The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead: A Comparison

Oct 5, 2015

Although Fear the Walking Dead was met with both apprehension and excitement, there was no doubt that fans of its companion series would be watching. In fact, the show broke cable records after its premiere with 13.3 million viewers tuning in for some zombie action. Now that Fear is finishing up its six-episode run, with the finale airing yesterday, October 4th and The Walking Dead’s sixth season premiering on Sunday, October 11th, it is inevitable that the two will be hit with multiple comparisons. The question is, who did the zombie apocalypse better?

When cable network AMC first premiered The Walking Dead, they knew they had a hit on their hands. With some of the most impressive numbers for a cable network premiere ever, the show went on to be a mega-hit on every level. The use of zombies as a vehicle to discuss modern day worries like increasing natural disasters and government breakdown resonated with many different crowds, including old school horror fans. With Rick and his merry gang of apocalypse survivors, we see the world through the eyes of people who have come to grips with the events that led up to the impending disaster. Rick has a little trouble at first, but when the entire world has gone to crap and everyone you meet is either wary of you or trying to kill you, you adapt to this new method of survival rather quickly.


On the other hand, Fear is definitely more of a “slow burn” which is not at all surprising, considering it depicts the beginnings of the end of the world. Many at this stage are sure to be skeptical, confused and unwilling to point a gun at their loved ones or neighbors. We first meet Nick Clark, a junkie waking up in an abandoned church to find his girlfriend gnawing on someone’s face. He quickly realizes that this isn’t just a drug-induced episode and runs out into the street only to get hit by a car. As society continues to quickly break down all around him and his family, many others remain adamant in (ignorantly) believing that the government has everything under control and that this will all blow over soon. I’m looking at you, Travis.


Early on, viewers have criticized Fear for moving the story along at a snail’s pace as opposed to its mother series, in which Rick wakes up in a zombie-populated world. However, both takes seem realistic to their current timeline in the apocalypse. Of course there would be no action in the beginnings. At this point, no one seems to even believe in zombies so what they’re seeing could be rationalized to them as a sickness or infection. These people would even leave everything up to the authorities, as Travis had, and continue to wait in their gated communities. In The Walking Dead, when you wake up alone to find these creatures hungry for your flesh, you don’t take it lightly.

Main characters, Rick and Madison seem to have a lot in common in which they both have the unrelenting fire to protect their families and adapt to their worlds quickly. Madison doesn’t hesitate to kill the principal at her school when she realizes he’s a threat to her life, much like Rick shooting a little undead girl when she charges at him. Both quickly realize the dead aren’t human anymore and find the need to put them out of their misery. The difference is that Madison has Travis as the voice of reason as he prevents her from stabbing their turned neighbor, Susan.

The difference in character age groups are also significant in both shows. While The Walking Dead features mainly adult characters, Fear has Chris, Nick, and Alicia, who are all teenagers. This definitely made for some angsty and dramatic scenes, but it’s nice to see some adolescent perspectives.

One obvious and major difference between the two shows centers on the depictions of zombies. With The Walking Dead well into the apocalypse, it makes sense their walkers are decaying, rotten and corpse-like while Fear’s zombies are “fresher” and harder to separate from actual live people. As we find out later in the season, this was a major problem for the military since they couldn’t tell who was alive and who was dead as they blindly killed anyone they came across.

What all fans and critics alike can agree on is that these two stories aren’t about the zombies but the survivors themselves, how they interact with each other and ultimately reinvent themselves to adapt in their new worlds. Once a humble police officer, Rick Grimes is now the leader of a gang of hardened survivors who will stop at nothing to protect each other and live. Although we haven’t gotten this far in Fear, we can most likely expect drastic changes in character with Madison, Travis and their families as they fight to find hope in a city they once called home.

So who did it best? Well, they’re simply two different stories so it may be fair to say they both bring different qualities to the table. Overall, however, Fear the Walking Dead has done a successful job at giving us greater insight into The Walking Dead world we love so much. Right now, fans can catch up with both shows on AMC through DirecTV, Comcast, and Dish. With a new web series planned to tie in with Fear, we’re sure to see our favorite zombies year round.

Article written by: Maria Ramos

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