Since its premiere on Halloween 2010, The Walking Dead has spawned everything from video games to webisodes, from lunchboxes to socks. Most significantly, however, the zombie drama has given rise to spinoff after spinoff after spinoff after…
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Well, you get the idea. With the fifth offshoot, The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon, beginning its run Sunday (at 9/8c on AMC), TVLine is taking a look back and ranking all of the shows in the franchise, from worst to best.
Included in the countdown is the mothership as well as all five of the “offspring” that we’ve seen — and yep, we’ve already screened all of The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon. (Read our full review here.) Excluded is, at least for the time being, The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live, which you may have recently read has just struck a deal to complete work on the episodes that will reunite Andrew Lincoln’s Rick and Danai Gurira’s Michonne before bringing their star-crossed lovers’ story to a close.
Before you dive in, it bears mentioning that not only have we placed the Walking Dead offshoots in order of quality from overall lowest to highest, we’ve singled out, for better or worse, memorable moments from each spinoff. (We’d like to, but will any of us ever forget the time that Fear the Walking Dead made a special guest star of an alligator?) We’ve also shone a spotlight on the cast members who, when looking at the big picture, stole each show. To find out which ones won the shout-outs, and which series came out on top, make like a walker and lurch forward. The answers are below.
6. Tales of the Walking Dead
Number of Seasons: 1 so far (2022). High Point: Episode No. 3, “Dee,” which allowed Samantha Morton to shed new light on Alpha’s existence between the end of the world and the rise of the Whisperers. Low Point: The premiere. Despite how cute Terry Crews and Olivia Munn were together, the episode devolved into the silliest of riffs on Fatal Attraction. Its MVP: Parker Posey, who showed us the funny as the boss from hell in “Blair/Gina.” In Short: Before it aired, an anthology series that furthered the Walking Dead mythology seemed like an exclamation point of an idea. And after? It didn’t seem like it had any point at all.
5. The Walking Dead: World Beyond
Number of Seasons: 2 (2020-21). High Point: The emotional moment in the series finale in which Dennis has Silas end his father figure’s life. Low Point: Anything to do with immature Hope being… well, the hope for the human race. Puh-lease. Its MVP: Ted Sutherland, who made Percy the most compelling character on the show… just in time for him to be killed off. D’oh! In Short: A limited series focused on the first generation of kids to come of age post-apocalypse sounded really intriguing in theory. In practice, though? Not so much.
4. Fear the Walking Dead
Number of Seasons: 8 (2015-23). High Point: The pilot, in which Frank Dillane so viscerally portrayed Nick’s reaction to his girlfriend’s turning that he earned a shout-out from TVLine. Low Point: Season 4’s “Blackjack” episode, in which Strand and John were trapped at a ranger station by an alligator. Yes, an alligator. Its MVP: Charisma machine Colman Domingo, who never fails to make us wish he were on a show that didn’t change his character’s motivation every other scene. In Short: Time and time again, Fear TWD reminds us that it has the potential to be great… and a seeming aversion to achieving that greatness.
3. The Walking Dead: Dead City
Number of Seasons: 1 but already renewed (2023- ). High Point: Episode 2, “Who’s There?,” in which Negan reverted to showboating form to send a memorably bloody message to the Burazi. Low Point: Argh, we couldn’t get past the fact that the spinoff undid all of the progress that Negan and Maggie had made on the mothership in order to facilitate a contentious relationship going forward. Its MVP: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who so adroitly navigates the fine line between Negan’s hubris and humanity that he could sell rejuvenation cream to a walker. In Short: Visually stunning but creatively iffy, Dead City has left us anxious to see what made its existence a necessity.
2. The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon
Number of Seasons: 1 but already renewed (2023- ). High point: Ahead of the premiere, all we can say is that the walkers are not your grandma’s, and the cinematography is 100-percent made for the big screen. Low point: You’ll see soon enough that there are some murky motivations at play. Its MVP: Sister Isabelle’s portrayer Clémence Poésy, in whom original Walking Dead cast member Norman Reedus may have met his match. In Short: Daryl Dixon is no more perfect a show than the character after whom it is named. But it brings us a refreshingly original take on a story that we’d have sworn had been told… well, to death.
1. The Walking Dead
Number of Seasons: 11 (2010-22). High Point: The Season 6 finale, in which Jeffrey Dean Morgan made his debut as the Saviors’ bat-wielding leader, Negan. Low Point: The final season’s Reapers arc, which suggested that the series had run out of fresh ideas for villains. Its MVP: OG Melissa McBride, who transformed Carol from a survivor of not only the apocalypse but her husband’s abuse into the baddest of badasses. In Short: It doesn’t get any better than the mothership. At its best, it was superlative; at its worst… hey, at least the powers that be had the good sense not to let anything happen to Dog!
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