Zombieland screenwriters Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese made an effort to ignore The Walking Dead and other zombie television shows and films that emerged in the wake of their 2009 zombie-comedy when penning its ten-years-later sequel Zombieland: Double Tap. The original film — which starred Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin and Woody Harrelson as a band of misfit survivors navigating a zombie apocalypse, guided only by rules developed by Eisenberg's Columbus — arrived one year before The Walking Dead, a gritty television drama inspired by creator Robert Kirkman's comic book of the same name. When promoting the Double Tap home release, Reese explained why the scribes "really tried to ignore" The Walking Dead and other genre favorites:
"When you're deep into a genre, you kind of just want to put on blinders and forget the competition and do what you do best. And for us, that's a mix of comedy and zombies," Reese told Screen Rant. "So, we stayed with the comedy. We didn't try to compete with The Walking Dead; they're amazing at what they do. We weren't worried about making it scary. We just wanted to make it funny and heartfelt and a good tribute to the first movie."
The franchise wasn't completely ignored in Double Tap: a Walking Dead comic book makes a cameo appearance as part of a gag and a nod of respect from director Ruben Fleischer.
"It's funny because I actually read a ton of The Walking Dead prior to making Zombieland because it was one of the best examples of survivors living in a zombie post-apocalypse," Fleischer previously told ComicBook.com. "I like the nod in that respect because I was actually reading it at that time to inform this movie. But, yeah, it felt like there had to be some acknowledgments given how it's such a juggernaut of a show and definitely the most significant zombie property out there."
Fleischer also revealed Stone once pitched a gag that would have acted as a Walking Dead crossover.
I think it was good to acknowledge the reality of The Walking Dead. Emma had a funny idea that as our heroes are kind of making their way through the post-apocalyptic landscape, they come across, just in passing, some members of the cast of The Walking Dead," the director told Uproxx. "But we never were able to make that happen." The idea "never even became real."
"I just thought it was a funny, funny idea," Fleischer added. "But I think the comic book nod is probably a better acknowledgement. Might start to get a little Scooby-Doo, like the Harlem Globetrotters showing up."
Zombieland: Double Tap is now available to own on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray.