The Walking Dead is an American post-apocalyptic horror television series developed for television by Frank Darabont. It is based on the comic book series The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard.
The series stars Andrew Lincoln as sheriff's deputy Rick Grimes who wakes up after being in a coma to find the world dominated by "walkers", resembling the zombies of George A. Romero's horror movies. He sets out to find his family and other survivors along the way.
The Walking Dead premiered on October 31, 2010 on the cable television channel AMC in the United States. Based on its reception, AMC renewed the series for a second season of 13 episodes which premiered on October 16, 2011. Two episodes into the second season, AMC announced that the show would return for a third season.
The series has been well received by critics, and has received many award nominations, including a Writers Guild of America Award nomination and a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Television Series Drama. The series has also attained strong Nielsen ratings, beating various records for a cable series, including receiving 9 million viewers for its season two finale to become the most-watched basic cable drama telecast in history.
Main article: List of The Walking Dead episodesBased on the comic book series of the same name, The Walking Dead tells the story of a small group of survivors living in the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse. Most of the story takes place in the Atlanta metropolitan area, as the survivors search for a safe haven away from the shuffling hordes of predatory zombies (or "walkers," as they are referred to in show) who devour and infect any living thing they catch. The plot is focused primarily on the dilemmas the group face as they struggle to balance their humanity with their survival.
The group is led by Rick Grimes, who was a sheriff's deputy before the zombie outbreak. At every turn they are faced with the horror of the dead walking again, the changing dynamic of their group, and hostility from the scattered remains of a struggling human populace who are focused on their own survival now that the structures of society have collapsed.
Main article: The Walking Dead (season 1)Season one follows sheriff's deputy Rick Grimes as he attempts to find his family and lead them to safety. The series begins with Rick waking up from a coma. He awakes to a post-apocalyptic world overrun with the walking dead ("walkers"). Leaving the hospital Rick discovers his wife and son are missing. Acting on a rumour from a fellow survivor he arms himself and begins a perilous journey to Atlanta, Georgia, where the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is said to have set up a quarantined "safe-zone" in the city, reasoning that his family may be there. During his journey, Rick sees the devastation to both society and infrastructure left by the disaster. Upon reaching Atlanta, he soon discovers that the city is overrun by the undead and is no longer a safe zone.
A few miles outside the city Rick's wife Lori and son Carl have been hiding from the walkers with Shane Walsh, Rick's former colleague and best friend. They have established a camp with a small group of survivors. After being rescued from Atlanta by the group and reunited with Lori and Carl, Rick assumes command of the group with Shane. Part of the group goes back into Atlanta to recover weapons, where they come into conflict with other survivors but Rick soon eases the tensions. On their return to their camp, they find it has been nearly overrun by walkers. Hoping to find medical treatment for an injured member, the remainder of the group decide to return to Atlanta and seek aid from the CDC.
In the CDC "safezone", all but one staff member, Dr. Edwin Jenner, have either fled or killed themselves. Dr. Jenner explains that his research into the cause of the infection has not yielded a cure. The CDC building is not the safe haven the group believed it would be. The following day, lack of fuel for the generators causes the safety protocols to be initiated. An explosion, meant to prevent the escape of deadly diseases, will destroy the CDC. Dr. Jenner explains that the French may have found a cure, as they survived the longest in their labs. Dr. Jenner and Jacqui, a member of Rick's group, decide to stay in the CDC and end their struggle. Another member of the group, Andrea, attempts to stay as well due to her despair after her sister Amy's death. Dale stays with her and says that if she doesn't leave, he won't. To prevent his death, Andrea makes a last minute decision to leave, thus saving them both. Before the group flees, Dr. Jenner whispers something into Rick's ear. The group escapes just as Jenner and Jacqui are killed by the explosion.
Main article: The Walking Dead (season 2)The second season begins with Rick and his group of survivors escaping the CDC. They decide that Fort Benning would be their next destination. Along the way, they come across a traffic jam of abandoned vehicles on I-85. The group loots several vehicles and, as a large horde of walkers approach, are forced to hide under the vehicles. Sophia runs off into the woods to escape a walker. Carl is accidentally shot during the initial search. The remaining group deals with interpersonal relationships while various searches for Sophia are performed. Otis, the man who shot Carl, leads Rick and Shane to a large, isolated farm owned by a veterinarian named Hershel Greene. The survivors move to the farm while Carl recovers. Rick's group tries to co-exist alongside Hershel's family, but dangerous secrets and disagreements over leadership cause tensions to rise. Glenn builds a romantic relationship with one of Hershel's daughters. He also discovers that Hershel's barn is full of walkers, some of which are Hershel´s family members. When Shane forces the walkers out of the barn and the group open fire, Sophia appears as a walker and is shot by Rick.
Hershel, reacting to what has happened, orders Rick and his group to leave immediately, before disappearing to grieve for his family. Daryl begins to withdraw from the group. Rick and Glenn go searching for Hershel and discover him drinking heavily in a local tavern. After trying to persuade Hershel to return, two other men enter the bar: survivors from another group. The situation rapidly turns sour and there is a brief but bloody gunfight which leaves the two new survivors dead. The dead men's former group quickly finds and opens fire on Rick, Hershel, and Glenn at the bar. The noise of the firefight attracts a large horde of walkers, and in their desperation to get away, the other group of survivors leave one of their members, Randall, behind. Rick cannot stand the thought of leaving him to be killed by walkers, so the three blindfold him and take him to the farm. However, once they get him there, they realize that he could lead the remainder of his former group to the farm. Rick decides to drive Randall into the countryside to abandon him but is attacked by walkers during a disagreement with Shane. Shortly before the walkers arrival, Randall confessed that he had previously been to Hershel's farm. With the secrecy of the farm's location compromised, Rick decides to bring Randall back for possible execution. Hershel's daughter Beth tries to kill herself in order to escape a seemingly hopeless situation. The group deliberates over the fate of Randall and, despite Dale's protests, decide to execute him. Carl begins experimenting in danger, and is found watching Rick as he prepares to execute Randall. Dale is fatally wounded by a walker, and as a result is killed by Daryl as an act of mercy. After Dale's funeral, the group decides that they need to rediscover their humanity. The group conducts a search for Randall, whom Shane secretly released and killed nearby. Daryl and Glenn come to the realization that the dead can come back without previous exposure to walkers. Shane uses the search for Randall as a ploy to silence Rick, but the plan backfires and Rick is faced with killing Shane. Just minutes later, Shane reanimates as a walker and Carl shoots him.
Carl's gunshot attracts a large horde of walkers; Rick and Carl take refuge in the barn. Rick instructs Carl to ignite the barn after drawing walkers inside in order to save both himself and Carl. In the ensuing battle, Jimmy and Patricia are killed, Andrea is left behind, and the RV is lost. Andrea survives on her own, and is later rescued by a hooded woman accompanied by chained, armless walkers. The survivors, consisting of Rick, Lori, Carl, Glenn, Daryl, Carol, T-Dog, Maggie, Beth, and Hershel, regroup on the highway, but are forced to make camp due to lack of gasoline. A frustrated Rick declares that "this isn't a democracy any more" after revealing what Dr. Jenner told him—all of the survivors are infected. A large prison looms in a pan out of the final scene.
Main article: The Walking Dead (season 3)AMC renewed The Walking Dead for a third season on October 25, 2011 after the season two premiere broke cable ratings records in the 18–49 demographic. On January 14, 2012, AMC announced that the third season will contain an extended episode order of 16 episodes.
On February 24, 2012, it was announced that David Morrissey had been cast as The Governor, and on March 18, 2012, during Talking Dead, it was revealed that Danai Gurira had been cast as Michonne. Michael Rooker has also confirmed that his character, Merle Dixon, would be returning in season 3.
Main article: List of The Walking Dead (TV series) charactersThis includes the cast of broadcast episodes only; currently to the end of season 2.
The series features several actors that Walking Dead developer Frank Darabont has worked with previously, including Laurie Holden, Jeffrey DeMunn and Melissa McBride. All three appeared in his 2007 film The Mist, along with Thomas Jane, who originally was set to star in the series when it was pitched to HBO. He was also in talks with Darabont to possibly guest star on the series as of fall 2010, but with Darabont's dismissal by AMC, it is unknown if the guest spot will happen or not. Laurie Holden also appeared in the 2001 film The Majestic (she played Adele Stanton, Jim Carrey's character's love interest), which Darabont directed. DeMunn has also appeared in several of Darabont's films; in addition to The Mist and The Majestic, he also appeared in The Shawshank Redemption (1994) and The Green Mile (1999). Samuel Witwer (Private Jessup in Darabont's The Mist) appeared near the end of the pilot episode as a dead soldier in the tank where Rick hides. It was planned that Witwer would reprise his role in the original conception of the season two premiere.
Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman signing a poster for the series at the 2011 New York Comic Con.On January 20, 2010 AMC officially announced that it had ordered a pilot for a possible series adapted from The Walking Dead comic book series, with Frank Darabont and Gale Anne Hurd acting as executive producers and Darabont writing and directing. The entire series was pre-ordered based just on the strength of the source material, the television scripts, and Darabont's involvement. In January 2010 a review of the pilot episode's script attracted further attention. The pilot began filming in Atlanta, Georgia on May 15, 2010 after AMC had officially ordered a six episode first season. The series' remaining episodes began filming on June 2, 2010 with Darabont serving as showrunner. On August 31, 2010, Darabont reported that The Walking Dead had been picked up for a second season, with production to begin in February 2011. On November 8, 2010, AMC confirmed that there would be a second season consisting of 13 episodes. He would also like to include some of the "environmental elements" that take place during Volume 2 of Kirkman's book.
On October 25, 2011, AMC announced that it ordered a third season of The Walking Dead, saying "Season two continues to deliver the strongest telecasts for any drama in basic cable history."
On July 17, 2010, Darabont revealed who would be writing and directing the six episodes of the first season. Darabont wrote/co-wrote the first three episodes and directed the premiere episode. Michelle MacLaren directed the second episode. Executive producer Charles H. Eglee and co-executive producer Jack LoGiudice co-wrote the third episode with Darabont, with the installment directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton. The fourth episode was written by executive producer Robert Kirkman, the creator and writer of the comic book, and it was directed by Johan Renck. The fifth episode was written by Glen Mazzara and directed by Ernest Dickerson. The sixth episode was written by consulting producer Adam Fierro and directed by Guy Ferland.
On December 1, 2010, Deadline.com reported that Darabont had fired his writing staff, including executive producer Charles "Chic" Eglee, and planned to use freelance writers for the second season. Kirkman called the announcement "premature" and clarified that Eglee left to pursue other projects when Darabont decided to stay on as showrunner and that no definitive plans had been made regarding the writing staff for season two. [Eglee] was brought onto The Walking Dead with the idea that Frank was going to work on the first season and then go off and do movies. Chic didn't want to be second-in-command on a show when he's used to being a top dog, and so he decided to go off and do something else, which is something that happens and is not a big deal.—Robert Kirkman, TV GuideOn December 3, 2010, in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, executive producer Gale Anne Hurd commented that "It's completely inaccurate. [In] the writers' room, there are people that have set up other projects that will be their first priority if their own series is picked up as a pilot or if it's a series. I think [Eglee] just decided that he wants to run his own show." She revealed that it would be likely for the show to return in October 2011, as Darabont and Kirkman planned on mapping out the next season early in 2011. She also confirmed that "every one of the principal cast is signed up for multiple seasons." In July 2011, series developer and showrunner Frank Darabont stepped down from his position as showrunner for the series. It was believed that he was unable to adjust to the schedule of running a television series. However, The Hollywood Reporter reported he had been fired over disputes over planned budget cuts and executive meddling. Executive producer Glen Mazzara was then appointed the new showrunner.
Bear McCreary was hired to compose the score for the series. McCreary stated that the main theme was based on his viewing of production designs for the opening title sequence. Instead of doing a full theme song as with his earlier works, McCreary chose to use a simple, repeating motif from the strings section. It repeats over and over, and in fact in the pilot episode, you start hearing it before the main title begins, and this is something that continues episode to episode. You hear the main title music before the main title begins, so you know it's coming. That, to me, was the little hook — that little thing that, whenever you hear it, it takes you to the series.—Bear McCreary=== Filming=== Booth at the 2010 Comic-Con with a scene from the pilot for the promotion of the series.The series is completely shot on 16 mm film. David Tattersall was the director of photography for the pilot episode with David Boyd as the director of photography on the remainder of the episodes. Production design is done by Greg Melton and Alex Hajdu. The effects team includes veteran special effects makeup designer Gregory Nicotero, special effects coordinator Darrell Pritchett, and visual effects supervisors Sam Nicholson and Jason Sperling.
Promotional poster of The Walking Dead.The Walking Dead debuted during the same week in 120 countries. As part of an expansive campaign to advertise and heighten anticipation for the premiere, AMC and FOX International Channels coordinated a worldwide zombie invasion event on October 26, 2010. The stunt involved invading 26 major cities, starting with Taipei and Hong Kong, and ending in Los Angeles for the U.S. premiere, within a 24 hour period.
The show's official website released, just prior to the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con International, a motion comic based on Issue #1 of the original comic and voiced by Phil LaMarr. The site also posted a making-of documentary primarily about the first episode, as well as a number of other behind-the-scenes videos and interviews. In the documentary, comic series creator and show executive producer Robert Kirkman as well as artist Charlie Adlard say they are pleased with how faithful the show is to the comic and remark on the similarities between the actors and the comic's original character drawings.
Action figures of characters from the series, including Rick Grimes, Daryl Dixon and a zombie Walker and Biter, were created for release in November 2011. The figures, which are manufactured by McFarlane Toys, are designed to resemble the actors on the series. Figures created to resemble the characters as drawn in the comic book were released in September 2011.
Main article: Talking DeadFollowing the encore presentation of the second season premiere on October 16, 2011, a live after-show titled Talking Dead hosted by Chris Hardwick premiered. The series airs after encore presentations of The Walking Dead Sunday nights. It features host Chris Hardwick discussing the latest episode with fans, actors, and producers of the show.
Sarah Wayne Callies and Andrew Lincoln in 2010. Robert Kirkman is in the background at left.Scenes from the pilot were screened July 23, 2010 as part of the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con International. It premiered on AMC on October 31, 2010. It premiered internationally on Fox International Channels during the first week of November. The first season premiered in Hong Kong on TVB Pearl on August 30, 2011. Almost two weeks before the official premiere on AMC, the pilot episode leaked online. International broadcast rights for the show were sold and announced on June 14, 2010.
The season 1 DVD and Blu-ray was released on March 8, 2011. A three-disc special edition of the first season—featuring new featurettes and audio commentaries—was released on DVD and Blu-ray on October 4, 2011. The European versions of the first season DVD and Blu-ray are edited for gore, with cuts to episode two ("Guts"), episode three ("Tell It to the Frogs"), episode four ("Vatos") and episode five ("Wildfire").
The first season was reviewed positively by critics, receiving a score of 82 out of 100 on Metacritic (based on 25 reviews). Heather Havrilesky of Salon.com included the show on their list of 9 new TV shows not to miss, giving it a grade of "A", with the author saying "A film-quality drama series about zombies? Somebody pinch me!"
The second season received generally positive reviews with a score of 80 out of 100 based on 22 reviews on Metacritic. Several critics have been less than enthused with the second season, such as Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly, who now describes the series as "a nighttime soap with occasional appearances by deceased but moving, flesh-rotting, flesh-eating cameo monsters. ... Every week, it seemed, a passel of folks went out and rooted around for awhile, came back to camp, and everyone lives off the fat of Hershel's land until it was time to go out and search for Sophia again. Occasionally someone reminded Rick they're supposed to be headed for Fort Benning and he gets all huffy about not leaving any child behind. It became a parody of a Samuel Beckett play.". Nate Rawlings of Time's online entertainment section noted that "the pace during the first half of this season has been brutally slow. Changes in pace would be fine if the writers had used that time well, which they have not. They've tried to develop individual characters, but each subplot meant to add a layer to a character has been quickly resolved."
The pilot received 5.3 million viewers, making it the most-watched series premiere episode of any AMC television series. The first season finale received 6 million viewers, a season high; with 4 million viewers in the 18–49 demographic, making it the most watched basic cable series for the demographic. The first season had an average of 5.24 million viewers and a rating of 2.7 in the 18–49 demographic. In the United Kingdom, it premiered one week after it did in the United States, on November 5, 2010 on digital channel, FX. The premiere had 579,000 viewers, almost double for any other show on FX that week. The viewership dipped during the season then rose to 522,000 viewers for the final episode. The terrestrial premiere on Channel 5 on April 10, 2011, averaged 1.46 million viewers. Laurie Holden was one of five actors on the series to receive a 2011 Saturn Award nomination for their performance.==== Season 2==== On October 16, 2011, the season two premiere set a new record of 7.3 million viewers. The episode also set new records for the most viewers in the 18–49 and 25–54 demographics, with 4.8 million and 4.2 million viewers respectively, making it the most watched episode of a drama in the history of basic cable television in these measures. The original broadcast and the two subsequent encore presentations of the episode drew a collective total of 11 million viewers. On February 12, 2012, the show's mid season premiere beat its previous record by attaining 8.1 million viewers, 5.4 million in the 18–49 key demographic, despite airing at the same time as the second most watched Grammy Awards in history. The series once again beat its own record with the airing of the season two finale on March 18, 2012, which received 9 million viewers.
The Walking Dead was nominated for Best New Series for the 2011 Writers Guild of America Awards. It was nominated for Best Television Series Drama at the 68th Golden Globe Awards. It was also named during the American Film Institute Awards 2010 as one of the top 10 television programs of 2010. For the 2011 Saturn Awards, the series received six nominations—for Best Television Presentation, Andrew Lincoln for Best Actor in Television, Sarah Wayne Callies for Best Actress on Television, Steven Yeun for Best Supporting Actor in Television, Laurie Holden for Best Supporting Actress in Television, and Noah Emmerich for Best Guest Starring Role in Television. The series was nominated for Best Drama Series at the inaugural 1st Critics' Choice Television Awards. The pilot episode "Days Gone Bye" received three nominations for the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards—it was nominated for Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series and Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Series and won for Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup for a Series, Miniseries, Movie or a Special.