Two weeks ago we saw the return of AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead, a companion series to the highly successful The Walking Dead. In Fear, we’ve watched our new group of characters experience the beginning of the zombie apocalypse and the bloody months that follow after. While Fear doesn’t seem to be going anywhere quickly, the show is giving us a new narrative angle and building upon a world we already know and love from the original show.
As a companion series, Fear is free to explore a different part of the nation and take us on a ride where we won’t know what’s happening next. And it may not be the last companion series to do so. When asked if there would be more companion series that would explore TWD universe, AMC network executive Charlie Collier said that “if Robert [Kirkman] had a world he wanted to explore, you can bet that we are not just leaning into that conversation, but we’re actively engaging in it.” So what could come next? We’ve listed our 15 favorite places we’d like to see after the dead came back to life. After all, it’s a big world out there...
15 Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
What stories could unfold in the City of Sin when basic survival is the only way of life? We’ve seen apocalyptic versions of Las Vegas in various forms of media, such as Fallout: New Vegas and Stephen King’s The Stand. There’s something very appealing about seeing the entertainment capital of the world becoming a bastion of survival when the dead rise to walk once more.
With surrounding points of interest such as the Hoover Dam and Nellis Air Force Base, the Strip could very well become a stronghold with a functioning infrastructure. Additionally, the cast of characters that would gravitate to this location could be the most interesting to date! From drifters to dealers, showgirls to strong-arms, what an opportunity to introduce a great and diverse group of survivors to the Walking Dead universe.
14 Tokyo Metropolis, Japan
So far, our closest thing to seeing survivors battle their way out of a really big city was the cast of Fear as they fought their way to the shore in the Season 1 finale. Even then, their escape from LA culminated at a hospital, not really the shoreline. Season one of the original show did a great job of showing the journey to escape Atlanta but, by this point, the apocalypse was months on and most of the characters had a full understanding of the dead and how they operated in their newfound resurrection. The Walking Dead hasn’t really spent much time focusing on characters having to fight out of a densely populated area from the first days of the infection. It’s something the fans would love to see. And why not make it happen in the largest metropolitan area on Earth?
In terms of population, over 34 million people live in the greater Tokyo area. This is roughly the population of the entire state of California condensed into a region roughly the size of Los Angeles county. I know, I can feel the hairs on my arms prickling just like yours are. In a city that would have almost unlimited resources, tell us a story of its end-time. Show me the lives of survivors who run for refuge in a skyscraper only to see the streets packed with the living dead a few hours later. How do they survive the decaying gauntlet? What direction do you go when all you can see in every direction is more concrete? We’d tune in every week to see who escapes ravaged Tokyo.
13 Long Island, New York, USA
Riffing off of our last entry, what happens when we’re already outside a major city, but salvation is only reached by going through it? Long Island could provide the setting for that story. The island itself lies just east of New York City, the western tip of which contains the Brooklyn and Queens boroughs with Manhattan itself just visible across the East River. The Eastern end of Long Island, you have townships and hamlets like the Hamptons. Some of the most expensive houses in the world are found in this area. As the rest of the world burns, some might abscond to the East End until the military can quell the minor biological attack.
But what happens if there is no all-clear as the survivors of the boroughs begin to crawl their way east with an army of the dead following soon after? How do the haves and have-nots come to terms with each other? On a peninsula encapsulated by the biggest flesh factory in America, where is there to go?
Tell me we aren’t working with narrative gold right now. Tell me this wouldn’t make for some great flesh-ripping television.
12 Antarctica, Antarctica
I know, it may be a little contrived for a story like this to take place in the Antarctic. John Carpenter did it with The Thing in 1982 (and again in 2011) and the SyFy Channel’s own taste of the apocalypse, Z Nation, has a story arc that’s been in the North Pole for two seasons (come on, same thing). But there’s a reason that the vast, white nothingness works so well for these narrative environments. It allows a great setting for which isolation can begin to weigh on characters and the way that they behave.
Imagine a group of scientists who have become survivors of the undead apocalypse simply because they weren’t around to know that it’d happened. If the communications go dead and they’re left only with the means they currently have, how long does it take for fear to become their main deciding emotion? From there, we can begin to explore the virus just like a naive Rick Grimes first waking up from his coma. We can watch as the virus comes to their nowhere outpost and what decisions they’ll need to make to survive. Food, water, sanctuary; it’s ten times more of a concern in a place that’s not suitable for life, even under normal circumstances.
11 The Atlantic Ocean
The ocean, like a blank canvas waiting to be painted upon is in need of a good zombie story. Both the Atlantic and Pacific have been minor settings in the Walking Dead universe. Fear’s season 2 opener saw our characters leaving California for Mexico by means of a yacht named Abigail. In the Walking Dead comics, Michonne hangs up the katana (temporarily) to join a group of survivors aboard a sailboat traveling the east coast. The Telltale video game series of the same name have explored Michonne’s sea-dog years a little further, even showing us a flotilla colony.
So why not take this a step further? Give us a set of characters who were at sea when the world died and what their survival strategy has become. Show us new, interesting locations like New England fisherman towns covered in mist or gigantic cruise ships, graveyards that float idly as their resources wait to be claimed. Show us characters who don’t need their feet on solid ground to survive.
10 New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
In the city that dances with Louisiana Voodoo, The Big Easy is a place already intertwined with death. New Orleans has seen its fair share of hardship, but it grew stronger because of it. In a place prepared for the worst - coupled with some very lax gun laws - New Orleans could become a stronghold against the flesh-eaters. Oh and did I mention stilted buildings?
Much like Vegas, this culturally-rich city could help create an interesting and diverse cast of characters; those that would keep us coming back week-after-week. Those of you who have played the Valve zombie-shooter, Left 4 Dead 2, will understand that, while New Orleans could make for an interesting apocalyptic backdrop, I’ll need to care about my characters that are there in the first place.
9 Mackinac Island, Michigan, USA
While I’ve mentioned how the oceans have played a minor part in the Walking Dead universe, there have been almost no islands to speak of. Early this season, Fear’s survivors found themselves on an island called Catrina Island, a fictional version of California’s Catalina Island. Catrina island was isolated, there was a hamlet that could’ve been cleared and fortified… I’m not going to dig deeper into how much of a missed opportunity this was, but just know that the characters left without looking back.
Islands that once sustained a small population like this should be thriving in the Walking Dead universe. Seriously, they should be the bastions that everyone bolted to as soon as the dead started to re-open their eyes after, you know, dying.
Mackinaw Island sits where Lake Michigan becomes Lake Huron in a small straight that separates Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas. While less than 500 people live there permanently, the island supports up to 15,00 tourists per day during its busy season. This place is just calling to survivors.
This wouldn’t make for boring storytelling, either. The power comes from the mainland and resources would be limited so there would still be a need to leave the island. Additionally, with such a nice setup, it would only be a matter of time before someone came knocking…
8 Vatican City
The fact that the city itself is a fortified enclave within the larger city of Rome, the outward appearance gives a sense of it’s survivability. The fact that it would be a place that almost every devout Catholic would turn to in a time of need, now that could cause some problems. What is the city that represents an entire faith supposed to do when they must close their doors to their people?
The Vatican gives us another window into what could be an incredible day-one storyline. By this, I mean there’s a question as to how the Catholic faith would represent itself in a situation in which the dead were rising once more. The other side of that is, how would the followers of that faith react? The Vatican City gives us an awesome opportunity to witness both sides of this narrative.
7 Alaskan Wilderness, USA
Alaska is already a daunting place for those of us who can’t go twenty minutes without Twitter. But there’s one thing that’ll ring true for many of those who live there; they’re already survivors. Some have chosen to follow our primitive instincts and live from the land in the Alaskan wilderness. Why not see how they’d fair in an apocalypse?
With a beautiful backdrop for our story to unfold, the homegrown survivors of the Alaskan wilderness could allow us a window into the lives of those already hardened by the harshness of nature and how they deal with the dead as they begin to meander out of the cities in search of their next meal. Though the cast of characters would be tough, their lives in solitude may make it hard for relationships to build with other survivors. What problems could be thrown at these survivors to make them realize that they may have to abandon some of their ways to ensure survival?
6 Twin Cities, Minnesota, USA
The Twin Cities has a lot going on for it and the same could be said once the world begins to crumble. From the months of November until March, the northern Midwest freezes over. Believe me when I say that it’s pretty close to the apocalypse. But, because of the harsh conditions, the cities have adapted. One of the ways this is done is through sky bridges that connect one building to another. In Minneapolis along, there’s over 11 miles of elevated walkway that connects more than 80 blocks. Why worry about the dead in the streets if you don’t even have to leave the skies?
As far as story goes, you don’t have too many places on earth in which two large cities are only 15 minutes from one another. Could factions build in each of the cities and have to go to war over the resources that lay untouched in the Mall of America? Could be pretty cool, dontcha know.
5 (Return to) Los Angeles, USA
If you haven’t figured out that I’m not too happy with the way that Fear the Walking Dead has handled their storytelling, let me reiterate what opportunities were left behind in Los Angeles.
In the latter half of season one, our core group of survivors were held in a secure camp just east of Downtown L.A. It was one of 12 camps in the Los Angeles area (one of which was right next to Disney World, I might add). Here we are following characters that are leaving the city when there’s so much left to see! I very much hope that our Fear characters return to their homeland to see what’s been reclaimed and what’s been lost. Show us societies of survivors that have survived the undead invasion of Los Angeles. There are still stories to be told here!
4 North Korea, North Korea
Imagine the apocalypse from the point of view of a citizen who views their leader as a god. As nations crumble around them, many would live completely oblivious within the confines of their guarded borders. North Korea gives us an excellent opportunity to see what happens when the dead may force their way into a walled society and what actions must be taken by the government to keep its image upstanding. When it comes to North Korea, You couldn’t say they wouldn’t be able to defend themselves, but how long could that last? What happens when the citizens get wind of what’s going on?
Imagine our characters experiencing an increase in patrols in the streets of Pyongyang. Power is failing and no information is being conveyed to the people. Some may lose contact with their relatives in the countryside. Nothing is known until the dead are already in the streets of the capital city. Our group must escape the city, all while learning what’s happened to the world. What will the remnants of the North Korean government do to keep the sanctity of their country intact? What will they do to the citizens who survived? Many questions remain unanswered in the Hermit Kingdom.
3 Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado, USA
Deep within Cheyenne Mountain is an underground city that serves as the operation center for the North American Aerospace Defense Command - better known as NORAD. Built during the Cold War, the headquarters is as much a reconnaissance center as it is a fortress. Not only does it have the resources and structure to repel massive hordes, it’s also most likely where our American leadership would center themselves in a nation-wide catastrophe.
Herein lies the stories that could flourish within Cheyenne Mountain. Paula, the secretary-turned-Savior who kidnapped Maggie and Carol in The Walking Dead was in DC during the first days. She said that all of the “important people” were removed from the city before anybody else. This means there’s a chance that the executive leadership survived the initial months of the apocalypse. Show us what happened to that group after they left DC and arrived at NORAD. After all, the walls meant to keep people out could very well be the walls that trapped them in…
2 Kenny’s Continued Journey
This isn’t so much a specific place but a continuation of a character beloved to many. Kenny is a husband and father first introduced in TellTale’s The Walking Dead, the acclaimed video game series. While his fate is left ambiguous at the end of Season 1, he returns in season 2, a grizzled and rougher version of his old self. At the end of season 2, you’re given a series of choices, some of which can end in Kenny’s death, but all that end with Kenny parting from the protagonist, Clementine.
As a season 3 has been announced, they’ll need to choose one of these endings to become canon. If TellTale decides that Kenny lives, we hope that in some way his story is continued. As only one of two characters that has made it to the ending of both seasons, we find it fitting that his story continues in some way. You’re the man, Kenny!
Thanks to the fine people at SourceFedNerd, we can estimate that about 1.3 million people are still kicking when the undead virus takes the planet. Of those people, we’ve seen less than 500 through all the different forms of media. There’s a whole world out there left to explore and an anthology series could be just the way to do it. Give us a series that depicts survivors stuck on the Brooklyn Bridge one episode, then neighbors killing each other for supplies in Cleveland the next. Small portals into those still alive in the dead world would be a great way to continually world-build without it ever seeming like the creators are just stuffing information down our throat. It’d also be a great way to keep things fresh in the downtime of our two current series!
Well, there you have it. We've seen the east coast and the west coast, but there are plenty of stories still to be told. Who knows if we’ll ever get to see some of these places, but let’s just hope that, whatever next instalment comes to the Walking Dead world, it keeps us always wanting for more.