On November 20, 2022, The Walking Dead aired its finale and shuffled off into television history. The show was based on a successful comic book series authored by Robert Kirkman. Kirkman’s inspiration for creating the comics was director/filmmaker George A. Romero who directed The Night of the Living Dead movies that focused on a zombie apocalypse.
During The Walking Dead’s 177 episodes, viewers followed the lives of an ever-expanding and shrinking group of survivors during a zombie apocalypse. Anchored by talented actors, including Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Melissa McBride, Lauren Cohan, and many others, the show proved to be much more than walkers (i.e., zombies) killing and being killed. At its core, The Walking Dead was an incredibly human story.
Many storylines illustrated the lengths the characters were willing to go to find ways to connect and just survive somehow while surrounded by desolation and danger. This feeling of danger was heightened when fans quickly learned that only a few of the characters were safe. Over the years, fans watched as dozens of characters they either loved or hated met their end, some of the deaths being more gruesome than others.
One storyline that pulled at viewers’ heartstrings was during season two when Carol’s daughter Sophia disappeared. The group spent a good part of the season looking for her, always hoping that the child would be found alive. But they were in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, and when Sophia was found, she had become a walker. So, for viewers, seeing Sophia as a walker and Carol helplessly looking on as her daughter was destroyed was an incredibly heartbreaking scene.
The look of the undead was created by special effects artist and sometimes director of the show, Greg Nicotero, and his team of prosthetic and make-up artists. They worked tirelessly creating and refining the look of the walkers as the show went on, ensuring that they looked more decayed and desiccated as the years unfolded. Fans were equally enthralled and disgusted by just how detailed the walkers were. And when the walkers attacked the living, the special effects crew made sure that their bloody end looked as accurate as possible.
However, just because The Walking Dead has reached its bloody end, it doesn’t mean fans will have to go without their favorite nightmare-inducing stories. Robert Kirkman’s world of walkers has expanded into what is being called The Walking Dead Universe. Multiple spin-off shows, including Fear the Walking Dead, which will air its eighth season in 2023, Walking Dead: Dead City, and Tales of the Walking Dead, will keep the dead walking for years to come.