There's a reason why The Walking Dead has endured as the most viewed cable television series in history. Well actually, there's at least five reasons. From the incredible story lines to the genius special effects, fans anxiously await Sunday nights to find out what lies ahead for Rick Grimes, his crew, and the future of mankind. Let's explore some of those reasons.
1. It's About The Humans
If you're a Walking Dead fan, then you've probably heard the phrase, "I dunno if I'd be interested. I'm really not into zombies." Sure, the series has zombies. In fact, it would be false to say that there weren't tons of them every episode. However, The Walking Dead isn't just a "zombie show." That probably would have gotten old after about a season. It is primarily a show about humanity.
The real drama and struggle surrounds the living, and how they must fight to survive. If there's one thing viewers have learned about this show, it's that the walkers aren't their biggest threat. The series conveys how all values and moral statutes can be turned upside down after such a catastrophic, apocalyptic event. The definitions of "good" and "human" are constantly being pushed.
The Walking Dead is extremely philosophical, compelling viewers to ask themselves, "What would I do?" There is a specific quote from Rick Grimes that perfectly captures why this show isn't about the walkers. He says, "We do what we need to do and then, we get to live. Because this is how we survive. We tell ourselves that we are the walking dead."
2. Guts And Glory
The special effects and makeup on this show are beyond amazing! Even for the faint of heart, it's easy to get past the blood, guts, and gore, and instead marvel at the effects team's behind-the-scenes work. Executive producer and special make-up effects supervisor, Greg Nicotero, is a mastermind concerned not only with making cool looking zombies, but also with aging them appropriately. He's made sure each successive season features zombies who are further and further decayed to keep them from getting visually stale.
Here's a look at what he does behind the scenes.
The way Nicotero and his team have revolutionized this craft is truly worthy of praise. And the stunts they get away with on this show, you couldn't find anywhere else. With every season, the walkers are visibly more and more decomposed and worn. Every detail of the makeup is carefully put into place, making everything look so realistic. Okay, yes, at times you probably will be freaked out. But after that passes, you'll find yourself asking, "How the heck did they do that?" If you're interested in seeing the behind-the-scenes work of the effects team, follow @gnicotero on Instagram!
And here's Nicotero talking about the differences between making a fresh "walker" and a decayed one.
3. There's So Much To Process, It Has It's Own After Show!
There is a wonderful place that exists for Walking Dead fans, where solace can be found after the loss of a favorite character, where burning questions can be answered, and where recaps can be shared. And at the helm of this wonderful place is a leader of nerds, the great and powerful, (and oh-so-dapper) Chris Hardwick.
Talking Dead is more than just an after-show, it's a pop culture staple that's helped keep the show engaging through every season. With a huge show like The Walking Dead, fans can't simply be expected to just tweet about it and wait till next week's episode. They need instant gratification! Hardwick hosts the weekly show, which digs deeper into the most recent episode, breaking down the why's and how's, and giving fans yet another place to discuss the show. With a panel of celebrity guests, cast members, producers and more, fans really have something else to sink their teeth into. Pun intended.
4. The Way the Show Continues to Interact with the Comics
For those who don't already know, The Walking Dead originated as a comic book series created by Robert Kirkman. And if you thought the show was dark? Oh man, check out the comics! Kirkman's original story isn't about heroes and villains, but about how the two can be easily intertwined.
If you want to give the show a whole new layer of meaning, start reading. Fans love watching the show for Easter egg references to the comic. And they eagerly await popular comic characters' first appearances on the show. It was recently announced that actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who is no stranger to comic book adaptations (The Watchmen), will be playing the character of Negan. Comic book fans freaked!
5. No Character Is Safe
The Walking Dead really revolutionized the concept of straying away from formulaic plot lines, and it was killing off main characters before Game of Thrones aired its premiere episode. Typically on television, you'll see a main character in danger and think, "Oh well, they're the main character. That means they can't die!" In The Walking Dead, think again. This show is constantly surprising you — you can rarely predict what will happen next or who will die. Shane. Dale. Laurie. Andrea. Merle. Hershel. Beth. Noah. The list goes on and on. #RIP. This season, one of the biggest and most heart-wrenching moments came when the show lead us to believe Glenn had finally met his end.
It's the showrunners' willingness to continually leave the fate of its core characters in the balance that helps keep things fresh every season and every episode.