The seventh season of The Walking Dead ended with a bang, and now the countdown has officially begun for the all out war that will take place during Season 8. Rick Grimes and Negan are going to need soldiers to fight this war, and that means new recruits will likely be drafted as the tension starts to mount. With that in mind, what are the odds of seeing more celebrity cameos among the core ensemble of the hit zombie series? According to executive producer Greg Nicotero, The Walking Dead doesn’t want to include cameos to maintain the realism of the show. He elaborated:
They ask all the time. Truthfully, even if we were to ever do that they would need to be completely unrecognizable because you don’t want to pull the audience out of the story. If all of the sudden somebody goes ‘hey guess who that is!?’ then it kind of takes us out of the show and we never want to do that. Anytime a makeup effect or a visual effect takes you out of the show it stops.
Despite the fact that celebrities regularly ask for cameos on The Walking Dead, Greg Nicotero seems to have put his foot down, and made it clear in his comments to Fandom that he’s not interested in compromising the reality of the show for some star power. It’s not hard to understand why he feels that way. One of the most enticing aspects of a zombie survival situation is a sense of relatability and immersion. It’s a “what would you do in this situation?” scenario. If a Hollywood A-lister shows up, the situation begins actually to feel like a TV show.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that The Walking Dead has completely eschewed the concept of cameos throughout the course of its seven-year run on AMC. The series is just incredibly selective about when and where it chooses to include more familiar faces. Greg Nicotero has cameoed on the show as a walker before, and the last few seasons have featured guest stints by recognizable performers like John Carroll Lynch and Alicia Witt.
Having said that, there’s a quantifiable difference between a familiar character actor having a guest stint on The Walking Dead, and a full-blown celebrity cameo. If someone like Dave Chappelle (who reportedly wants to cameo on the zombie series) showed up out of the blue, it would ultimately take audiences out of the experience. As Nicotero explained it: the only way he would ever even consider making a concession would be if the public couldn’t even tell who the celebrity was under all of his or her zombie makeup.
The Walking Dead will return for its eighth season this fall. Before that happens, however, we still have plenty of zombie-less television left to debut this summer.