One franchise director shared the initial problem he had with The Walking Dead Daryl Dixon spin-off.
Norman Reedus' fan-favorite survivor Daryl is back in a Walking Dead universe series all to his own.
The latest spin-off of Robert Kirkman's iconic zombie epic introduces a whole new cast of characters, following Daryl as he washes ashore on the coast of France and finds himself plunked into the middle of a conflict between warring factions.
Walking Dead Director Had One Problem With Daryl Dixon Spin-Off
Speaking in a new interview, The Walking Dead executive producer/director Greg Nicotero revealed he was initially hesitant about the Daryl Dixon spin-off.
Nicotero told SFX magazine, as a part of its latest issue, that his first reaction to hearing AMC was going to do more in The Walking Dead universe was "Okay..."
He said he was "a little skeptical initially" as the mainline series was just about to come to an end, and he found it hard to see how "this [was] going to work:"
“Having been a part of The Walking Dead from the beginning, when everybody said, ‘Hey, we’re gonna do spin-offs!’ my first reaction was like, ‘Okay…' I was a little skeptical initially because being in the end run of The Walking Dead, seeing that cemetery on the horizon, it was always, for me, a little bit like ‘How is this going to work?’”
“If it’s just more of the same, then why end the show?" Nicotero wondered:
"If it’s just more of the same, then why end the show? Just keep going.”
However, he was eventually convinced about the Daryl Dixon spin-off specifically from Daryl actor Norman Reedus:
“A lot of the credit has to go to Norman. I remember him standing in my kitchen in Georgia talking about, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if 'Daryl' had a 'Then Came Bronson' sort of vibe?’”
The Came Bronson was a 1969 American drama starring Michael Parks, following a character who each episode came "in contact with these different groups of people," changing them and himself for the better, something that was brought over for Daryl Dixon:
“The [character] comes in contact with these different groups of people, and at the end of the episode, he’s a changed person and they’re changed.”
Why Daryl Dixon Works as a Walking Dead Spin-Off
While (at least early on) Daryl Dixon seems to be a success for The Walking Dead franchise, Greg Nicotero was probably right to be skeptical about spin-offs set in the zombie-infested universe.
The mainline series had the luxury of loosely following along with Robert Kirkman's hit The Walking Dead comic story whereas with the spin-off the franchise was setting off into uncharted waters.
And the first couple have not worked. Fear the Walking Dead, The Walking Dead: Dead City, and Tales of the Walking Dead failed to find their footing quite like the original series did.
That is why much importance has been put into The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon.
Elsewhere in the same SFX magazine interview, Nicotero brought up the idea of the Daryl-centric spin-off purposely being made to "[not] feel like The Walking Dead," as the franchise tries to grow and evolve after the end of the mainline show:
“Initially, both Norman and I had a gut reaction like: ‘Ooh, that doesn’t feel like 'The Walking Dead.' And then after about 20 seconds, it was like: ‘Wait a minute, that’s what we want!’”
Daryl Dixon could not just be another Walking Dead show, and it was Nicotero's skepticism that may be to thank for the latest spin-off's new direction and, in turn, critical success.
New episodes of The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon air every Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.