler informs him that he has to deal with the manager, Glenn. Could easily be a coincidence, right? After all, we’re sure there are lots of shows that feature characters named Glenn, so we shouldn’t read much into that name drop. Except, in the second episode of The Walking Dead, which ran before the Breaking Bad episode we mentioned, Glenn can be seen driving a Dodge challenger that looks awfully familiar. Finally, in a later season, Daryl tells Beth about the supplier Merle got his drugs from, who he describes as a “janky little white guy” and claims that he heard him say he would “kill you, bitch”. Certainly reminds us of how Jesse Pinkman talks and looks. Are the showrunners of these immensely popular shows telling us that Breaking Bad takes place in the same universe as The Walking Dead, pre-outbreak? We’re not sure but it is awesome to consider.
14. Daryl and Merle’s Originality
Rick Grimes may be The Walking Dead’s series lead and the leader of our favourite band of survivors, but over the years it has become more and more clear that Daryl Dixon is the most popular character. Considering the fact, that legions of people have proclaimed “if Daryl dies we riot” again and again, it is very safe to say that fans of the show wholeheartedly embraced him. Turns out, viewers are the only ones who’ve had that chance, as readers of The Walking Dead comics were never introduced to him since he is an original character created for the show. Evidently actor Norman Reedus, auditioned and although he was deemed to not be right for any of the other characters, they loved him enough to create someone for him to play. Another character that was created for the show alongside Daryl is his racist brother, Merle, who was perfectly brought to life by actor Michael Rooker.
13. Carl’s Stunt Double
A show that includes its fair share of perilous and violent situations, it is very necessary for all of the main characters to have stunt doubles brought in to take their place in dangerous situations. Chandler Riggs, the young man who brings Carl Grimes, the son of series protagonist Rick, to life is no exception. Due to his young age and slighter frame, it was necessary to find someone who is ready willing and able to do what is necessary but has a body that won’t leave viewers blinking an eye. In the past, that meant that Emily Brobst, a woman in her early thirties was tapped to fulfill the role.
12. Season Six Finale Sparked Outrage
A series that is still going strong to this day, The Walking Dead has the task of finding new and interesting ways to keep the story going, keep fans coming back and deliver strong ratings. In their effort to pull off that difficult trick, the power brokers behind the series decided to include a cliffhanger at the end of season six, the last episode to air at the time of this writing. Introducing us to an intimidating group of survivors, they herded the characters we love until they find themselves in the presence of their leader, Negan. The master of The Sanctuary in the comics, this fearsome baddie has already been seen for a long time in the comics so there was a lot of anticipation for his debut.
Casting the talented actor, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, to play the role, he spent the last several minutes of the episode delivering a monologue as the characters we know cower at his feet. Ending the episode beating one of them, presumably to their death, with a baseball bat, before we can find out who his victim is the screen turns black and the credits roll. Instantly infuriating fans who’d just sat through an extra-long episode that mostly comprised of people driving around, the show’s audience were not prepared for the tease and made their anger known. All we know as of the time of this writing is that in the version of this incident that takes place in the comics, it is Glenn who is beaten to death.
11. SWAT Team Raided Set
A massive show now, it is safe to say that people are very much aware of what is going on when this show is shooting these days (more on that later) but that wasn’t always the case. Case in point, when they were filming a scene where the aforementioned Merle Dixon is involved with a rooftop shooting somebody in the area called the cops. As a result of a rooftop gunman being reported to the police, a SWAT team actually showed up on set which must have been the most heart-pounding moment in the careers of many involved in the production.
10. Human Flesh Origin
A show about the results of a zombie apocalypse, it may not surprise you that many of the so-called walkers can be seen devouring human flesh several times over the run of the show. Have you ever wondered what it is that these extras and actors are actually ripping into? Wonder no more as we have the details for you. Turns out, the majority of the walkers feast upon hams that are soaked in vinegar and then someone “dresses them up to look like bloody oozing body parts”. Doesn’t that sound really appetizing? It could get worse and actually has for series lead, Andrew Lincoln. In the scene where he bites into the neck of fellow survivor Joe, he bit into raw chicken in what he called “the gnarliest thing I’ve ever had to do”. At least it was his own choice as he was offered beef instead and was given the option of cooking whatever meat was involved, but chose the final product because he was told it would look the closest to flesh. Yummy.
9. Actors’ Driving Offences
When the series Lost was in production and at the height of its popularity, a lot was made of the amount of times the series’ actors were arrested in Hawaii. Most believed that it was because they filmed on a tropical paradise that is renowned for being a vacation destination built to be a marvelous location to have some fun. Considering The Walking Dead shoots in Georgia, actors Scott Wilson and Seth Gilliam don’t have a similar excuse. Known for playing Hershel and Father Gabriel respectively, both have been arrested in the state during their tenure on the show. Scott was charged with DUI while Seth found himself in even more hot water after he was hit with DUI, speeding and possession of marijuana charges.
8. Andrew Lincoln’s Real Last Name
Andrew Lincoln was relatively unknown when he was given the lead role in this comic book adaptation. Most known as the creeper with the cards in Love Actually, he is now a big star. As a result, people have begun to know more and more about him, including the fact that his accent in the aforementioned movie is his true voice. That doesn’t mean that a lot of his fans couldn’t still learn a lot more about his personal life, though.
We’re guessing a lot of his fans are unaware that Apple Martin, the daughter of singer Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow, was the flower girl when he married his wife, the daughter of Jethro Tull’s singer. Our favourite tidbit about this growing celebrity by a significant margin has to be what his name was at birth. Deciding to adopt a new name when you get into the acting game on a professional level is far from rare, but Andrew’s choice has to have been easy considering he was born Andrew Clutterbuck. We’re not going to point out to you the popular profanity his last name sounds a lot like, but we will say that we legitimately laughed out loud when we saw his name. We’re really mature.
7. Hershel’s Death Delayed
When the character of Hershel died at the hands of The Governor, it hit a lot of the show’s many fans very hard and it immediately brought to mind the death of Dale a couple of seasons earlier. What most viewers never knew was that the two deaths, that are arguably the most devastating in series history because the show’s moral compass passed, had a big effect on one another.
According to actor Chandler Riggs, who brings Carl to life, the actor who played Dale, Jeffrey Demunn, asked for his character to die after losing any interest in the show. A death that was meant to happen much later on, it was moved to the end of the second season and happens in a period where initial plans called for Hershel to die. Deciding that Hershel’s demise would mean less in the shadow of Dale’s, a character who was there from the beginning and filled a similar role, they opted to keep Hershel around a lot longer. Also, it was supposed to have been Dale who had his leg amputated but that story was passed on to his spiritual successor, in his absence.
6. LGBTQ Controversy
It should go without saying that a show that features as much blood and guts as The Walking Dead should be no stranger to controversy but sometimes it has found itself in other crosshairs. When Dr. Denise Cloyd debuted on the show and began a budding relationship with fellow survivor Tara Chambler, it seemed like we were poised to see them grow together. Then, Denise joined the long history of characters on the show that had their storylines cut short by meeting their demise out of nowhere. The problem, in a lot of people’s eyes, is that her death follows a longstanding trend in Hollywood of killing off LGBTQ characters for no good reason. Adding to the furor, the fact that in the comics it was another character, Abraham, who was killed at this point in the story with an arrow in the eye, further angered many. The feeling that producers jumped through hoops to put Denise in a situation that didn’t necessarily make sense for her character so she could die instead of the straight male, added fuel to the fire.
5. Race Controversy
It wasn’t just the LGBTQ community that has felt that the people that are chosen to die in The Walking Dead tend to be dominated by minorities. For a long time, there has been a belief amongst some that The Walking Dead wants to limit the amount of African-American main characters on the show. If you look at the show’s history, you could argue there is some merit to those claims since they say that there can only be one black man on the series at one time. If you look at it there has been a tendency to kill off one African-American before introducing another. Morgan Jones debuted but was left behind by Rick who then met T-Dog who died just before Tyrese showed up. In fact, it wasn’t until the show’s fourth season that we saw this trend come to an end when Bob and Tyrese co-existed. For their part, both Danai Gurira and Sonequa Martin-Green, who play Michonne and Sasha on the show, have made statements against the validity of claims of racism.
4. On Set Segregation
Whoa, whoa, whoa, don’t jump to any conclusions after our last entry, we’re not talking about racial segregation here. There is no way that something like that would stay a secret in our tabloid society and nor should it, as that would be totally disgusting. No, we’re talking about the fact that the actors who play the characters you know are kept apart from those who are brought in to play the walkers. This may be fairly typical as we doubt that too many huge stars are likely to have lengthy conversations with the extras that visit their set, but it could easily help the actors see Walkers as less than human.
3. The Walker, The President And Toxin
Don’t worry; you didn’t miss the introduction of a character on the show that goes by the name, The President. We’re talking about an extra that played a walker for the show, Shannon Richardson (pictured), who has been sentenced to eighteen years in prison for attempting to poison President Obama. A mother of six who has also appeared on Vampire Diaries and The Blind Side, she sent three letters with ricin in them to The President.
Attempting to frame her husband for the very serious crime, she went to the police and attempted to convince them that it was he who had sent the letters. Going so far as to take out a post office box and create an email address and PayPal account in her husband’s name, she used these things to acquire the ingredients to make the deadly substance. A toxin that can cause respiratory failure if inhaled, had her letters somehow made it to President Obama, it could have had dire consequences.
2. Some Pissed Off Locals
Even though many of us love television and movies and would die to meet the stars in real life, it seems that living near The Walking Dead’s shooting location isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Shooting in and around the town of Senoia, Georgia, the area has been the home of Alexandria, Woodbury, the farm, the prison and just about every location we’ve seen on the show.
Despite the fact that locals are said to be paid around four hundred dollars a month to put up with the constant construction, explosions and other noise pollution, some of them are anything but happy. The best example; Fred Morris, a local who claims that he can’t escape the noise at night and he had the cops called on him for trimming his trees. Approached by cops while he was in the middle of the act, he says he was told to stop because they are filming. Other residents are far happier with the experience, as their town has been inundated with tourism money and one of them in particular, Scott Tigchelaar, says actors like Andrew Lincoln are very polite.
1. Awful Relationship With Show Creator
Developed by respected and famed film director Frank Darabont, the man behind The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile to name just two films, he left the series under tense circumstances. Actually, calling things tense between the creator and showrunner for the first season and the network he worked for tense is a huge understatement. Claiming in a deposition that was a part of his lawsuit against AMC, that they concocted reasons to get rid of them, he has been quoted as referring to AMC executives in very unflattering terms. “There’s a deep commitment and emotional investment that happens when you create something that is very near and dear to you, and when that is torn asunder by sociopaths who don’t give a s–t about your feelings or the feelings of your cast and crew because they have their own reasons to screw everybody, that doesn’t feel good.” –Frank Darabont on AMC executives.
Claiming in a lawsuit that continues to this day that AMC worked the numbers to try to diminish the profit pool he was entitled to a part of, there doesn’t seem to be any chance of mending fences soon. We weren’t present when any of this was going on but remember when we talked about Dale’s death delaying Hershel’s? As we said in that entry, the actor who played Dale wanted to leave the show but we left out the fact that it was because he sided with his former boss in all of this. While you can’t draw conclusions by that, since they’d previously worked together, it does add some additional colour to Frank’s claims.