With Halloween just around the corner it is like Christmas for two types of people; goths and horror fans. Horror comes in all shapes and sizes. From the stereotypical slasher movies of the 70s, 80s and 90s (let’s not talk about contemporary slasher, save us all a headache) to weird cosmic horror that makes you feel uneasy at night. The reality being horror fans exist in troves and we aren’t going anywhere; and if we do it is usually with cloves of garlic and a silver bullet.
Recently Horror has been the cool kid in town again and with current TV shows like Supernatural, The Walking Dead and American Horror Story to name a few. It seems that this is good news for horror fans everywhere and the recent uptrend in horror doesn’t seem to be dying out anytime soon. Even the acclaimed Game of Thrones tried it’s best to tap into the horror fan base with copious amounts of gore during its run time. While all this is fun and games, The Walking Dead and Supernatural have done something no other horror TV franchise has really accomplished since the twilight years of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Both shows have achieved a long running, consistent and popular existence so far; even outlasting classic horror shows like Buffy by at least four years.
How these shows have managed to do this has been the subject of speculation since their original inception all those years ago. Looking back at some of the first episodes from both The Walking Dead and Supernatural, one cannot help but cringe at some of the practical and special effects both shows have used over the years. Yet both shows, to the best of their ability, have managed to stay various steps ahead of the axe for their respective networks. This has slowly built into both shows becoming the staple of horror themed TV shows throughout the past decade and raises an interesting question. With their popularity and reputation as TV horror kingpins, is there an overlap between The Walking Dead fans, Supernatural fans and fans of horror? The obvious answer would be yes, of course. However, it may not be just a simple yes or no answer.
Horror comes in many forms and one could argue that the main function of horror is to make us, as fans and viewers, terrified (or close to it). The genre brings out the primal fight or flight instinct in almost all who enjoy the genre; it is as if we horror fans are like the adrenaline junkies of being scared clueless. While both Supernatural and The Walking Dead can be classed as horror themed shows, they are vastly different and have appealed to different types of people. For example, anyone that knows me is acutely aware of my walking dead borderline obsession but I haven’t even blinked in the direction of Supernatural. On the contrary, I had a good friend during my high school years that loved Supernatural and couldn’t stand TWD. Similarly, I have met people that love and hate both (let’s not talk about the latter, let’s be honest, they just aren’t cool). With this understanding, there must be an overlap.
I think it may come down to one sole factor for why the fan bases of both shows, and horror fans in general, may overlap; circumstantial realism. While some horror fans are thrilled by the unknown, such as cosmic horror or ghost stories, there are fans of the horror genre that find circumstantially realistic horror more appealing. For TWD fans and Supernatural fans, I feel this is where the overlap exists for both fan bases and horror fans in general. But what is realistic about zombies? Or vampires? Or werewolves? They key word in the phrase is circumstantial. While zombies, vampires and werewolves are not realistic in the real world, for the fictional worlds of Supernatural and The Walking Dead, they very much are. In these worlds we find our characters in realistic situations that their respective fictional world would put them in. How these characters react to these unreal circumstances is realistic for the most part, as we imagine that is how people in real life would react to those circumstances in the real world.
This factor, circumstantial realism, is what makes TWD and Supernatural so thrilling. It isn’t the zombies, or vampires or werewolves that make both shows what they are (although they do help). Rather, it is the human characters and how they handle the extraordinary circumstances that make the shows so popular. Due to this I believe fans of both shows, as well as fans of horror in general, most certainly do overlap. With original takes on stereotypical horror tropes, it comes as no surprise that both shows have lasted this long and appealed to so many people.
As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.