Rapid Insights: The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live

This Sunday, AMC premieres its much anticipated limited-event series that will further expand the world of The Walking Dead. The spin-off features the return of Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira), two fan-favorite characters who left the original show several seasons before it ended, and audiences are clamoring to finally learn their fates.

Here’s what you need to know about The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live:

Vault uses index scores to describe the impact a given story/theme/element will have on specific KPIs: 
≤79 Disappointing  80-89 Challenging  90-109 Average  110-119 Promising  120+ Outstanding

Will the same Walking Dead audience be tuning in for this spin-off? 
Yes. We’re predicting that viewers will lean male (54%) and skew mostly older,  a profile in line with the other two most recent franchise extensions (Dead City and Daryl Dixon). These offshoots are, however, slightly more male than The Walking Dead proved to be in its early seasons (51% male).

What does The Ones Who Live have in common with the other TWD series?
Suspense and action. The #1 ratings driver for The Ones Who Live is the pervasive sense of risk and danger faced by its protagonists (Life in Danger, 134), a key element that also propelled interest in its sister shows. This new installment similarly leverages the franchise’s Distinctly Realized World (120) of post-apocalyptic chaos and its widespread Bloody Violence (120) that’s directed toward zombies and humans alike. These IP connections (IP Extension, 118) are also an important factor in the show’s bingeability.

What makes The Ones Who Live unique?
It shows that love conquers all. Rather than following a pair of enemies (Dead City), a loner (Daryl Dixon), or an entire mismatched group (Fear the Walking DeadThe Walking Dead: World Beyond), this franchise spin-off instead traces a married couple desperate to find each other after years of separation. The original The Walking Dead remained mum on the fates of both Rick and Michonne after the beloved characters departed the main storyline; The Ones Who Live will finally fill in the gaps, letting viewers in on what happened to each hero in the interim (Personal Backstory, 130) and offering up an Inspirational Story (127) of two survivors driven by Love (119) and Anticipation (119).

What’s standing in the protagonists’ way?
A powerful settlement with a sizable army. Rick has been living in a closed-off militaristic community all this time, and to reunite with wife Michonne, they both must fight to get past its vast Military Operation (149) with countless reserves of soldiers out for blood. This armed forces aspect of the story is the show’s top source of bingeability and is also unique within the Walking Dead franchise; rather than sharing this driver with Dead City or Daryl Dixon, The Ones Who Live instead keeps company here with historical war epics like Masters of the Air, modern political dramas like Fauda, and broader-scale sci-fi sagas like Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Falling Skies.

How does this main storyline play into the show’s ratings?
It pulls viewers in through the protagonists’ desires. In The Ones Who Live, both Rick and Michonne–and, by extension, audiences–are driven to learn the fate of the other (Curiosity, 123) so that they may finally reunite (Social Contact, 121) and reignite their missing love (Romance, 119; Family, 119). At the same time, they must fight against a powerful community to secure Rick’s freedom and their own future (Power, 119; Order, 119). Viewers will tune in eager to discover whether the pair is ultimately successful.


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*Publicly released trailers for series are evaluated using Vault’s algorithms – utilizing our proprietary 120K+ story element database alongside ratings performance and other datasets – to identify unique combinations of stories, themes, characters, and genre elements that will drive success.

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