It may seem ridiculous to watch a show about the zombie apocalypse and skip the zombies, but "The Walking Dead" of the comic book series has always referred to the human survivors. And there have been plenty of dramatic moments on TV that had nothing to do with walkers.
Just look at The Governor vs. Team Prison war, and how we left Season 4 — more human battles with The Marauders and the Terminus group, with Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and company stuck in a train car, thanks to Gareth, Mary and friends. No zombie drama at all.
So maybe it isn’t so crazy to hear that an NBC exec loved the idea of the show, way back when it was first being pitched, but asked Robert Kirkman if it had to have zombies.
Without them, it would just be an apocalypse survival story, which could still be cool, but walkers add an exciting (and gory) element.
When people come back to life after death, in violent form, that changes things considerably. Not only are those humans now dangerous, they are often still in your mind as the people you left behind. Look at Sophia in the barn, and how no one wanted to put her down because she was still Sophia. Same with walker Merle. And Lizzie killed her sister because she was excited to see Mika “come back” as a walker. Walkers can’t die and leave you.
Besides, zombies are so hot right now and “zombie apocalypse” is its own supercool genre. Add the word “zombie” to anything and it gets more attention. If anything, NBC and other networks should be begging writers to add zombies to their rom-coms and medical dramas.
Would you have started watching TWD if it didn’t have zombies/walkers and was just about human survivors of an outbreak or other apocalyptic event, or did the word “zombie” help to draw you in? If the walkers went away in Season 5 and afterward (like, if they really did find a cure), would you be fine with just following the humans who died and stayed dead, or would it just not be as good?
The Walking Dead Season 5 premieres in October on AMC.