What You Didn't See In The Walking Dead's First Episode

Sure, there are plenty of easy answers here. After all, you know what you didn't you see in the first episode of The Walking Dead? Optimism ... or, for that matter, anything you hadn't already seen in 28 Days Later. You probably didn't see ten seasons and a spin off series about further escapades in the zombie apocalypse coming, either.

And then there were the Easter eggs: Nugget-sized love letters to zombie culture, expertly hidden in Frank Darabont's 67 minute ode to that George A. Romero life. Like all things comic-based, the pilot episode of The Walking Dead is filled with callbacks to what came before. And, also like all things comic book based, fans have since dissected it with the laser focus of a troubled kid during their biology class's fetal pig day.

There are little things. When series protagonist Rick Grimes comes across an undead deputy from his old department and treats him to one of those extreme skull piercings that the kids go crazy for, you can just make out the sound of the Xbox 360 "Achievement Unlocked" sound effect. Then there's the fact that King County, Georgia, the area Grimes called home, isn't a real place. It's named after Darabont's main literary squeeze, Stephen King. But for the crème de la crème of hidden details, fans needed to have their best listening ears turned on, and a public domain DVD on hand.

Can you dig it?

To refresh your memory, in the show's first episode, Rick leaves the hospital and finds himself in a dang old pickle, as his beloved home is now the stuff of survival horror nightmares, with zombies everywhere he turns. Lonesome, atrophied, and unkempt, things are looking bleak for our hero. There's simply no way that his story will play out for another nine (and a half) seasons.

But then, a boon: Rick is struck in the skull with a shovel. Making lemons out of lemonade, he uses the opportunity to befriend a pair of fellow survivors, Morgan and Duane Jones. Like most potential sources of relief in The Walking Dead, the comradery is short lived, but that's not important. What is important is the name Duane Jones, which has a special place in zombie history: In real life, Duane Jones was the the actor who played Ben, the main character in George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead, back in 1968. It's a killer callback to the low-budget movie that started a whole new genre, even if the show does off the character off-screen a couple seasons later.