While the cast of The Walking Dead are much loved, it's all the tiny details that truly make the show what it is. Take a look through this list of 13 famous props from the show that Entertainment Weekly has beautifully cataloged, and see what secrets and interesting tidbits the crew have to reveal about them.
Hershel's Severed Head
Hershel's beheading in Season 4 was one of the most shocking moments of the show. Executive producer Greg Nicotero explains how the head was made even creepier thanks to a rogue fly:
"During filming, there was one frame where a fly landed on the forehead, and I thought, 'Wouldn't it be cool if the eyes reacted?' We put contact lenses on one of my makeup artists and digitally composited real eyes onto this animatronic head. Eyes are probably the hardest part to duplicate, because there is an inherent life behind them — that's always the challenge. I gave Scott Wilson [who played Hershel] a replica of his head as a parting gift."
Hershel's Bloodied Shirt
Hershel's death on the show affected all the characters immensely, but even costume designer Eulyn Womble was sad at having to pack away the belongings of the soft-spoken Southern veterinarian:
"I believed that Hershel's daughter Beth might do these little things for her dad, like sew on that red button. I always wanted him to look like he was a farmer or a badass preacher from old Westerns — a cowboy with a conscience. It was sad to pack it up."
Daryl's Leather Vest
Daryl's leather vest has become legendary. Womble explained how the famous wings came to be included on the item:
"They wanted something on Daryl, who would be riding a motorbike. I thought he might wear the same vest that his brother Merle wears. I sketched the wings with pen and quickly sewed them onto the vest, imagining it was a drawing Daryl might make."
Daryl's Dead Possum
Daryl's critter, killed at the gates of Alexandria, was a moment which perfectly showed the spirit of the character. But did you know that The Walking Dead has a decent collection of dead animals on hand? Prop master John Sanders explains:
"We needed a live possum and a dead one for a scene where Daryl kills the animal with his crossbow. We only use existing taxidermies and never kill anything for the show. Now people bring dead animals to our taxidermist, who stores them in a giant freezer."
Summer's Dirty Teddy Bear
The little girl walker (real name: Summer!) from Episode 1 of the series is the first walker the audience ever sees, and her costume and props (including bunny slippers!) have become extremely well known. Sanders explains the impact Summer's teddy bear had on him:
"[It] is one of the most iconic pieces of the show — it's one of the only ones that's been manipulated by a walker. When I watched the little girl walker pick up the bear, I realized the lives of these characters would involve dead children."
Rick's Gun And Holster
Over the course of six seasons we've seen Rick wave his trusty gun in the face of many threats, but Sanders explains that the gun isn't just significant to Rick, it's also significant to Andrew Lincoln:
"This is an original Colt Python .357 Magnum that we've had for the entire show. Andrew Lincoln has only ever held that one gun. He checks the serial number every day and pulls the trigger six times to make sure the rounds are dummy. He loves it. It's part of his character."
Watches and clocks are a frequent motif on The Walking Dead, but Sanders says that when a close-up of Rick's watch was shown in Season 2, the fans went crazy:
“During the second season we showed the face of this discontinued watch from Kenneth Cole, and immediately every fan who dresses as Rick for cosplay bought them all off the Internet. Andrew Lincoln wears this watch every day and it breaks a lot and I’m never gonna get another one.”
Dirtied Walker Dress
Womble explains the one way you can always tell a walker's clothes from a human's:
"I always look at the piece and imagine the person who wore it, how they died, and for how long they've been dead. Zombies are not very elegant. And the way they eat is not polite. You can tell it's a walker by the blood running down the middle."
Michonne's katana is one of the most famous weapons of The Walking Dead, and according to Sanders, Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman had very exact ideas in mind when it came to how he wanted the Japanese sword to look:
"I designed a katana and sent it to Robert Kirkman for notes. He wanted something like a biohazard symbol on it. I found a triple goddess symbol, which looks almost identical but backwards and without the circle. Kirkman couldn't believe we found what he wanted."
The Walking Dead uses a lot of guns, and with all those prop guns, the props department also go through a lot of prop bullets! Sanders talks gun training and fake rounds:
"These dummy rounds are made for us. They have BBs in them, so you can shake them to indicate they aren't live. You want bullets to look real, and typical blanks don't. Every actor gets weapons training — we train some to be clumsy with a gun, to be in character."
Zombie Makeup Palette
Nicotero has been making up the zombies of The Walking Dead since the show began, and he's long been an expert at all things blood and guts:
“This is one of our tattoo colors that we use when we’re adding dirt and blood and wounds to zombies. There is a very distinct difference between vibrant oxygenated human blood and dead brown, rust-colored dried zombie blood,”
The Governor's Walker Heads
In Season 3 we saw some of the most interesting interior decorating decisions, when it was revealed The Governor kept a whole wall of walker heads inside fish tanks. Nicotero tells EW that they had to use all sorts of paint techniques to get the skin translucency just right:
“These heads were in The Governor’s fish tank. They are made out of silicone and by layering different colors of paint onto them, we’re able to get that translucency to the skin. It’s critical that these things look real.”
Despite the fact that the walkers are already dead, Nicotero and his team spared no time or expense making sure they had the best head of hair for their scenes:
“We used yak and human hair on these heads and each strand was punched in individually. We knew these heads would be underwater, and so we wanted the hair to have some movement to it. We strive for very specific anatomical realism in our work.”
'The Walking Dead' returns with Episode 10 "The Next World" on Sunday, February 21 on AMC.
Which is your favorite prop from 'The Walking Dead'?