Is Madison Clark Coming Back to Fear the Walking Dead as a Villain?
Is Madison Clark fated to become a villain on Fear the Walking Dead? The matriarch of the Clark clan seemingly died in the midseason finale of Season 4, "No One's Gone," sacrificing herself inside a burning and walker-overrun stadium so children Nick (Frank Dillane) and Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) could live. But Madison survived, and actor Kim Dickens will appear in the second half of Season 7 before returning as a series regular in Season 8. "No one's gone until they're gone," Madison said at the time of her supposed death. For Fear, no story is over until it's over.
When co-creator Dave Erickson exited the Walking Dead spin-off after three seasons in 2017, the outgoing showrunner revealed he envisioned a seven-season arc culminating in Madison's evolution into a "full-on villain."
"There are elements, even going back to the pilot, of the show that I would have seen arcing out until probably even season seven," Erickson told The Hollywood Reporter at the time. With a conflict over the Otto family ranch in Season 3, Erickson wanted to "draw a line in the sand" between mother and son entwined with "the rise of Alicia, and have her step out from her mom's shadow and become her own person and achieve a level of independence."
Ultimately, Madison's violence puts her at odds with Nick. Though the season ends on a cliffhanger when Nick destroys the Gonzalez Dam, leaving the fates of the Clark children unknown, Erickson envisioned a version of the story where everyone bands together against Proctor John (Ray McKinnon) in a fourth season he would never make.
"There was definitely more story I had for Nick and Madison and Alicia. I would want to keep that core Clark family going for a while long," Erickson told THR, adding he "wanted to create this very defined chasm between Nick and Madison, because I think the long-term arc of that story would have ended in a confrontation between mother and son."
Erickson expected incoming showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg to take Fear in their own direction, and they did: Chambliss and Goldberg decided to kill off Madison and tell a different story inspired by that loss in Season 4. When Dillane opted to leave the series that same season, Nick was gunned down by young friend Charlie (Alexa Nisenson) not long after Madison's apparent death at the stadium.
RELATED STORY: "She's Alive": Kim Dickens Teases Madison Clark 2.0 on Fear the Walking Dead
Echoes of Erickson's abandoned plans are perceptible in the ongoing Fear Season 7, now set in ground zero of the nuclear-zombie apocalypse. Alicia spent the first half of the season leading a group of survivors to PADRE — a location supposedly safe from the radioactive fallout — and will spend the second half going to war with former friend Victor Strand (Colman Domingo).
It's cunning conman Victor Strand who has emerged as a villain on Fear Season 7, lording over his own community, The Tower, and positioning himself as an enemy to the group of survivors led by Morgan Jones (Lennie James). Instead of Madison versus Nick, it's Alicia versus Victor; Madison's role in this civil war won't be revealed until sometime after Fear returns April 17.
In the fallout of the nuclear warheads detonated last season by Teddy Maddox (John Glover), Madison might learn of Nick's death or suffer the loss of her daughter: the ailing Alicia is succumbing to the infection of a walker's bite. Though Chambliss and Goldberg aren't beholden to Erickson's plans, the co-creator revealed he envisioned Madison surviving through the series finale after emerging as a villain like the Governor (David Morrissey) or Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) on The Walking Dead.
"The thing that's interesting to me, and one of the questions I asked myself and asked [Fear co-creator] Robert Kirkman very on was of the people in our group, who do you see becoming the Governor? Of our group, who could become a Negan?" Erickson told THR in 2017. "That's interesting to me, to watch an evolution of a character and start with them as a hero, and bleed that into anti hero, and bleed that into full-on villain."
"It would have been interesting," Erickson said. "In terms of the final conflict within the family, it would have been key. For me, there's a lot left for Madison specifically."
Season 7 of Fear the Walking Dead returns April 17 on AMC. Follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter and ComicBook's @NewsOfTheDead for TWD Universe coverage all season long.