Upcoming spinoff The Walking Dead: World Beyond is set primarily in Nebraska, a location that has ties to the second season of The Walking Dead. The new series' first trailer hinted at this previously unexplored setting, since confirmed by World Beyond co-creator and TWD chief content officer Scott Gimple, a longtime writer-producer on the main show starting with Season 2 in 2011. As explained by Gimple, this location was selected because it's far from Georgia and Virginia — both settings of The Walking Dead — and Texas, now the primary setting for spinoff Fear the Walking Dead.
Viewers will remember the Cornhusker State was mentioned in TWD Season 2 Episode 8, "Nebraska," where Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Glenn (Steven Yeun) ventured beyond their temporary farm residence in search of the missing Hershel (Scott Wilson). The three men then encountered a pair of armed stragglers, Tony (Aaron Munoz) and Dave (Michael Raymond James), the latter reporting rumors of "a rail yard in Montgomery running trains to the middle of the country," namely Kansas and Nebraska.
According to Tony, Nebraska was a holdout in the wake of the zombie outbreak because of a low population and "lots of guns." Now a decade into the apocalypse, World Beyond reveals a new society: one that is home to more than 10,000 survivors, each of them belonging to one of three major civilizations in TWD Universe bound by the three-circle symbol associated with the covert CRM organization.
Gimple, who co-created World Beyond with Matthew Negrete, previously hinted the rumor-filled conversation about the wider world in "Nebraska" partially inspired the new series:
"The things that we’ve implied [about the wider universe] have always been things we wanted to follow and tell more of," Gimple said in an October interview with Deadline. "The things that we’ve implied come in like rumors, little things that characters say about the outside world. There were things, for instance, that characters said in Season 2 of The Walking Dead that ignited my own imagination and some of those things are coming to fruition now seven years later in some of the things that we’re doing. It’s one of the pleasurable things about a shared-universe approach. It’s satisfying to look at different things from different angles and play them with different voices."
In a more recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Gimple confirmed the Nebraska setting but noted World Beyond does not take place "exclusively there." The series focuses on mostly younger survivors who journey outside of their world of relative safety and comfort on a risky mission.
"It was a different place that conceivably could have had their own things going on there," Gimple explained. "It wasn’t like West Virginia or Southern Georgia. We wanted to show a very different life. It’s not even like we’re honing up on aspects of Nebraskan life. It’s more just conceivably a different place where there would be no cross between them."
The scope of World Beyond is also different from the other two shows as its largely inexperienced characters will confront "empties" — this series' term for walkers, a name borrowed from the comic books — many for the first time.
"I mean there’s a lot of things that make it different. The first one is really the situation with which the characters have been living in, relatively, a first world situation. Relatively," Gimple said. "Because it’s focusing on young people, even the 'adults' in this are on the younger side, they’ve more or less grown up with this. There’s a certain everydayness of this to them, though they’ve been behind walls. It’s a very big deal for these characters to leave these walls."
He continued, "Even though they aren’t like, 'Oh, what are these people?' They aren’t shocked upon seeing walkers, but it’s just they haven’t been interacting with them. They haven’t had to interact with them. It’s an incredible act of bravery for some of these people to potentially step out into the world."
Beyond the connection to "Nebraska," Gimple said World Beyond might one day partake in crossovers with the wider universe.