The Walking Dead could be the next Star Wars franchise

Star Wars Celebration Anaheim 2015, Photo Courtesy Star Wars Celebration
Star Wars Celebration Anaheim 2015, Photo Courtesy Star Wars Celebration /

The Walking Dead and Star Wars have a lot in common, including loyal fanbases. Someday The Walking Dead will follow in Star Wars’ footsteps in pop culture history.

Forty years ago in a galaxy far, far away, a science fiction movie debuted and became a massive hit overnight. Its stars became legends, and the franchise has not one but two unofficial holidays: May 4 (“May the Fourth Be With You”) and May 5 (“Revenge of the Fifth”). Star Wars premiered in 1977 and the Force is as strong today as it was then.

The Walking Dead is on its way to achieving that kind of notoriety. And it’s quite possible that forty years from now it will have similar cult status, if not sooner.

In a very short amount of time The Walking Dead has not only become one of the top rated programs on television, but it has cemented itself into the fabric of pop culture with its dedicated fanbase that tirelessly supports the show and the cast and crew. Though The Walking Dead had an established fanbase from the comic books that serve as the show’s source material, the popularity really didn’t take off until the show premiered.

Looking back, beloved shows like Star Wars and Star Trek became pop culture icons because of grassroot efforts from fans who wanted to keep the magic going after Star Trek was cancelled and Return of the Jedi looked to be the capstone of the franchise. Eventually, Creation started producing Star Trek conventions and Lucasfilm launched Star Wars Celebration to coincide with the release of Episode I. However, there were informal gatherings of fans long before these official conventions started.

The Walking Dead benefits from the history of these storied franchises because since the early days of fan conventions, a whole new world of fan experiences has grown. Walker Stalker Con was created to celebrate The Walking Dead, and the greatest thing about it is that fans didn’t have to wait for the show to be cancelled. And thanks to social media, fans enjoy personal interactions with the stars of the show in ways that fans 40 years ago could only imagine.

With Robert Kirkman planning for several more seasons of The Walking Dead, it’s comforting to know that there will be much more of the show for years to come. When it ultimately comes to an end, it’s even better knowing that the show will last in perpetuity thanks to the fans and the community that has been created around the show.

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It’s encouraging to think that like Star Wars fans before us, we could be going to Walker Stalker Cons in ten, twenty, or even thirty or forty years from now to celebrate our love and appreciation for The Walking Dead.