‘The Walking Dead’ Characters Were Almost Arresting Zombies Instead Of Killing Them, Say Reports

One of the producers of AMC’s The Walking Dead recently talked to Variety and revealed that the show’s entire structure was almost very different than it is today. If NBC had had its way when The Walking Dead was still being marketed, in fact, the show would not feature the lawless zombie hordes we now know and love, and what zombies there were would not be dealt with in the same way. The entire tone of the show would be vastly different and, in short, the world would be watching a completely different series.

For years, The Walking Dead‘s producers have been up-front in telling the public about how when the creators pitched the show to NBC in the first place, they were asked if the inclusion of the zombies was really necessary. After all, points out The Walking Dead executive producer Gale Anne Hurd, central to the show are the interactions between the human characters and watching how they deal with life in post-apocalyptic America. The zombies are just an interesting plot device to keep the story moving at a quick clip.

“It’s not about the zombies, it’s about the humans,” said Hurd.

“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.”

When NBC proposed that the walking dead be removed from The Walking Dead, however, Frank Darabont and the other creators of the show flat-out refused. Not only would it run completely contrary to their vision for the show, they said, but it would also be a huge disappointment to the large fanbase of the Walking Dead graphic novel series being used as source material.

NBC then offered The Walking Dead‘s creators a compromise: how about a zombie procedural, where each week the two protagonists, who are police, have to investigate a zombie-related crime and make an arrest?

Had The Walking Dead team gone with NBC’s compromise, notes AV Club, we would undoubtedly be seeing a much, much different show than the one that has become quite possibly the heaviest hitter in AMC’s lineup. The show would be much more contained, for example, wrapping up its storylines in tight little bows instead of leaving so many questions unanswered for months or even seasons. Just the fact that there are police means the society in The Walking Dead would be a lot more organized, and the fact that they’re arresting the zombies rather than shooting them in the head means that the walking dead themselves would be a lot different, too.

The list of aspects that would probably be vastly different if The Walking Dead had ended up on NBC could comprise an entire article in and of itself, but the gist is that the show might be closer to a network comedy with some darker undertones, such as FOX’s The Last Man On Earth or USA Network’s Psych, than it is to The Walking Dead in its current form.

Although NBC’s compromise was tempting, The Walking Dead‘s creators decided to go with AMC, who were more agreeable to the “teeming masses of completely unchecked wild zombies” concept.

Apparently, both AMC and those behind The Walking Dead made the right choice, because it is now one of the most popular shows on TV. True, it is very dark, very gritty, and often very slow-paced compared to most primetime network television shows. Whatever goes into making The Walking Dead, however, is obviously working.

Do you like the idea for the alternate Walking Dead that never was? What could you see having happened on it had it been made? Make yourself heard in the comments section below!

[Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images]

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