It’s always fascinating to look at what a show might have been before it hit the air. We already know that NBC loved The Walking Dead, except for the “walking dead” part, as creator Robert Kirkman explained. But it turns out there’s a bit more to that story, as NBC wanted the zombies after all. Sort of.
Gale Anne Hurd elaborated on Kirkman’s story by talking about the note. But then she offered a jaw-dropping followup:
Before the show was picked up by AMC for domestic and Fox for international, its creator Frank Darabont presented the first version of the script to NBC, with whom he had an overall deal. According to Hurd, their response was, “Do there have to be zombies [in it].” NBC then asked Darabont if the show could be a procedural in which the two main protagonists would “solve a zombie crime of the week,” she said.
What makes that particularly interesting is that NBC appears to have kept chasing that dream once Darabont moved The Walking Dead to AMC. Soon after AMC debuted the hit drama, NBC announced Grimm, which is more or less a show about solving a “zombie crime of the week,” except replacing the zombies with fairy-tale monsters and mixing a big dollop of Buffy the Vampire Slayer into the proceedings. Grimm even debuted a few days shy of a year from the first episode of Walking Dead hitting the airwaves.
And you could argue they’ve been chasing it ever since, especially as Grimm will have at least six seasons under its belt. Both Hannibal and Constantine, Friday night dramas from NBC that were paired with Grimm, had a similar vibe. So, if nothing else, at least NBC’s development team is consistent.