Tales Of The Walking Dead Is What Fear TWD Should’ve Been All Along

Tales of the Walking Dead forges a brave new path for AMC's zombie apocalypse, begging the question of whether Walking Dead spinoffs should've taken this route from the beginning. Thanks to Marvel's runaway MCU success and streaming's constant demand for fresh content, shared universes are every platform's must-have accessory. From Star Trek to The Boys, the "why have one TV show when you can have five" philosophy is becoming increasingly common, and The Walking Dead is no exception. AMC's record-breaking horror property already spawned Fear The Walking Dead and Walking Dead: World Beyond, while Rick & Michonne, Maggie & Negan and Daryl Dixon are all lined up for future projects.

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Before that, the sommeliers of the zombie genre have a new vintage to taste - Tales of the Walking Dead. Unlike previous offerings, Tales of the Walking Dead brings no overarching or long-term narrative, no main cast, and no fixed focus. Each episode tells an isolated story drawn from varying locations and times across The Walking Dead mythology, featuring different characters every week, and exhibiting tonal shades from black comedy to outright sci-fi.

Related: Why Andrew Lincoln Left The Walking Dead During Season 9

Although AMC's latest spinoff is only just getting started, Tales of the Dead episode 1 ("Evie/Joe") already makes a strong argument that The Walking Dead should've taken this anthology route in 2015 rather than opting for a full-blooded prequel in Fear The Walking Dead. Is Tales finally giving Robert Kirkman's live-action zombie apocalypse what Fear should've been from the start?

Fear The Walking Dead Became Too Much Like TWD Too Quickly

Fear the Walking Dead Nick and Alicia

In the beginning, Fear The Walking Dead differentiated itself by focusing squarely on the apocalypse's earliest days - the bit Rick Grimes missed. Season 1 saw the Clark family discover corpses reanimating, figure out the rules of undead combat, and contend with futile military efforts to suppress the zombie invasion. As a result, Fear The Walking Dead and The Walking Dead managed to remain distinct despite running simultaneously.

As quickly as season 2, however, Fear The Walking Dead abandoned its original premise and began occupying the same arena as its parent series. The timelines caught up, Morgan, Dwight and Sherry all crossed over, and Fear The Walking Dead morphed into a simple addendum to The Walking Dead rather than something genuinely different. Latter seasons made Fear The Walking Dead unique in other ways - turning Texas into a nuclear wasteland, for example - but the spinoff is still essentially The Walking Dead in a different state.

Zombie fatigue is very real, and viewers following AMC's full roster of Walking Dead content may well be experiencing symptoms by now. After 20 seasons across three shows, The Walking Dead has explored every nook and cranny of the zombie horror subgenre. There's only so many rural forests, novelty headshots and wars with rival communities to burn through before the creative well begins to run dry. Both built upon the same foundation as the original series in terms of tone, storylines and character, Fear The Walking Dead and Walking Dead: World Beyond are guilty of accelerating The Walking Dead's zombie fatigue problem... but Tales of the Walking Dead proves there was an easy solution.

Related: Even The Walking Dead Realized It Was Too Late For A Rick Grimes Movie

Tales Of The Walking Dead & Fear TWD Should've Swapped Places

Olivia Munn as Evie and Terry Crews as Joe in Tales of Walking Dead

Premiering Tales of the Walking Dead in 2015 instead of Fear would've helped stave off this fatigue. Audiences could've enjoyed the serialized, in-depth storylines of The Walking Dead, then switched to Tales for a bite-size chunk of zombie goodness funnier, weirder, or more musical than anything they'd find in the main series. The two shows would compliment each other by offering properly separate experiences, not just the same experience with slightly different seasoning. Rather than limiting itself to one cast, one era and one tone like Fear does, Tales of the Walking Dead could've moved between prequel nuggets, main show side stories, and totally new adventures that stretch the franchise's limits. In stark contrast to Fear The Walking Dead, that premise could've continued for seven seasons without ever stepping on Rick Grimes' toes.

Had Tales of the Walking Dead hypothetically released in 2015 in place of Fear, the diverse anthology format would've shaken up the franchise before its freshness started fading, blowing a much-needed breath of fresh air at a time when The Walking Dead hadn't yet shuffled over its viewership peak. In the non-hypothetical world of 2022, however, Tales of the Walking Dead arrives when zombie fatigue has long set in. The anthology format still brings originality, but comes too late to remedy The Walking Dead's repetition problem.

Swapping Tales of the Walking Dead with Fear The Walking Dead also would've given the latter a better shot at success on its own terms. Premiering Fear The Walking Dead in 2022 would mean the Clark family's story replaces the main series as the serialized heart of AMC's Walking Dead franchise. Like House of the Dragon/Game of Thrones and Better Call Saul/Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead's prequel might've been better served waiting until the original series ended. Tales of the Walking Dead is happening where Fear should've been, and Fear the Walking Dead premiered where Tales should've been.

Tales Of The Walking Dead Proves A TWD Shared Universe CAN Work

Olivia Munn as Evie and Terry Crews as Joe in Tales of the Walking Dead

Even if Tales of the Walking Dead would've made way more sense in 2015, the new spinoff's opening installment at least brings good tidings for the future. Though "Evie/Joe" is undeniably constructed from the usual Walking Dead DNA, the darkly comic Norman Bates-esque killer, the random goat, and those moments where Terry Crews deliberately channels his Brooklyn Nine-Nine alter ego all prove The Walking Dead is perfectly capable of crossing its own genre lines. The Walking Dead, Fear The Walking Dead and Walking Dead: World Beyond all sing from broadly the same hymn sheet, but Joe and Evie's road trip finally confirms AMC's zombie franchise knows more than one tune. This week it's comedy, but future episodes promise other nuances, and that never-before-seen variety bodes well as The Walking Dead stands on the precipice of more content than ever before.

Related: The Walking Dead Is Finally Bringing Back Season 1's Zombies!

While we're not expecting Daryl Dixon's spinoff to include musical numbers and dance routines, Tales of the Walking Dead shows how AMC's roster of upcoming projects can deviate from the well-worn formula while still feeling like The Walking Dead. After more than a decade, the prospect of more Walking Dead than ever before may feel daunting. Tales of the Walking Dead gives hope that the future won't just be more of the same.

2022-08-15T02:51:20.000Z

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