As we have wrapped on another divisive season of Scott Gimple’s The Walking Dead, there is now an agonizing wait ahead until the show’s October return.
After more dramatic demises and plot twists than you can shake a wire-wrapped baseball at, eagle-eyed viewers have kept their eyes peeled for what is ahead. Where there are still no whispers of the Whisperers, there are more than enough hidden secrets on The Walking Dead to keep you busy.
Over the past seven years and 99 episodes, we have been thrown curveballs, shock deaths, and more than a few nods to Robert Kirkman’s comic book series of the same name. Whether it be a big question of Rick losing his hand or signs of a certain villain facing some time behind bars, the show is certainly one of the smartest on television.
As The Walking Dead enters a new era, we can’t just turn to the page to learn something different about the show we adore. The show continues to deviate from the source material and delve deeper into the history of the zombie genre, and has gradually become an Easter egg hunt for fans of horror, Heisenberg, and hard rock. So, here are 15 Things You Missed On The Walking Dead.
15. The Titles Decay More Each Season
Easily the longest standing Easter egg of the series has run the entirety of the show and involved the show’s title sequence. While we may spot the little hints to the series ahead in the opening, did you ever notice that the show itself is decaying?
SFX guru Greg Nicotero makes it no secret that the walkers on the show are slowly rotting to show the passage of time, but so are the titles. Looking back at season 1, we saw the bright yellow lettering of “The Walking Dead.” However, jump ahead to season 7 and we are left with grimy browns and rotten wording.
With no end in sight for the AMC’s popular zombie apocalypse, and jokes that Andrew Lincoln could be killed off in season 20, who knows if we’ll even be able to read the title card by the time The Walking Dead shuffles off into the grave.
14. The Governor Was Really A Pirate
While some might see Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Negan as the big bad of TWD, other will always think of the Governor as the ultimate villain. David Morrissey was near-perfect as the manic Woodbury leader in season 3 and 4. Sure, Philip Blake may not have had a wire-wrapped baseball bat, but he did have a gnarly eyepatch and attitude to match.
In the TV show, the Governor famously lost his eye when Michonne stabbed him with a piece of a glass, which was a day at Disneyland compared to his comic book counterpart. The graphic pages of Kirkman’s comic saw Blake lose an eye, an arm, his fingernails, and then have his penis nailed to the floor!
Back on the show, a fallen Governor went mad and slaughtered his supporters, then spiralled into a depression. We caught up with Blake lying on the sofa in a disheveled state, and behind him you can clearly see a cushion with a parrot. It was a subtle but hilarious comedy nod that yes, the eye-patched psycho looks like a pirate.
13. Negan’s Gun Is A Tribue To Escape From New York
It isn’t all swinging baseball bats though for the Saviors. We have already seen Negan use a red-hot iron and a furnace to let out his bloodlust, while Jeffrey Dean Morgan also picks up a gun every now and then. However, did you spot a subtle nod to Kurt Russell in the season 7 finale?
After Negan’s surprise attack from Shiva the tiger, he resorted to good ol’ bullets to fend off the intrepid survivors. As revealed on after-show The Talking Dead, it turned out that Greg Nicotero snuck in a reference to one of cinema’s greatest heroes – Snake Plissken – with Negan’s gun.
The gun homage famously appeared in 1981’s film Escape From New York, as Russell’s Plissken is tasked with saving the president from Manhattan Island after it has been converted into the world’s largest prison. With Robert Rodriguez tapped to direct a remake of the dystopian action film, perhaps Jeffrey Dean Morgan is preparing to audition for the iconic role.
12. Robert Kirkman’s Other Comics Appear
Just because the world around you is falling apart, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t time to kick back and enjoy a good book– or, if it floats your boat, a comic book.
Robert Kirkman may be the genius behind The Walking Dead comic book, however, his best-known work isn’t his only brilliant piece of writing. If you look close enough, there are several of his other works that pop up in The Walking Dead.
In season 6’s “The Next World,” we see Carl and Enid reading a copy of Kirkman’s Invincible. In case you haven’t heard of it, Invincible is effectively Kirkman’s uber-violent take on Superman.
While it may not be suitable reading material for young Carl Grimes, he has seen more than enough violence to let this one slide. Earlier in the series, we saw some Invincible Minimates on a shelf in Sam’s room, so it seems that Carl isn’t the only Kirkman fan.
11. There Is A Nod To Creepshow’s “The Crate”
George A. Romero’s Creepshow is still held up as one of the best horror anthologies out there. Influencing the likes of REC, ABCs of Death, and even American Horror Story (to a degree), the 1982 classic starred the likes of Leslie Nielsen, Ted Danson, and even the film’s writer Stephen King.
While Romero himself may not be a huge fan of The Walking Dead, the show is more than happy to take influence from his work. In the season 5 premiere, “No Sanctuary”, we see a crate that bears the exact same markings as one that appears in the segment “The Crate” from Creepshow.
Eagle-eyed viewers noticed that it said, “Arctic Expedition Horlicks University, Attn: Julia Carpenter,” clearly on the side. Let’s just hope there was no abominable snowman inside – Rick and co. have enough to deal with.
Given that Greg Nicotero started out on Romero’s Day of the Dead and was also mentored by Romero’s FX guru Tom Savini, it is unsurprising that there are so many Romero references on TWD. Be warned: this won’t be the last time you see Romero on this list.
10. Daryl’s cigarettes appeared in Psycho, Buffy, and The X-Files
We all know how Quentin Tarantino likes to flush his Tarantinoverse with faux brands, however, the idea goes way back further than you might think. While Tarantino is famous for Red Apple cigarettes, there is a more famous stick that our favorite characters like to smoke.
You may have heard of the name Morley, which is a riff on Marlboro’s nickname “Marleys” and first appeared in 1960 during Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. They have since gone on to pop up in The X-Files, Platoon, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and of course, The Walking Dead.
There may also be Morley Lights, but it seems that Daryl Dixon is a fan of the classic branding. In season 5, he finds a large carton of cigarettes when Noah is trapped under the bookcase in the hospital and wastes no time lighting up at every given opportunity.
The brand also appeared back in season 2 when we saw poor old Dale Horvath holding a pack prior to his tragic demise. Later, we see the first ever introduction of Menthol Morleys when Carol finds a pack in “JSS.” And who said The Walking Dead isn’t pioneering?
9. Jaws Easter Egg
David Morrissey’s Philip Blake certainly had an eclectic taste when it came to room decorations. The Governor’s own private sanctuary was a veritable house of horrors and came complete with quite the aquatic collection.
We all remember the shock reveal of the Governor’s room of fish tank heads back in season 3, but did anyone spot a familiar face bobbing around in there?
The reanimated heads were The Walking Dead at its most twisted: one came all the way from Steven Spielberg’s Jaws in 1975. Played by the late Craig Kingsbury, Ben Gardner was a doomed fisherman from the Amity Incident during Spielberg’s shark shocker.
The jump scare of Gardner’s severed head floating out from under the hull of a boat still remains one of the best scenes in classic horror. While The Walking Dead didn’t “quite” have the same shock, it was still a faithful homage to watery woes.
8. Breaking Bad Is A Prequel To TWD?
In one of the weirdest theories out there, it has been long rumored that the meth-madness of Breaking Bad is actually a prequel to The Walking Dead. Will we eventually find out the Heisenberg’s azure drugs are actually the cause of the zombie apocalypse? It is certainly a possibility!
The very first episode of the show saw Merle Dixon holding a bag of “Blue Sky” and Daryl recounting the story of the drug dealer who always used the word “b*tch.” Does that sound a lot like Jesse Pinkman to anyone else?
There is further evidence that Vince Gilligan’s show is connected to TWD, including a cameo from a red and black Dodge Challenger. If you remember Breaking Bad, Skylar told Walt to take the car back to the dealers, which was ironically called “Glenn’s Car Lot.”
We then saw Steven Yeun’s Glenn Rhee driving an identical Challenger in the first season of The Walking Dead. Although Walter White blew up his Dodge, the connection eerily similar to be a coincidence. While it could all just be Easter eggs from (then) showrunner Frank Darabont, it is one hell of a theory to mull over.
7. Anthrax’s Scott Ian Also Appeared
What could be better performing in front of thousands of angry metal rockers? How about your own cameo in The Walking Dead? Wandering among the hordes of rotting flesh was a hidden appearance by Anthrax founding member Scott Ian.
In season 5’s “Remember,” Ian can be seen hiding under a pile of rubbish. The decaying walker grabbed Rick Grimes and attempted to recruit him to the army of the undead..
More than just a background roamer, the rocker even got his moment of glory when spiked through the head by Rick’s son Carl. Scott later appeared on the aftershow The Talking Dead and reminded us that it took him four years to actually make it onto the show.
Some may also know that the Anthrax founder first appeared in walker makeup in 2011, but only made it onto a webisode. He said it was a Make-A-Wish kind of day to finally get a “proper” part on the show.
6. Did Umbrella Start The Outbreak?
If Bryan Cranston bringing about the end of days isn’t wacky enough for you, how about some carnage from Capcom? Fans of the gaming company’s Resident Evil will know that The Umbrella Corporation are the evil overlords who rained down destruction on Raccoon City and beyond.
For some 21 years, 27 games, and six films, we have seen Umbrella saving their schemes for a rainy day. Beyond just sharing ravenous ranks of zombie, are the two universes more connected that we first thought?
In the season 5 finale of The Walking Dead, you may spot a symbol on the wall behind Danai Gurira’s Michonne. More than just home decoration, it looks suspiciously like Umbrella’s company logo. Could Albert Wesker be the next big bad after Negan and the Whisperers? Someone better get Milla Jovovich on the phone, it looks like we might need Project Alice back!
5. We Were Already Warned About Terminus
There have been some great villains on The Walking Dead and some not so great. From the bat-swinging Negan to the bowl-haired Jadis, the show has certainly been a mixed bag when it comes to human enemies. Season 5 of the show promised to go big by deviating from the comics and taking us to Terminus – complete with its own gang of merciless cannibals.
After leading to one place for the entirety of season 4, fans hoped that Terminus could live up to its hype. Sadly, Mary and her soppy son Gareth were no match for a lone Melissa McBride and her one-woman assault on their compound.
Mary’s nicer-than-pie approach didn’t wash with viewers, but we should’ve spotted the signs much earlier. As Carl and Michonne searched for supplies in season 4’s “Claimed”, they came across a house stocked with some, erm, interesting artwork.
We saw Michonne hold a creepy image of a woman who bears a striking resemblance to Mary. The woman’s mouth is scribbled out, but is it just a child’s artwork of a beast from their nightmares, or a direct reference to Mary’s chomping ways?
4. Negan Foreshadow’s Rick’s Hand
Yes, Rick Grimes has had some pretty awful things happen to him on the show, but it is nothing compared to his comic book counterpart. Following in the vein of Jaime “Kingslayer” Lannister from Game of Thrones, Rick’s hand was dramatically chopped off by the Governor way back in Issue #28.
This storyline still hasn’t played out on the show. The season 6 premiere seemed to foreshadow the loss of Rick’s right hand as Jeffrey Dean Morgan taunted us for 90 minutes of hatchet-swinging and swaggering.
With the vicious dictator also promising to lop off bits of Carl, some thought that it could be Grimes Jr. who faced his father’s fate, but alas, no hands were harmed in the making of that episode.
Andrew Lincoln himself has been a massive supporter of Rick losing his hand, but we shouldn’t expect it anytime soon – if at all. Apparently, the CGI to constantly remove the lead character’s hand is just too costly even for the highest-rated show on network TV. Oh well, looks like Rick remains intact… for now.
3. Andrew Lincoln (Rick) Voiced Tyreese’s Hallucination
Oh, poor Chad L. Coleman. Although Tyreese escaped his grisly prison beheading in a twist that went to Hershel, Coleman’s macho survivor still wasn’t long for this world. It was only a handful episodes after escaping the prison carnage and dealing with psycho-child Lizzie that Tyreese met his own maker after being bitten by Noah’s zombified younger brother.
The episode “What Happened and What’s Going On” dealt with Tyreese’s descent into madness, showcasing his wacky hallucinations of various deceased characters and the creepy radio voice of a British man recounting a zombie attack.
With Andrew Lincoln putting on a pretty convincing accent at the American sheriff, it is easy to forget that he is in fact British. Going back to his days in UK comedy Teachers and the rom-com Love Actually, it was actually Lincoln that voiced the stoic radio announcer who narrated Tyreese’s final hour.
There was something about the way in which Lincoln delivered the lines with a stiff British upper lip that made it even more unnerving. We mournfully said goodbye to yet another series regular, none the wiser that it was Rick Grimes talking to us.
2. Bub From Day Of The Dead Had A Cameo
We warned you that Creepshow wouldn’t be the last Romero comparison on the list, so as we head to the end, let’s look back to Day of the Dead. Romero has crafted some particularly memorable zombies over his tenure, however, none more so than the headphone-wearing Bub.
Sherman Howard famously played the domesticated zombie in Romero’s 1985 movie and could perform simple tasks like listening to music. It was only a matter of time before the legendary zombie popped up on AMC and so he did in season 4.
As for TWD’s version, you may have spotted Bub in “Us” when Glenn and Tara entered a walker-riddled tunnel and a horde came lumbering out of the dark.
Nicotero called it the biggest zombie tribute the show had ever done and it is a record that still stands to this day. It is not hard to see why the homage got such fanfare, especially considering that Nicotero himself appeared in Day of the Dead as Pvt. Johnson.
1. Johnny Depp’s Head Was In Season 6
Forget Bub and all the rest of the tributes, The Walking Dead had its very own A-list cameo. From A Nightmare on Elm Street to Edward Scissorhands, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas to Pirates of the Caribbean, Johnny Depp is one the biggest stars of our generation. However, did you ever expect to see him on The Walking Dead?
Depp looked worse than ever when he popped up in season 6. Admittedly, it may have just been a severed head, but that is beyond the point. It came when we saw Rick’s group attempting to trick the Saviors with the head of Xander Berkeley’s Gregory and a covert attack on an outpost.
As the cast lined up three heads, one was an exact replica of Depp, taken from a cast found knocking around in the back room. It was another Nicotero-directed episode and he even snuck in another hidden cameo from himself as one of the other heads we saw by the roadside.
“Not Tomorrow Yet” was heralded as one of the best episodes ever and it just got a little better thanks to Johnny Depp’s decapitated melon.
Which was your favorite The Walking Dead Easter egg? Sound off in the comments below!