Okay, so it's pretty clear that this isn't a contractual thing, and it's not a reflection on the actor, so let's just get that out of the way right up top. We just thought this was an interesting, funny thing to have happen.
On the making-of documentary for tonight's episode of The Walking Dead, AMC Networks spoke briefly with actor Tyler Chase.
Chase's character, Ben, died today after being first shot by Merle Dixon and later consumed by a reanimated Merle after that character's death. It was a pretty thorough death, and the character had no speaking lines this week (and few all season long).
The son of Allen, who found his way into the prison alongside Tyreese and later made himself at home in Woodbury, Ben had a pretty insubstantial role--but he was named, and his name was repeated a number of times, particularly last week during the confrontation between Allen and Tyreese.
So why the heck does AMC's documentary list the actor as "zombie extra" on the bottom of the screen when he talks?
An actor friend of the site broke it down for us, though, and it's not as bad as it sounds. Here are the (admittedly, very simplified) broad strokes.
"The basic way they break this stuff up is you can be an extra, an under 5, or everything that falls above that, like recurring or regular," we were told. "[Chase] was only seen in 4 episodes, including this one, so if they did not have him as a recurring in his contract, I bet they can do this. In fact, he's had so little dialogue that he was probably usually or always an under 5."