How 'Tales of the Walking Dead' Opens Up New Apocalyptic Worlds

The Walking Dead - Publicity still 2 - H 2020
Jace Downs/AMC

The Walking Dead television series is ending, but the franchise isn't going anywhere.

In addition to the Daryl Dixon/Carol Peletier spinoff, AMC announced Tales of the Walking Dead, an anthology series set to focus on individual stories set in the world of the dead. Little is known about the new drama, except that AMC describes it as "an episodic anthology with individual episodes or arcs of episodes focused on new or existing characters, backstories or other stand-alone experiences."

The working theory is this: Tales of the Walking Dead is a mechanism to bring back some long gone heroes and villains: Steven Yeun, Jon Bernthal, Michael Rooker's characters, just to name a few. And all of that is a very fun idea for longtime fans of the franchise, no doubt about it. But there are other ideas, and other worlds to consider — such as…

1. Tell Tales of the Walking Dead: Celebrated as one of the best Walking Dead stories ever told, the now shuttered Telltale Games' video game set within Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard's comic book universe was a mournful tale focused on (initially) two survivors: Lee Everett and a young girl named Clementine. It's one of the most powerful stories in the Walking Dead world, one that many fans have clamored to see on screen; if a full-on television adaptation isn't ever going to come about, then a Tales episode or arc focusing on Lee and Clem could suffice.

2. Negan Lives: In the time since The Walking Dead comic book series ended, Kirkman and Adlard produced a special one-shot issue focusing on the next steps for Negan. If AMC is giving the green light to Norman Reedus and Melissa McBride's continued journeys as Daryl and Carol, then could an episode or two focusing on Negan post-series finale be far behind?

3. The Alien: From the Panel Syndicate duo of Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin, The Walking Dead: The Alien takes place in Barcelona, providing a very different look at the apocalypse through a familiar set of eyes — familiar enough, at least. It centers on a man named Jeff who is quarantined in Spain during the zombie outbreak; over the course of the issue, it's revealed that he's connected to a person well-known within the Walking Dead fandom. Not worth saying anymore than that — read the story for yourself; it's short and it's excellent — other than saying it's a no-brainer blueprint for a live-action Walking Dead anthology series.

4. The Literal Aliens: A long time ago, as a lark, the Walking Dead comic books offered a wild what if scenario: what if Rick Grimes woke from his coma not to a zombie apocalypse, but a full-scale alien war? That idea is riffed on in a Walking Dead short that begs to be animated some day at the very least, if not outright brought to life with the full Walking Dead cast for Tales of the Walking Dead. The world needs Danai Gurira as Michonne battling against zombies with a lightsaber in hand.

5. What If?…: Speaking of what ifs… what if Negan didn't kill Glenn? What if Rick didn't kill Shane? What if the Governor never killed Merle? What if, what if, what if? So many beloved characters have died across the years on The Walking Dead, and while it's tempting to use Tales as an excuse to tell unseen stories about those characters, the timeline might be a little bit wonky. Perhaps it's better to instead take a cue from the aforementioned alien invasion idea, and rather than retcon some stories about Glenn, Shane and Merle as excuses to bring back Yeun, Bernthal and Rooker, Tales could instead posit the alternate worlds where these characters never died — at least, haven't died yet. If dedicated comic book fans can accommodate endless Marvel and DC Comics multiverses, surely the Walking Dead fandom can do the same.

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