“We’ll want to tell these stories in a completely different way with completely different people in a completely different setting that’s going to make for a fundamentally different show,” Robert Kirkman said of the differences between Fear the Walking Dead and its parent series, The Walking Dead, back in March of 2015.
However, now that Fear the Walking Dead has established itself as a separate entity, Kirkman is ready to mix things up again. “I don’t want to spoil anything story-wise,” Kirkman tells Entertainment Weekly. “But we are changing things a great deal. It’s going to be a much different show.”
That’s could be a great thing or a not-so-great thing, depending on one’s feelings about the current iteration of Fear. While the series was slow out of the gate, creatively, it picked up steam in its third season. However, as Kirkman tells it, that was a precursor to the fourth season. “Having season 3 be a very fast-paced season that introduces a lot of new elements, it kind of shakes things up quite a bit and is a great appetizer to what we have planned for season 4, which is really going to ramp that up quite a bit.”
Those changes include a new creative team at the top in showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg, who move over from Once Upon a Time. However, it also includes Scott Gimple, who was promoted from The Walking Dead showrunner to the architect of the entire The Walking Dead universe. That means Gimple will be in charge of meshing elements of these two shows together, an idea that Kirkman says they have had all along.
“When we started Fear the Walking Dead, the original idea actually included some things that would eventually tie in with the other show,” says Kirkman. “We wanted to give it a few seasons to find its sea legs, so to speak, and make sure that it stood on its own and provided its own experience. The goal was that eventually, once we had established that, we would find some kind of creative way to tie things in.”
First up on the agenda is creatively tying in Lennie James’ character, Morgan Jones, into Fear the Walking Dead, which we have surmised will require a considerable time jump for Fear, which Kirkman has sort of confirmed. Kirkman insists that merging Morgan into Fear will not only improve the show, but give viewers “a lot of cool insight into his character.”
One thing we should not expect anytime soon, however, is a full crossover. Madison and Negan will probably not be meeting each other, Kirkman recently said at a comic book convention. “Were they to encounter each other, Negan would probably kill [Madison]. Or maybe she’d kill Negan. I don’t know. There are options. They’ll probably never meet. And she’s not Alpha,” Kirkman added, knocking down a popular fan theory that Madison would be the leader of the next group of villains the cast of The Walking Dead will meet after the All Out War.
In addition to the new creative team at the top, Fear is also adding a number of new cast members, including Maggie Grace, Jenna Elfman, Kevin Zegers, Evan Gamble, and Garret Dillahunt, to go along with returning cast members Kim Dickens, Frank Dillane, Danay Garcia, Alycia Debnam-Carey, and Colman Domingo. That’s a bigger cast than Fear has ever had, which either means there are plans to maintain an expanded cast similar to that on The Walking Dead or that the fourth season could see a number of old — or new — faces killed off.
The new cast members and new creative team also mean a shift in tone and story, suggests Kirkman. However, existing fans of Fear shouldn’t worry too much. Kirkman insists that the changes are “not going to alienate any viewers that have been enjoying the show from season 1 to 3.” Instead, the changes “will give those people new things to love, and new characters to latch onto. It’s really going to shake things up.” As neither show in The Walking Dead universe has transformed this much in between seasons, I suspect that a “shake up” is quite an understatement. It’s beginning to feel like a brand new show and a second chance for Fear to get it right.