The Walking Dead has been a phenomenon basically since the day it debuted. It's the kind of show that appeals to a massive audience. It's violent and dramatic, and it can often be kind of unpredictable. The show has a long and storied run. It's adapted from a comic book by Robert Kirkman, but in the years since its debut, it's taken on a life of its own.
As the show has unfolded over the course of nine seasons, it's garnered quite a few fans. These fans may have read the comic books or may have jumped into the show without that background knowledge. Either way, there are plenty of facts about the show that they might not be aware of. Whether these Walking Dead facts come from rumors from the set or the makeup department involved in creating walkers, they're all fascinating. Here are 40 behind-the-scenes secrets from The Walking Dead.
Every weapon on the show is made in three different versions. There's the real version, which is obviously used with the safety on and without any live ammo. There's also a plastic version that looks and feels like the real thing but weighs a lot less. This helps when actors are carrying weapons all day.
There's also a rubber version of most weapons which is primarily used for stunts and fight scenes. It hurts quite a bit to get hit in the head with an actual weapon. As a result, rubber weapons are used to soften the blow when actors are in the midst of a choreographed battle.
Fights can escalate quickly, even when they're about something as seemingly inconsequential as The Walking Dead. When Jared Gurman and his girlfriend of over three years began arguing over whether the outbreak had been caused by a military mishap, she eventually decided to drop him off at home.
He continued to text his argument to her, so she decided to try and calm him down in person. When she got there, he had a rifle in hand, and shot her in the back, shattering one of her ribs and puncturing a lung. Gurman was then charged with attempted murder, all over an argument that was about The Walking Dead.
A big part of working on The Walking Dead is understanding how to wield a variety of weapons. As a result, the cast regularly goes to shooting ranges to brush up on their skills with guns. What's more, they also train with actual SWAT and police officers so they'll better understand how to maneuver as a team.
Interestingly, many of the characters on the show would not have this same level of training. Although Rick would certainly know how to use a weapon, the same might not be true for someone like Michonne. This training helps all of these actors act as though they've been wielding weapons for years.
For several years, The Walking Dead had a pretty rocky track record when it came to showrunners. First, Frank Darabont left the show amidst a conflict with AMC (more on that later). A few seasons later, it seems his replacement, Glen Mazzara, may have been forced out as well.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, creator Robert Kirkman forced him out with help from executives at AMC. Apparently, Glen's vision for the show was very different from Robert's. Robert, who serves as an executive producer on the show, apparently won that particular battle. His vision is the one the show ultimately went with.
It's clear that, in the world of The Walking Dead, the dead vastly outnumber the living. On the show, a character is much more likely to run into a walker than another person. Apparently, the ratio of walkers to humans is approximately 5,000 to one, meaning there are 5,000 walkers for every one human.
This statistic comes from Robert Kirkman's comic book series, so it could be different on the show. Given Robert's involvement in the show, though, the numbers are likely pretty similar. That means there are roughly 7 billion walkers roaming the Earth. It would take a while to kill them all.
Michael Cudlitz delivered a remarkably strong, charismatic performance as Abraham on the show. Unfortunately, he was one of Negan's first victims and was killed off in a famously brutal scene. Before we knew that Abraham would die, though, Michael had to keep the reveal a secret for almost a year.
Because season six ends with an unidentified person being killed, Cudlitz knew about his character's death long before anyone else did. Amazingly, the news of who would be killed didn't leak, which meant that fans went in unspoiled. Thanks to Michael's ability to keep a secret, Abraham's death was able to surprise fans.
The Walking Dead can be a logistically complicated show to shoot. For the show's biggest set pieces, there are often hordes of walkers that need to be made up to look like the undead. In order to do it properly, it takes about 90 minutes to make an extra look like a walker.
As Greg Nicotero, the special effects supervisor and executive producer on the show explained to CNN, "They all have contact lenses; they all have custom dentures; some people we like to make more rotted than others." Needless to say, all of that takes quite a long time to execute.
During season six, Glen and Maggie have something of a scream-off to attract the walkers. This was done because the two love each other, and wanted to draw the walkers away from their love — no matter the consequences. For that scene, actress Lauren Cohan, who plays Maggie on the show, actually lost her voice.
As a result, the screaming that she does in the scene had to be added in afterward. The scene doesn't suffer for that late addition, though. Glen and Maggie were among the most compelling relationships to ever be on the show. This scene was one of their best, even if Lauren Cohan's screams are an effect.
As the show was recovering from the departure of Frank Darabont, rumors began swirling that Jeffrey Demunn had requested being written out of the show. Jeffrey and Frank had worked together on previous projects, and Jeffrey was cast as Dale on the show.
When Frank was fired by AMC, rumor has it that Jeffrey asked to be written off the show, too. Eventually, he reconsidered that request, but by then it was too late. Dale had already been given a speedy death by the show's writers. Whether that's true or not, it speaks to the way actors can always be replaced on shows like The Walking Dead.
Although extras look really impressive on set, they aren't actually making the walker noises that viewers hear at home. In fact, the walkers are told to keep totally silent on set. The idea of a silent horde slowly marching toward you is terrifying enough. In fact, it may be more terrifying than the sounds the walkers make.
The walkers are also told not to blink when filming is happening. If a walker does happen to blink, the show is careful about editing it out. The undead don't blink. It's one of the things that makes them so terrifying to look at.
Daryl is a pretty rough, rugged guy, so it makes sense that he would have some tattoos. Of course, Norman Reedus, the actor who plays Daryl, is pretty tough as well. It shouldn't be a huge surprise, then, that Daryl's tattoos are actually Norman Reedus's.
That means that Reedus doesn't have to sit through any sort of makeup to get them applied. Instead, he simply shows up with the tattoos he already has. It just goes to show that some actors are just born to play the roles they have on The Walking Dead, and Norman Reedus is definitely one of them.
On The Walking Dead, Scott Wilson was charged with playing a pretty great guy. As Hershel Greene, Scott often served as the soul of the show. He was the voice of reason. When he wasn't acting, though, Scott Wilson could be a bit of a wild man.
During filming for the show's third season, Scott received a DUI for driving recklessly while under the influence of alcohol. Scott was going roughly 70 miles per hour, which was well above the posted speed limit, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Fortunately, the charges weren't so severe that he had to quit the show.
Scott Wilson isn't the only Walking Dead actor with an arrest on his record. Seth Gilliam, who plays Father Gabriel on the show, was arrested during season six after he was caught going 107. When he was pulled over, he freely admitted that he'd had a few beers and a shot before driving. Officers also found a joint in his car.
Gilliam was released on bond and able to return to work. Notably, neither of these actors faced any major consequences when they returned to work. This kind of offense has led to actors being fired in the past, but not on The Walking Dead.
The default assumption for blood is that everyone's looks pretty much the same. On The Walking Dead, that's not necessarily the case. In fact, the show uses multiple types of blood to distinguish humans from walkers. Apparently, walkers have thicker, darker blood than humans because it's not flowing like human blood is.
The show also differentiates walkers by age. The older the walker is, the darker and thicker their blood should be. More than anything, this is evidence of incredible attention to detail. The people making this show care about all the minutia of how their world works, and that often pays off.
Although a lot has changed about The Walking Dead has changed since the show premiered, there have been a few constants. For most of that run, Andrew Lincoln's Rick Grimes has been the show's lead and protagonist. Andrew left the show during season 9, but in every episode, he was in, he carried the same weapon.
Rick only carries the Colt Python .357 Magnum, which is widely considered one of the best revolvers ever produced. It's no wonder that Rick loves carrying it around so much. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. That's especially true in a world of undead walkers.
If there's one thing every cast member of The Walking Dead knows, it's that their days are numbered. The walkers get everyone sooner or later. When a character is killed off, the actor playing them is given a "Death Day" party that celebrates their run on the show.
Because the show is often shrouded in secrecy, the parties are often disguised as birthday parties, complete with a birthday cake. In reality, though, they're send-offs for actors who have spent a significant amount of time with the show. These celebrations are much nicer than how they'll leave the show on-screen, either because they are murdered or eaten alive.
For scenes that involve tons of walkers, the makeup department has to get more creative about applying the walker look. In these cases, they often spray the walker look on the majority of the extras they're working with. Then, they hide those less made up walkers behind other extras who have received a more extensive makeup job.
That way, it looks like all the walkers are equally horrific when they really aren't. It's a smart way to save time and money on extras. Not all of them need to look their best, especially when you can decide what angle to film them from.
During the filming of a season eight action sequence, stunt actor John Bernecker suffered a horrible fall and later died as a result of his injuries. In the scene, he was supposed to fall from a building onto a safety cushion below. Instead of landing on the cushion, though, he missed it by inches and injured his head. He died shortly thereafter.
After the accident, there were some concerns that the set wasn't safe, but that wasn't ultimately the case. In the end, it seems like it was just a freak accident. The cast honored John at Comic-Con, and his mother has set up a page for donations to be made in his memory.
There are few weapons in the world of The Walking Dead that are more iconic than Michonne's katana. The weapon is a holdover from the comics, but because the comics are in black and white, the katana had to be reimagined for the show.
Initially, the prop team wanted to make the heel of the sword red to hide any residual fake blood. Comics creator Robert Kirkman had other ideas, though. He wanted the heel to be white, so the team reworked it. Ultimately, they went with an eel-skin wrapper that looks very convincing and is also remarkably easy to clean.
At the end of The Walking Dead's first hour, Rick arrives in Atlanta to find it completely overrun. He ends up hiding in a tank with what he believes is a dead soldier. In fact, the soldier's a walker, and Rick shoots it through the skull.
When Frank Darabont was still running the show, he had a plan for that walker, who is played by Sam Witwer, was supposed to have an entire episode devoted to him. The episode would explain how that soldier wound up in that tank. When Frank left the show, he took that idea with him, and Sam was shafted as a result.
In the earliest seasons of The Walking Dead, the walkers weren't attractive, but they weren't too awful to look at. They had some minor blemishes, and their teeth were decayed. Otherwise, the ones who hadn't been eaten up could mostly pass for humans.
As the series progresses, though, this is no longer the case. That's because, with each season, the makeup department adds additional decay to the walkers. This is only natural. These walkers have been dead longer because we're farther away from the initial outbreak. As a result, they no longer look as life-like as they once did, and are much harder to look at.
Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times
When Frank Darabont left the show, he worked hard to make it seem like AMC was the party at fault. That may have been at least partially correct, Frank wasn't exactly an angel. The network released thousands of emails from the showrunner that detail his angry and threatening language.
In the emails, Darabont expresses his frustration with his writers by saying that he should have "killed them with a brick and burned down their homes." He also used phrases like suggesting he should "start killing people and throwing bodies out the door." It seems like AMC may have had some cause to fire him.
According to the show's prop master, the ideal weapon for a zombie apocalypse would allow you to kill the zombies quietly from a good distance away. Therefore, Sasha's weapon, which allows her to snipe walkers and is equipped with a silencer, is hugely effective.
She can stand back and mow down plenty of walkers with accuracy. That's why she so often finds herself positioned in a tower. She doesn't attract the walkers but is able to pluck them off one by one as they come. It may not be the perfect solution to an apocalypse, but it's as close as you can get.
By contrast, the Governor's weapon of choice is terrible. Although he may be a smart tactician, he may not be the biggest asset in battle. His gun, which fires rapidly and inaccurately and is also quite loud, is wrong in every way. It's loud, so it attracts walkers. On top of that, it's better at firing 50 shots into a person's belly than one through their skull.
As we know with walkers, though, shots to the belly don't really do anything. It's taking out the head that proves most effective, and the Governor's weapon is virtually incapable of that well.
On top of Frank Darabont's already messy departure from The Walking Dead, he also sued AMC for withholding his share of the show's profits. Frank believed that he was owed quite a bit of money because of the show's success, but he was fired before he and AMC came to a set deal about how much he should make.
Frank may very well be owed some money, but it's not as if AMC has no argument to stand on. It seems as though he wasn't exactly a model employee. What's more, the peak of the show's success occurred long after he was gone.
While $3.4 million may sound like a pretty high number, and it is, it's not as bad as what some shows cost. Game of Thrones, for example, costs roughly triple that amount of money per episode. Given the set pieces that The Walking Dead frequently creates, their budget is relatively economical.
What's more, the show features a large cast of characters that must all be paid, and plenty of extras as well. This average is likely just that. There are probably episodes that cost much more than $3.4 million, and others that cost less. Still, on the whole, the show costs less than it could.
Because The Walking Dead uses so many extras, it's hardly a surprise that one of them wound up in jail. Still, Shannon Richardson's crimes are pretty remarkable. The aspiring actress had worked as a walker in the background of some episodes of the show, but fans may remember her for a different reason.
As it turns out, Shannon was arrested and sentenced to 18 years in prison for sending ricin-laced mail to politicians. One of those politicians was President Barack Obama. That particular crime carries a maximum sentence of life, but Shannon pled guilty and instead received only 18 years behind bars.
Shooting on film has become something of a dying art, but there are still directors who believe in using it. Most TV shows have switched to digital photography, as have many movies. The Walking Dead still shoots on film, though. It shoots on 16 mm film, which is what gives the show its gritty, dirty look.
Shooting on film also means that the cast and crew have to be more precise. Shooting on film can get expensive quickly, so everyone knows they only have a limited number of takes. This may actually up everyone's game, and make them know that every second of film counts.
It can't be very fun to have the cast and crew of The Walking Dead filming in your backyard. It's not often a very pretty show to look at. Having any show filmed where you live can be a huge inconvenience. It means parts of town are inaccessible and roads are closed off.
That's why the residents of Senoia, Georgia, where the show is primarily filmed, are given $400 a month. It's meant to be a compensation for any inconvenience the show causes, and an incentive to keep the residents from sharing any spoilers they might see. It seems like a good deal.
No network could really complain about The Walking Dead. The show has been a tremendous success for AMC, and more than earned back the network's investment in it. On top of that, the network also pockets the tax credit they receive from Georgia for filming the show there.
Part of Frank Darabont's lawsuit alleges that AMC originally promised to use the tax credit as part of the show's budget. Instead, the suit alleges, they shrunk the show's budget and pocketed the tax credit. If that's true, then AMC has really made its money's worth and then some on The Walking Dead.
When Rick's wife Laurie discovers that she's pregnant, there's plenty of discussion about whether having a baby is a good idea. In this world, noise attracts walkers, and babies aren't the quietest things. Ultimately, Laurie has the baby and dies in childbirth.
The baby survives, though, and since then, she's been played by at least 16 different child actresses. As the show has progressed, she's slowly grown up. These changes in actress haven't made a huge deal since Judith hasn't had a speaking role. Still, it's fascinating to see how much turnover the role has had in the seasons since Judith was born.
Although The Walking Dead is one of the most popular shows on television, the extras who make it work don't actually get paid all that well. They make $64 a day for eight hour days, and are given a bonus if they perform any stunts.
That's a pretty good salary for the work that's getting done, but it's not nearly as much as the show's actors make. The Walking Dead remains one of the most popular shows on TV, and that probably wouldn't be the case without the walkers. Given that, you'd think they could get a pay bump of a few dollars at least.
Negan's signature scene comes when he uses "Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Moe" as a method for picking which member of Rick's group he would kill. It makes sense that that moment would be memorialized on merchandise, including a t-shirt. Primark, a retail store in the U.K., received complaints about the shirt because it could have been finished with some racist words.
Primark ultimately chose to pull the shirt from its stores and explained that the text was taken directly from the show. Although the quote isn't racially charged in context, it's easy to see how it could be when taken out of context.
The Walking Dead works with more extras than most TV shows. Often, it relies heavily on them for its most impressive or compelling episodes. As a result, the performances these walkers give matter quite a bit. They have to look like a unit of dangerous beings who also move incredibly slowly.
In order to get the extras to walk in a similar way, they are told to walk like they're stumbling out of a bar at 2 a.m. This direction gives the extras the desired effect. They look dazed and bedraggled, but also strangely focused on their destination or the goal they're after.
During one of the show's first episodes, we meet Michael Rooker's Merle. He's Daryl's brother, and he's a little bit of a loose cannon. In one of his first scenes, Merle is standing on a rooftop in Atlanta picking off walkers with a sniper rifle.
Apparently, Michael Rooker's fake weapon looked so real during that scene that some people in Atlanta thought he was actually firing. The police were called, but things were straightened out pretty quickly. It's a sign of good acting when people think they're actually in danger because you have a gun on the roof of a building.
People look for connections everywhere, and they're often not hard to find. In the case of The Walking Dead, some fans of the show noticed that it might have some connection to the world of Breaking Bad.
One comes in Merle's bag, which appears to have some of Walt's blue meth in it. On top of that, The Governor also mentions a guy named Heisenberg. These kinds of easter eggs are designed to excite fans, and they usually work spectacularly. It's hard not the get excited thinking about what Walt and Jesse might be up to in this post-apocalyptic world.
Greg Nicotero is one of the most important figures in the show's history, so it's only fitting that he would get the chance to appear on-screen. In fact, Greg has appeared as a zombie several times over the course of the show.
He shows up first in the third episode of season one as a walker eating a deer. He's also in the next episode, and he turns up again in season three. Greg seems to enjoy the opportunity to put some makeup on and get his hands a little dirty. The show was born in large part from his vision, so deserves a victory lap.
The actor behind Gregory, the leader of Hilltop, has had some problems in his personal life. Xander Berkeley was introduced as Gregory a few seasons ago and was pretty shady in his own right. Then, it was discovered that the Xander had some issues in his personal life to deal with.
When one fan insisted that Xander follow her on Twitter, he began messaging her. The messages started out fairly innocent, but he eventually began asking her for risque photos and explaining how cold his wife is. According to the linked article, he also claimed his favorite age for women started at age 15. Gross. Since the incident, Xander has made his Twitter account private.
There are plenty of stories about huge networks missing shows that would go on to be massive hits. The Walking Dead is yet another example. Both NBC and HBO were offered the show, and both ended up passing on it. Of course, the show went on to be a tremendous hit with a massive audience on AMC. Its critical response has always been more mixed.
For that reason, HBO may have made the right call in passing on it. That network favors prestige above all else. Even so, NBC probably should have taken the show, considering the hit that it wound up being.