This highly popular AMC series has proven that the zombie horror genre doesn’t only work for the film medium. In fact, since its comic book debut in 2003, The Walking Dead has spun off not only its own television show, but a number of novels, toys, and a video game series, which isn’t saying much for the most popular show in the U.S.
Bet that’s not the only thing you don’t know about the suspenseful thriller series. Throughout the show’s many seasons, The Walking Dead has cultivated a number of different secrets, references, and all around interesting facts that the average viewer has most likely overlooked. We understand. It’s awfully hard to pay close enough attention to details amidst the glorious zombie kills.
For those that haven’t yet caught themselves up to the latest season, you’ve been forewarned. Spoilers ahead. For those that are in the loop, here’s your warning: stay tuned for some facts that are bound to alter the entire way you view your favorite Sunday night television program.
20. Darryl Nearly Didn’t Make It On The Show
That’s right. You can pretty much call The Walking Dead‘s most popular character an afterthought during the first season’s conception. Comic book readers will also recognize that the character doesn’t even exist in the comics.
Actor Norman Reedus actually auditioned for the role of Merle, the character that played Darryl’s older brother, and shortly after being turned away, got offered a role to help support the original. The crossbow wielding redneck became so iconic to the series as a whole after the first season, he was quickly promoted to the main cast. Given the character’s overall influence on the show, it’s quite difficult to imagine his absence.
19. Halloween Pilot
You don’t break tradition. It’s just something you don’t do. The O.G. fans of the series will remember the show’s pilot airing on Halloween of 2010, following the trend of many major horror projects of the past (just this year, Ash vs The Evil Dead premiered on Halloween).
The first episode, titled “Days Gone By,” was also written by iconic filmmaker Frank Darabont, who himself was responsible for a number of Stephen King novel adaptations such as The Mist, The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption. He unfortunately only worked on the show as an executive producer for one season.
18. What The Walkers Are Actually Eating
All of the talent on The Walking Dead do an amazing job of keeping the viewers engaged, as well as the extras who play the walkers. They’ve remained so consistent in their dreadfulness and have managed to truly convince us that they crave human flesh, or are they actually pretending?
Every film or television production holds their own secret recipe to guts or human flesh, and it just so happens that The Walking Dead zombies fancy the taste of hams soaked in vinegar. This was at least true for early on in the series, as it was recently revealed that the vinegar in the ham was starting to corrode the walker makeup.
17. HBO Passed On Airing The Show
It may come as a surprise to some just how much violence the show gets away with. It may also surprise some that AMC wasn’t chosen as the initial home for the show, as HBO passed on it, along with NBC on the count of the massive blood and gore. Need we remind you that these are the networks that have aired Game of Thrones and Hannibal?
Refusing to cut back on the “offensive” content, the producers settled with AMC, a network that allowed them to remain true to their source material. Who’s ever heard of a non-violent zombie flick anyway?
16. Dale’s Specific Guts Were Made Of Chicken Breasts
During Dale’s death scene, did you by any chance find yourself getting hungry? Ok, good, because that would have been gross, but not inaccurate.
For those that remember the elderly pacifist from early on in the show, Dale was respected as much as a character as well as a cast member, making his death scene particularly morbid. To honor his character’s corpse, the crew decided to spend a couple of extra bucks and make his entrails out of chicken breasts. Not sure if the actor himself appreciated the gesture, but we’re sure the walker extras did.
15. Darryl’s Crossbow Is For Sale At Walmart
We can all agree that Darryl has made the crossbow one of the most badass zombie killing weapons in history. What if we told you that one stop at your country’s number one retailer could put you in possession of one of these lethal babies?
Walmart carries the exact crossbow model featured on the show. The Horton Scout HD 125 priced right around $300. Reedus himself can attest to the weapon’s quality, as he’s so attached to his own that he’s been guilty of taking it home after shoots – you can never be too careful.
14. Walker Training
All of the actors on The Walking Dead take their jobs very seriously, and if one cast member isn’t pulling their weight, it brings down the entire show. That’s why the producers have employed zombie trainers to make sure the extras don’t miss specific cues.
It apparently isn’t as easy as it looks, and bad performances aren’t simply masked by makeup and post-production. A useful cue for most of the cast was to act as if you were exiting a bar at 2AM. Surprisingly effective.
13. Zombie Noises Aren’t Authentic
The walkers on the show are creepy enough, but those hissing noises they all emit make them downright horrific. While we’ve all been led to believe that the actors are really making these sounds, it’s been revealed to all be digitalized.
It’s actually quite possible that the extras are just mouthing the sound effects or making up their own zombie noise. Along with this, blinking is also edited out in post-production, which in hindsight is an important detail to keep the illusion of a zombified look.
12. Rick, The Governor, And Maggie Are All British In Real Life
There’s some very talented actors from the U.K. that are becoming some of the most prominent faces in American cinema, and the television scene isn’t exempt from this.
You of course wouldn’t be able to tell from looking at them, but Andrew Lincoln (Rick), Lauren Cohan (Maggie), and David Morrisey (The Governor) are all natives of the U.K. and speak with British accents offset. Due to the show’s setting, their characters all communicate with thick Southern American accents, which suddenly make each of their performances that much more impressive.
11. Edwin Jenner Was Based Off a Real Person
Despite his very short stint in the series, the character of scientist Edwin Jenner was quite compelling and offered a new kind of perspective for those that locked themselves away in strongholds.
It just so happens that the suicidal doctor’s character wasn’t completely originally conceived, as it has been revealed that Edwin Jenner is loosely based on the English scientist Edward Jenner, the man who developed the smallpox vaccine in the late 1790s. It just so happens that this interpretation of the world-renown innovator in medicine couldn’t quite crack the code for the walker disease.
10. Merle’s Scene Prompted a SWAT Team Call
How petrified would you be if you spotted a sniper just leisurely scoping on a city rooftop? Aside from looking for cover, you’d probably be dialing the police, which is a reasonable response for any upstanding citizen unknowingly near the set of The Walking Dead during its first season.
For those who don’t remember the scene, it featured Merle taking position with a sniper rifle, most likely to take out walkers and not innocent people. The outcry resulted in a SWAT team making an appearance on set; however, the matter was quickly settled without anybody hurt or in handcuffs.
9. Rick’s Hand Gets Cut Off In the Comics
The Walking Dead series does its best to stay fairly true to their source material, however if they decided to adopt this small detail, shooting Rick’s scenes may have become a tad bit more challenging.
In the comics, and pretty early on, Rick gets his hand chopped off by The Governor. Yeah, the graphic novel gets pretty dark. Believe it or not, this was actually considered for a short time, however the producers decided against it as it would use too much CGI and complicate the action scenes. This was shortly demonstrated with the character Hershel after he got his leg cut off.
8. The Dead Outnumber the Living by an Overwhelming Amount
Perhaps you’re an optimist. Perhaps you think at some point in the series, the living will somehow overcome or outlive all the walkers and will effectively be able to repopulate the world in peace. Well, think again my friend.
The show only focuses on one area, but the producers have confirmed that the dead outnumber the living by around 5,000 to 1. So disregard all those sweet zombie kills you’ve been keeping track of, because the survivors have hardly made a dent. If and when the series concludes, it will most likely not be from the extinction of walkers.
7. The Walking Dead Doesn’t Use the Word “Zombie”
If it walks like a zombie, talks like a zombie, and feeds on the living like a zombie, it still doesn’t particularly mean that it’s a zombie. At least not by the standards of The Walking Dead producers.
Not sure if you’ve noticed, but the terminology “zombie” is exempt from the show. The universe that the show is based off of is one that’s unfamiliar with the phenomena, meaning George Romero doesn’t exist. Characters in the show will often resort to other names for the dead, such as walkers or biters. It also helps shape a reality where the living don’t initially know how to react to or conceptualize what their enemy is.
6. The Walker Extras Eat Separately From The Living Actors
Not sure about you, but sharing a meal next to an actor covered in zombie makeup would cause you to lose your appetite pretty fast, especially if one of them decided to take one of the on-set prop guts to the lunchroom for a good laugh.
This isn’t particularly the reason why the walker extras and actors eat separately, but it would make for a funny story. The producers believe in crafting an authentic divide between the living and the dead on the show, and to support this they purposely segregate them on lunch breaks.
5. The Governor’s Severed Heads
The creepiest part about The Governor’s character wasn’t his chained-up zombified daughter or fixation with human on walker violence, but those eerie severed heads he kept in his private room.
There was actually 24 of them in total that sat in some murky yellow-brownish water, however you’d be surprise to know just how simple it was to create that effect. The producers revealed that all it required was coffee grounds and tea bags, which hopefully gives a lot of you some ideas for next Halloween.
4. Tara is the Sister of Francis from Malcolm in the Middle and Hyde from That ’70s Show
It’s a small world, but the world of television manages to be even smaller. In this industry, everybody knows someone, and in the case of The Walking Dead, actress Alana Masterson (Tara) is the sister of Christopher Masterson, better known as Francis from Malcolm in the Middle, and Danny Masterson, better known as Hyde from That ’70s Show.
Tara has recently been promoted to a series regular as of last season, making three television stars who carry the Masterson name! They also have two other brothers that’ve guest starred on various television shows. Sometimes it’s all about who you know.
3. Another Actress Played Michonne in the Second Season Finale
Michonne has become one of the most liked characters to star on the apocalyptic television show, and for good reason. Her entrance into the show was nothing short of epic as she straddles into frame through a misty forest wielding a katana and two armless walkers.
As much badassery as this scene emanated, it may come as a shock to some that the person shown in the second season finale wasn’t Danai Gurira, the actress we know and love as Michonne. The character hadn’t even been casted yet, so the producers opted to just hide her double’s face for the duration of the scene.
2. Carl Actually Ate All That Pudding
Actor Chandler Riggs practically lived every kid’s fantasy in the scene from season 4 where he indulged a huge can of chocolate pudding on a rooftop.
As amazing as the actor expressed the scene was to shoot, he admitted to totally despising the taste of pudding afterwards. While filming, Chandler was instructed to continue eating… and eating… and eating. The full can was 112 ounces, and judging by the size of the actor, that was probably enough to keep him fed for a week. Guess this is what they mean when they say actors suffer for their art.
1. The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad Share A Universe
Ok, this might be a bit farfetched, but at the very least the show pays awesome tribute to its former companion on the same network.
Most of the little plugs come from Darryl’s character, as when he was first introduced, he carried a bag full of blue meth. Darryl referenced this once again in the last season when Beth asked him about Merle’s past as drug supplier. Darryl described the dealer as a ‘janky little white guy’.
The Dodge Challenger that Glen steals in the first season has also been confirmed to be the exact same car that Walter White buys his son on Breaking Bad. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?