Why is The Walking Dead so popular?

Why is The Walking Dead so popular?

Now this is a very simple question, though I believe the answer isn’t that simple. Because the show is so popular with almost everybody, even people that never watch horror.

If The Walking Dead (TWD) would be popular with a certain group of people, it would be easy to find a reason. These people will have one shared interest and TWD would mainly be about that subject. For example: If the show were only to show a few bad-asses shooting shotguns, the group of people interested in the show would be very limited.

So, we can safely state that people need to share an interest, now for the TWD people can have several interests. There are zombie fans, woman that are into Norman Reedus, horror fans, survival fans, etc. This makes for a large group of people that have interests that correspond with what’s in the show.

But… Just an interest in one or two subjects on a show won’t keep people watching. At least not masses of people, making it one of the biggest shows in the world. So what does make so many people watch a show? Become obsessed with it?

Identification. People need to relate to characters in the show and live their pain, happiness and other emotions. The story and characters in TWD are very well developed and change as the show continuous  This makes people live the story and feel with the characters as they change. This, combined with massive plot twists and the realization that even the most likable characters can die, creates amazing cliff hangers.

It’s the diversity in subjects and characters, worked and provided in such great detail, that makes everybody find someone they can relate to and have several interests that translate into the show. TWD mixes several genres and subjects together and throws a zombie sauce over it to create a common enemy and introduce fear in the lives of characters people can relate to.

Besides people to relate to, there are people to look up to. Norman Reedus, as massive anti-hero. The silent underdog that finds his calling during an apocalypse. Smoking, drinking, killing zombies while holding a baby in one hand. Come on, how can people not look up to that and not want to see everything that character surprises us with? This doesn’t just go for Reedus. Remember now Dale died? Or how unexpected T-Dog was ripped from the show? It’s characters like these that people look up to and want to relate to.

At last, the show is full of common enemies. Take the governor for example, a well made character that oozes evil for you to see, but seemingly nice to the characters we relate to. This common kind of enemy makes people feel like they’re part of the show. It makes you hate someone and relate to the people suffering by what he does to them. You then live and love every small victory the characters have on this common enemy. This of course is only possible because of the great directors and creators, that know HOW to build a character.

This is just my take on why TWD is such a success. I’m sure there are many other reasons, or very specific reasons for you to like TWD. I’d love to hear those from you!

I’m Frank from Zombie Guide Magazine and I thank you for reading.

  • Dave Sunhammer

    This is a topic many have picked at, and some either quite narrow, or quite wrong. You article is pretty good, and gets to some of the more realistic reasons. One article was dead set that the popularity was merely a protest of daily life, that we all feel like zombies because of governments and yada yada. Me, I don’t relate to the zombies, I relate to the survivors, and the governments, big corporations, advertising monsters, and such are the zombies out to devour me. But that is only one aspect of many.

    For the last 20 years at least Hollywood has catered to the Jerry Springer crowd. Fake reality shows that get dumber and dumber. I mean come on, a “reality” show about moonshiners and the feds didn’t come in after the fact grab the footage and make some arrests? Yea, right. Dumb and Dumber is where the average show aims. TWD on the other hand really digs in. Take the Shane/Otis controversy which has faded with time. This fictitious story not only sparked real world fights, but let me see who of my friends would be a real danger in an emergency.

    Then there is the quality of production. Compare to “Revolution” for example. In Revolution (15 years after no power) people can walk or ride horses hundreds of miles and still not be dirty. They still have Pert hair and the ladies still have lipstick and blush. (You really think that this is the way life was back in the old west, civil war times?) None of this on TWD: skin and clothes have real dirt on them (to the point when you see one of the cast in an interview it is unsettling.) Bugs crawl and buzz around people all the time, but on Revolution apparently only lightning bugs exist.

    TLDR: Someone in Hollywood decided to actually TRY to move beyond the Springer crowd. TWD, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones all have high production value, depth of topics, and depth of characters that you can truly relate to and love or hate.

    These are just some of the many reasons TWD stands out.

    • http://www.zombie-guide.com/ Frank Diepmaat

      Thanks for the nice comment! Glad to hear I made sense on this one! You do have an excellent point. I also believe that people like the show for their own reasons. If people do relate to the zombies, well, that’s up to them… Personally I also relate more to characters than the shamblers ;-)

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  • Mareah

    Because it’s the best show on TV!! It’s not just about Zombies, it makes people think!! Love Andrew Lincoln!!