Bringing Out the Dead: 10 Ideas For ‘Walking Dead’ Spinoffs
Like you, we were shocked but intrigued to learn that ‘The Walking Dead’ would receive its own spinoff “companion series” in 2015, focusing on a new corner of the ‘Walking Dead’ universe previously explored by series creator Robert Kirkman. Few details on the spinoff are available this early, but what possible focus could a “companion series” have that hasn’t yet been covered in the series proper? We take a look at 11 possibilities to spinoff of ‘The Walking Dead,’ from a Daryl solo series to the far-out future!
We’d consider this one a bit unlikely, as series creator Robert Kirkman specified in the announcement that he’d become excited to work with original characters and stories not featured within the Image comic books. By the same token, it wouldn’t make much sense to verbatim adopt any characters or aspects of the game, but we’d at least consider it plausible that certain video game characters, or at least approximations might merit a few references here and there.
The overwhelmingly positive reception of the game could lend itself to a bit of synergy, so we know game characters could at least hit the whiteboard, even if a spinoff chose to ignore another established world.
Naturally, one of the furthest perspectives from the existing ‘Walking Dead’ and a staple of the zombie story in general would be to explore the apocalypse from a soldier’s perspective, or at least from a surviving governmental group. It certainly worked for ‘World War Z,’ and might do well to explore some of the scale and consequences otherwise impossible to explore through ‘The Walking Dead.’
We’ve seen groundwork laid for this as well, given that ‘Being Human’ and ‘Star Wars’ star Sam Witwer made an appearance in the pilot as the tank zombie, a storyline Frank Darabont hoped to explain in the second season premiere, though the premise was ultimately abandoned. The same could be said of the National Guard group encountered by the Governor in season 3, or the oft-mentioned Fort Benning, all military characters teased or introduced through the AMC series, only to fall by the wayside.
Similar but distinct from the idea of exploring ‘The Walking Dead’ from a military perspective, a scientific approach might do well to cover ground previously unexplored by either the comic or TV series. Season 1 episode “TS-19” provided one of the largest diversions from comic canon yet, exploring a clinical approach to the zombie infection that the comics had little practical ability to examine, while central scientist Dr. Jenner established that multiple scientific communities had continued their research into the apocalypse. Scientists might not make for the most exciting of protagonists, but would certainly offer a fresh perspective for Robert Kirkman to explore.
Though we’ve had a taste of the idea in exploring Atlanta, an urban setting for the spinoff would provide a nice visual change of pace for ‘The Walking Dead,’ particularly if the spinoff looks to differentiate itself from its sun-soaked predecessor. Really any landscape outside of blistering Georgia would make for a strong counterpoint to ‘The Walking Dead,’ whose comic incarnation frequently explored a snowy setting that proved otherwise impossible for AMC production.
Urban settings would also open up the possibility of exploring different areas of the country to see how they’ve fared in the zombie apocalypse, such as New York, Chicago, Boston or perhaps even our neighbors to the north, for production purposes.
Much like the video game, we’d question if either AMC or Robert Kirkman followed the lead of any existing characters in crafting a ‘Walking Dead’ spinoff, though we can’t deny that the characters of most recent web series Chase (Josh Stewart, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’) and Kelly (Cerina Vincent) left with a fairly open-ended trajectory on their way to Cynthiana, Kentucky.
Stewart would certainly make for an effective anchor to a new series, while we’d imagine that any number of characters from either “Cold Storage” or “Torn Apart,” would make fertile ground for a spinoff.
Given the open-ended nature of ‘The Walking Dead’ as a story, it could prove difficult to say what a spinoff or “companion series” would cover that hasn’t already been explored by the main series, ore at least earmarked for future use.
That said, it might make a great deal of sense for the spinoff to take the anthology approach recently popularized by ‘American Horror Story,’ and soon to be employed by HBO’s ‘True Detective.’ The ‘Walking Dead’ spinoff needn’t necessarily recycle actors from season to season, but would certainly benefit from a ‘Wire’ approach of moving through different sets of characters each season in order to tell a larger story.
Granted we don’t know how much longer baby Judith has on AMC given her comic book fate, it might make sense for a ‘Walking Dead’ spinoff to explore a more distant future of the zombie apocalypse, one that likely wouldn’t look altogether different from the present or require much in the way of production design.
A future set series that had either Carl, Judith, or another youth as a focus could make for an interesting interaction with the present series, not always necessarily beholden to the stories of the past, but a fun way to act as a “companion” without much pressure to cross over. After all, what might it look like for such an ongoing series if some form of civilization were rebuilt, a la ‘Land of the Dead,’ or other such zombie stories?
By the same token, one could easily take the opposite approach by going where few zombie stories tend to live, covering the actual downfall of humanity. Rick Grimes’ story very much followed the archetype of a character awakening after the major institutions have already fallen, so it might make for an interesting perspective to see the ongoing battle between humanity and walkers, particularly in a way that allowed for further interaction with the proper series, or dead characters to pop up.
It’s bizarre to think that one of the more effective uses of the format since ‘LOST’ has been Netflix’s ‘Orange is the New Black,’ but why not ‘The Walking Dead?’ We’ve seen a few flashbacks to the past, but what about the idea of following a new cast of characters in the present, whose pre-apocalyptic stories illustrate their personalities in the present? It would certainly solve the problem of finding stories to tell that ‘The Walking Dead’ proper hadn’t already covered, allowing plenty of freedom to move in and out of the ‘Walking Dead’ world we’ve come to know
We’ve spoken at length before about our belief that Daryl Dixon will ride into that big squirrel meat haven in the sky, but it’s no secret that Norman Reedus’ popularity among the fanbase has helped put ‘The Walking Dead’ on the map. We wouldn’t be altogether surprised if AMC gave thought to the idea of centering a spin-off around its breakout character, provided he survives long enough to do it.
Of course, it wouldn’t seem that Daryl’s perspective would differentiate from the series proper all too much, but original thinking and creativity weren’t exactly the sole impetus for the spinoff to begin with.
Granted AMC’s bleak future has already wrought spinoffs for both ‘Breaking Bad’ and ‘The Walking Dead,’ we don’t imagine ‘Low Winter Sun’ to be sticking around beyond its inaugural season, given the abysmal ratings and lukewarm critical reception.
That would free up Lennie James to reprise his character role of Morgan, who once again left with an open-ended story after returning to the limelight in season 3. Assuming Morgan got his mind right after the events of “Clear,” who better for AMC or fans to bank on anchoring a different perspective of ‘The Walking Dead?’