With the original Walking Dead TV series now off-the-air after 11 seasons, and a slew of spin-off series like The Walking Dead: Dead City, The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon, and The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live about to catapult the walker franchise into the future, here are 100 fun and interesting things that you probably didn’t know about the original, hit AMC zombie apocalypse TV series.
These factoids cover what happened on the series behind-the-scenes and exactly what it took to make the show that spanned a decade and captured the hearts and minds of nearly 20 million viewers every week when it was at the height of its popularity.
Sidebar: Below are also 7 tips that anyone can use to avoid getting killed in a zombie apocalypse should they find themselves in the middle of one.
TWD FACTS - Part 1 (#50-25)
TWD Facts 50: The Cast “Last Supper”
Throughout the show’s 11 seasons, whenever the cast learned that one of the show’s lead characters was set to die in an episode, the cast would all get together and have a “Last Supper” dinner to say goodbye to the actor playing the character on the series.
TWD Facts 49: Ricks Grimes' Grimey, Old Underwear
The Sheriff Rick Grimes character wore the same underwear throughout the character’s 9 seasons on the TV series. The blue underwear Rick wakes up in at the hospital in Season 1, Episode 1 is the same underwear he’s wearing when he’s washed away by the river and taken away by helicopter in Season 9.
TWD Facts 48: Zombie School is Required
Regardless of whether an actor was an extra or a supporting character, everyone on the show that played a zombie attended a zombie school. All actors on the series were required not only to attend zombie school to learn how to move like a zombie, but they also had to be approved by the special FX superhero and executive producer of the show, Greg Nicotero.
TWD Facts 47: Everything Must Decay
Not every Walking Dead fan noticed this aesthetic extra, but, watching the show, and in particular, its credits sequence over its 11 seasons, you would’ve seen things decaying just as skin does on zombies. Colors in the opening sequence went from a yellow to a gangrene green to symbolize a change in narrative direction over its run on television.
TWD Facts 46: When It’s Cold, You Use CGI
Even with The Walking Dead being filmed in Central Georgia for all of its 11 seasons, weather could still cause the production company some issues. Shooting some scenes over the years in lower temperatures, those who make the show had to edit certain scenes with zombies to erase their breath on camera.
TWD Facts 45: A Fan Once Bit Daryl Dixon Actor Norman Reedus
A superfan who went to meet Norman Reedus at a Walker Stalker Fan Convention in New Jersey actually went up and bit the actor. Reedus didn’t press charges against the superfan of the show, even though the Convention promoters banned the fan for life from attending any of their future shows.
TWD Facts 44: Characters on AMC’s Walking Dead are Connected to the Characters on AMC’s Breaking Bad TV Series.
Few Walking Dead fans caught the connection that producers of the show put in that allowed the characters to be connected to those on fellow AMC show Breaking Bad. They came in Season 1 of the series. Merle Dixon had drugs: blue meth that he’d purchased from a skinny white boy dealer who said, “I’m gonna kill you, bitch” Walter White’s son had a Dodge Challenger with white racing stripes that was later returned to “Glenn’s lot.” In Season 1 of Walking Dead, Glenn is also seen driving a Dodge Challenger with white racing stripes as well.
TWD Facts 43: The”Z-Word” Was Never Used on The Walking Dead.
To avoid comparison with other zombie films or TV series, showrunners made a decision early in the series that they would never use the word “zombie” when referring to the undead. Instead, knick-names such as “walkers,” “skin-eaters,” “deadheads,” wasteds,” “deadies,” and “rotters,” were used in place.
TWD Facts 42: Ham Used as Human Flesh
Obviously the zombie actors on the series weren’t eating human flesh when they were tasked with munching on a character. What they were actually eating was ham covered in variations of BBQ sauce which was used as faux blood.
TWD Facts 41: The Little Teddy Bear Girl Zombie From Pilot Returned In Season 8
Remember when Rick Grimes shot the little girl with a teddy bear right in the face in the Pilot Episode? The actress who played the little girl in the Pilot was brought back to play another little girl in the show’s 100th episode to celebrate the series mark.
TWD Facts 40: Carl Always Had a Body-Double Throughout The Series
Child actor Chandler Riggs who played Rick’s son Carl had a stunt/body double on the set all throughout the series. As a young child, a young woman in her late teens named Savana Jade Wehunt was his double. Once he became a teenager, Wehunt was replaced by 29-year-old actress/stuntwoman Emily Brobst. Brobst was Riggs' stunt/body double from Season 4 until the end of the series.
TWD Facts 39: Playing “Merle” Almost Got Actor Michael Rooker Arrested Once
During the filming of an episode in Season 1 in Downtown Atlanta, local residents called police after seeing actor Michael Rooker firing a gun on the rooftop of a building. When police arrived, and discovered that the actor had only been firing blanks they left.
TWD Facts 38: Originally Rick’s Best Friend “Shane” Was Never Supposed To Make It to Season 2 of The Walking Dead.
In show creator Frank Darabont’s original plan for the series, Shane Walsh was never supposed to make it out of Season 1 alive.
TWD Facts 37: Dale Was Supposed To Live Longer Than Season 2
Who didn’t love the character of “Dale” in the first two seasons of The Walking Dead? Played by veteran character actor Jeffrey DeMunn, originally Dale was supposed to live through the season and appear in Season 3. However, when the show’s creator Frank Darabont was replaced after Season 1, the actor requested that he be written off to show solidarity with the creator, his close friend.
TWD Facts 36: Actress Lauren Cohan Was Pulled Over Once Dressed as “Maggie”
Leaving the set in Senoia, Georgia in her car, actress Lauren Cohan was pulled over by police while she was still dressed as Maggie. Covered with faux blood and walker guts, the Georgia Police Officer was more interested in trying to get her phone number so he could ask her out on a date, than he was about the gore covering her.
TWD Facts 35: No Actor Is Safe From Bugs on The Walking Dead
Shooting the show in the woods in Central Georgia means dealing with lots of bugs. In particular: Ticks. Ticks have a reputation for clingy to your body when you’re out in the woods, and actor Steven Yeun experienced them first hand, when after shooting a scene in the woods during the series he discovered hundreds of them had taken up residence in his nether regions.
TWD Facts 34: The Entire Walking Dead Universe Was Made Within A Little Town in Central Georgia
From Season 3 on, the majority of The Walking Dead TV series has been filmed in or around the little town in Central Georgia, Senoia. Downtown Senoia, served as Woodbury during the Governor’s time on the series.
Senoia, Georgia, features a small strip of street, and if you were to turn the camera in the opposite direction, fans of the series would see across a tiny creek and across a little bridge, the entirety of The Walking Dead’s Alexandria–a housing subdivision with a solid highway fence around it.
Hundreds of scenes from Season 3 on were filmed within close proximity to the downtown of Senoia, with abandoned buildings, fields, etc., playing major roles all throughout the show.
Today, the little town still thrives on the show–Norman Reedus and Greg Nicotero opened a restaurant there called “Nic & Norman’s." Not to mention, the town also has a Walking Dead merchandise store and museum as well that showcases screen-used props from the series.
TWD Facts 33: Greg Nicotero has been the show’s best zombie actor.
Hundreds of actors have played walkers on the show over its 11-season run. However, no-one has played a zombie walker better on the TV series than its special FX guru, executive producer, and director, Greg Nicotero. He’s appeared on the show as a walker in a few episodes to date, and has been killed by Daryl and Andrea in the earliest seasons of the series.
TWD Facts 32: There Have Been Celebrity Walkers.
Not all of the actor extras that have appeared on the series have been unknown personalities in pop culture. Some famous faces that have played walkers on the series include former Pittsburgh Steelers football player Hines Ward, heavy metal music icon Scott Ian, and actor Johnny Depp–whose head was used for a decapitated walker.
TWD Facts 31: Carl Is A Huge Fan of the Comic’s of Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman.
Throughout the series, it is made clear to audiences that Carl is not only a comic book fan, but in particular, a fan of comic artist / Walking Dead creator, Robert Kirkman. In later seasons of the show, Carl can be seen wearing a t-shirt with an atomic dog paw print across the front. The atomic paw print is a reference to another creation of Robert Kirkman, Science Dog. Science Dog is a Kirkman comic about an anthropomorphic dog in the wake of a science accident.
TWD Facts 30: There Are More Walkers Than Humans
Watching The Walking Dead you’ve probably wondered: How many walkers are out there in the zombie apocalypse? According to the original Kirkman comic series, there are 5000 walkers to every 1 human left.
TWD Facts 29: Daryl Dixon Never Appears in Source Comic
If Daryl Dixon is your favorite character in the series, you’ll be disappointed to know that he actually isn’t a character in the original comic book series. Daryl was specifically created for the series after actor Norman Reedus auditioned for the role of Merle.
TWD Facts 28: The Whole TV Series Might Be A Dream Happening in Rick’s Mind While He’s in the Hospital
Since the show’s beginning, fans have posited that the entire scenario is a dream in the mind of Rick as he lay in a hospital bed. There is no zombie apocalypse. There is no Governor; no Negan.
TWD Facts 27: Want Daryl’s Crossbow? You Can Buy A Replica At Your Local Walmart.
As with other pop culture franchises, fans of The Walking Dead can purchase anything from t-shirts to action figures when it comes to paying homage to the show. But, did you know that you can buy a replica of Daryl Dixon’s kick-butt crossbow? Throughout the TV Series, the retailer has offered not only a replica of Daryl’s crossbow, but also several other items that fans of the show will surely love.
TWD Facts 26: The Part of Michonne Wasn’t Cast With An Actor Until The 11th Hour.
If you’ve ever read the WD comics and you’ve ever wondered why it took so long for Michonne to show up on the series, it’s because the show’s producers couldn’t find the right actress for the part for a long time. When Michonne shows up at the end of Season 2 and we don’t get to see her face until Season 3, it was because the show’s producers hadn’t found Danai Gurira yet, and were forced to use a stand-in actress who could fill out the dark cape.
TWD Facts 25: Several of the Actors on The Series are British.
Actors Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes), David Morrissey (The Governor) and Lauren Cohen (Maggie) are all British actors cast on the hit AMC TV series.
Side Bar: How To Survive A Zombie Apocalypse
A zombie apocalypse in The Walking Dead TV series isn't just an awesome plot theme.
The CDC (Center for Disease Control) takes it seriously enough to provide Zombie Preparedness Kits and classes on their website. The good thing is that shows like The Walking Dead can teach us a lot about surviving a zombie breakout. Here are 7 of the best tips that pretty much everyone should have learned from Rick, Carl, Daryl, Michonne and the rest of the gang from watching the show over the years.
Tip # 1: Don't Freak Out, Man!
If there’s one thing that’s for certain, it’s this: zombies are crazy and they want to have you for dinner. And that’s all the more reason to maintain your shit. Remember: Keep calm. And remember every episode of The Walking Dead that you’ve watched in life – and you'll be fine. The most important thing is to understand that the government, police and any other authority won't be able to help you. Surviving is on you, now.
Tip # 2: Carry a Big Stick
Surviving a bunch of ravenous Walkers, it’s important for anyone to have some very big guns and have plenty of ammo. Not a great shot? Anyone in a zombie apocalypse that can’t hit the broadside of a barn better grab a pump-action shotgun and be prepared for point blank firing on the undead. And remember: when someone is out of bullets and the walkers are coming it’s important to reload fast, point, and spray.
Tip # 3: Have Samurai Sword, Will Travel
Out of bullets? Is there another weapon that can be used when you’re in a zombie apocalypse and you’re short on bullets? Any zombie-slaying professional knows that there’s only one other weapon that works well on walkers when it comes to surviving the apocalypse–a samurai sword! Any samurai sword worth a grain of salt is sharper than the Devil himself!
Tip # 4: Better Take Lunch
Supplies in the apocalypse will help anyone survive. So, when anyone is out killing walkers and walking around the remnants of their former town or city, it’s important to be consciously-looking around for supplies. Search abandoned buildings. It’ll be important to secure a healthy-supply of food, water, gas, and medical materials when they eventually become in short supply.
Tip # 5: Get the Hell Out of Dodge
Towns are dangerous, cities are worse. So, when it comes to surviving it might be a good idea to just get the hell out and move into the surrounding countryside. Even a small town can be crowded with people, so, it’s important to always be watching over one’s back. There can be walkers lurking around the corner, but there can also be desperate humans that won’t think twice about murder if it means their own survival.
Tip # 6: Home Sweet Defendable HomeAs days turn to months, it’s important to try and establish a homebase. Being a nomad and wandering for months can really take a toll on one’s psyche. Find a strong structure with a decent vantage point but one that also offers some essential structure that will allow anyone to defend themselves not only against walkers but humans.
Tip # 7: Form a CliqueSurvival in the zombie apocalypse will come down to how many friends anyone can put together to live. Tough friends are good. Smart friends are even better. An apocalypse partner is anyone who will have their fellow human’s back when the horde arrives and the factions are overrun and there’s nothing left to do but fight for one’s life.
The Walking Dead Facts - Part 2 (#25-01)
The Walking Dead Facts #25: There Are Living And Dead Eating Areas For The Show’s Cast
To create a sense of authenticity and to help actors stay in character, the show’s producers early on in the series put the rule into place that prevents actors playing the dead from hanging out, eating with the actors who are playing the living.
The Walking Dead Facts #24: Carl Really Did Eat All That Pudding
Remember the scenes from the series with Carl and that giant can of Chocolate Pudding? After the completion of the series, it was revealed that actor Chandler Riggs did in fact eat the entire 112 ounce can of pudding during the shooting of those scenes.
The Walking Dead Facts #23: Actor Michael Cudlitz Kept Abraham’s Death A Secret from the Rest of the Cast Prior To Filming
When actor Michael Cudlitz (Abraham) learned from the show’s producers that his character would be killed off in an upcoming episode, he had to keep it a secret from the entire cast and crew leading up to the shooting.
The Walking Dead Facts #22: Carol Was Supposed To Die Earlier In The Series
Originally the character of Carol was supposed to be killed off at the end of Season 3 of the series. However, with the success of the series, and both Carol and Daryl being the fan favorites of the series, the producers decided to kill off T-Dog instead as survivors attempted to flee the prison after it was overrun by the undead.
The Walking Dead Facts #21: There Were Many Baby Actors That Played Little Judith
Over the course of the series, there were a total of 16 babies that were used by the show’s production in the role of Judith before fans of the series saw her as a pre-teen kick-ass samurai girl.
The Walking Dead Facts #20: The Walking Dead: Police Procedural Series?
Prior to airing on AMC, The Walking Dead was originally intended to air on AMC’s parent network, NBC. Executives at NBC had wanted the show to be about two police detectives who solve a zombie crime every week. WD Creator Frank Darabont said, “No.”
The Walking Dead Facts #19: The Walking Dead TV Series Was The Brain-Child of Writer/Director Frank Darabont.
The Walking Dead TV series wasn’t created by AMC. It was the brain-child of the great writer and director Frank Darabont. Darabont has worked on such TV series as The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, Tales From The Crypt, and The Shield. Darabont is the screenwriter of such movies as Nightmare On Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors, Saving Private Ryan, The Fan, Eraser, Godzilla, The Blob (1988 Remake), The Fly II, The Shawshank Redemption, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, The Green Mile, The Majestic, Collateral, and The Mist.
The Walking Dead Facts #18: Andrew Lincoln Was Not Frank Darabont’s First Choice To Play “Rick Grimes.”
When show creator Frank Darabont originally pitched Robert Kirkman’s comic book series about the zombie apocalypse to NBC / AMC he’d originally intended to cast actor Thomas Jane in the Rick party. Thomas Jane, known from Boogie Nights, The Punisher, The Mist, and the HBO series Hung was unavailable at the time.
The Walking Dead Facts #17: Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus Had A Hilarious Prank War Going On All During The Series
Actors Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus had a crazy prank war throughout the shooting of the series in Central Georgia. It was at its most intense in the first 3 seasons of the show. For example: Reedus once filled Andrew Lincoln’s trailer with live chickens and even put packets of glitter in the vents of his car’s air conditioning system.
In response: Lincoln wrapped Norman Reedus’s car up in toilet paper and then poured glitter all over him on stage when both were promoting the show at the massive San Diego Comic Con. To get him back: When the pair were in Japan promoting the show, Reedus taught Lincoln how to say “Thank you” in Japanese, and when he said it to a journalist in an interview, it was explained that he’d really just said, “Where’s the toilet?”
The Walking Dead Facts #16: A Walking Dead stuntman died on the set of the show in 2017.
Filming a scene for the series in 2017, stuntman John Bernecker accidentally missed some protective padding on the ground below him. The stuntman jumped over a balcony and fell to the ground. He was rushed to the hospital, where he passed away two days later.
The Walking Dead Facts #15: Audiences Were Told That Shane Would Be Dying At The End of Season 2 In Advance
When it was leaked 2 weeks before the episode aired, the internet lost its shit when it learned that Shane would be dying at the end of Season 2. Producers of the Series experienced a lot of stress as a result worrying that the show’s ratings would drop. They didn’t. In fact, they went up as a result.
The Walking Dead Facts #14: A Fan Wrote & Published an Obituary For Glenn Went He Died On The Series
The death of Glenn Rhee at the beginning of Season 7 shocked fans of the series. One fan of the show in Arkansas was so upset, in fact, that they published an obituary for Glenn in their local city newspaper.
The Walking Dead Facts #13: The Show Filmed Every Character Dying At The Hands of Negan.
To keep Glenn’s death a secret from the press and fans of the series, executive producer / special FX guru, and show director filmed the deaths of several of the other characters at the hands of Negan also just in case something was leaked–Maggie’s death scene was the one that leaked out on the internet.
The Walking Dead Facts #12 - HBO Passed On The Walking Dead
Originally, HBO had been interested in the zombie apocalypse series before NBC / AMC grabbed it up and went on to make pop culture history. However, they eventually passed on it after the show’s creators declined to tone down any of the violence that was to be included.
The Walking Dead Facts #11: It Took 1 Hour Per Walker To Get Them Ready For Cameras
It took special effects team members 1 hour per person to get them ready to be a zombie in front of the cameras on the show. For example: A woman who was getting done up to be a zombie had to have her hair pulled up, put under a bald cap and then covered with latex, etc.
The Walking Dead Facts #10: Really? That’s All A Walker Gets Paid To Be On The Show!?!?
Background and middle zombies were paid only $64 dollars for 8 hours of work. Hero zombies were paid $88 dollars for 8 hours of work, then $11 dollars per hour for each hour after 8. Any actor playing a zombie who did a single stunt on camera got an additional $50.
The Walking Dead Facts #09: Judith Must Die!
For several seasons writers on the show tried to kill little baby Judith off on the show. However, every time Judith died in a script, showrunners demanded it be taken out. The reason? Killing off baby Judith would make the show too bleak and with her alive it gave the audience at home a sense of hope for the future.
The Walking Dead Facts #08: The Origin Story
The Walking Dead TV Series came as a result of writer and director Frank Darabont’s and comic creator Robert Kirkman’s meeting with producer Gale Ann Hurd at San Diego Comic-Con.
The Walking Dead Facts #07: Carol Is Much Younger in The Robert Kirkman Comic Story
In The Walking Dead comic series, Carol is only 25-years-old. A different character than what fans of the show experienced weekly, the comic book Carol was a self-centered gal who slowly deluged into insanity and ended up killing herself during the apocalypse.
The Walking Dead Facts #06: Actor Steven Yeun Knew That Glenn Would Die Next For An Entire Year
Producers of The Walking Dead told actor Steven Yeun that Glenn would die at the end of Season 6. He had to keep it a secret from the entire cast and crew throughout the shooting of the series leading up to his final scene where his character dies at the hands of Negan.
The Walking Dead Facts #05: You Don’t Make A Lot of Money As An Actor on The Walking Dead TV Series
Actors on the one of the most-watched TV series of all time didn’t make a lot of money. In fact, many of the principal actors on the series weren’t paid as much money as other actors who were on competing TV series such as Mad Man and Breaking Bad. For example: Both Norman Reedus and Melissa McBride were paid more per episode than the show’s lead actor, Andrew Lincoln at the beginning of the series. Although, with the series becoming one of the most-watched TV series of all time, many of the actors' salaries grew x10 per episode by the time that the cast reached the show’s final season.
The Walking Dead Facts #04: The Walking Dead Was Shot On 16mm Film
Believe it or not, but the majority of the Walking Dead TV series was filmed on 16mm film stock. David Tattershall and David Boyd, who worked together as the series original Directors of Photography chose to shoot the series on 16mm to give it a gritty look and blur that would match the look and feel of horror movies from the 1970s and 1980s.
The Walking Dead Facts #03: Coming Soon: 3 Walking Dead Movies!
It’s no secret that soon we will see 3 Walking Dead movies at our local theater. In partnership with Universal Pictures, AMC is producing 3 Walking Dead feature length films that will pick up on certain story / character situations. Not everything is known about what each of these 3 movies will be specifically about, but fans of the series do know that the first one will pick up and follow Rick, Michonne, and Jadis where they left the TV series.
The Walking Dead Facts #02: All Of Carol’s Kids on the Show Were Actual Siblings In Real Life
All the kids that play Carol’s children throughout the series were real-life siblings. Sophia, Carol’s daughter in Season 1 and 2 was played by Madison Lintz. Henry, Carol’s surrogate son in the later half of the series, was played by her older brother, Matt Lintz.
The Walking Dead Facts #01: Actors Who Were Almost Our Favorite WD Characters
There were many actors who auditioned for various parts across the longest-running TV series on pay cable that didn’t make it in the end. Here’s a short list:
Actor Matthew Lillard (Scooby-Doo, Scream) was almost cast instead of Jeffrey Dean Morgan to play the role of Negan.
Dave Bautista (WWF Pro Wrestler, Knock At The Cabin) once asked to play a walker on the show, however producers told him that he was too big.