Robert Kirkman: NBC Wanted to do The Walking Dead Without Zombies

by on 04/28/2014


The Walking Dead Creator Robert Kirkman recently sat down with Jim Rash on Sundance TV’s “The Writer’s Room” to talk about The Walking Dead’s success. A vital element of that success was finding a place on AMC.

Kirkman said the show almost got made at NBC, but there was at least one major dealbreaker.

After pitching the show to NBC executives, Kirkman said, one of the executives said “This is awesome. I really love this. Does it have to have zombies in it?”

“You couldn’t have done that kind of show at that network,” Kirkman said.

AMC, on the other hand, reassured Kirkman that there would be room for his zombie show to push the boundaries by sending him a four minute clip of gore from it’s Fear Fest horror movie series. It was four minutes of brutal violence and splatter, all of which had aired on the channel.

“Well, if they can show this, then, well, all right, we’re good,” Kirkman said.

Other highlights from the show:

• Kirkman talked about how zombies are a metaphor for the fear of death and more attractive when people fear civilization is unstable, his motivation for the show was a lot simpler.

“I just wanted to do a cool zombie story,” Kirkman said.

• Kirkman said he loved zombie movies, but always wanted to see where people went at the end of those movies and “what they did next.” Comics were a place to explore that kind of long form story.

“It’s very common for a comic book series to run for decades and decades,” Kirkman said.

Kirkman said he would have been happy originally if the comic had lasted for 20 issues, but now he wants it to last for three to four hundred.

• The fact that the comic will most likely outlast the show is on Kirkman’s mind. He says he does not reveal how the comic will end to the other writers and producers of the show, because he doesn’t want that ending to appear on the show first.

• Kirkman talked about his life before The Walking Dead, and how he had gone into $40,000 worth of debt.

“Everything I had done up to that point had been a massive failure,”  Kirkman said.

• Kirkman said he would be bored if the show was the same as comic.

“I’m oftentimes the guy in the room going ‘Screw the comic. Let’s do this. It’ll be more fun,'” Kirkman said.

Kirkman’s favorite element from the show that’s not in the comic is Daryl Dixon, he said.

• Rick without his hand is “extremely complicated in the comic, and would be impossible in the show.”

“But spoiler alert he loses his hand in season five,” Kirkman joked.

• The TV show doesn’t influence the comic.

“I’m very careful to make sure that doesn’t happen,” Kirkman said.

• Kirkman dropped some hints about the upcoming The Walking Dead spinoff show.

“It’ll be a new cast of characters and a new corner of the universe. Also fighting zombies and trying to survive, but in very different circumstances,”

• When asked about season five, Kirkman said to expect new characters and new environments. The show will be “going into some really interesting places that are going to shock a lot of people”

“It’s going to be really cool,” Kirkman said.

You can see the full episode here. Be warned that there’s a spoiler of a major character death from issue 100 of the comic.

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