Tales Of The Walking Dead: 4 Things We Learned From The Comic-Con Panel

Each series in the "Walking Dead" franchise offers a window into a world undone. The flagship show showcases the zombie apocalypse in the American southeast, while "Fear the Walking Dead" spotlights a ruined southwest. "The Walking Dead: World Beyond" shook things up, following young people who came of age during this new world. But there remains any number of locations, and any number of characters, that could be explored in a world overrun by the undead.

Enter "Tales of the Walking Dead."

The latest entry in AMC's flagship franchise is an anthology series, with each episode telling a single standalone story set in the larger "Walking Dead" universe. The show's cast and crew gathered in Hall H at San Diego Comic-Con to introduce the new show to fans, and prove that there's plenty of gas left in this particular universe. Here's what you need to know.

This wasn't always an anthology series

Perhaps the biggest "Walking Dead" news to come out of Comic-Con 2022 was the reveal that the long-planned return of Rick Grimes and Michonne was no longer a movie – it is now a six-episode series coming to AMC+ in 2023. And it certainly sounds like "Tales of the Walking Dead" followed a similar evolution. Scott M. Gimple, chief content officer of the "Walking Dead Universe," noted that some of the ideas for the series have been floating around for a long time, and that some of them originated as planned one-off specials that ultimately never came to fruition. So when the concept of an anthology series came together, those ideas were rescued and repurposed as episodes of the new show.

Even with the main series coming to an end, the world of "The Walking Dead" is going to keep shambling onward for the time being. After all, "Tales of the Walking Dead" offers a space for stories that can't cleanly fit into "Fear the Walking Dead" or the upcoming "Isle of the Dead." This is the franchise that will never say die.

You don't need to be a fan to watch the show

"The Walking Dead" has been AMC's flagship franchise for well over a decade now, and it's safe to say that all pop culture literate people are aware of its basic premise. And the people who know that basic premise, and only that basic premise, are safe to jump right on in.

Yes, "Tales of the Walking Dead" requires no knowledge of the other shows and absolutely zero homework. Everything you need to know is this: zombie apocalypse happens, things are really bad. Some of the stories are set in the earliest days of the zombie uprising and others are set deep into the new world seen in the more recent seasons of the show, but they're all standalone tales. Several times throughout the panel, Gimple and showrunner Channing Powell referred to each episode as a "little movie," built to tell a complete story. Even the episode built around an existing "Walking Dead" character (more on that in a moment!) is set years before we get to know her, filling gaps for existing fans while feeling accessible for newcomers.

Terry loves zombies

"Brooklyn Nine-Nine" star Terry Crews is among the guest stars of the show's first season, and muscle-bound ball of energy brought his trademark enthusiasm to the panel (he literally took the stage by ripping open his shirt and making his pecs dance). He might as well have been a fan plucked from the crowd, as he spent a substantial portion of the panel gushing about the folks who make the show and "The Walking Dead" itself, insisting he is a super-fan who would be in the crowd if he couldn't be on the stage.

But Crews' love of zombie stories doesn't begin with "The Walking Dead." He recounted growing up watching George Romero's iconic horror classic "Night of the Living Dead" (the godfather of all modern zombie stories) and being struck by the film's leading man, Duane Jones. Here was a horror movie with a Black lead playing a character who takes control and proves himself to be the most heroic character in the movie. Sure, things don't end well for Jones' Ben (Romero's cynical ending is an all-timer), but the film ignited a passion in Crews. Now, thanks to "Tales of the Walking Dead," he's able to live out one of his ultimate fanboy fantasies and star in a zombie story.

The Alpha origin story

Samantha Morton's Alpha joined the list of the many, many, many main characters who died on "The Walking Dead," but that's not the end of the character. Morton is back in "Tales of the Walking Dead" for an episode that answers a pretty compelling question: how does an ordinary person become a psychopathic leader of a tribe of post-apocalyptic wanderers who survive by wearing the faces of zombies?

Morton teased that her episode won't answer everything, and will certainly reflect that the later version of Alpha is someone who is far gone, and whose memories don't exactly align with reality. But we'll get to see her before she lost her name and gave up her humanity, which makes this episode a must-watch for "Walking Dead" fans who watched her ruthless character and wondered "How the heck does someone let themselves become this?" And naturally, the standalone format means that, for new viewers, this origin story should function as the start of a tragedy rather than the end of one.

And when asked by a fan if Morton would want to revisit the character in her own spin-off series ... Well, she wouldn't say no.

"Tales of the Walking Dead" premieres on August 14, 2022.