The Walking Dead TV show suffers from issues that the original comic book did not have to overcome. It costs a lot of money to film big action set pieces, as well as creating realistic zombie makeup and hiring lots of extras to perform as the undead. It seems that the story of The Walking Dead was meant to be told in a video game format instead, as this doesn’t have the same budgetary issues as a TV show.
When Telltale Games received the licence to create games based on The Walking Dead franchise, they single-handedly revived the adventure game genre. The Walking Dead managed to mix story, character and action in such a way as to engage the player as much as possible. It says a lot for The Walking Dead’s quality, that a game based on a comic book licence managed to win over 80 Game of the Year awards.
We are here today to look into the backstory of one of the greatest video game series of all time. From the missing Walter White to the unused battle against an escaped tiger.
Here are 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Telltale’s The Walking Dead!
15. The Breaking Bad Crossover
Both Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead were made for broadcast on AMC. As such, there have been several subtle crossovers between the two shows. In The Walking Dead, bags of blue meth have been shown amongst other drugs. Daryl Nixon also describes purchasing drugs from a man whose description matches that of Jesse Pinkman.
According to the timeline of both shows, the final episode of Breaking Bad takes place in 2010. Fear the Walking Dead confirms that the zombie outbreak started in 2012. This means that Jesse has two years of freedom before he gets eaten by walkers.
The Telltale version of The Walking Dead continued this trend during the introduction to 400 Days. In the early episodes of Breaking Bad, Walter White goes missing. His son makes some posters and hangs them up around town. When you first start The Walking Dead: 400 Days, the camera pans over a notice board filled with missing person posters. Walter White’s poster from Breaking Bad can be seen amongst other faces on the board.
14. Clementine Almost Didn’t Make It Into The Game
Including a child actor in a TV show or movie is very risky. For every Haley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense, there are a hundred Anakin Skywalkers. One of the worst recent examples happens to belong to The Walking Dead TV show. Carl annoyed the hell out of fans for several seasons, with his penchant for running off, causing the other characters to stop what they were doing in order to look for him.
The Walking Dead video game subverted this completely. Clementine manages to evoke a protective response from the player. As the first season continues on, the desire to shield Clementine from the horrors of the world becomes the main driving force for most players. A lot of praise needs to given to Clementine’s voice actress, Melissa Hutchinson. She was given the task of making a child character likeable, and she did an amazing job.
It might seem like a crazy idea now, but Clementine was almost cut from the game. The developers contemplated removing her completely when they were only a week away from recording the voices for the first episode. They were worried that if a child character wasn’t likeable enough, then the player would resent having to take care of her.
13. The Judgemental Dream
The adventure games made by Telltale are all about making hard choices and living with the repercussions of your decisions. One decision that they love to force on to you involves making a choice between two characters. You have the opportunity to save one, at the cost of the other person dying. They do this several times in The Walking Dead, as well as in their Game of Thrones title.
In the first episode of The Walking Dead, Lee is forced to choose between saving two of his new companions. One is a news reporter, named Carley, the other is a computer technician, called Doug. Most players choose to save Carley, as she plays a bigger role in the story up to that point. This choice turns out to be pointless, as the survivor will be killed by Lilly in “A Long Road Ahead”.
There are unused dialogue files in the game which were meant to be part of a cut dream sequence in episode 2. Lee was supposed to have a nightmare, where he was visited by either Doug or Carley, depending on which one died in the first episode. They would chastise Lee for letting them die, and ask him why he feels he has the right to decide who gets to live.
12. Paige Loves Samantha
The Walking Dead video games are released in an episodic fashion. This has drawn criticism from impatient fans, who are eager to play the next part of the story. This has caused Telltale to create short filler games, that tend to be released in the gap between seasons. The most recent one was a series of episodes based around Michonne from The Walking Dead TV show/comic book. This series was praised for its excellent story, but also criticised for its short length and lack of continuity with the other games.
One of the characters you will meet in the Michonne game is a girl named Paige. Throughout the Michonne games, Paige will be friends with a girl named Samantha. According to the developers of the game, Paige actually has romantic feelings for Samantha, making her one of the few gay characters in The Walking Dead. It is never revealed whether Samantha shares her affections.
11. Death By Duck
Clementine managed to avoid most of the things that make a child character annoying in movies. The same cannot be said for Duck, the son of Kenny and Katjaa. In the early parts of the game, he is presented as a dumb kid who needs rescuing from the walkers on several occasions. As time goes on, most players tend to warm to Duck. This is partly due to a scene where he helps Lee investigate the stolen supply situation, and insists that they both pretend to be Batman and Robin. This is all a trick on the part of the developer, however. They make you like Duck, just so they can force you to choose how he dies later on.
It is possible for Duck to kill almost the entire cast of the game. When Lee asks Kenny to stop the train in episode 3, the player needs to say nothing for the entire time. Eventually, Kenny will get frustrated and kick Lee out of the driver’s room. When Lee returns to the other carriage, he will find that Duck has turned into a walker. He has killed Ben & Clementine and lunges at Lee, causing a Game Over.
10. The Randy Man
Some video game developers cannot help but include references to themselves in their games. The king of these is Hideo Kojima with the Metal Gear Solid series. He went from subtly including his name throughout the first game, to actually being a character who could be recruited by Big Boss in Metal Gear Solid V. This level of familiarity with the audience is polarising among the fans. Some enjoy fourth-wall breaking easter eggs, whilst others feel that they force the player out of the game world, in exchange for buttering up someone’s ego.
In The Walking Dead, there is a hidden reference to Randy Tudor, who is one of the lead programmers at Telltale Games. He is referenced in the final episode of the first season. If you repeatedly talk to Kenny whilst searching the house, then Lee will turn to the camera and talk about Randy Tudor. He mentions what a great guy he is and what an amazing moustache he has.
9. The Return Of Lilly
Lilly is one of the most disliked characters in The Walking Dead video game series. As the leader of the group, her plans make sense and she tries to do what it best for everyone. This is offset by the fact that she acts like a colossal bitch most of the time. Relations begin to crumble when Lee and Kenny are forced to kill Lilly’s father before he can die of a heart attack and come back as a walker. She ends up shooting either Doug or Carley, making Lee’s difficult choice about who to save in episode 1 totally meaningless.
The developers actually intended for Lilly to return at one point. According to Gavin Hammon (Kenny’s voice actor), there was talk of Lilly returning in the final episode of the first season. She was going to show up in Kenny’s RV. The extent of her involvement in the story is unknown and it is unlikely that she could have prevented the heartbreaking conclusion to the first season.
8. The Pinball Of The Dead
The Walking Dead is lucky to have a highly acclaimed video game series as part of the franchise. The vast majority of licenced video games are terrible. The Walking Dead is no exception in this regard. Along with the excellent games produced by Telltale, there is also The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct, produced by Terminal Reality. This was a game where you played as Daryl Dixon from the TV show. It was a generic first person shooter, and it was panned by critics, due to it being a terrible game.
Telltale Games are not completely innocent in regard to making bad Walking Dead games. In 2014, they teamed up with Zen Studios to create a pinball game based on their Walking Dead titles. They thought that this must have been the most appropriate choice for a spinoff game. Nothing quite manages to grab The Walking Dead’s atmosphere of dread and fear of being eaten by zombies than a pinball game.
7. The Sam & Max Drink
The first adventure game made by Telltale was based on the Sam & Max comic book series. The second season of Telltale’s version of Sam & Max introduced a banana drink, called Banang. If you repeatedly click on the bottle of Banang, then Sam will say its name over and over again. For some unexplained reason, the Banang drink became a recurring item in various Telltale titles. Banang drinks would show in Tales of Monkey Island, Tales from the Borderlands, Back to the Future: The Game and Poker Night at the Inventory.
Banang would also show up in Telltale’s The Walking Dead. In the first season, a bottle of Banang can be seen in the beverage holder of Kenny’s RV. In 400 Days, a bottle of Banang can be seen in the kitchen of the diner. These bottles are presumably empty, as the characters would likely have drunk them by now.
6. The Broken Discs
As highly acclaimed as many of the Telltale games are, there is no denying the fact that their titles are very buggy upon release. This is partly due to the sheer amount of ports that each of their game’s receive. As the Telltale adventure games don’t require high technical specifications, they can be released on many different consoles and operating systems at once.
The worst example of Telltale screwing up a port happened with the disc version of The Walking Dead, that was released on the Ps3 and Xbox 360. The game was originally only supposed to be released as a digital download. When it became a commercial success, the whole first season was bundled onto a disc. The Walking Dead was unplayable on certain models of the Xbox 360, due to the game constantly stuttering. As a response to this, Telltale offered free downloads of the digital version of the game to those who could not play the disc version. This wasn’t much help to fans without an Internet connection or a hard drive… which is likely the reason why they bought the disc version in the first place.
5. They (Almost) Killed Kenny
One of the biggest surprises in the second season of The Walking Dead is the revelation that Kenny is still alive. Depending on your choices in the previous episode, Kenny will get separated from the group during the final episode and be pursued by walkers. The other characters will not have the time or opportunity to save him. Kenny seemingly gives his life in order to help Lee continue his quest to save Clementine from her mysterious captor.
It seems that Kenny was actually planned to die in the first season of The Walking Dead. His voice actor stated in an interview that he recorded specific dialogue for Kenny’s death. Kenny was going to be caught by walkers and devoured by them. Voice lines were recorded of Kenny struggling and screaming as the zombies bit him to death. The developers eventually changed their mind and left his fate open, in case they wanted to use him again in a later season.
4. The Crying Game
The voice actors for Lee and Clementine deserve a lot of credit for the success of The Walking Dead. Lee was played by Dave Fennoy, whose deep voice managed to convey the feelings of a man who was trying to make amends for the crime he had committed. His love and affection for his friends felt genuine, and his death is one of the saddest moments in video game history.
Clementine was played by Melissa Hutchinson. She completed the impossible task of making us like a child character in a video game. Her portrayal of Clementine made us want to protect her, rather than seeing her presence as a burden on the group.
It seems that the impact of the final scene of The Walking Dead left an impression on the cast as well. Both Dave Fennoy and Melissa Hutchinson have admitted to crying while recording their lines for the final encounter between Lee and Clementine.
3. Brie Was Based On A Real Woman Who Won A Contest To Appear In The Game
When the first season of The Walking Dead was still in development, Telltale games offered select fans a chance to become a walker in their world. Telltale started the “Join the Cast” contest, which could be entered by people who pre-ordered the PC or Mac versions of the game. The winners would be given the chance to have their likeness appear in the game as a zombie, with one being incorporated as a character.
The winner of the contest was Brie Rosenholm. Her appearance was used for the character of Brie, who debuted in episode 4 (though she was voiced by Cissy Jones). Brie is one of the cancer survivors, who escaped from the community of Crawford and hid within the morgue. Brie was killed by walkers and reappears in the next episode as a member of the undead. She is killed by either Lee or Omid.
2. Ben’s Plea
If Lilly is the most disliked character in the first season of The Walking Dead, then Ben must be a close second. It isn’t totally his fault, however. Ben is portrayed as a drain on the group. He constantly screws up and gets the crew in danger. Ben even admits to stealing food supplies from the group. When Lee is given the option of dropping Ben to his death in the penultimate episode, over half of the players did it. It might seem like a heartless thing to do, but Ben really was that much of a screw-up. The players were finally glad to be rid of him.
There are unused dialogue files in the game that concern the potential death of Ben. There are extended scenes of Ben asking Lee to drop him, as he knows what a liability he has been. These may have been removed to make the scene more realistic, as walkers are pursuing the group up a flight of stairs, as Ben is hanging on for dear life. Ben and Lee aren’t likely to be having a lengthy chat under those circumstances. There was also going to be new scenes of Lee explaining Ben’s death to Clementine.
1. The Unrealistic Tiger
When the second series of The Walking Dead was being developed, there were two set pieces designed for the game that were cut before production began. The first involved a nuclear power plant, which may have answered the question of why there haven’t been any problems with the nuclear reactors that were abandoned after the outbreak. The second involved Clementine encountering a wild tiger, which presumably escaped from a Zoo. The tiger idea was scrapped because the developers felt that it was too unrealistic.
The people at Telltale Games may have spoken too soon, as a character named Ezekiel would later be introduced in The Walking Dead comic book series (and later, the TV show). Ezekiel is the ruler of a community known as The Kingdom. He also happens to own a tiger, named Shiva, whom he unleashes upon his enemies. It seems that Robert Kirkman does not share Telltale’s belief that a tiger would be too unrealistic for his zombie apocalypse story.