'The Walking Dead' Showruner Explains Highway Men Story's Origin

The Walking Dead introduced a unique new group in Episode 9x13 which showrunner Angela Kang was proud to have as an unexpected surprise.

Spoilers for The Walking Dead Episode 9x13 follow. Major spoilers!

The Highway Men were first teased weeks ago when members of the Kingdom road past a street sign with a mysterious red symbol painted on it. Later, they would receive what was essentially a ransom note, before encountering the group who claim passers by have to pay their "toll." Ultimately, there would not be bloodshed, but a barter between the Highway Men and Kingdom soldiers as it was the idea of watching a movie which brought everyone together.

"The idea for these guys came from the brains of the writers who wrote this episode, David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick, and Eddie Guzelian," Kang told EW. "They were brainstorming, and I believe that they were the ones who were kind of like, 'You know what? It might be fun to have this left turn.' In an earlier episode we saw a group of wagons going by, and you saw this kind of sign that was painted on the back of a street sign. It’s sort of like the apocalypse version of tagging or whatever, saying that 'This is our territory.' The symbol, it’s a horizon and then a road going up to meet the horizon at a point. So that was the idea behind that."

Not only was the introduction of the group less than traditional (although the teasing offered similar vibes as the Wolves of Season Five and Season Six) but the resolution was unlike any other on the zombie series. They really did settle their differences over an agreement to watch a movie.

"What we were really looking to do was introduce a group that has sort of an unusual MO, and had a really unique perspective on life, and a unique way that our people have to deal with them," Kang said. "It was a lot of fun, and we were really lucky to get the wonderful actor Angus Sampson to play the role of the lead Highway Men, so that was a lot of fun for us to work on."

As with all new characters on The Walking Dead, some questions remain even after an agreement. "Really, are they bad guys, or did they just have their own thing that they’re trying to do just as our people do?" Kang said. "Certainly our people have done some things that are in the gray area themselves."

It is all meant to juxtapose the story unfolding with the Whisperers, one which fans have seen many times over with various villainous groups. "We wanted to tell this story of how do groups coexist with each other or not?" Kang explains. "Because there’s certainly a very specific story with the Whisperers that’s happening. Then here’s a different kind of group, and how do you negotiate what are your borders, or where you go? I guess the long-winded answer to your question is, I don’t really see the Highwaymen as being good or evil. They’re just people who exist in this world, and they’re trying to grapple with having neighbors just like our people are."

The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 pm ET. Fear the Walking Dead will return for its fifth season in 2019. For complete coverage and insider info all year long, follow @BrandonDavisBD on Twitter and watch ComicBook.com's After The Dead each Sunday night following new episodes.

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