The Walking Dead returns this Sunday for the back half of its tenth season. It will be the 140th episode of the highest rated television show in the history of cable television. But before we embark on 8 more episodes of The Walking Dead — and 40 more episodes from The Walking Dead universe in 2020 — we thought we’d take a quick gander back at what could have been.
For instance, The Walking Dead could have been a show on NBC without any zombies. It could have been a s how in which Norman Reedus was cast in Merle Dixon and Daryl Dixon never existed. It could have been a show where Carol was killed off in the third season. It also could have been a zombie drama in which the following ten actors could have played either Rick Grimes or Negan on the long-running series, although had the roles gone to someone aside from Andrew Lincoln or Jeffrey Dean Morgan, arguably the show would not have lasted as long as it has.
Five Actors Who Were Up for the Role of Negan
According to Henry Rollins (the former frontman for the punk band Black Flag) Robert Kirkman actually wrote Negan with Rollins in mind.
Robert Kirkman thought that Mad Men star Jon Hamm would have been perfect in the role of Negan, and Jon Hamm met with Kirkman a few times to discuss the role.
Garrett Dillahunt was up for the role of Negan, but he had another commitment at the time so he couldn’t be seriously considered. He did, however, forge a friendship with The Walking Dead producers that would lead to his role in Fear the Walking Dead.
Former Scream star Matthew Lillard says that he not only auditioned for the role of Negan, but had a couple of callbacks, eventually losing out to Jeffrey Dean Morgan.
According to THR, Matt Dillon (There’s Something About Mary) was also considered and auditioned for the role Negan, although there is no truth to the rumor that Timothy Olyphant was up for the role.
Five Actors Who Were Up for the Role of Rick Grimes
A regular actor in the stable of show creator Frank Darabont, Thomas Jane (The Mist) was actually the first choice to play Rick Grimes when the show was being pitched to HBO. However, HBO passed on the series, and when AMC picked it up, Jane dropped out.
There were a number of other people who also auditioned for Rick Grimes before the role landed with Andrew Lincoln, including Battlestar Galactica star Jamie Bamber; League of Extraordinary Gentlemen star Stuart Townsend; and Mark Pellegrino (Lost), who actually looks the part.
Maybe the strangest actor up for the role of Grimes was Ethan Embry, the teen star of Can’t Hardly Wait who did eventually gain a role on The Walking Dead. It’s hard to imagine the guy from Can’t Hardly Wait as Rick Grimes, but the Ethan Embry from the horror film Cheap Thrills could have definitely pulled it off.
We won’t be seeing any of Rick Grimes when The Walking Dead returns this Sunday, but we are embarking on the final episodes of Michonne, played by departing cast member Danai Gurira. Only one other actress, it seems, came up for the role of Michonne: Sonequa Martin-Green — who played Sasha on The Walking Dead — originally auditioned. She didn’t get it, but they liked her so much that they created a role for her as the sister of the character played by Chad Coleman, who originally auditioned to play Morgan.