The zombie apocalypse has taken over the world, and our television sets, but what makes each show different, and what connects them?
In Season 1, Episode 1 of The Walking Dead, we had no idea what we were in for. Well, we sort of did, thanks to the original comic book series, but TV and film change the original material all the time in order to fit a screen format. Audiences have long been fascinated by the idea of the undead, and coming out of Hollywood's recent vampire craze, The Walking Dead premiered on AMC and introduced us to a post-apocalyptic world where life was a game of survival. Now here we are, six seasons in — and two seasons into Fear the Walking Dead, a prequel to the original show — and just learning how it all connects.
Thanks to Fear the Walking Dead, we are getting a glimpse into how it all started, and how Rick Grimes and his team got to where they are now. Each show has something different to offer, and while set in the same universe, they have a different feel and filming style. So how far exactly has the zombie phenomenon come, the audience grown and adjusted, and where do the two shows differ and meet?
- The Walking Dead premiered to more than 5 million viewers, with over 6 million tuning in for the Season 1 finale. At the end of Season 6, The Walking Dead locked in 14.2 million viewers. That's an increase of nearly 10 million viewers!
Fear the Walking Dead premiered last year to more than 10 million viewers, and it set records. Significantly higher than its parent show, but understandably so, seeing as TWD didn't have a prequel to glean its viewers from. Season 2 carried on strong, with more than 6 million viewers. Still down from TWD, but as we've said, the shows are very different. As their timelines begin to match up, more viewers may continue to cross over.
- The Walking Dead costs around $2.75 million per episode.
- Fear the Walking Dead costs a bit less, at around $2 million.
The budget difference has a lot to do with the fact that FtWD has shorter seasons, and has less viewers on average. Also, the cast salaries are much less, and production costs are lessened by reusing props and such from the parent show. So the FtWD production crew has learned to budget better. In the earlier days, an episode of The Walking Dead cost over $3.6 million! AMC quickly adjusted those costs.
Number Of Walkers Killed On Screen
The Walking Dead — Seasons 1–6
- Walkers killed on screen are estimated at 1,188 since Season 1, with an average of 198 walkers killed per season. This number comes from a fan who counted each season's kills up to Season 5, and then averaged the numbers per season, and lastly tacking on an average for Season 6.
Fear the Walking Dead — Seasons 1–2
- We don't have an exact estimate, but we do know that the characters in Fear the Walking Dead are not as zombie savvy as those in The Walking Dead. So there have been less kills, and the zombie population hasn't yet reached its peak, as this is the beginning of the world's collapse. We can estimate around 45 walkers have been killed in seasons 1 and 2 of Fear the Walking Dead so far, including the mass killing in Season 2's midseason finale at the burning house.
So the walker killing process is MUCH slower in FtWD than in TWD, and that makes sense. We have to remember that FtWD is the very beginning of the zombie disease taking hold. Less zombies to fight and kill, making for less experience our characters have in killing them. They are just coming to grips with the fact the walkers are no longer human and must be killed in order for them to survive. Season 2 has focused a lot on that so far, with different characters dealing with the reality of their new world in their own ways. Like Nick, for instance, who decided to leave Madison and everyone behind in search of his own answers to the question of killing or not killing the walkers, and if he believed they were still actual people. Eventually the characters will have to reach the mindset of Rick and his team, or they just won't make it.
It's interesting that many of us have read The Walking Dead comics, but the shows have become so much their own entities that Fear the Walking Dead could be created and accepted by fans of TWD comic canon. This is huge in the evolution of fandom, which typically uses canon as its bible and criticizes anything straying from the source material. Characters' relationships have been altered (Michonne and Rick's romance was in response to the viewership and never happened in the comics), and some have even been spared when they shouldn't have been (like when Glenn supposedly died, as he does in the comics, and fans rioted as they didn't want him dead, because screw canon!).
Fear the Walking Dead is a testament to how The Walking Dead has changed the zombie genre. Audiences have strayed from that classic horror movie trope and are craving character development and realistic scenarios. The success of both shows can't really be compared to each other, but it is interesting to look at the differences and how the original show evolved from the comics and into Fear the Walking Dead. Fans are hoping for a crossover one day, but for now I am happy with each show as they are, and am so excited to see how the timelines will further intersect (we now have confirmation they are close), and what characters will survive until then.