The Walking Dead once crashed the Centers for Disease Control website from an influx of visitors researching how to best prepare for a zombie apocalypse, executive producer Gale Anne Hurd told the WTF with Marc Maron podcast.
“The Center for Disease Control came to us and said, ‘Listen, we can’t get people who are facing an outbreak of SARS or a hurricane to come on our website and find out what they should do to prepare,’ and [asked], ‘Can we do a how-to-prepare for a zombie apocalypse?’” Hurd said.
“We said sure. And then they had such an enormous response that it crashed their website.”
Hurd explained the fantastical what-ifs of The Walking Dead would route inquiring minds to the CDC website, where visitors would then learn to prepare for real-life disasters.
“Because the truth is, preparing for a zombie apocalypse is very much like preparing for any kind of disaster that you might face,” she said. “Because people are contagious, and you need to stock up for supplies, and all that. And they’re prepared for any kind of disaster that might befall them.”
Asked if it feels good knowing her horror-drama helps ready its viewers for potential emergencies, Hurd said it does.
“Yeah, because the truth is that whatever it takes to make someone safer, to protect their families, and not be caught unaware, that’s a good thing,” she explained.
“And that’s something that wouldn’t have happened without The Walking Dead becoming a huge pop culture hit.”
Hurd, who also serves as executive producer on spinoff Fear the Walking Dead and the horror-centric Lore, believes the appeal in such series lies in the “level of insecurity that we all have right now about the state of the world,” whether it be impending economic collapse or natural disasters.
“Right. Why not just take it over the top and have the dead live?” Maron said.
“Yes, and that way people can experience this [horror],” Hurd replied. “And then it’s done and it’s unlikely the zombie apocalypse is gonna happen, but your favorite characters have survived to live another today. There’s hope.”
The long-enduring Walking Dead franchise, now quickly expanding into its own cinematic universe under the stewardship of Chief Content Officer Scott Gimple, will soon launch films, specials, additional series and other digital content.
As The Walking Dead heads into its tenth season and Fear towards its fifth, new entries in the Walking Dead Universe will “break new ground with different, distinct stories, all part of the same world that’s captured our imagination for nearly a decade of the Dead,” Gimple said in a statement released through AMC.
The Walking Dead Season Nine resumes with new episodes Sunday, February 10.