Walking Dead Easter eggs you didn't notice

AMC's The Walking Dead doesn't always stick to the course of its comics origins—characters, locations, and events are almost always subject to change in the journey from page to screen. The breadth of creative liberties taken by the showrunners not only leaves fans on their toes about what will happen next (and to whom), but it also gives execs room to slip in some clever inside jokes. Here are a few of the Easter eggs you might've missed during all the apocalyptic zombie action.

Evolving opener

The title art for The Walking Dead has slowly but surely become more decrepit as each season rolls on, much in the same way a walker (and the world at large) deteriorates over time in the show. The process has been subtle, but when the lettering for each season is viewed in sequence, the gradual decay becomes much more obvious. Along the same vein, Fear the Walking Dead's title art started out clear of damage, presumably as a nod to the fact that the series starts at the beginning of the end.

There are also slight, nearly imperceptible shifts in the sound design, too. Composer Bear McCreary revealed that he's been tinkering with the opening theme song throughout the show's progression to match its changes. In a YouTube video, he explained, "One thing that I thought would be fun [is] as the show goes on, you're going to notice that the main title goes through some changes. It doesn't always begin the same way, and it doesn't always end the same way. And usually every week when I did a new session with the string orchestra, we would add a new layer. We'd actually add new parts to the mixed string writing, so you could hear the mix change and evolve a little bit as the series went on."

Nods to fandemonium

The Walking Dead's ousted original showrunner and creator Frank Darabont is a longtime fan of author Stephen King (he adapted several of King's novels for the big screen, including The Green Mile, Shawshank Redemption, and The Mist), so he started the show out in King's County, Georgia as a small tribute to his idol. Darabont wasn't alone in indulging his personal fan obsessions, either.

Producer Greg Nicotero has also consistently honored some of his old horror favorites at opportune times. One of his earliest jobs in special effects was working for zombie king George A. Romero on Day of the Dead, so he threw in winks to his old boss' work in several ways. As he detailed to TheWalkingDead.com, he purposefully included a zombie gladiator sequence (Season 3, Episode 5: "Say the Word"), as a direct callback to Dawn of the Dead, a crate plucked straight from Creepshow in Season 5, and, yes, many of those character zombies sprinkled into the background were meant to remind viewers of Romero's series. Among those who've gotten second non-life thanks to Nicotero are Flyboy and the Plaid Shirt Zombie from Dawn of the Dead in Season 3, Bub from Day of the Dead in Season 4, and the Machete Zombie from Dawn in Season 5.

Romero's zombie flicks also aren't the only movies to get the tribute treatment at Nicotero's behest over the years. In the mid-season finale for Season 6, which Nicotero directed, he also included a moment of homage to John Carpenter's The Fog as well as a walker that resembled a central character from The Omen. He also included a recreation of Jaws character Ben Gardner in the Governor's head tank in Season 3, a revamp of the American Werewolf in London zombie in Season 4, a Swamp Thing zombie tribute and a Johnny Depp-shaped head in Season 6.

Oh, hey Robert Kirkman

The Walking Dead wouldn't be The Walking Dead if it weren't for Robert Kirkman's comics, so the show has also thrown in some scattered references to Kirkman's other works throughout as a nod to the (uneaten) brains behind this whole undead operation. In Season 1, for example, Carl wore a shirt that bore the symbol for Kirkman's Science Dog, and the same character was given a copy of The Astounding Wolf-Man in Season 4. Meanwhile, Super Dinosaur was found in the hands of some dead kids in Season 4, and Kirkman's Invincible series was also spotted in Season 5.

Breaking Bad, the prequel?

The Walking Dead might be AMC's tentpole series now, but when it debuted in 2010, the network was already broaching the big time with two other series: Mad Men and Breaking Bad. While the former took place way too far back in time to have anything to do with The Walking Dead, Bad was a present-day exposition of the dark underbelly of the drug trade in New Mexico—and a number of winks have hinted that they might just be connected in a few important ways.

For starters, T-Dog uncovered some blue meth—the color of Walter White's signature concoction—in Daryl's brother Merle's stash in the show's second season. In Season 4, Daryl described his brother's former drug dealer as a "janky little white guy" who used the b-word, which just so happened to describe Jesse Pinkman and his favorite turn of phrase. Plus, Milton's lab from Season 3 had a device that bore a major resemblance to Gale's coffee contraption, and the Governor made mention of an old pal named Heisenberg. There's also the fact that Season 6's horn-blaring scene resembled Hank Schrader's injury scene. Perhaps most tellingly, the red sports car Glenn Rhee used to escape walkers in the first season looked an awful lot like the one Walt bought in Season 4 (and returned to a character named—you guessed it—Glenn). It could just be efficient prop use on the network's part, or this all could suggest that Walter's chemical creation had some kind of hand in the world's undoing. [Cue the requisite Heisenberg meme.]

Hindsight foreshadowing

A close-eyed rewatch of The Walking Dead reveals a ton of clever foreshadowing involving some of the most major incidents to go down on the show. For example, there's the way Daryl was carrying Beth like a bride in Season 4, which came into play again after her death in Season 5. There's also the fact that Morgan's name was spotted on a street sign in Alexandria before the character returned to the show (again) and moved in with Rick and the rest of the survivors. Some of the title art images next to certain actors' names—chiefly, Sarah Wayne Callies and Laurie Holden—previewed the method by which they would later die. And, yes, even Negan's head-bashing slaughter session to come in Season 7 was foreshadowed by a photo wall of similarly grisly encounters in Season 6.

Governor or pirate?

Now that Negan's in the picture on The Walking Dead, the Governor might seem like a giant teddy bear by comparison, but during his heyday, he was a bad dude—the Joffrey Lannister to Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones parlance, if you will. And the show gave his character a much-needed moment of levity that nobody really noticed until the actor portraying him, David Morrissey, pointed it out after the fact. Morrissey told The Huffington Post, "There was one shot of the Governor, I think when he came back, and he was in his disheveled state with his beard and his hair when he was lying on the couch and a the cushion behind him has a parrot, which was by his shoulder, so that was always quite funny." Was the Governor waxing Captain Hook the whole time, and nobody realized it? Peel the onion, people.

Caryl vs. Beryl

While Richonne fans got their way when Rick and Michonne finally let that fan 'ship set sail in The Walking Dead Season 6, Daryl's love life has yet to reach next-level status. Among his worthy suitors, according to fan enthusiasts, are/were Beth and Carol, the two women the notorious introvert warmed up to most throughout the series. But Beth died before anything could really happen between them, and he and Carol seem to be perpetually stuck in the friend zone (so far).

However, the showrunners have trickled in a few swoony nuggets along the way for both teams over time. For example, the Cherokee Rose Daryl gave Carol in Season 2, after finding them in the woods during a search for her lost (and, unfortunately, dead) daughter Sophia, symbolized hope that they might find the girl alive and introduced a softening of his character. The same flower popped up again in Season 6 when Daryl was lost in the woods and injured. Meanwhile, some fans could've taken it to mean a lot that Beth and Daryl were surrounded by pine trees in a Season 4 episode featuring them together because, since they hadn't yet consummated their budding relationship, they were pining for one another, and the backdrop seemed to serve as a subtle wink to that fact.

Holy Moly

There's no doubt that The Walking Dead has had some serious religious undertones along the way. Not only does Morgan perpetually wax poetic about the merits of pacifism, but they've got an actual priest on hand by way of Father Gabriel. Gabriel's church served as a sort of sanctuary for the survivors for quite some time after Rick and company discovered him in Season 5, and the place was filled with verses that perfectly aligned with the zombie apocalypse theme of the show. Written on the wall, for example, was a passage from John 6:54 reading "he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life." When it was written, that might've been meant as a metaphor, but it became a dark sort of reality. Meanwhile, the verses noted on his board also bore some serious significance to the story.

First, there was Romans 6:4 ("We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life"). Then, there was Ezekiel 37:7 ("So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them"). Third on the list was Matthew 27:52 ("and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who died were raised to life"). Fourth was Revelation 9:6 ("During those days people will seek death but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them"). And last but not least was Luke 24:5 ("In their fright the women bowed down their faces to the ground, but the men said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?").

To be fair, Gabriel spent a long time holed up in that church as the world unraveled outside, so he might've put them up after the fact as a means of bearing witness to the chaos, but the passages are still pretty spooky in the context of the show.

The voice in his head

If you thought something seemed a little familiar about the voice on the radio during Tyreese's hallucinations in The Walking Dead Season 5, that's because it was series lead Andrew Lincoln (using his native British accent, no less) providing the faux news feed with stories of machete hackings, prison burnings, and cannibalism in progress as the world continued to be ravaged by walkers and survivors alike. Some took the track to mean that Tyreese wasn't at peace with everything he had participated in under Rick's charge, but others might see it as a direct callback to the Season 3 arc involving Rick and the phone when he was having imaginary conversations with a woman who might want to merge her group with his as a coping mechanism for his wife Lori's death.

Nobody loves Lucille

It took a while for Negan to come in and start destroying Alexandrian families in Season 7, but his presence has loomed large over the show for quite some time, sometimes more obviously than others. One of the clearest examples of The Walking Dead hinting at the character's future on the series came in Season 4, when a bat that looked eerily similar to his prized Lucille (a slugger wrapped in barbed wire) was seen lying among a slew of brutalized bodies discovered by Beth and Daryl on foot. Considering how possessive Negan is of his prized weapon, it might be hard to believe that it was Lucille herself that was left to rot among the corpses of his handiwork, but who knows. It's also worth noting that in the opening title credits for Season 7, Lucille is shown roasting in a fireplace when Jeffrey Dean Morgan's name pops up—whatever that might mean.