'The Walking Dead' Creator Defends Against "Recycling" Complaints

Fifteen years into a comic run and nine years into a TV series, The Walking Dead has become subjected to complaints about recycling storylines by swapping villains for Rick to face. In the recent Letter Hacks section of issue #187, Robert Kirkman explained why he believes his series does not simply "recycle" stories or villains.

In a letter from Danny the Mc, The Walking Dead was accused of having "only one plot" which is one that sees "Rick and company meet another group of people, a fight ensues, Rick and company win." Simplifying the premise of the story a hefty amount would make this true to some extent , and Danny went on to reference a story he saw on the TV series which he thoroughly enjoyed more than anything he read in the comics (the bit where Lizzie kills Mika to show that zombies aren't bad).

"First... that story you mention from the show is from the comics," Kirkman responded. "That happened in the comic, just in a slightly different way. So it's ind of odd to use that as a way of saying the show is better than the comic."

As for the complaints about The Walking Dead marching in circles, Kirkman is not unfamiliar with such a song. "I've heard the 'Oh, man... TWD just recycles the same story over and over again,' complaint many times," Kirkman said. "And if you're not into the book anymore, that's fine, stop. I completely understand. Some people aren't up for the long haul. That's totally reasonable, and if #167 (the death of Andrea) was the end for you, I wholeheartedly thank you for the time you've devoted to this series up to that point."

However, he does believe his series is more complex than the simplification delivered by Danny the Mc in the Letter Hacks section. "But 'meeting new groups and getting into conflicts with them' is... every... continuing story," Kirkman said. "It's every TV show. New enemies, new antagonists, new conflicts... and each of those conflicts are different in some way... and result in characters learning new things and growing in new ways. The same way the conflict with The Governor and Woodbury is completely different than the conflict with Negan and the Saviors... in almost every single way. If you think those two huge storylines are the same, this book just isn't for you. And that's fine!"

Do you think The Walking Dead is running in circles or does the variation of its villains between groups like the Governors, Negan's, and the Whisperers keep it fresh? Share your thoughts in the comment section!


The Walking Dead issue #187 is available now in comic book stores.

The Walking Dead returns for the back half of its ninth season on February 10, 2019 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.