In October of 2003, the world was introduced to a new kind of hero. This man wasn't superpowered, he didn't have a star-spangled shield, and his interests weren't rooted in saving the world from destruction. Instead, he was adorned with a Sheriff hat, carried a pistol, and had a driving desire to find his wayward family. That man was Rick Grimes, the hero of Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard's The Walking Dead.
A sprawling opus of gratuitous gore, shocking deaths, and sociopolitical commentary, the comic ran for over 15 years, inspiring not only one of the most successful television series of all time, but also a series of video games, RPG's, novels, and a feature film that looms on the horizon. Here, compiled and consolidated, is the history of this undying franchise in all it's various forms. The list will be composed in order of release.
10 The Comic (2003-2019)
First published in October of 2003, the comic that started it all made waves in the industry for it's dark and gloomy look at life in a zombie hellscape. Critics and fans alike responded with rapturous praise to the exploits of Sheriff's Deputy Rick Grimes, celebrating its uncompromising brutality, willingness to kill off central characters with seemingly reckless abandon and it's striking black-and-white art style.
Creator Robert Kirkman captained the ship for all the years of its run, with original artist Tony Moore stepping back after the first six issues and passing the torch to Charlie Adlard, who provided all the illustrations for the remainder of the series. While later storylines focused more on the struggles of rebuilding society in a post-apocalyptic landscape, the series was never anything less than compelling and (unexpectedly) moving.
9 The Television Series (2010- )
Easily the most well known of TWD media is AMC's flagship television series. Loosely following the comic series, the show was originally helmed by the Director of The Shawshank Redemption and The Mist, Frank Darabont. However, due to creative clashes and budgetary restrictions, Darabont departed halfway through the filming of Season 2.
After that, Glen Mazzara took over show-running responsibilities until Scott M. Gimple replaced him permanently in the position at the start of Season 3. The series is currently gearing up for its tenth season, showing no signs of stopping even after *SPOILER* the emotional departure of its star Andrew Lincoln early last season. Despite occasional stumbles, the show is still in top form and received a welcome dose of adrenaline with the introduction of Alpha and the terrifying Whisperers midway through Season 9. Bring on the Whisper War!
8 The Novels (2011-2017)
As a tie-in to the introduction of the infamous Governor in Season 3 of TWD, creator Robert Kirkman co-authored a series of novels with Jay Bonansinga detailing rise to power of the villainous Philip Blake.
Moderately successful, the novel series continued for six additional installments, detailing The Governor's ascension, his clash with Rick and co. (as detailed in volumes five through eight of the comic series), and the fallout from that conflict.
7 The Telltale Games Series (2012-2018)
If you're a gamer, you've no doubt heard the controversial story of Telltale Games, including the many hurdles that had to be overcome to create the final "season" of their Walking Dead video games. It's incredibly disappointing, especially because the games in question are some of the most engaging decision-based video games ever created.
Each choice directly affects the plot the gamer will play through, some decisions even spanning across multiple installments (or "seasons" as they are referred to). Following a new cast of characters in the Walking Dead Universe, these games provide a harrowing journey through the world of the undead, where every decision means life and death and the consequences can be far-reaching.
6 Survival Instinct (2013)
If the Telltale game series represents the pinnacle of Walking Dead video games, Survival Instinct represents the exact opposite. A first-person shooter told from the perspective of fan-favorite Daryl Dixon, the game challenges players to kill zombies and...not much else.
Critics and gamers panned the title outright, citing its lackluster gameplay, stiff graphics, and unmemorable story. Not even the voice talents of Norman Reedus or the idea of telling a completely new tale in the main Walking Dead Universe was enough to sway consumers to appreciate this game.
5 Fear the Walking Dead (2015- )
As The Walking Dead was at its height of popularity on television, Scott Gimple pushed forward with a bold plan for the series: Expand. The first of the proposed spin-off projects wound up being Fear the Walking Dead. The show that is hard to quantify simply because it has become so different than what it began as. At its start, it was a peek of life at the beginning of the outbreak, told through the eyes of a family with a lot of issues.
However, after three seasons the series took a major turn and opted to bring the timeline up to speed with the original show, losing not only the luscious visual design but also a lot of its personality in the process. Regardless, fans have stuck around and the additions of Morgan and Dwight from the main show have provided ample reasons to continue watching this spin-off. There are also the stand-alone web shows, Flight 462 and Passage, with the former introducing some characters who play a part in Fear the Walking Dead.
4 The Walking Dead: All Out War (2016)
Outside the realm of TV, books, and video games, there is TWD: All Out War, a tabletop miniature game in the same vein of Warhammer. Miniature games might not be the first thing one associates with The Walking Dead, but the title appears to deliver the goods if its customer scores on Amazon are to be believed.
With a plethora of TWD characters to choose from, battles to be had and an off-kilter adaptation of the series' most infamous storyline to play through, tabletop gamers were impressed and delighted with this fun, fast-paced title.
3 Overkill's The Walking Dead (Canceled)
Oh, what could have been. Overkill's The Walking Dead captured the interest of fans with slick character trailers, but a slew of design issues and financial woes prevented this co-op shooter from ever materializing in full. A mix of scavenging, survival and massive zombie fights, the game was set to star four brand new characters.
However, after launching on PC to low player counts and failing to meet the standards set by Skybound (the company that owns all Walking Dead IP), the game's console port was unceremoniously shelved. Probably for the best.
2 The Rick Grimes Movie (In Production)
Despite being highly advertised, the emotional departure of hero Rick Grimes at the beginning of The Walking Dead Season 9 still felt like a genuine shock. For one, fans witnessed the protagonist of this zombie drama apparently meeting his end in an epic sacrifice atop a bridge. But then came the kicker: *MASSIVE SPOILER* Rick didn't die.
Instead, he was scooped up by Trash Queen Jadis and the mysterious helicopter. Scott Gimple confirmed on Talking Dead that this would be the jumping-off-point for a trilogy of Rick Grimes movies. Comic readers have speculated that this twist will lead him straight to the Commonwealth; a community larger than any the core group has ever faced and filled to the brim with corruption and mystery. Here's hoping for a return to the good ol' Stuff and Thangs.
1 The Walking Dead: A New World (In Production)
In addition to the Rick Grimes movies, fans also have a brand new spin-off series to look forward to, and one that already looks daringly original for the Deadverse. Details are scarce, but so far we know that the series will center on a cast of mostly children surviving in an area that hasn't yet been revealed.
The spin-off is still in the early shooting stages, so don't expect an official trailer for a while, but it's refreshing to see the universe veer off in a new direction, and with Kong: Skull Island helmer Jordan Vogt-Roberts taking the creative lead, it's looking like AMC has another hit on their hands.