In its first nine seasons, The Walking Dead has paid tribute to such classic horror franchises as George Romero's Dead flicks, Alien, Shaun of the Dead and many more. Executive producer Greg Nicotero, who also oversees the show's righteous special effects, was back behind the camera for The Walking Dead's Season 10 premiere, and he's hinting that fans might just notice a Jaws easter egg hidden in the episode.
While The Walking Dead likely isn't going to introduce Richard Dreyfuss' Hooper as one of the world's remaining survivors, the Season 10 premiere will indeed pay winking tribute to Steven Spielberg's seminal blockbuster. Here's how Greg Nicotero explained it.
There’s a lot of cool stuff that’s in there. In the first episode there are a few little nods. I wouldn’t even necessarily say tribute zombies, but I’m always putting a few easter eggs here or there just to remind people how much I love certain things. So there could be a shark tooth on the beach that might’ve been from a shark from my favorite movie. You never know. A few things like that.
I suppose it's possible that Greg Nicotero could have recently fallen head over heels in love with the quality-eschewing Sharknado series or Deep Blue Sea, but the Hollywood icon is definitely talking about Jaws there. Plus, the easter egg that's being referring to is one that viewers likely would have glanced right over had Nicotero not provided a heads up about what to look for. Except, I guess, for the viewers who are always looking for random teeth in Walking Dead scenes, since those folks probably exist.
From the photos released for the Walking Dead Season 10 premiere, we know that some scenes will take place near the water. Maybe that tooth is hiding out in the image below somewhere.
I can't imagine that this is purely a coincidence, but Greg Nicotero and his KNB EFX team have actually spent a good deal of time and effort in 2019 repairing and restoring the last casting from the original Bruce the shark molds from Jaws. The iconic prop that they're restoring used to be on display in Universal Studios, but had gone into disrepair after being moved to a junkyard. Could that be where the shark tooth came from?
It sounds like there will be more to come from the Season 10 opener beyond just the Jaws reference, but Greg Nicotero isn't putting all his cards on the table just yet. In speaking with EW, the director revealed that there might not be a ton of tributes happening early on, given the attention paid to Alpha and her Whisperers. In his words:
But in terms of tribute walkers, this season really has kind of led us in a direction where, a lot of the stuff with the Whisperers and a lot of that stuff, we haven’t really snuck any in just yet. But we still got a bunch of episodes to go so we’ll see.
If you're like me, you might be more interested in learning about the Whisperers' backstories than seeing what kinds of horror references can be worked into their costumes. While the comic villains were allowed to remain frightening and intimidating without a lot of details surfacing, it's harder to keep things vague with live-action characters, so Season 10 will indeed be pulling back some of the layers to reveal more about Alpha and Beta before the Whisperers came to exist.
Of course, the Whisperers will also provide some present-day chaos to all the protagonists as Season 10 moves forward. But the good guys haven't just been sitting around mourning their losses. As it went in the comic book, the various communities are putting together an army of sorts, and it looks like Aaron will be heading things up.
Greg Nicotero also spoke about that militarized element:
What’s interesting about the first episode is, and we’ve seen it in the trailers, is our group is rehearsing military maneuvers. I think you definitely get the sense at the end of last season that some of them want to fight. But the truth of the matter is that Alpha is the most formidable villain that they have ever encountered, so I don’t know how you actively fight a woman who walks amongst the dead.
Viewers will get a chance to see just how well Michonne, Daryl, Aaron and the rest will fare when The Walking Dead Season 10 kicks off on AMC on Sunday, October 6, at 9:00 p.m. ET. Sometimes tells me Michonne will survive long enough to decide she needs to leave.