Fear the Walking Dead was all but rebooted in its fourth season as the cast saw a major turnover and new showrunners flipped the show's tone on its head.
Behind-the-scenes, Ian Goldberg and Andrew Chambliss took the showrunner reigns from Dave Erickson. As the Season Four played out, the show's original cast members Frank Dillane and Kim Dickens made exits, with the former being a fulfilled request for the actor and the latter being caught off guard. Meanwhile, a slew of new cast members (including The Walking Dead's Lennie James) became focal points as the tone provided genuine laughs and a drastically different tone by comparison to prior seasons.
"One of the things that we wanted to do when we came onto the show was bring some lighter moments, bring out one of the things that helps people cope with very difficult situations," Chambliss told ComicBook.com. "At times, that's humor, so we wanted to find ways to inject that into the show. But the thing that was very important for us was to find ways to put it in the show that felt organic and made it still feel like it was a very grounded world and it still felt like it was part of the Walking Dead universe. And the way we kind of set out to achieve that was by bringing in characters who use humor as a coping mechanism."
The comedic side of Fear the Walking Dead is often delivered by Mo Collins and Daryl Mitchell, newcomers to the series in the back half of Season Four. "I think we see it probably most pronounced with Sarah and Wendell," Chambliss said of the comedy. "These are a brother and sister pair who have been traveling the apocalypse since the outbreak. You can really see the ways that they use humor almost to entertain each other. And I think, at the end of the day, if you asked them why, it's because it's one of the things that just makes life worth living when so much of the time you're just worried about where you're going to sleep, where you're going to find food, whether a walker's going to come around the corner."
Meanwhile, a portion of Fear the Walking Dead's audience is still holding out hope to see Dickens return as Madison Clark. After all, they didn't see a body when the character apparently went down in flames in the Mid-Season Four finale, giving the desire a bit a wiggle room to become reality.
While the showrunners will not definitively say that Madison is gone, they do acknowledge that the character's loss will continue to be a driver for the series and the characters who survived her.
"Emotionally, for us, what Madison's sacrifice meant to everyone is something that is absolutely going to carry forward," Goldberg said. "And, again, that's something that we'll see in the finale, not to spoil anything, but how Madison's legacy will live on in the people that survived her and how her spirit and the hopeful philosophy that started with her will carry forward."
While it appears James' Morgan Jones has become the leader of the show, Alycia Debnam-Carey's Alicia Clark can be seen as a rival to the protagonist position. The series, however, is not looking to name any specific protagonist.
"We see it as an ensemble show, and it will continue to be that," Goldberg said. "We want to continue to tell stories about these characters impacting each other."
"The other thing, we don't want to give away too much about the finale, with Episode 4x16, but you mentioned Morgan and Alicia, and I think the audience will see in 4x16, both Morgan and Alicia contribute something very important to what the story's going to be going forward and that is going to kind of continue into Season Five as well," Chambliss added.
Fear the Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on AMC. The Walking Dead returns for its ninth season on Oct. 7, 2018. For more updates and insider info all year long, follow @BrandonDavisBD on Twitter!