Fear the Walking Dead: Bring Back Madison and Make Her the Villain She Was Supposed to Be

Fear the Walking Dead can still bring back Madison Clark (Kim Dickens) and turn her into the villain she was supposed to be. Three-season showrunner Dave Erickson, who created the Walking Dead spinoff with Robert Kirkman, envisioned the sometimes murderous mother of Nick (Frank Dillane) and Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) surviving through the series finale after evolving into a "full-on villain." But when Erickson exited Fear at the end of its third season, Madison was killed off midway through season 4 — and The Walking Dead transplant Morgan Jones (Lennie James) took over as series lead under showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg.

After the Erickson-scripted season 3 finale in 2017, the outgoing showrunner told The Hollywood Reporter about plans to turn Proctor John (Ray McKinnon) into the big bad for season 4 as part of elements he saw arcing out as far as a season 7. For the third season, thematically "an exploration of violence," Erickson said it was crucial to "draw a line in the sand" between Madison and Nick and tell a story about Alicia rising and stepping out from her mother's shadow.

Erickson wanted to "keep that core Clark family going for a while [longer]," building out the widening chasm between Madison and Nick because the "long-term arc of that story would have ended in a confrontation between mother and son." But when Erickson left, Dillane followed: the actor requested Nick be killed off going into season 4.

One version of Erickson's scrapped plans saw the Clark clan coming together with Victor Strand (Colman Domingo), Daniel Salazar (Ruben Blades), and possibly Troy Otto (Daniel Sharman) as a "very motley dysfunctional crew of survivors" united against Proctor John. Erickson purposefully left the door open for the incoming showrunners when he designed the season 3 finale, "Sleigh Ride," to end with everyone's fate up in the air — everyone except Madison, who Erickson identified as the last-woman-standing by the series finale.

"The thing that's interesting to me, and one of the questions I asked myself and asked Robert Kirkman very early on was of the people in our group, who do you see becoming the Governor? Of our group, who could become a Negan?" Erickson said of the Walking Dead villains. "That's interesting to me, to watch an evolution of a character and start with them as a hero, and bleed that into antihero, and bleed that into full-on villain."

"It would have been interesting. In terms of the final conflict within the family, it would have been key," Erickson said at the time. "For me, there's a lot left for Madison specifically."

Erickson defined Madison as a "woman of violence" who can "embrace that and re-embrace that," putting her on a collision course with Nick: "It's something Nick ultimately can't abide. He loves his mother, and he's willing to sacrifice for her and Alicia, and there's a certain tragedy in that. He doesn't want to go to that same place anymore."

In season 4, Chambliss and Goldberg reimagined Madison as a hopeful figure who was inspired by Althea (Maggie Grace) to found the Dell Diamond Baseball Stadium. This community would fall midway through the season when Madison immolated herself and an invading walker horde to save her children, along with Strand and Nick's girlfriend Luciana (Danay Garcia).

Madison's apparent (but mostly off-screen) death sparked outrage among fans who keep alive the #BringBackMadison campaign on social media. And Dickens — who said she was "devastated" and "heartbroken" when she learned of Madison's death going into the fourth season — hinted that a return was possible when she told Access that the nature of the genre means "you can be gone like that. And you can also pop up at some time, at any time."

Most recently, Chambliss and Goldberg would not confirm that Madison is dead when asked about her fate amid speculation she could return in the second half of season 6. An ongoing mystery is concealing the identity of the person who saved Morgan when he was shot point-blank and left for dead, and the season is slowly unspooling an emerging enemy threat that cryptically warns "the end is the beginning."

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When Insider asked the showrunners if audiences might see Madison again, whether that be in a flashback or present action, Chambliss said it's "definitely something we talk about." Asked if Madison is dead, Goldberg answered: "Well… we never saw her body. And Madison herself said, 'No one's gone until they're gone.'"

Fear the Walking Dead returns with new episodes in 2021 on AMC. Follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter for all things TWD.