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What Sets The Walking Dead: World Beyond Apart From The Other Series

Since The Walking Dead's humble beginnings as a comic book, writer and co-creator Robert Kirkman wanted the series to be something different. "More often than not," he wrote in the first volume's introduction, "zombie movies feel like a slice of a person's life shown until whoever is in charge of the movie gets bored [...] The Walking Dead will be the zombie movie that never ends." He didn't mean the comic would truly never end (it did, after a 16-year run), but that he hoped to give the characters room to breathe, grow, and change.

That philosophy extends to the television show, which will reach its eleventh — and final — season come 2021. As an expansion of that sentiment, the on-screen universe spawned the spin-off series Fear the Walking Dead, complete with new settings and characters, though many of the ideas behind the story remained the same. October 2020 will see the franchise expand even further, with the release of The Walking Dead: World Beyond, a series which sets out to tread paths the franchise has never tread before.

Same world, new perspective

Characters like Rick Grimes and Madison Clark are audience surrogates in the sense that they're ordinary people thrust into an extraordinary situation. In other words, they're easy to connect with and relate to because we, as people simply living our lives, may have reacted in similar ways to something as drastic as a zombie apocalypse. And as the world changes, so do we, whether we like it or not.

While the new faces of World Beyond will surely be relatable in their own way, there's one key difference between them and the characters we already know: they grew up post-apocalypse, essentially making them the new world's first generation. Like Ellie from The Last of Us, they have little conception of what sort of world there was "before," outside of what they hear from others, and whatever they remember from their youngest days. The show begins ten years after walkers swarmed over the face of the planet, and most of the main cast are teenagers, so they would've been little kids at the start of everything.

For a sense of perspective, Carl Grimes was only 12-year-old when he first appeared, but by the time World Beyond's characters turned 12, they were already several years into living alongside the undead. For Carl, walkers were something he had to get used to. For the kids of World Beyond, walkers have simply been a part of life, for most of their lives.

A generational mission

Along those same lines, World Beyond's characters have a unique goal in mind, other than to simply "survive." A banner seen in a trailer for the show hints at that goal, clearly reading: "Remember. Persevere. Thrive." While that philosophy came to be true of the characters in the previous two shows, as well, it only happened long after they acquired the skills needed to not end up as walker feed and establish reliable communities. In World Beyond, on the other hand, the characters of Hope (Alexa Mansour), Iris (Aliyah Royale), Elton (Nicolas Cantu), and Silas (Hal Cumpston) are part of one such community from the get-go, living relatively normal lives for apocalyptic survivors. 

Now, there wouldn't be much of a show if that's all there was to it, and of course it isn't. The details aren't entirely clear at the moment, but it seems that Hope and Iris' father goes missing, and they set out on a cross-country journey to find him — with the help of Elton and Silas.

That premise inherently goes against what we've already seen from The Walking Dead franchise, meaning less time spent aimlessly wandering, and more time dedicated to trying to fulfill a predetermined objective. From what the aforementioned trailer would imply, the characters embody that objective beyond the objective itself, believing themselves to be "the beginning" of a new generation. There will still be walkers, there will still be dangerous people, and the characters will still change as they experience the horrors beset upon them, but the underlying mission and the attitude driving it should infuse World Beyond with a refreshing energy.

The shorter they are, the harder they hit

The Walking Dead has been running for ten years, and Fear the Walking Dead for half that time ... but recently, the only thing they've been running is out of steam. There are multiple reasons why interest has dwindled, many directly tied to how long the shows have lasted. A series can only invest in the "meet a new group, see how things go down" formula so many times before watchers start falling asleep in front of the TV. No amount of new characters can fix that. That's why the original series is getting ready to close its book.

As far as World Beyond is concerned, though, its length may actually be its saving grace. There's going to be some crossover between all three shows, which may or may not coalesce in the upcoming movies about Rick Grimes, meaning we'll likely see these characters beyond World Beyond. That aside, however, World Beyond itself is only going to air two seasons, per Collider.

Shortening the story may seem like an impediment at first glance, but keeping things concise may actually sever the problematic threads woven by the previous shows. Characters can go through their arcs, without having the extra time to go stale and wither. Repetitive storylines and scenarios can be kept to a minimum, or even cut out completely. And, combined with the mission the characters are looking to accomplish, everything should feel tight and focused, minimizing shock value and maximizing story potential.

The Walking Dead: World Beyond's pilot episode premieres October 4th, 2020.