Fear The Walking Dead: what we’d like to see in the spin-off

New heroes, plenty of gore, and one or two familiar faces, that's what we want to see from AMC spin-off, Fear The Walking Dead...

This article contains spoilers for anyone not up to speed with The Walking Dead.

At this point very little is still known about The Walking Dead spin-off (now confirmed as Fear the Walking Dead) in terms of content. Before the pilot has even aired, AMC has enough confidence in the show’s direction that two seasons have been greenlit and we also know that two families will feature, after the broad character descriptions were released.

There’s also this brief teaser, released after the parent show’s season five finale:


What though, would we like to see, and how can AMC hope to develop as dedicated a fan base when the show isn’t going to be called ‘Daryl Dixon does awesome stuff and is awesome’? Here are a few thoughts…

A new kind of hero

If the new show is to stand any kind of chance at retaining an audience, then it will need to establish a heroic lead for us to root for and support fairly quickly, as Rick Grimes’ solo quest to find his family and his background in law enforcement immediately forged a bond with viewers as we knew he was a good man in a bad situation on a noble quest.

Ad – content continues below

Any form of horror has always been subject to failure if there’s no sympathetic character at the core of the story, or else you end up rooting for the monster to win. With Rick, we were along for the ride with him, witnessing the new horrors through his eyes, which has always worked as a narrative device to pull people in.

The beauty of TWD is that it gave us a clearly identifiable good guy in the first instance and then slowly built up the heroics of people like Daryl and Glenn throughout the course of several seasons, then much later on, Carol – I’d put money on the fact that no one could have ever predicted an episode that saw her successfully turn Rambo after her introduction as an abused wife in season one – but Rick was the initial hook and one that’s kept us by his side even during the most feral moments.

Some fans of The Walking Dead have, at times, shown impatience with the show when it’s slowed the pace down to develop characters – season two and the journey to Terminus both spring to mind – so it might be wise to shift at least one of the new cast up to a kick-ass level quite quickly, even if they don’t last long. Here are those character descriptions too, in case you missed them (thanks to TVLine):

SEAN CABRERA | A Latino male in his early 40s, Sean is a good man trying to do right by everyone in his life.

CODY CABRERA | Sean’s whip-smart and rebellious teenage son. Known as the angriest kid in town.

NANCY TOMPKINS | A thirtysomething single mom to two kids, Nancy looks like the girl next door, but there’s an edge to her.

Ad – content continues below

NICK TOMPKINS | Nancy’s screwed up teenage son. He’s too old to stay home, too scared to flee.

ASHLEY TOMPKINS | Nancy’s mostly level-headed teenage daughter. Her ambition is in direct proportion to her older brother’s failures. She loves her mom but it’s time to get out of Dodge.

ANDREA CHAPMAN | A somewhat wilted flower child, fortysomething Andrea — yep, another Andrea! — has retreated to the outskirts of the city to recover after a horrible marriage.

Of course it’s impossible to ever predict what kind of character development The Walking Dead will ever chart, as it’s always been great at rug-pulling. It wouldn’t surprise me if ‘the angriest kid in town’ gets torn to shreds in episode one and his father has a breakdown, while the New Age Andrea turns out to be a dab hand at zombie execution and takes the lead. As ever, all bets are off and that in itself makes the spin-off an exciting prospect, which when combined with its total freedom from comic lore, means it should be a joy to find new leads develop from left of centre.

Shoot the head. Destroy the brain

Having been a lifelong fan of zombies, there’s one golden rule that must be adhered to – quickly establish how the undead can be dispatched.

There’s nothing more frustrating than watching zombie law being rolled out for the hundredth time, as we all know the score by now, but if the new show is indeed dealing with prequel territory it will have the unfortunate task of going through the motions while the new cast of walker virgins fumble through shooting them in the chest, exclaiming that ‘they won’t stop’ until some bright spark shoots, or smashes, the brain to smithereens.

Ad – content continues below

The quicker this stumbling block can be hurdled, the better and if it’s dealing with the fall of civilisation then here’s hoping for the tried and tested media announcement of how to deal with the ever-hungry blighters.

Apocalyptic iconography

As beloved as characters like Rick, Daryl and Michonne are, they very much follow in the grand action movie tradition of being immediately identifiable by their iconography, especially when it comes to weaponry and accessories.

Michonne’s first appearance was arguably the strongest as she emerged out of nowhere, katana drawn, pet walkers flanking her and wearing a vest that’s remained a favourite. Rick has now come full circle from his clean-cut cop origins, but either way his police belt, cowboy boots and colt python have remained stalwarts as has his distinct gun pose (arm up, wrist down). Daryl of course has his crossbow and chopper, but his luscious locks and winged leather vest took time to become part of his now well-established look.

Among the new cast of characters mentioned above, Cliff Curtis (playing Sean Cabrera) is no stranger to guns, with Die Hard 4.0Training DayThree KingsCollateral Damage, and the magnificent Deep Rising on his CV to name a few, likewise with Deadwood and Sons Of Anarchy’s Kim Dickens (playing someone by the name of Miranda).

It will be interesting to see what impromptu weapons become assimilated by the new faces, as has always been the case with the zombie genre, from Ash’s chainsaw in Evil Dead, to the cricket bat in Shaun Of The Dead (I’ve always championed the golf club myself) and perhaps there’s room for a few duct taped combo weapons as seen in Dead Rising – now that would be something. I suspect none of the new characters will be overly keen to don some Hershel inspired chic though, with his unlucky inability to keep hold of appendages.

Returning characters

Noah Emmerich has expressed an interest in returning to the world of The Walking Dead, and rumours have abounded about tie-ins to the existing world, which could prove an easier way to help viewers connect to the new material, but at this point it’s mostly speculation.

Ad – content continues below

A few nods and winks will no doubt be present, but it would take some contrived lengths to cross over so early in the new show, especially as it’s supposed to take place in a different part of America, which is why Emmerich’s Doctor Jenner is a good shout as he’s more likely to be flown around at the start of the outbreak. In fact it’ll be interesting to see (and if they show) the origin point for the outbreak and how quickly it spreads as that’s a tough and potentially expensive proposition to show in full. The IMDB casting suggests that junkies and nurses are part of the pilot cast list, so it’s not too much of an assumption to think that a hospital will start the undead ball rolling.

At least we should be able to rule out Morgan for this one, as he should be safe and sound at home with his wife intact, instead of stalking the Grimes gang.

Bring back The Governor!

While Robert Kirkman and Greg Nicotero have both been firm in their statements that the spin-off would be a standalone series that wouldn’t impact on the main show’s story, you can’t help but hope for more screen time for some much-missed characters, even if they do come in the villainous form of one Governor.

It’s strange to want the Governor’s return having spent the entirety of The Walking Dead’s third season baying for his blood and screaming bloody murder when his final act took away the lovely Hershel (whose calming presence Rick needs now more than ever), yet as season five’s ninth episode “What Happened And What’s Going On” proved once more, David Morrissey’s sublime performance simply can’t be revisited enough.

Yes, much of the characters’ allure stemmed from his mysterious origins, but I always thought that there could have been just a little more revealed about what his temperament was before he suffered the profound loss and exactly how much that weighed on the super bastard he became.

There’s certainly more key villainy on the way in the main show as mentioned above, but for the spin-off there’s plenty of scope for the worst of humanity to provide a threat, as that’s always been the overriding source of horror in the world of The Walking Dead, over and above the actual zombies.

Ad – content continues below

Gore, gore, gore

How do you like it, how do you like it? (sorry). As Noah’s recent encounter with revolving doors has just proved, just when you think you’ve seen every violent and horrific way to kill a character off, the show’s creators find an entirely new angle to shock and upset. The incredible prosthetic work that plays its own role within TWD has always been second to none, peppered with affectionate homages, yet utterly inventive and exciting in its own right and has spanned such varying high points as collapsing roofs, tank attacks, beheadings and vile water-bloated walkers.

Of all the points in this article, incredible effects work and a fair smattering of the red stuff (it even featured in the first official image released) are likely to be the one certainty, so gorehounds at least should be satiated. After all you can hardly unleash the start of a zombie apocalypse without breaking a few skulls now, can you?

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to write my pilot for Daryl Dixon Does Awesome Stuff And Is Awesome, I think it’s a winner.