It’s hard to remember a time when ‘The Walking Dead’ wasn’t a pop culture juggernaut. Going into its seventh season, the AMC horror show based off the Robert Kirkman comic has attracted a legion of fans and reinvigorated zombie storytelling. But years ago, it was just an underdog show going from network to network, trying to get the greenlight. In an interview with Variety, ‘Walking Dead’ producer Gale Anne Hurd dished on the new season, and she touched upon those early days when it was having trouble finding a place to call home. And according to the comments she made, it could’ve been a wildly different show.
‘Walking Dead’ is one of AMC’s most profitable properties, but before they nabbed the show, series developer/executive producer Frank Darabont pitched an early version to none other than NBC, who he had a deal with. After presenting the show to them, they had one question – “Do there have to be zombies [in it]?” Obviously, a show called ‘The Walking Dead’ without any actual walking dead sounds ludicrous, but keep in mind that a violent, gore-filled series would be a hard fit for a mainstream cable network, so it’s not surprising that they would try to find ways to make the show fit their standards. NBC then asked Darabont if the series could be a cop procedural that happens to have zombies in it, where two main protagonists would, according to Hurd, “solve a zombie crime of the week.” Again, NBC wouldn’t have exactly had the budget for a large-scale, post-apocalyptic tale, so it would make sense for the powers-that-be to try to make it work into a more reasonable, familiar template. This, of course, didn’t come to pass, and ‘Walking Dead’ would eventually find its home at AMC.
So why would many executives balk at the idea of this series? In Hurd’s words, people new to the show were surprised that “it’s not about the zombies, it’s about the humans.” She went on to elaborate as to why ‘Walking Dead’ appealed to her so greatly.
“What attracted me to [Robert Kirkman’s] comic-book series is that it is a story about characters on a journey into this new world, and constantly trying to figure out not only how to survive but what’s important to them, and some characters give up, some characters commit suicide, and they are constantly evolving, they are constantly meeting new characters; they have to determine friend or foe, and very quickly we realize that it is not the zombies you have to be afraid of, it’s the other humans.”
You can get your zombie fix again when ‘The Walking Dead’ returns to AMC on October 23rd.