Despite losing some viewers following Glenn’s horrific exit from the show last season, The Walking Dead still remains a ratings power-house and continues to enjoy a following that’s just as rabid and persistent as the show’s zombies.
Since its debut back on Halloween of 2010, the adaptation of Robert Kirkman’s ongoing survival comic has become a cultural phenomenon, spawning a number of video games and other popular TV series, including Talking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead. The show most recently debuted its eighth season on October 22nd, which many deemed a return to form, in its 100th episode.
With so much media attention -- as well as the original source material to draw from -- there are few secrets that remain unknown to even the most casual fans of The Walking Dead. At this point, everyone knows that Andrew Lincoln is actually British despite his spot on Southern drawl. Or that Negan does indeed survive the war in the comics only to become Rick's prisoner in the Alexandria-Safe Zone. But there are still a few lesser-known facts and well-hidden Easter eggs within the series and surrounding the show’s production that don’t nearly get as much publicity.
Here are 15 Facts Even Die-Hard Fans Didn’t Know About The Walking Dead.
15 Crazy fans have been biting the stars
With a show as popular as The Walking Dead, the actors have developed a ton of new fans, and, inevitably, some of them are actually crazy.
By far one of the most beloved characters on the show, Daryl’s Norman Reedus was attending a Walker Stalker Con in New Jersey when a female superfan was overcome with excitement and decided to bite the actor in the chest during a photo op. Though Reedus refused to press charges and was able to poke fun at the issue later on his Instagram page, the woman was still banned from future Walker Stalker Cons and any other convention where Reedus is in attendance.
Then, just a few months later, actor Tyler James Williams (who played Noah on the show) was also bitten by a fan. Williams reported that the fan went for a hug and ended up sinking their teeth into his shoulder, possibly to recreate the character’s violent exit from the series, which somehow makes it doubly creepy.
14 The dead outnumber the living 5,000 to 1
With all the various groups now living in a relatively concentrated area, one starts to wonder how long it will take before all the walkers in their vicinity are largely eradicated. In the season eight opener, we’ve already seen Rick’s group cull together a large herd of zombies relatively easily, which begs the question: Could there really be that many walkers left in the area?
The simple answer is yes.
The official ratio of the dead to living is actually a whopping 5,000 to 1, meaning there are nearly seven billion zombies in the world of The Walking Dead. That leaves roughly one million survivors, making it far more unlikely that these few survivors even managed to find each other in the first place.
13 A S.W.A.T. team was called on Michael Rooker
Despite the character of Daryl and Merle Dixon being created specifically for the show, Robert Kirkman was reportedly a huge Michael Rooker fan prior to The Walking Dead, and he was ecstatic over the casting choice. However, the actor’s first few days of filming were not without incident.
When we first meet the character of Merle, he’s standing on a rooftop in Atlanta, picking off zombies despite his fellow survivors telling him to save the ammo. Although the show’s production was able to shut down a few blocks of the city while filming took place, a number of citizens still spotted Rooker on the roof, firing off blanks.
Understandably concerned, they phoned the police and a S.W.A.T. team was sent out. Of course, it didn’t take long for them to figure out that a show was in production and the sniper was merely an actor.
12 Merle was a fan of Walter White’s blue meth
Without the massive success of Mad Men and Breaking Bad, there’s no doubt that The Walking Dead would never have made it onto AMC. But is it possible that these three hit dramas all exist within the same universe? While we have yet to find a Mad Men/ Walking Dead crossover, the ongoing zombie series has already given a few undeniable nods to Breaking Bad.
The biggest Easter egg by far comes in season two of the show when Daryl is sorting through his brother's belongings when we get a glimpse of some of Heisenberg’s signature Blue Sky crystal meth. If this wasn’t already enough of a confirmation, Daryl later confirms in season four that Merle’s dealer was some “janky little white guy” who once threatened Merle life with the phrase “I’m gonna kill you, b***h.”
And if that doesn’t sound exactly like Jesse Pinkman, then we don’t know what does.
11 HBO deemed the series too violent
It’s not unusual for shows to be shopped around to different networks before they find a suitable home, and before it became a cultural phenomenon on AMC, The Walking Dead was pitched to both NBC and HBO.
Since it’s impossible to imagine the comic ever being faithfully adapted to broadcast television, it’s perplexing that the showrunners would have even approached NBC in the first place. But what’s even more baffling is that HBO decided not to pick up the series because they thought it was too violent.
While The Walking Dead did premiere nearly a year before the equally violent Game of Thrones, HBO is still the network that brought us Deadwood, True Blood, and The Sopranos years before, indicating that there’s a good chance they thought the story wouldn’t attract a large enough audience, regardless of the amount of violence.
10 Danai Gurira actually cold-clocked Andrew Lincoln
Before Rick and Michonne were ever a thing, Rick seemed like he was starting to develop feelings for Jessie back, further complicated by Jessie’s marriage to the abusive and alcoholic Pete.
A fight between the two men ensued and highlighted Rick at his worst; for the first time, the citizens of Alexandria got a glimpse of Rick being truly unhinged right before Michonne swooped in with a blow to the back of the head to shut him up. And if this scene looks particularly realistic, it’s because it actually was.
At a Comic-Con panel, Danai Gurira admitted to accidentally hitting Lincoln in the back of the head, nearly knocking him unconscious. However, she managed to stay in character and finish the take — citing that it turned out to be the best one — before jumping on the ground next to Lincoln and making sure he was okay.
9 Norman Reedus is an on-set prankster
Though Daryl may be one of the most stoic characters on The Walking Dead (which is really saying something), actor Norman Reedus is actually known as a bit of a goofball on the set.
The actor has been in an ongoing prank war with Andrew Lincoln, which started with Reedus attaching a fake license plate to Lincoln’s car, which the actor drove around with for months without noticing.
Reedus also admitted to filling Lincoln’s trailer with live chickens, and, while attending a Japanese press junket, Lincoln recited a line taught to him by Reedus, which he thought meant “Thank you for having me in your country” but was actually the phrase “Where is the toilet?”
Of course, Lincoln hasn’t taken this type of abuse sitting down, and he most recently retaliated by putting one of Reedus’s motorcycles on a boat and pushing it out into the middle of the lake with a blow-up doll sitting on top of it.
8 He also likes to collect his cast members’ hair…
Even if you already knew that Norman Reedus was an on-set prankster, there’s a good chance that you haven’t heard about this next bizarre bit of information, which gets far less publicity.
It’s a big moment in the show when Rick is welcomed into the Alexandria-Safe Zone and he decides to shave off his scruffy beard that he was sporting for the last few seasons. But instead of Lincoln’s beard going straight down the drain, apparently, Reedus asked his fellow cast member permission if he could keep the hair, to which Lincoln obliged.
As far as we know from Reedus, Lincoln’s shaved beard remains stashed in a baggy in his fridge. This could possibly be another prank-in-the-making from Reedus, but in the meantime, the actor has also added Scott Wilson’s/Hershel’s ponytail to his fridge... just in case Lincoln's beard was starting to get lonely.
7 Jeffrey DeMunn (Dale) asked to be killed off after set drama
With the show quickly gaining steam during season two, you would think that every actor would be desperately hoping that their characters would continue to outlive their comic book counterparts. However, Jeffrey DeMunn actually asked that his character of Dale be killed off instead of Hershel.
This dramatic request came after series creator, Frank Darabont, was fired in the middle of the second season after an ongoing dispute with the network. DeMunn and Darabont were friends, having previously worked together on The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and The Mist, and the actor found Darabont’s dismissal to be in bad taste.
Dale became the first major character to be killed off on the show, which occurred far sooner in the TV series than it had in the comic. Incidentally, DeMunn quickly regretted his request and asked the showrunners if they could re-write the episode before it aired. But Dale’s death scene had already been filmed, and it would’ve cost the series too much money to go back and alter the storyline with reshoots.
6 The show is almost all filmed in the same small town
Despite the Alexandria-Safe Zone being only miles away from the nation’s capital, The Walking Dead continues to film in Georgia where it’s production first began. But what’s even more impressive is that nearly all of the series is shot in the same small town of Senoia, Georgia.
After the story moved out of Atlanta in season one, most of the show’s production has taken place in Senoia, which is also home to a large production studio where many of the interior sets are constructed. But it’s still impressive to think that many of the diverse communities — including Alexandira, the Hilltop, the Sanctuary, and even Oceanside — are all located in the same town, some even blocks away from each other!
Because of Raleigh Studios, the town of Senoia has been the set of many other movies and TV shows aside from The Walking Dead, including Fried Green Tomatoes, Driving Miss Daisy, and 2011’s Footloose.
5 And the townspeople are paid $400/ month to put up with production
Since The Walking Dead’s production is so concentrated in the town of Senoia, Georgia, the residents have not only had to put up with the cast and crew for the last few years but also the dedicated fans who flock to the town.
While many of the town’s people have embraced the tourism and the money it's brought to Senoia, others have understandably had enough of zombie extras and crazed fans flooding their neighborhood. Some people have complained that the filming is negatively impacting their day-to-day life, with explosions being set off in the wee hours of the night and the crew telling one resident to stop trimming his trees while they were filming.
Because of this, some of the residents are compensated at a rate of $400 per month. This money is also an incentive for the citizens to keep quiet about any potential spoiler they happen to see while filming is taking place.
4 Carl is a fan of Kirkman’s other comics
While George A. Romero’s zombie films — or any zombie films, for that matter — do not exist within the universe of The Walking Dead, apparently Robert Kirkman’s other comic books do.
The show has frequently given nods to Kirkman’s other works, starting in season one, whenCarl is seen wearing a Science Dog shirt. Science Dog is a super smart half-man, half-dog who embarks on futuristic adventures and appears in every 25th issue of Kirkman’s Invincible comic.
Speaking of Invincible, Carl is later seen reading an issue of the comic alongside Enid in the season six episode “The Next World”, and we’ve also gotten a brief glimpse at some Invincible Minimates in an earlier episode of the series inside Sam’s room.
We can only hope that when Invincible is adapted into a live-action series of its own, the characters will be spotted flipping through a Walking Dead comic on at least a few occasions.
3 Kirkman lied about adding aliens to get the comic made
Being a horror fan, Kirkman’s initial idea behind The Walking Dead came from the writer always being bummed out that most zombie movies seemed to end right when things were getting interesting. Wanting to explore what happened after the credits roll, Kirkman pitched the idea of an ongoing zombie survival story to Image Comics, which they weren’t overly onboard with.
Since they felt there wasn’t enough their to keep potential readers engaged, Kirkman claimed that the zombie apocalypse was just a catalyst for an eventual war between mankind and the aliens who had caused the outbreak in order to make their invasion of earth that much easier.
Image ended up giving Kirkman the go-ahead around this premise, despite the author never intending to follow up on it. Of course, The Walking Dead was a runaway hit, which made it much easier when Kirkman admitted that he had no intention of bringing aliens into the fold and or ever revealing the cause of the initial outbreak.
2 The show is even more profitable than youthink
On top of being one of the most-watched cable TV shows of all time, The Walking Dead has spawned its own mega-franchise that has permeated the internet, video games, and novels. With the show averaging over 10 million viewers per episode ever since its third season, it’s no secret that the show has become extremely profitable.
But how much money could one show possibly make?
While the sixth season of HBO’s Game of Thrones cost a whopping $10 million per episode to produce, AMC has been notoriously frugal with production cost, giving an estimated budget of $3 million per episode. Yet, Dead has regularly pulled in a far larger audience than Thrones, making the cost of a 30-second ad spot during The Walking Dead around $325,000.
That’s roughly $8 million in profit alone just for one episode’s worth of advertisements, which is no small feat.
1 Kirkman promises a happy ending
For a show that is so popular with mainstream audiences, The Walking Dead is exceptionally bleak. Even from the very first scene of the series — where Rick caps a zombified little girl in the head — we knew that this wasn’t going to be a feel-good affair. But if the gratuitous death of Glenn has proven anything, it’s that The Walking Dead can no longer get away with killing their main characters without suffering the consequences.
Since the initial backlash, the showrunners seem to have taken the hint by slowly reigniting the allies with the fighting spirit they had back in the early days.
Even Kirkman has gone on record saying that he believes the ending will be a hopeful one, at least as far as his comic is concerned. After all, this is a series about people who choose to continue on despite all the horrific things they’ve seen and done, and we can’t imagine the TV series ending without Rick re-setting the stage for civilization to prosper once again.
So did we miss any obscure Walking Dead facts? Feel free to share in the comments!