With The Walking Dead currently on hiatus, its long-time special effects guru, executive producer, and frequent director Greg Nicotero has had an opportunity to expand the audience for his reboot of Stephen King’s horror anthology series, Creepshow, a series that he obviously loves enough to include an Easter Egg for it in The Walking Dead. The series originally aired on AMC’s niche horror streaming service, Shudder, but to help fill the void left behind after 40 uninterrupted episodes from The Walking Dead universe were interrupted by the pandemic, AMC has begun to air the series on Monday nights (it’s also AMC On Demand now). It’s very good — worth the Shudder subscription, in fact — and for the time being, it helps scratch that The Walking Dead itch.
Of course, since Nicotero is the boss over on Creepshow, he gets final say. Meanwhile, over on The Walking Dead, Nicotero gets plenty of input, but the final word is that of the showrunner, and Nicotero hasn’t always agreed with their decisions. For example, Nicotero “vehemently disagreed” with Robert Kirkman’s decision back in season 2 to let Rick kill Shane instead of allowing Carl to kill Shane, as he did in the comics.
More recently, in the season finale of season 8 — which is when the All-Out War between Rick’s group and Negan’s group ended — Nicotero wanted to end the episode in a completely different way that would have had long-lasting effects on the series, as he told the Collider podcast, The Witching Hour.
“When Rick cuts Negan’s throat,” Nicotero said. “I think Maggie should shoot him. I think Maggie should either kill Negan or shoot him, or do something, because she’s right there.”
“It was a really hard moment to shoot,” Nicotero — who directed that episode — continued. “Knowing that Maggie collapses to her knees when Rick spares Negan’s life. I had pitched this idea to [Scott Gimple]: ‘Why doesn’t Maggie shoot him? Why doesn’t Maggie kill him?’ But obviously, Negan had more of a journey, and there was a lot more going on.”
If viewers had known that Nicotero had lobbied for Negan’s death at the end of season 8, I think nearly everyone would have backed him. Two seasons later, however, and a redeemed Negan is one of the best things about The Walking Dead, which Nicotero acknowledges. “I think that [showrunner Angela Kang] has done a wonderful job. And I think with Samantha [Morton] and Ryan [Hurst], and all the actors, Jeffrey [Dean Morgan] and Melissa [McBride] and Norman [Reedus] and everybody, the last two seasons have been really, really fun … the story really, really moves.”
The Walking Dead will return later this year with its finale, which will feature the return of Lauren Cohan’s Maggie.