Waiting for Death: Inside the Walking Dead

Rick Grimes is just out of reach for the walkers on The Walking Dead.
The Walking Dead (Photo: Frank Ockenfels / AMC)

The wait for season 5 of The Walking Dead is agonizing. Here’s a “making of” documentary to tide everyone over!

Special FX Makeup

“When you start missing pieces of your body, it’s gotta look right!” Damn straight! Turns out a lot of work goes into making each individual zombie (or “walker;” the word “zombie” is nonexistant in the Walking Deadiverse) look as repulsive as possible. Gross highlights: the well walker in season 2 (who among us didn’t dry heave at the sight of that guy breaking in half?); the bicycle walker in season 1 (there was a real woman in there!); the countless “crush heads” that get stomped into oblivion (“they have the consistency of a pumpkin or a cantaloupe”).

Costume Design

The most important thing about costumes on this show is to make ‘em filthy. It’s fun to watch the beautiful costume designer lady gleefully hacking away at shirts with a knife to distress them, then spray various substances on the garment while explaining “maybe this walker vomited before he died!” Girl power, y’all.


They film in Georgia and are able to find a lot of the locations with a little bit of elbow grease and a lot of different dudes with various accents. Seriously, the sheer number of different accents from people associated with this show makes it a linguist’s dream. Anyway, they show us how they had built the prison from a warehouse, and added various guard towers and fences. The prison ended up being so realistic that it fooled local cops. Awesome.

Special FX

There have been 9 sets blown up since The Walking Dead’s premiere. That is badass, right there. But it’s not just explosions; the SFX team is also responsible for gunfire (they used improvised paintballs to create smoke or sparks and make realistic shots), regular fires (Herschel’s barn took 25 minutes to burn down), smoldering walkers, and tanks crashing through fences.

Visual FX & Props

Visual FX are how they make the prop “half weapons” (like the handheld half of a golf club or katana) appear to be whole weapons that are making contact with and destroying walkers. The magic of computers! This of course means that the props guys have to make at least 3 versions of every weapon in a variety of materials, like aluminum, rubber, and plastic. It is during this segment of the documentary that I am extremely distracted by how incredibly sexy Norman Reedus (Daryl) was in season 1. Whew. They also use VFX to make two locations seem right next to each other, or to make Rick appear to be riding a horse in the middle of freakin’ Atlanta.


Did you know it is difficult to cast stunt walkers because they have to be so emaciated? Fun fact! The stunt work on The Walking Dead is complicated because walkers do not behave like living humans, i.e. bracing themselves against falls and such. As far as the main cast, many of the actors do their own stunts, which is sexy and you all know it.

Cast Deaths

Only five main characters have survived since season 1. I’m guessing they’re Rick, Daryl, Glenn, Carl, and Carol. The cast is always devastated to see someone killed off, and we see them react to the deaths of Herschel, T-Dog, Merle, Sophia, Lori (which devastated exactly zero fans, to be honest), and Dale. “If they kill me off, I’ll probably set fire to my trailer. They’ll have to call the cops and carry me off, ‘cause I’ll be PISSED,” Norman Reedus says. You’ll have to get in line, buddy. Daryl is the last man standing or there are riots in the streets.


In case you hadn’t noticed, there are some serious superfans out there. They interviewed a few of them, one of whom is almost literally a younger clone of Michonne and unnecessarily explains that Michonne is her favorite character. The passion of the fans is what keeps the cast going during long shoots. How sweet!

The Walking Dead Family

“It’s not just a hashtag, it’s a real thing.” Apparently “TWD Family” is huge on Twitter! Chiggity-check it out, gang. With 150 people on the Walking Dead crew, that’s a lot of tweets. They all totally love each other. But “please, guys, don’t kill me,” Andrew Lincoln (Rick) pleads. By the way, he has an extremely attractive British accent that you simply must hear.

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About Clare Snyder 144 Articles
After writing for a few publications in college, Clare took an extended break to become a certified personal trainer, get huge blisters during marathons, and find a suitable triathlete/engineer to marry. In her spare time she partakes in many nerd hobbies including replaying Final Fantasy hundreds of times, cheering for the Green Bay Packers, and live-tweeting "Whodunnit?" One time Clare was given 43 hot sauce packets in a Taco Bell driveway. There is a strategy to it. E-mail: clare@whatelseison.tv
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