The Walking Dead premiered on AMC in 2010 to monster ratings and has been a staple of Sunday night television ever since. Even though the slowly-paced show often frustrates fans with its bait and switches, they keep coming back every week to see how their favorite characters are surviving the zombie apocalypse. Nine seasons into its run and still going strong, the show is one of the last true pop culture phenomena airing on television. Which season is your favorite? Do you know everything that happened behind the scenes that year? We do, and we’re going to reveal everything right here.
HBO Passed On The Walking Dead For Being Too Violent
Producers were hit with a bit of shock when they were originally trying to sell The Walking Dead to networks. Although it landed on at AMC, where it became a huge hit, it was originally pitched to HBO. The Emmy Award-winning behemoth rejected the show for being too violent.
Let that sink in for a moment. The same network that brought the world The Sopranos, The Wire, Game of Thrones, and Westworld, told producers that The Walking Dead was too violent for them to take a chance on. Their loss, we guess.
The Word ‘Zombie’ Is Never Said
To help make the show more believable to modern audiences, the word "zombie" is forbidden from being written in any scripts for The Walking Dead. Instead, the words, "herds," "walkers," "biters," and "undead" are used. The writers say they want audiences to buy into the fact that survivors were not prepared for the new world order.
We guess the movie Night of the Living Dead never came out in the universe these characters live in. That brilliant George Romero film gave the zombie genre life and is a must watch for any Walking Dead super fans!
SWAT Interrupted Filming During Season One
During the filming of the first season of the show, actor Michael Rooker stood on a rooftop with a rifle. Citizens in Atlanta thought he was an active sniper and called the authorities. In a matter of minutes SWAT showed up to put an end to trauma.
Producers cleared things up with SWAT, assuring them Rooker was filming a scene as Merle Dixon and was no threat to anyone on the ground. SWAT was satisfied with what they learned, and Michael Rooker was never taken into custody as an enemy of Atlanta.
Walkers Massively Outnumber The Living
When The Walking Dead begins, Rick Grimes wakes up in a hospital alone and confused. He has no idea what kind of world he has woken up to, and neither does the audience. There’s no clear timeline of how long into the zombie apocalypse Rick is when he steps into the light.
What we do know is that the world has been devastated and walkers outnumber humans 5,000 to one. Rick’s odds of survival are slim to none. If we were betting people, we’d take those chances considering Rick is the show’s main character.
Did Breaking Bad’s Walter White Start The Apocalypse?
In the second season of The Walking Dead, Darryl Dixon explains that his brother, Merle, was a drug dealer before everything went wrong. The show then cuts to a bag of blue drugs that are identical to what Walter White made in Breaking Bad.
The nod to AMC’s other hit show led to speculation that the zombie apocalypse started thanks to Walter White. Of course, this is unlikely, but it’s pretty funny to think about. Other theorists think infected water is the cause. The most common theory is that biological warfare gone wrong sent the world to… you know.
You Can Buy Darryl’s Crossbow In Real Life
One of Darryl Dixon’s defining traits on the show is his weapon of choice: a crossbow. It turns out he bought his crossbow at Walmart, and if you really felt the urge, you could too. It’ll cost you around 300 bucks. We bet you can find something better to spend your money on, though.
The cost of Dixon’s crossbow reflects the budget of the show in the first season. Producers were constrained by the small budget given to them by AMC and had to make the most out of a bad situation.
Frank Darabont Left As Showrunner After One Season
If you don’t know the name Frank Darabont, that’s okay. He works behind the scenes as a producer, writer, and director. It was Darabont who adapted the show for television after earning three Oscar nominations. It only took him one season to exit, upset with AMC for the tiny budget they gave him.
Darabont sued AMC for $280 million after being fired. Several actors and crew members he hired left the show in solidarity with him. One of the biggest was the actor who played Dale, whose character arc in the comics went much further than in the show.
Carl’s Stand-In Is An Adult Female
Rick’s son Carl does a lot of growing up in The Walking Dead. The show takes place over several years because of the actor’s inability to stay eight years old forever. In season four, the 15-year-old actor had a stand-in twice his age and the opposite gender.
The actress who was cast as Chandler Riggs’ stand-in is named Emily Brobst and was 31 years old during season four of the show. Aside from her work on The Walking Dead, she was also a part of the stunt team for Godzilla and Iron Man 3.
It’s Freezing During Filming
Filming for The Walking Dead happens when the weather is not warm. When scenes have to be shot at night, it’s absolutely freezing. The show isn’t supposed to take place in an area that gets so cold, so post production is called in to save the save the day.
The best example is the season two episode “Beside the Dying Fire.” Temperatures were so low while filming that the actors had visible steam coming out of their mouths while breathing. Using movie magic, editors were forced to digitally remove the breath before the episode made it to air.
The Prison Was Supposed To Be A School
During season three, the show moved into one of its most iconic locations: the prison. Fans of the comics were ecstatic. In the comics the prison is where the survivors take shelter before facing off with the Governor. The show ended up following the same storyline, even though it originally had different plans.
When producers began scouting locations for season three they looked for schools. Yep, before finding the perfect prison to loyally re-create the comics, the third season was supposed to take place in the lonely halls of a post-apocalyptic school. Watch out for the hall monitor!
Chandler Riggs Ate All The Pudding
In one of The Walking Dead’s most famous scenes, Carl sits on a rooftop after escaping certain death and finds happiness in a can of chocolate pudding. A 112 OUNCE can of chocolate pudding. When he returns to Rick, he says it ate it all.
He’s not lying. Chandler Riggs says the scene was one of his favorites to film, but he absolutely hated pudding when it was all over. We don’t know how many times they had to film the scene, but it sounds like Riggs ate all, if not most of, the seven pound can of pudding.
Andrew Lincoln Isn’t His Real Name
Are you ready for this bomb to be dropped? Andrew Lincoln, the actor who plays Rick Grimes, is not really named Andrew Lincoln. His real name is… wait for it… Andrew James Clutterbuck. That’s not a typo and we fully understand why he adopted Lincoln as a stage name.
Of course, it’s pretty normal for actors to take stage names that are easier on the ears. Clutterbuck definitely doesn’t make us think “Hollywood hero!” Also, when you try and say it, pronunciation is key or you’re going to embarrass yourself.
The Governor Has 24 Heads In His Collection
Season three is probably the most beloved season of The Walking Dead. During one scene, it’s revealed that the Governor likes to sit in a darkened room and stare at fish tanks full of zombie heads. For the curious, he keeps 24 heads for his viewing pleasure.
For those even more curious, the water in the tanks was dyed with green tea to get that disgusting opaque greenish-yellow look. Now that you know, good luck sleeping at night. You never know when the Governor will come to take away!
The Walkers Eat Ham, Not Humans
As graphic as the show gets, it’s important to remember that it’s just a show. You aren’t really watching walkers eat human flesh. What you are watching are actors in zombie makeup getting fat and happy on salty (and hopefully delicious) ham.
Sometimes chicken is used, too. When Dale is being consumed by ravenous biters, they are really taking huge chunks of chicken breasts. They might not be eating humans, but if you’re a vegetarian you’ve been warned. The Walking Dead is not the show for you.
Speaking Of Fake Food, Let’s Talk About That Mouse
There’s a storyline in the show where it’s revealed that Lizzie, a young girl, is feeding the zombies’ mice. The girl thinks of the walkers as pets and is trying to take care of them. If you remember this story arc, then you know it doesn’t end well for Lizzie.
It also doesn’t end well for the mice. Luckily, the actors in makeup aren’t really eating mice. To make the fake animals, the crew made them out of gelatin, then filled the insides with grape jelly. That sounds… better than fresh mouse.
Fans Aren’t Very Nice To Actors When They Meet
Fans can be crazy. Now that we have that established, fans of The Walking Dead take the crazy cake. Apparently, for some reason, they like to bite the actors when they meet them in real life. Sadly, we’re not joking, just ask Tyler James Williams.
Speaking to TV Guide, the actor said, "I got bit one time. I think it was like ‘Haha! A Joke’ But it wasn’t funny. The last show I did I was kind of ripped apart, so I think they thought it would be fun to re-enact it."
Walkers Don’t Blink
Working on set as a walker might be the hardest job on The Walking Dead. In order to be cast as an undead extra you need to attend "zombie bootcamp" where you’re taught how to walk like you’re leaving a bar at 2 am and how to not blink.
That’s right, zombie actors must adhere to a strict set of guidelines, and one of those is to blink as little as possible. Any blinking must be digitally removed in the editing bay, which is an understandably tedious job for an editor.
Norman Reedus Didn’t Audition For Darryl
When Norman Reedus booked his audition for the show, he wasn’t looking to be cast as Daryl Dixon. He was auditioning for the part of Merle Dixon, Darryl’s redneck brother. At the time of his audition, the character of Daryl Dixon didn’t even exist.
Producers loved Reedus so much that they wanted to use him full-time and created the role just for him. It’s lucky they did. Daryl has become a fan favorite on the show. Amazingly, his character has not crossed over into the comic book series yet.
Walkers Are Silent Predators
Okay, if you watch the show, you know that walkers are anything but quiet. They groan and moan and you can generally hear them coming from a mile away. The actors who play them are the ones that are completely silent.
When filming, zombie actors are not allowed to make any noise. All the grunts and things you hear in the show are added entirely in post production. We don’t know why, but that’s how the show chooses to do it. They also don’t let zombies eat with the living cast during lunch.
It Veers Wildly From The Comics
While this should come as no surprise, just how wildly the show veers from the comics is pretty amazing. One of the biggest shocks the show pulled was the deaths of Sophia and Andrea. Both are still alive in the comics (as far as we know).
Andrea becomes Rick’s girlfriend after the survivors settle into Alexandria. In the show, she never makes it out of the prison. Sophia is offed even earlier, turning into a zombie and being “taken care of” by Rick. In the comics, she’s adopted by Maggie and Glenn after becoming an orphan when Carol takes her own life.