There are big changes coming to Fear the Walking Dead when the fourth season premieres April 15 on AMC, and one of the biggest is the fact that a character from the original Walking Dead — Morgan (played by Lennie James) — will be moving over to the companion series. That’s a pretty bold move connecting the shows like that, especially considering they were not sharing the same timeline, but it is one which Walking Dead comics creator (and EP of both shows) Robert Kirkman says was always in consideration from when the spin-off first launched back in 2015.
“When we started Fear the Walking Dead, the original idea actually included some things that would eventually tie in with the other show,” says Kirkman. “We wanted to give it a few seasons to find its sea legs, so to speak, and make sure that it stood on its own and provided its own experience. The goal was that eventually, once we had established that, we would find some kind of creative way to tie things in.”
Once they decided to link the series through an actual character, the next step involved finding the best one to crossover. “When Scott suggested moving Morgan over,” says Kirkman of Scott M. Gimple, who now oversees both programs, “it seemed like a really great idea and a really cool way to bring things in. I know the audience doesn’t really know exactly how that makes sense yet, or what’s actually coming of it. As the year progresses and you see exactly what it is, you’ll see that it’s going to be a really great story for Morgan that will give us a lot of cool insight into his character.”
Kirkman notes that just as important as the character moving over is the person playing him, and that actor Lennie James will be a great addition to the revamped team — which also now includes Maggie Grace (Lost), Jenna Elfman (Dharma & Greg), and Garret Dillahunt (Deadwood, Raising Hope), as well as new showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg. “It’s going to be a lot of really great stuff for Lennie James to do,” says Kirkman. “Lennie James’ presence with that established cast in Fear the Walking Dead is going to change everything for them, and give them so much more new stuff to play off of, and really change the story in an interesting way that I feel like is going to kick start that show, and really get the engines roaring on that one.”
But what will all those changes both in front of and behind the camera mean for the show itself? “Walking Dead is at its best when it’s constantly evolving,” says Kirkman. “Having season 3 be a very fast-paced season that introduces a lot of new elements, it kind of shakes things up quite a bit and is a great appetizer to what we have planned for season 4, which is really going to ramp that up quite a bit.”
With former showrunner Dave Erickson now gone and the trio of Gimple, Chambliss, and Goldberg running things, should we expect some big shifts in both tone and story? Kirkman essentially says that yes, we should. “I don’t want to spoil anything story-wise, but we are changing things a great deal. It’s going to be a much different show that is not going to alienate any viewers that have been enjoying the show from season 1 to 3, but will give those people new things to love, and new characters to latch onto. It’s really going to shake things up.”
That shaking officially begins on April 15.