The Walking Dead is about to have its biggest seasonal debut yet, as season 7 arrives this Sunday to answer the question: who did Negan bash to bits? Meanwhile, the show's sister series, Fear the Walking Dead has already gotten season 3 renewal, continuing to expand the world of Robert Kirkman's acclaimed comic book series.
...However, Fear isn't necessarily a widespread fan-favorite -- mostly to due its approach and selection of characters.
With that understanding, we'd like to offer 5 Walking Dead Spinoff Show Ideas that we think take the strong and weak points of the franchise, and mold them into something better.
[NOTE: the shows are listed by concept not title.]
The zombie apocalypse is a fascinating place in that death lurks around every corner (from the living and the dead), and even if you handle that part, there are still the internal struggles of despair and madness to deal with.
So far, The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead have made intrigue (or not) on setting surrogate families and real families against those threats; but based on fan complaints, those same setups are responsible for a lot of the drag on those same shows. But what if our main characters were already a tight-knit military unit before the zombie apocalypse hit?
A Walking Dead spinoff that uses a military unit as its central characters would be strong for several reasons. It would strip away a lot of the logical stumbles and sappy drama that goes with the family backdrop; yet the stresses and pulls between a soldier's duty, and his/her personal feelings for home and family would still inject things with the necessary character drama. Best of all, having soldiers taking up strategic missions would keep things focused and purposed - something the current series sorely lack sometimes.
Race for a Cure
World War Z lost its big planned finale and had to then take things down a notch, setting its third act in a medical facility where Brad Pitt's character investigates a medical-based cure to the zombie outbreak. I Am Legned is a famous story that deals with much the same idea; an obessisive search to reverse a disease that has made monsters out of mankind.
The Walking Dead flirted with the idea of scientific cures in the season 1 finale (set at Atlanta's CDC) - yet there's been very little medical or scientific reference since then (what with the throat-biting, cannibals, rapists and gang wars...).
A Walking Dead spinoff show that took elements of the ever-popular medical procedural sub-genre (think MASH or ER), and married them to the zombie apocalypse setting, would give the survival aspect new dimensions. Eugene may have been a fake, but getting to follow actual doctors, nurses, and scientists who could possibly make a difference would make each threat of death and loss (literally) world changing.
Yes we're ripping this right off of LOST, but it actually still works as a really good Walking Dead spinoff premise!
Fear the Walking Dead showed us how treacherous something like a hotel setting can be; swap out Mexico for a remote island resort setting, and you would have the sort of psycho-horror drama that would sustain a great spinoff show.
The guests wouldn't turn out to be who they initially appeared to be; the staff would be even more shady (no one chooses such a remote life without reason); and the group of survivors would have more myths and blind speculation about what's happening in the zompocalypse, rather than actual information.
Whether or not to leave the island; whether or not to accept outsiders; who to trust; what sort of new law and order system to live by... It's all the great quandaries of a show like LOST, just with dramatic irony as a driving tool rather than disappointing mystery and hokey mythos.
Off the Rails
The Walking Dead TV series and its spinoffs have made use of vehicles as major set pieces, with Flight 462 exploring the disaster from an airplane, while Fear the Walking Dead has shown us what the zombie outbreak looks like from the sea. Taking a page out of Snowpiercer, we're thinking a spinoff set on a train would be fun.
We're thinking one of the high-speed rails in the UK would be a perfect setting, as there's enough variation between cities like London and the more remote countryside settings to keep things interesting and menacing, while the nature of UK government and monarchical rule would create an interesting hierarchy dynamic (if some important officials and/or royalty were aboard).
Not to take advantage, but the recent "Brexit" controversy (and all the social issues that resonate from it) would transform a diverse collection of passengers into a great social metaphor, inside a high-pressure environment where space and resources are limited. From who stays and who is thrown off, to how you clear a zombie herd out of a train, this would be a great way to take The Walking Dead overseas in a unique way.
BONUS: Great pick for a web series or miniseries.
Some may argue that the Walking Dead main show is already akin to this, but having characters like Rick, The Governor, Negan and Ezekiel doesn't mean we've gotten into the darkest heart of exploring what it is to rule in the wasteland.
Like Breaking Bad, the joy of watching a Walking Dead spinoff centered on one or two people's winding path to warlord status in the zombie apocalypse world would be seeing their slow-burn (and bloody) descent down the dark path. It would be for noble enough reasons at first, before eventually these "good people" would compromise themselves so much that eventually they become something twisted, and horrible.
Better Call Saul has shown the way to do a spinoff that works as a prequel, interquel and sequel to the main story. A Walking Dead: Warlords series could pick two or three main characters and follow that format, with episodes built thematically around events in their respective pasts, their present action, and flash-forwards to the demagogues, fascists and/or butchers they eventually become.
The Walking Dead season 7 premiere airs Sunday October 23 on AMC.