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Franchise / The Walking Dead Television Universe

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" Your world's about to get a whole lot bigger."
Paul "Jesus" Rovia, The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead Television Universenote  is a shared setting consisting of several television series airing on AMC.

First beginning in 2010 with an adaptation of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead comic book series, it has expanded into its own Shared Universe - and as of the source material’s ending in 2019, now forms the primary component of The Walking Dead franchise. The universe revolves around several casts of survivors trying to survive a Zombie Apocalypse and contending with hostile human survivors along the way.

For a timeline of major events in the franchise, see here.

Television series

  • The Walking Dead, premiered in October 2010 and based off the comic series by Robert Kirkman, follows sheriff's deputy Rick Grimes as he struggles to find his family in a world overrun by the living dead. Along the way he ends up leading a group of survivors and they move from place to place constantly in search of a new place to call home and a chance to rebuild civilization. The series concluded with its eleventh and final season in November 2022.
  • Fear the Walking Dead, premiered in August 2015, and takes place on the West Coast of the United States, initially in Los Angeles in the early days of the Zombie Apocalypse, before moving elsewhere. Walking Dead characters begin crossing over to Fear in the latter's fourth season. It concluded with its eighth season in 2023.
  • The Walking Dead: World Beyond: A two-season limited series that made its debut in October 2020 and concluded in December 2021. Revolves around a group of teenagers who leave their sheltered life behind walls to venture into the zombie-infested unknown for the first time as they try to find the dark truth behind their community’s security.
  • Tales of the Walking Dead: A six-episode anthology series depicting the adventures of characters old and new. It began airing in August 2022.
  • The Walking Dead: Dead City: A spin-off focused on Maggie Rhee (Lauren Cohan) and Negan Smith (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) as they journey to the undead-infested Manhattan Island. The series premiered on June 18, 2023, with a second season announced to be in development.
  • The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon: A spin-off centered on Breakout Character Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus). The spin-off takes place in France and premiered on September 10, 2023, with a second season (rechristened The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon - The Book of Carol) already in development in which Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride) will also appear (after being unable to participate in the project's first season).
  • The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live: A series focusing on Rick Grimes and Michonne Hawthorne and their whereabouts after departing the original series. It concludes the characters’ story arcs and began airing in February 2024.


  • The Walking Dead: Origins, a quartet of specials recapping the series-spanning character arcs of protagonists Daryl, Carol, Maggie, and Negan. The first episode was released on AMC+ on July 15, 2021, one month ahead of the Season 11 premiere in August.


Video Games

  • The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct, a first-person shooter game following brothers Daryl and Merle Dixon in the early days of the outbreak. Released in 2013.
  • The Walking Dead Onslaught, a VR game set between Seasons 8 and 9 of the mothership series. It follows Daryl as he ventures through uncharted territories to rescue a young girl named Daisy. Also making appearances in the game are Rick, Carol, and Michonne Hawthorne. Released in 2020.
  • The Walking Dead: Destinies, a choice-driven action-adventure game where you'll have a chance to rewrite the story of reliving the biggest moments from seasons 1-4 of the TV show. Released in 2023.

Video Game crossovers


  • Adaptation Expansion:
    • By virtue of the source material only focusing on its' main cast of characters, the franchise has expanded far beyond just the adventures of Rick Grimes and his group, later coalition of communities, showing several areas around the country and touching on what's been happening outside of the United States (such as in Fear when Strand is able to make contact with a stranded, doomed astronaut who confirms the fall of society was global, and Daryl Dixon taking place almost entirely in France).
    • It also comes into play regarding the comic's storyline, which ended with the remaining heroic survivors getting a happy ending with society mostly rebuilt after a few decades. This doesn't happen in the franchise (or at least hasn't happened yet), which is still continuing where the finale of the original show left off, whereas there was a Time Skip between the end of the final arc's main plot and the epilogue issue.
  • Alternate History: The core premise of the franchise is that it takes place in a universe where Night of the Living Dead was never released to codify the modern zombie tropes in mainstream pop culture, explaining why the world was completely unprepared for their rise and why they fell to them. A few other details also emerge differing from the real world, most notably Season 11 of The Walking Dead revealing that Pamela's late father was the president of the United States at the time Ronald Reagan was in office.
  • Apocalypse How: Class 2. By September 10th 2010, practically all governments and nations collapsed following the outbreak with the human population having dropped to at least 67 million if not lower. In The Ones Who Live, the CRM estimates that it could reach a class 3 within 14 years.
  • Anyone Can Die: The tagline for any of the shows could very well be, "Don't get attached." The Walking Dead is one of the modern-day codifiers for this trope alongside Game of Thrones.
  • Arc Villain: The non-anthology installments of the franchise usually have an antagonist or group of antagonists star as the main threats for a set Story Arc, be defeated, and then be replaced by another group of antagonists. Notably, Fear the Walking Dead in its later seasons will feature a primary group of antagonists while slowly building up the next group in the background.
  • Breakout Character:
    • Many characters have found themselves ascending to more important roles in response to their popularity, which has sometimes even convinced the writers to spare their characters from death either for good or at least for a while.
    • Aside from Rick, the original main protagonist of The Walking Dead, the leads of the various spin-off's/sequels were selected in response to their popularity. Daryl is the biggest example, being a Canon Foreigner who eventually ascended to become the lead of the original show before receiving his own show alongside Carol, another massive Breakout Characternote . Maggie and Negan lead Dead City, the latter is particularly notable given his comic counterpart was Put on a Bus after the Whisperer arc. This also applies to transplants, as Morgan was a very popular character who ended up moving to and taking over Fear.
  • Crapsack World: As typical for any Zombie Apocalypse genre. Whether it's the walkers trying to eat survivors or survivors trying to kill each other, the Walking Dead Universe is not a pleasant place to live in.
  • Evil Will Fail: A recurring theme of the franchise is that any evil despot will almost inevitably fail. The Saviors fail due to their vassal states refusing to accept their tyrannical rule, The Governor and Victor Strand lose control of their communities due to their paranoia, you name it. In Season 11 of the original show, Negan even says he’s realized this and this is why he now fights alongside his former enemies, recognizing his old way of doing things was doomed to fail.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Two:
    • The Civic Republic Military has been built up over the first three entries to the franchise as the biggest active threat, though they only have a direct role in the limited World Beyond. They once again take center stage in The Ones Who Live.
    • The walkers themselves are the cause of all the conflict in every installment of the franchise since it was their rise that caused civilization to fall.
  • The Hero: Aside from Tales, an anthology series, every installment of the franchise has a lead heroic character who usually is the leader of the main cast of characters.
    • Rick Grimes served as the lead character and leader of the growing main cast of the original series, ascending to Big Good status before he was Put on a Bus. Daryl Dixon takes over for the remainder of the series.
    • Fear originally focuses on Travis Clarke as he helps lead his family out of the chaos of the falling Los Angeles, succeeded by his wife Madison in Season 3. Morgan Jones crosses over from the original series to become the lead and has remained as such as of Season 7. In Season 8, Madison retakes the position of lead as Morgan is Put on a Bus.
    • World Beyond mostly revolves around the adventures of Hope and Iris Bennett, as well as their friends Elton and Silas.
    • Dead City is led by Maggie Rhee and the reformed Negan Smith.
    • Daryl Dixon stars its eponymous character.
    • The Ones Who Live is led by Rick Grimes and Michonne Hawthorne.
  • Myth Arc: Ultimately, the franchise revolves around survivors banding together as they try to rebuild civilization despite the threat of the undead and conflicts with hostile human survivors.
    • What could be considered the first saga of the franchise runs from the beginning to the end of the original show, mostly seeing if human civilization can indeed gain a foothold and thrive in the post-Fall world.
    • After the conclusion of the main show, the franchise continues on with spin-offs that show many more advanced civilizations spreading and thriving. The Dama towards the end of the first season of Dead City theorizes that the coming clash of these new civilizations will form the basis of history of the next few decades of humanity.
  • Present-Day Past: Society ended in the show's universe in 2010, but starting in 2021-released episodes of the franchise, some slang from the late 2010's/early 2020's begins leaking into the writing.
  • Retcon: A notable instance of Early-Installment Weirdness in the first season of the original series had walkers able to run, climb, pick up and use objects as tools, and remember how to open doors. After Season 1, this trait went away, and notably when Fear later depicted events from an earlier point in the timeline, this trait was not seen. However, the Grand Finale of World Beyond introduced the concept of variants of the walker virus, causing some walkers to reanimate as much faster, more violent threats, and the final episodes of the original show also reintroduce walkers who do what they did in Season 1, retconning their Early-Installment Weirdness as variants.
  • Ruder and Cruder: Starting with the final eight episodes of The Walking Dead, the franchise's restrictions on explicit language significantly loosened, with "fuck" starting to be more casually used. This is notable after several notable lines from the source material had to be toned down such as Rick's "they're fucking with the wrong people", or all of Negan's dialogue given he was a particularly potent Sir Swears-a-Lot.
  • Transplant: As the franchise expanded, several characters soon began to cross over to other series, often becoming mainstays.
    • The first and most notable example is Morgan Jones. After being on the main show since the pilot and being a main cast member from Seasons 6-8, he leaves to become the main character of Fear starting in Season 4. At the midway point of Season 8, he leaves the show, leaving Madison to retake the reins as main protagonist.
    • Dwight leaves the main show after Season 8 as well, but does not join Fear until its fifth season. His wife Sherry had disappeared from the main show mid-Season 7, and arrives in Fear in its sixth season.
    • Jadis originally served as a recurring character in Seasons 7-9 of the main show before eventually returning as a main character in the second season of World Beyond. She later returned for The Ones Who Live as well.
    • Alpha and Lydia have their own prequel story arc in Tales after having their present day story told in the latter seasons of the main show.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: The universe takes place in a global apocalypse where the dead have come back to life.


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